MONEY Millennials

How to Make Money Off Millennials in 2015

People doing "the wave" in a stadium
Doug Pensinger—Getty Images

In 2015, the oldest wave of millennials turns (gulp) 35—a milestone with significant implications for the job market, stocks, and the economy at large.

You hear a lot about the drag that the graying of the baby boomers could have on long-term economic growth. What’s often overlooked, though, is the fact that the U.S. will be golden on another demographic front: The biggest birth year in the bigger-than-boomer millennial generation turns 25 in 2015, while the oldest wave turns 35. These are significant milestones not only for those who get a slice of birthday cake but for the economy at large.

After all, 25 is when one’s career starts to get into full swing. While the unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds is 11%, it’s 6% among 25- to 34-year-olds. For those with college degrees, the rate drops to 5%. Meanwhile, the mid-thirties are “when you hit higher-earning years, are more inclined to get married, and start putting money into the stock and real estate markets,” says Alejandra Grindal, senior international economist for Ned Davis Research. Plus, “productivity growth tends to peak when workers are 30 to 35,” says Rob Arnott, chairman of investment firm Research Affiliates.

Here’s how you can profit from millennial-driven growth.

Favor U.S. stocks. The stock market has tended to take off when the number of workers 35 to 49 has surged. Boomers aging into this bracket, for example, coincided with one of the longest bull markets, from 1982 to 1999.

As a metric, investment pros look at the M/Y ratio, which is “mature” workers (ages 35 to 49) divided by young ones (20 to 34). The U.S. M/Y ratio has been declining since 2000 but will begin rebounding in 2015 and is expected to climb through 2029. “Certainly this improves opportunities here relative to Europe and Japan,” where the ratio is in decline, says Arnott.

Research from Vanguard shows you get almost as much of the diversification benefit of keeping 40% of your stock portfolio overseas by having just 20% abroad. So in 2015, shift to the low end, especially since Europe and Japan may be headed for recession (again).

rescue

Profit off their nesting. Three-quarters of Gen Y-ers surveyed last year by the Demand Institute planned to move in the next five years, many out of their parents’ homes. Capitalize on this trend by buying home-related stocks. Gain exposure via SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF, which counts Bed Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, and Williams-Sonoma among its top holdings besides homebuilders. The ETF’s stocks trade at about 10% less than consumer stocks in general, owing to the slower-than-hoped real estate rebound.

Shoot for the middle on college. With the bulk of millennials past their undergrad years, college enrollment has been falling since 2011. Many schools are discounting tuition to lure students. If your child is applying, “don’t get your heart set on universities in cities on the coasts,” says Lynn O’Shaughnessy, author of the College Solution blog. Schools in the middle of the country, less in demand, may offer better deals. Also consider smaller mid-tier colleges, adds Robert Massa, former head of admissions at Johns Hopkins.

Illinois Institute of Technology, DePauw University, and Rockhurst University are three Midwest schools on MONEY’s Best Colleges list that recently offered first-year students average grant aid of at least 50% of published tuition, according to government data.

Read next:
5 Ways to Prosper in 2015
Here’s Why 2015 Will Be a Good Year for Stocks
Here’s What to Expect from the Job Market in 2015

 

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 15

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. To head off surging antimicrobial resistance — which could claim 10 million lives a year by 2050 — we need new drugs and better rules for using the ones we have.

By Fergus Walsh at BBC Health

2. Russia has squandered its soft power.

By Joseph S. Nye in the Journal of Turkish Weekly

3. A resurfaced idea from decades ago could finally unlock nuclear power’s potential to fight climate change.

By Josh Freed in the Brookings Essay

4. To take advantage of the power of diaspora communities to spur development at home, host nations must avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

By by Jacob Townsend and Zdena Middernacht at The World Bank

5. The great recession is over but young and minority Americans are worse off than before.

By Matt Connoly in Mic

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Careers & Workplace

Why You Should Go Ahead and Quit Your Dead-End Job

Job Hopping
Businesswoman resting head on desk Cultura RM/Jason Butcher—Getty Images/Collection Mix: Subjects RM

If you do it right, that is

Conventional job-seeking wisdom is that bouncing from one gig to the next is a sure way to get your resume thrown out as soon as it hits a hiring manager’s desk. But a new survey indicates that, as millennials increase their numbers and clout in corporate America, this attitude could become as out of place in the modern office as a typewriter.

According to a survey about on-the-job attitudes among different generations conducted by PayScale.com and research firm Millennial Branding, roughly a quarter of millennials say workers should be expected to stay in a job a year or less before moving on. While more than 40% of Baby Boomers think an employee should stick around for five years before shopping around their resume, only 13% of millennials share that view.

“It wasn’t surprising to see that millennials had a more relaxed attitude about job tenure than older generations,” says Lydia Frank, editorial director at PayScale.

Some of this intergenerational mismatch could be because of the labor market millennials confronted when they first reached adulthood. The survey finds that roughly a third of young adults with advanced degrees consider themselves underemployed — meaning they’re likelier to jump ship if they find a job opportunity that makes better use of their skills and education.

What’s especially revealing, Frank adds, is that 41% of Boomers still believe a five-year stretch is the minimum a worker should stay at a job. This means there are still quite a few hiring managers who frown on job-hopping, which means employees should be strategic with short-term tenures.

“I think they tend to view very vocal success . . . the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world — and think that’s essentially the playing field they’re on,” says Aravinda Souza, senior marketing manager at HR software firm Bullhorn.

Still, millennials might have the right idea in some industries — especially high-tech ones, Frank says. “Five years can be a really long time in certain industries like technology, for example, where staying at one company too long can be viewed as a sign of stagnation rather than loyalty,” she points out.

Young adults have less of an expectation that a company will be loyal to them, so they don’t feel an obligation to be loyal to their employer. In its survey, PayScale finds that millennials want bosses who are friendly and who give good feedback, but they’re less concerned that their boss “goes to bat for you” — a top priority for Boomers.

That said, millennials who engage in job-hopping for its own sake are taking a risk. Without a strategy behind it, this is still a red flag for hiring managers, Souza warns. “Basically, what it’s saying is you’re not loyal to the company, you’re not in it for the long haul and any resources the hiring manager would invest in you in terms of training . . . isn’t likely to be worth it,” she says.

“You have to strike a balance and ensure you’re switching companies for the right reasons,” Frank says. This means you have to be prepared to defend your job-hopping.

“Significantly higher pay, opportunities for advancement and a better match with a company’s mission or culture can all be easily explained in an interview,” she says. If you can articulate those kinds of reasons, you’ll come across as focused rather than flaky.

MONEY mortgages

Here Come Cheap Mortgages for Millennials. Should We Worry?

young couple admiring their new home
Justin Horrocks—Getty Images

The federal agencies that guarantee most mortgages are launching new loan programs that require only 3% down payments for first-time buyers. Is this the start of financial crisis redux?  

According to new research from Trulia, in metro areas teeming with millennials, such as Austin, Honolulu, New York, and San Diego, more than two-thirds of the homes for sale are out of reach for the typical millennial household.

That goes a long way to explaining why first-time homebuyers have recently accounted for about one-third of homes sales, according to the National Association of Realtors, down from a historic norm of about 40%. And it should concern you even if you’re not a millennial or related to one: A shortage of first-time buyers makes it harder for households that want to trade up to find potential buyers; and spending by homeowners for homes and housing-related services accounts for about 15% of GDP.

Now the federal government appears intent on reversing the trend — or at least on easing the pain of the still-sluggish housing industry.

Trulia’s dire analysis assumes that buyers need to make a 20% down payment — a high hurdle for anyone, let along a younger adult. But Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government agencies that guarantee the vast majority of mortgages, this week launched new loan options that will require down payments of as little as 3% for first-time buyers (and, in limited instances, refinancers as well). Fannie’s program will be live next week; Freddie’s, which will be available to repeat buyers as well, will launch in early spring.

Before you get all “Isn’t that the sort of lax standard that fueled the financial crisis!?”, it’s important to realize significant differences between now and then.

The only deals that will qualify for the 3%-down programs are plain-vanilla 30-year fixed-rate loans. No adjustable-rate deals, no teaser-rate come-ons, and, lordy, no interest-only payment options. And flippers are not welcome; the home must be the borrower’s principal residence.

Both Fannie Mae’s MyCommunityMortgage and Freddie Mac’s Home Possible Mortgage program are aimed at moderate-income households. For example, to qualify for Fannie Mae’s program, household income must typically be below the area median. Income limits are relaxed a bit in some high cost areas, such as the State of California (up to 140% of the local median) and pricey counties in New York (165% of the median).

That said, lenders will be allowed to extend these loans to borrowers with credit scores as low as 620. That’s even lower than the average 661 FICO credit score for Federal Housing Administration-insured loan applications that were turned down in October, according to mortgage data firm Ellie Mae. (The average FICO credit score for FHA approved loans was 683.)

Like FHA-insured loans, the new 3% mortgages offered by Fannie and Freddie will require home buyers have private mortgage insurance (PMI). That can add significantly to mortgage costs.

For example, a $300,000 home purchased with a 3.5% fixed rate loan and a 3% down payment would have monthly principal and interest charges of about $1,300 a month. The PMI adds another $240 or so to the monthly cost; that’s nearly 20% of the base monthly mortgage amount. (You can estimate the bite of PMI using Zillow’s Mortgage Calculator.)

But one significant advantage the new Fannie/Freddie loan programs have over the FHA program is that they will allow homeowners to cancel their PMI once their home equity reaches at least 20%. Beginning in 2013, the annual insurance charge on FHA-insured loans, currently 1.35% of the loan balance, can never be cancelled regardless of whether the borrower has more than 20% equity.

 

MONEY Health Care

Why Millennials Hate Their Least Expensive Health Care Option

Health plans that shift more up-front costs onto you are rapidly becoming the norm. But millennials don't seem happy about taking on the risk, even in exchange for a lower price.

Millennials want their parents’ old health insurance plan. A new survey from Bankrate found that almost half of 18-to-29-year-olds prefer a health plan with a lower deductible and higher premiums—meaning millennials would rather pay more out of their paycheck every month and pay less when they go to the doctor. Compared to other age groups, millennials are the most likely to prefer plans with higher premiums.

That surprised Bankrate insurance analyst Doug Whiteman. “One would assume people in this age group were not likely to get sick, so they’d choose the cheapest possible plan just to get some insurance,” he says.

In theory, millennials are perfect candidates for high-deductible plans. The conventional wisdom is that since young and healthy people tend to have very low health-care costs, they should opt for a higher deductible and keep more of their paychecks.

If, for example, you go to the doctor only for free preventive care, switching from the average employer-sponsored traditional PPO plan to the average high-deductible health plan would save a single person $229 a year in premiums, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2014 data.

Millennials shopping in the new health insurance marketplace last year didn’t want the cheapest plans either. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, more than two-thirds of 18-to-34-year-olds chose silver plans, which have mid-level premiums and deductibles. Only 4% picked catastrophic plans, the ones with the lowest premiums and out-of-pocket limits of around $6,000.

Why Millennials Are Risk Averse

Why are millennials choosing to pay more for health care? Turns out the “young invincibles” don’t feel so invincible after all, says Christina Postolowski, health policy manager at a youth advocacy group called—as it happens—Young Invincibles. “Millennials are risk-averse and concerned about their out-of-pocket costs if something happens to them,” Postolowski says.

High-deductible plans saddle young adults with risk they can ill afford. According to Kaiser, the average employer-sponsored high-deductible plan made singles pay $2,215 out-of-pocket in 2014 before they ever saw a co-pay.

Yet according to Bankrate, 27% of 18-to-29-year-olds have no emergency savings. A $2,200 bill could sink them. Indeed, Bankrate found that the two groups most likely to prefer a low-deductible plan are millennials and those with incomes between $30,000 and $49,999.

“Young people don’t have money in a bank account to pay for high deductibles,” Postolowski says. “Our generation is carrying $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. An unexpected medical incident isn’t just physical pain. It can be economic pain too.”

That’s why Bankrate’s Whiteman thinks millennials are being “really smart.”

“One of the concerns I have is too many people might only look at the price and neglect the fact that some of these plans that seem really cheap can come with deductibles as high at $6,000,” he says. “That’s a significant amount of money out of your own pocket.”

Fighting the Tide

Some young workers, however, have little choice, or won’t soon. Employers are increasingly shifting to health plans that make workers shoulder more of the costs. Towers Watson found that 74% of employers plan to offer high-deductible plans in 2015, and 23% of them will make it the only option.

Plus, across all employer plans, you have to pay more out-of-pocket than in years past. According to Kaiser, the average deductible for single coverage in 2014 was $1,217, up 47% from five years ago. The generous, low-deductible health plan your parents once had probably won’t be available to you.

How to Make the Best of It

If you end up in a high-deductible plan, learn to make the most of the tax-free savings plan that goes with it—a health savings account (HSA). Yeah, a monthly HSA contribution is one more recurring expense on top of your student loan payments, car payments, rent, and (hopefully) 401(k) contributions. But at least this one can give you the peace of mind that you’ll have the funds to cover a health emergency.

Here’s how an HSA works: You make contributions with pre-tax income. The money carries over year-to-year. You can invest the funds in your HSA, the way you invest the money in your 401(k), and the account will grow tax-free. If you need the money for medical expenses, you withdraw it, again, tax-free. Or, if you stay healthy and have money leftover at age 65, you’re free to spend it on anything.

You qualify for an HSA if your deductible for single coverage is $1,300 or more, or $2,600 for family coverage (and if you’re not claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return). And your company might help you out. Some employers make contributions to their employees’ HSAs, of $1,006 a year on average, according to Kaiser.

For ultimate peace of mind, save enough to cover your entire deductible. But if you’re feeling pinched, at least put away the money you saved on premiums by switching from a more expensive plan.

More:

Read next: 4 Ways Millennials Have It Worse Than Their Parents

TIME Demographics

4 Ways Millennials Have It Worse Than Their Parents

millenial money
Adrian Samson—Getty Images

The latest Census numbers show Americans aged 18 to 34 struggling worse than their parents did in the '80s

Millennials make less money, are more likely to live in poverty and have lower rates of employment than their parents did at their ages 20 and 30 years ago.

That’s the bleak assessment from the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey numbers Thursday, which paint a financially disheartening portrait of Americans aged 18 to 34 who are still trying to rebound from the Great Recession.

The survey largely shows that millennials are worse off than the same age group in 1980, 1990 and 2000 when looking at almost every major economic indicator:

1. Median income
Millennials earned roughly $33,883 a year on average between 2009 and 2013 compared with $35,845 in 1980 and $37,355 in 2000 (all in 2013 inflation-adjusted dollars).

(MORE: American Women are Waiting to Have Kids)

2. Leaving home
More than 30% of millennials live with at least one parent compared to about 23% in 1980, largely because they can’t get a job.

3. Employment
Only about 65% of millennials are currently working compared with more than 70% in 1990

4. Poverty
Almost 20% live in poverty compared with about 14% in 1980.

But it’s not all bad news. The new Census numbers show that young Americans are much more diverse and educated than previous generations. About 22% have a bachelor’s degree or higher (up from 16% in 1980), and a quarter have grown up speaking a language other than English at home (up from 10% in 1980).

And possibly the most interesting statistic in the new numbers? A little over 2% of those aged 18 to 34 are veterans, compared with almost 10% in 1980.

Read next: Millennials Are Mooches…and Other Money Myths

MONEY Financial Planning

Millennials Are Mooches…and Other Money Myths

mom taking back credit card from daughter
Kevin Dodge—Getty Images

Here are three financial stereotypes that just don't ring true to one experienced planner.

There are plenty of stereotypes about how certain people behave around money — stereotypes I’ve often seen contradicted in my experience as a financial planner. Let me debunk some of these money myths for you.

Myth One: All millennials are mooches.

The 30-year-old client came in for the first time. She asked a question that, if you were to listen to the financial media, no one has ever asks. “Can I pay off the student loans my parents took out for me without any tax consequences?”

Say what? Young people sending money to their parents?

I’ve never heard that mentioned in my almost 20 years in the industry. According to the myth, millennials are unemployed and live rent-free in the basement, while expecting their parents to pay for pricey destination weddings.

My sensitivity to what I hear in the media on this issue started when, to prepare people’s taxes, I started asking clients if they had lent anyone money who hadn’t paid them back.

That’s when I started hearing it. “Hasn’t paid me back? Will never pay me back? Yeah, that’s my Dad.” It’s not common response, but I heard it several times a year.

In fact, I’ve heard about just as many parents trying to mooch off their kids as the opposite. My conclusion: If you have more money than other people in your family, there is a small chance you’ll deal with a mooch — um, I mean, a relative with boundary or entitlement issues.

Myth Two: Women care more about spending money than investing. Men care more about investing than spending.

Perhaps this was true once upon a time. In my practice, however, I regularly see women who are more interested in money, saving, and investing than their husband. Conversely, I see men who love to spend — sometimes more than they know is wise — and enjoy the finest in life.

Recent research shows that while men might score better on a pop quiz about interest rates and bond prices, men and women show no difference in investing and spending behavior.

Myth Three: Financial advisers work only with rich patriarchs.

When I first started in financial planning, I sat next to an established planner at dinner. He described his ideal client: “Men over sixty who have made a lot of money who just want to make sure their families are taken care of.”

“Oh, “ I said, “you work with patriarchs!”

We laughed at my joke. However, in my male-dominated industry, I dare say this is the ideal client of a lot of advisers. I call the pursuit of these clients “Searching for Victor Newman,” after the ultra-rich paterfamilias who drives his family nuts on The Young and the Restless.

Working in the industry has assured me that patriarchy is on the wane. I’ve only had one client who said that “taking care of his family” was what he aspired to, and I’ve talked to hundreds of people about their goals and values.

My experience is that both men and women want to make sure that their kids and partners are taken care of both financially and emotionally. They work on the project together.

This bias gives consumers the impression that advisers only want to help Victor Newmans. Here are three organizations that help both advisers who aren’t hunting for that client and consumers who want to meet them:

And my answer to the client in the fortunate position of paying back her parents? After consulting with an attorney on her specific situation, I told her to go ahead.

———-

Bridget Sullivan Mermel helps clients throughout the country with her comprehensive fee-only financial planning firm based in Chicago. She’s the author of the upcoming book More Money, More Meaning. Both a certified public accountant and a certified financial planner, she specializes in helping clients lower their tax burden with tax-smart investing.

MONEY Face to Face

How to Deal with a Roommate Who’s Late Paying the Rent

Past Due envelope slipped under door
Jim Corwin—Alamy

Unfortunately, sharing an apartment can also mean sharing money woes. Use these conversation starters to make sure your own finances don't end up in the gutter—and you don't end up on the street—because of someone else's problems.

If your roommate can’t manage his or her share of the rent, you’ve got more than an uncomfortable situation on your hands.

When both your names are on the lease, you’re both liable for the full amount owed to the landlord, and you can both be evicted if payments aren’t made in total. Your credit score may suffer in the process, too—making it difficult for you to get another apartment. Serious stuff.

Still, the first time your roomie misses a payment, you might give him a pass, says San Francisco-area financial counselor Susan Bross. “But if this happens more than once, it’s about bad decisions they’re making with their money.”

And since the situation could worsen, you’ve got to address it head on, she says. Here’s how:

OPEN GENTLY: “Can we talk about what’s going on with our rent payments?”

Your first goal is figure out why your roommate was late, so that you can determine whether missed payments will continue to be a problem in the future.

If your housemate has just started freelancing and hasn’t yet figured out how to balance expenses against an irregular income, the problem may resolve itself once she gets more settled. But if she’s got a shopping habit that eats up all her paycheck before she can get to her bills, you may have a regular headache ahead.

As you try to ascertain the situation, try your best not to come off as accusatory, says Dr. Eric Dammann, a New York City clinical psychologist and financial coach.

The last thing you want to do is put your housemate on the defensive before you’ve had a chance to discuss resolutions. And if the conversation escalates to a fight, it’ll be tougher for you to live harmoniously under the same roof going forward.

“So bring it up in the gentlest way you can,” he says.

PUT IT IN PERSPECTIVE: “I was late paying some of my other bills last month because of the missed payment.”

If your roommate’s not opening up, or if he acts like missing the deadline is no big deal, let him know how his lateness is affecting you or the rest of your roommates.

“Suggest ways in which it is a big deal,” says Dammann. “You might get through that way.”

Also, explain to him the possible consequences if his portion of the rent is not met every month (e.g. you’ll get kicked out and both end up with poor credit).

FIGURE OUT A GAME PLAN: “Let’s come up with a system so we make sure we don’t have to have these conversations again”

or

“If you’re not able to keep up with rent payments, I need to know so that I can go to our landlord and try to renegotiate the terms of our lease.”

If the late payments are truly only a matter of forgetfulness, try to encourage your roommate to set up a new system to avoid missing payments, so that you’re not left scrambling for money again.

The fix could be as simple as a Google alert, a gentle reminder on a whiteboard in the kitchen, or together using a site like Splitwise, that helps roomies coordinate shared expenses.

But if you find out the issue is more serious or more chronic, start by asking your roommate if he sees any possible resolution, such as asking a parent for money. No end in sight to the problems? Without being too aggressive, let your flatmate know that you’ll have to get the landlord involved in order to protect your own finances.

Then do so, stat. “Most leases can be modified,” says Brandy Peeples, a Frederick, Md. litigation attorney specializing in real estate. “If your landlord knows you’re having problems, he or she may work with you—it’s practical to go back and ask.”

You could see if your landlord will allow you to bring in an extra roommate to reduce everyone’s individual contributions. Or you could try negotiating an early termination fee that allows your roommate to pay a fine and leave the apartment.

“It’s good to keep the landlord into the loop,”says Peeples. “If you wait until after the fact, a lot of times the landlord is not going to be so forgiving.”

RELATED: 3 Tools that Help You Nudge Friends to Pay You Back

MONEY first jobs

Millennials, the Best Time to Quit Your Terrible Job is Now

141104_FF_WhyToQuit
If you're not on the right career path, act quickly. Oscar Wong—Getty Images/Flickr Select

Hating a first job out of college can make anyone feel like a failure. But your early twenties are the best time to take a mulligan.

An irony in my career, given that I write about money, is that my first job at age 22 paid more than my current job, at 29.

Yet I love my job today, just as I am certain that quitting that first job—a financial management consultant position I grew to hate after only a couple of months—was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I was lucky: The reason I disliked my job wasn’t an unsafe workplace, unkind boss, or unfair pay. I was simply bored by a position that turned out to be less interesting and meaningful than advertised.

But the thing about boredom is it can really eat away at you—at your sense of worth and your enthusiasm to get up in the morning. When I found myself constantly looking at the clock, daydreaming about the weekend, and, eventually, crying in the bathroom at the very thought of coming in the next day, I knew I needed a change. So I lined up a teaching job in China and gave my notice, after only two months at the consultancy.

As short a stint as that was, recent research suggests that an increasing number of millennials are in the same boat. That is, they are spending less time at their first jobs after graduation than young people have in the past. That trend has accelerated even within the last year, with fewer graduates staying at jobs past the one-year mark—and a growing number leaving after three months (or less):

image-1
Source: Express Employment Professionals survey of employer estimates.

Why might that be? Well, for one, research shows that only 38% of young adults under age 30 express deep satisfaction with their jobs—compared with 63% for people age 65 and up. This might seem unsurprising at first glance, since older people have had more time to build confidence and get established in their careers.

But millennials aren’t just feeling unfulfilled because they are low on the totem pole; the current job market is also to blame. More than 40% of recent college graduates say they weren’t able to find a job in their desired field, according to a recent McKinsey study. The survey also found that almost half of graduates from four-year colleges report being in jobs that don’t require a four-year degree.

“Many in the millennial generation are taking jobs that they are over-qualified for and thus are eager to move on when something better appears,” says Bob Funk, CEO of Express, the firm that conducted the job duration survey. Plus, he adds, “we’ve seen a decrease in employees’ commitment to employers as a higher value is placed on personal advancement.”

All of this is to say that if you’re unhappy at your first job and are contemplating quitting, you’re not alone.

Still, figuring out when and how to make a move is tricky. Here are three tips on making a smooth switch, from former hiring manager Alison Green, author of askamanager.org.

1. Be honest with yourself. Green has spoken with workers who have stuck around in bad jobs, despite serious problems at work like sexual harassment, because of fears about money, security, and student loans. “If you are truly miserable, you should trust your gut and not be too afraid to lean on savings, a spouse, family, or part-time work instead,” says Green. “For those who don’t have that luxury, keep your eye on the light at the end of the tunnel and direct your energy into finding a better job in the meantime.”

Accurate, real-time salaries for thousands of careers.

It’s also worth doing a little soul searching as soon as you start to feel unhappy, to see whether the problem truly lies with your boss or the position—or if the real culprit is your attitude. One litmus test is to try to behave differently for a week and figure out if that makes you happier. For example, if you normally sit back and wait for assignments, speak up and volunteer. Conversely, if you’re typically too willing to please, try to dial back on how much responsibility you’re taking on at once.

2. Line up another job before you quit—but not just any job. When you quit a first job out of college, says Green, very few future employers are going to hold that against you, especially if you’re able to articulate what you learned from the experience. The danger, however, is that when you’re desperate to leave a job, you might be tempted to take the first new offer you get, even if it’s wrong for you, too.

“It’s okay to quit once, ” Green says. “You kind of get one freebie. But you can’t let it become a pattern.”

3. Leave gracefully. It’s important to be upfront with your employer and give the company time to prepare for your departure. If you are respectful and help out with the transition, you should be fine. “A good employer shouldn’t want you to stay if you’re unhappy with the fit,” says Green.

As for questions from future prospective bosses, post-college jobs of six months or less need not to be added to your resume, says Green. More than that and employers might wonder about the gap.

Watch real people talk about their best and worst bosses in the video below:

 

MONEY Autos

Audi A3 is Made for Millennials

The new entry-level Audi is elegant and understated. Plus, it will read incoming text messages out loud for you.

A number of years ago I met with Audi executives, who wanted to deliver a message: keep an eye on us. They told me that Audi is going to get better and better and then challenge Mercedes and BMW.

That kind of statement sticks with you, but the Audi guys made good on their promise. Audi has now racked up 45 consecutive months of record sales in the U.S. because it can offer a full lineup of elegantly engineered automobiles, from the wondrous R8 sports car to the latest new model, the entry-level A3. The company is banking on winning conquests from Asian makers — maybe Lexus or Acura drivers who want a little more panache — and clearly it wants to take on its German rivals head-to-head.

And in the A3, which starts at around $30,000, Audi has a good case. Let’s be clear, though: If you’re looking for whistles and bells, for over-the-top (as in Italian) styling, or for lots of ornaments on your auto, you probably should go elsewhere. The A3 is luxury defined as restrained elegance, with quality if quiet materials, and a ride that is powerful enough without calling too much attention to itself. You may buy an A3 to announce that you’ve moved up into the 90th percentile, but you’re not going to shout about it.

That was true even with the color of the car we tested. Yes, the Scuba Blue hue was an extra $550. But unlike, say, the cornflower blue of the BMW M3 we drove a couple of weeks before, which was screaming, “I’m TOH-tally cool blue,” this color projected strength. And so did the engine, where it really counts. We were running the bigger of the two power plants that Audi offers in the A3, a turbocharged, 2.0 liter, 220-horsepower, 4–cylinder engine and all-wheel drive that brings the price to $32,900. The 1.8 liter, 170-hp front-wheel drive version gets you in at $30,795, which means you’re giving up a lot of power and torque for two thou. Both versions are equipped with a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission, and that’s not a small thing. It’s a lot of fun looking at the tachometer as you rev through the gears; although the needle races left to right and back again, the smooth transition up and down the gearbox is very impressive.

As for the ride, you can be comfortably aggressive however you like to drive, but the Audi, like lots of refined autos, offers you a couple of modes to tune your wheels. Choose the sport mode, and the electronic steering digs in a little harder and the pedal gets more jumpy, yet the feeling is calm and the interior is quiet enough to enjoy the sound system.

Inside, the A3 dashboard is like a German winter — cool and dark — with a couple of round aluminum AC ports to interrupt the rich leather panel. But it can be brightened by the MMI navigation package, which features a pop-up screen that rises out of the dash like a submarine periscope: Drive! Drive!

The center console is the control room with the commands dished out by a center dial and a four-corner touch panel to handle navigation, audio, and communication. The top of the dial also serves as a touchpad that allows you to write in the destination you want the navigation system to find. It all sounds a bit complex, but after two days I had a really good feel for it — something I can’t say for other vehicles with similar systems.

The only drawback to the interior is the back seat, which can hold three passengers, but only if you really don’t like the one stuck in the middle. Some reviewers have found it downright cramped, but this is what entry-level luxury means in a small sedan. Same thing with the trunk, which I found to be adequate, if just barely.

How can you make a German luxury car that sells for $30,000? Don’t build it in Germany. The A3 is assembled in Gyor, Hungary, and 35% of the parts are Hungarian-made. It’s actually a good deal: Hungary’s wages are lower than Germany’s, which helps keep the price down, yet at the same time it has a very skilled labor force.

But also keep in mind that $30,000 is bare and spare, with no rear-view camera or blind-spot mirrors. The nav and communications system adds $2,600, and the A3 Premium Plus model tacked on $2,550 for heated power front seats and mirrors and other goodies. Paddle shifter? That will be $600. The price for the total package we drove was $40,000 and change. So while the entry-level price is reasonable, the finishing price could boost the bill depending on your choices. That said, if you do choose the A3, you have chosen well.

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