financial planning

How To Slay Your Savings: A Gen Z + Millennial 1 Year Guide to Owning Finances

Financial health and millennial money management is a year-round process. Get tips for each month designed to elevate your financial savvy.

You’ve probably wondered at some point where the manual is to being an adult in a world designed to be as confusing as possible with pretty mid youth financial education. Truth? There isn’t one. People are too individualistic, and a manual that might work for Taylor isn’t the same one that will work for Tyler. Instead, we’ve put together a no-BS guide of budgeting tips for young adults aimed at building an overall healthy money mindset rather than a rigid instructional manual you’ll throw in the trash tomorrow.

January: Dream big, plan smart

It’s a new year, and you’re a new person. Well, probably not, but you have a whole year of fresh perspective to apply to your goals. Want to jet off to Bali, score amazing concert tickets, or finally kiss that car loan goodbye? Time to turn your dreams into SMART goals.


I will save up for low-level tickets to the tour of my favorite band.


The tickets will be around $500, so I need to know exactly how much to save each paycheck.


I’ll cut back on eating out from 4x a week to just once, saving about $45 per week.


This will be the highlight of my year and an experience I will remember forever, making it meaningful + motivating.


By the time tickets go on sale in April, I’ll have $720 - enough for the tickets, fees, parking, food, and maybe even merch.

February: Budget like a boss

Budgets are the secret sauce to your financial freedom burger. A good budget isn’t about restrictions, but about finding the best way for your cash to flow. Check out apps like Mint or YNAB, or register for MoneyEdu for free to track your cash, categorize your splurges, and save for those concert tickets. Remember, a value size budget tweak now equals a large fry later.

March: Cut the debt drama

Got debt? Let's crush it. Line up those painful loans and knock 'em down, focusing on the highest interest rates first. Keep an eye on your credit score with free credit monitoring tools like Credit Karma, or use Credit Sense through your SunWest online account or app. Remember, paying bills on time isn't just adulting, it's winning at adulting.

April: Tax hacks and stackin' cash

It’s time for tax victories. Max out retirement contributions to reduce your taxable income, and don't miss out on deductions for student loan interest or education expenses, which could also lower your tax bill. Consider claiming charitable contributions and medical expenses, and consult a tax pro to ensure you're snagging every saving. 


Tackle the subscription overload. From streaming to gym memberships to app and software subscriptions, the small subscription fees quickly add up. Ax the streaming services that you barely use or look into bundling options. Switch from the premium app option to a free one. If you’re not using the gym regularly, look into home workouts or a pay-per-visit option. Then, redirect that money to your savings goals.


Fun in the sun doesn’t have to be expensive theme parks and jet-setting. Embrace cost-effective, local fun and plan out your summer with free community events and museum discount days. Escape the heat with a northern AZ road trip visiting roadside attractions along the way. Make summer for memories, not stress.


Life's wild, but you can at least try to be prepared financially. Focus this month on creating a plan for building up your emergency savings. Determine how much you can afford to set aside each pay period, and set it to auto. On a side note, it’s Christmas in July, so here’s your reminder to check in on your holiday savings.


Dig into your bills for better deals. Whether it’s utilities, phone, insurance and more, a quick call and a little negotiation can save you some serious green. Don’t be afraid to make a switch if it means a leaner bill and a fatter account balance.


Your brain's your best asset. Invest in skills or courses that boost your career. Many employers offer tuition reimbursement and other learning incentives as part of their benefits package. Check in with your leader to create a plan for your advancement. The more you know, the more you grow - in knowledge and cash.


Dive into the cobwebbed corners of your finances, to discover any foes haunting your financial health. This is the month for unearthing skeletons like credit discrepancies, low investment returns, and missed money goals. Take a good look in that crystal ball to avoid getting spooked by financial regret. 


Take a moment to high-five yourself for the wins and learn from the slips. Tweak your money moves for the coming year based on what's been rocking or flopping. November is also a big month people fall into the holiday sales traps, so be conscious of your spending, avoiding splurges just because there’s a discount.


Close out the year like the financial rockstar you are. Set fresh goals, polish your budget, and get pumped for another year of owning your financial destiny. Don’t forget to max out any contributions before the end of the year to lower your taxable income. 

See more End of Year Tax Tips

Remember, everyone you’ve ever met, and will ever meet, is figuring out their next move from day-to-day, and the secret is that we’re making it all up and seeking out guidance to fit where we are in our lives. Edit this guide to fit your lifestyle and create a year full of financial success.

Register now for free at MoneyEdu to unlock a world of financial tools and resources designed to make you a money master!

January 10, 2024

Published by SunWest Credit Union

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