MONEY

Gen Y’s Glaring Financial Oversight Could Cost Them Big

woman tying blindfold on herself
Jonathan Fernstrom—Getty Images

It's the simplest thing, really

New research finds that a huge number of millennials don’t bother looking at their bills, an oversight that could be costing them—and anybody else who’s in the habit of paying without perusing—in more ways that you’d expect.

In a survey of more than 2,000 adults under the age of 25 conducted on behalf of technology company Inlet, 32% of respondents said they don’t look over itemized bills before paying them.

One possible reason could be because so many young adults pay their bills electronically these days. “Millennials are digital natives and are accustomed to living their lives on mobile devices and social networks,” Inlet points out in a release accompanying the results. The survey finds that fewer than 25% use paper checks and snail mail to pay bills, while about 10% get email reminders and 5% get text reminders when their bills are due.

But this convenience can have a downside if it leads to carelessness. If you don’t check your bills, here are some potentially costly outcomes that can result.

You might be paying for a service you don’t use. Maybe you signed up for a premium cable channel you no longer watch, or for a data plan that far outstrips your mobile usage. Maybe you signed up for a subscription — anything from a gym membership to movie-streaming site access—that you don’t use anymore. If you don’t look at your bill, this could slip your mind and cost you money.

You could miss out on savings. Sometimes, companies will offer money-saving options on your monthly bill that you won’t know about if you just look at the the total and tap a few keys or write out a check. For instance, you might be able save a few dollars if you opt for paperless statements or electronic payments. Expenses like insurance premiums sometimes can be a few bucks lower if you pay your annual premium in a lump sum rather than spreading out your payments over the course of the year.

You might get ripped off. Maybe you signed up for a cable package at a promotional rate, or were promised a discount on a purchase. The only way to make sure you’re getting what you’re entitled to is to check your bill. Glitches and mistakes do happen, and it’s up to you (not the company!) to be sure you’re not paying more than you should. In the case of credit or debit cards, you’ll also want to verify that you get the refund you’re owed if you return an item, and that you’re not overcharged at places like restaurants.

You could be a fraud victim. Hopefully you’d notice if someone went on a spending spree using your account information, but sometimes, small discrepancies can give you an early warning. When thieves steal a cache of credit or debit card information and sell it on the black market, the buyer will often make a small transaction—maybe a dollar or even less—to see if the stolen digits they just bought are still “live.” Catching an unfamiliar transaction that otherwise might go overlooked could save you a much bigger headache later.

Read next: Automate Your Finances With Our ‘Set It and Forget It’ Checklist

MONEY

Parents, Brace Yourselves: This Is How Much You’ll Spend on Back-to-School Shopping

parent holding hands with two kids with backpacks
Alamy

It's a whopper number, but parents actually say it's lower than last year.

The start of the school year is still more than a month away, but subtraction is already on the lesson plan. Parents this year say they will be spending less on back-to-school clothes, electronics supplies, and other items for their kids, according to a new survey released by the National Retail Federation.

That’s in spite of the fact that a smaller number of parents say the way they shop is influenced by the economy — about three-quarters of parents surveyed, down from more than four out of five last year and the lowest in the seven years the NRF has been asking that question.

Among that 76%, fewer say they’ll be tracking down sales more often or buying store-brand items this year. They’re also confident enough that they’re starting their shopping later this year, rather than getting an early jump on bargain-hunting or spending slowly to minimize the budgetary hit. The number of families who say they’ll wait until just a week or two until school starts went up from 25% to 30% in only a year.

The lower total may simply be due to yearly fluctuations, says NRF president Matthew Shay, as some big-ticket items need less frequent purchases: “It’s unlikely most families would need to restock and replenish apparel, electronics and supplies every year.”

Collectively, American parents with kids in kindergarten through 12th grade will shell out $24.9 billion — a drop of about 6% from last year. On average, a family with school-aged kids expects it will spend $630.36 this year, the lowest it’s been since 2011 and down from $669.28 last year.

It’s not just backpacks and binders. The biggest chunk of families’ overall back-to-school budget goes to clothes, which around 93% of families buy. Across all shoppers, clothing and electronics account for more than $400 of the average family’s back-to-school outlay.

And while not all parents are buying electronics, the 57% who do so spend more on that than on clothes — an average of an average of just about $346 per family. For parents who grew up in an era where a graphing calculator was the most costly gadget a kid could need, this is a big adjustment.

And parents, if you think your kids are going to defray some of the costs by kicking in the contents of their piggy bank of summer job, guess again: Only about four out of 10 teenagers will help pay for their back-to-school expenses, and those who do will only contribute around $82 to the total.

MONEY Kids and Money

Why Virginia Teens Have a Big Edge Over Teens in Florida

high school students walking out of school
Getty Images

Florida's governor just sold the state's teenagers short.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a pilot project at the end of June that would have taken a big step toward mandating personal finance as a standalone course in high schools throughout the state. Meanwhile, Virginia’s high school class of 2015 just became the state’s first to finish with a personal finance requirement.

The developments highlight the on-again, off-again nature of the effort to make financial instruction a part of every child’s education. “Virginia’s class of 2015 enters the real world with a comparative advantage,” says Nan Morrison, CEO of the Council for Economic Education, adding that she was “disappointed” Florida killed the Broward County project, which would have cost just $30,000.

Financial education is gaining traction globally. The U.K. and Australia have mandatory money management classes in schools. Last month, Canada announced a national strategy for financial literacy and is rolling out 50 programs as part of Count Me In, Canada. These will include websites with educational resources for students as well as seminars and workshops for seniors.

The U.S. has a formal national strategy for financial capability, approved in 2006 and updated in 2011. Yet a persistent barrier to progress, at least at the school level, is that individual states have domain over their school curricula. There can be no federal mandate for financial education, as in other countries. So organizations like Jumpstart Coalition and the CEE have been leading the effort to establish standards for personal finance coursework and convince states to sign on, one by one.

It’s been a long slog. Just 17 states currently require students to take a personal finance course, according to the most recent Survey of the States report; 22 require high school economics. Both numbers are trending upward.

Will There Be a Test on That?

But in education, unless students get tested on a subject it never really gets taken seriously. And in both economics and personal finance, the number of states with required testing in these areas is falling — to 16 from a peak of 27 in economics and to six from nine in personal finance.

Why does this matter? Advocates for financial education see it as a buttress against the next financial meltdown. If more people understand more about how their mortgage works and why an emergency fund equal to six months of living expenses is important, they may be less likely to take on debts they cannot afford or default at the first hiccup in their financial plan. The idea is that this could stop any downward spiral in the national economy.

Yet even if that seems far-fetched, it is hard to deny the individual benefits of a population that knows more about retirement saving, budgets and credit. Millennials and younger generations will grow old in an age of greatly diminished public and private pensions; the sooner they understand that — and many are getting the message — the more likely they will be to save more at an earlier age.

So bravo, Virginia class of 2015. You have blazed an important path. One recent study found that a required high school course in economics and personal finance resulted in higher credit scores and lower delinquency rates as adults.

“In Virginia, since our course is relatively new, we have only anecdotal evidence,” says Daniel Mortensen, executive director of the Virginia CEE. “One student recently wrote a letter to the editor, talking about the required course and the value it has brought to his life.”

As for the setback in Florida, it is somewhat surprising in that the state last summer became the first to adopt CEE K-12 national standards for financial literacy. This is not a backward-thinking group of legislators. In effect, all the governor did was shoot down an attempt to strengthen what’s already in place: a required one-semester economics course that is 25% personal finance.

By comparison, Virginia’s requirement is two semesters — about half of which is personal finance. So it’s not as though Florida is doing nothing about financial illiteracy; it just isn’t doing enough.

TIME

1 Totally Common Shopping Habit That’s Wrecking Your Budget

tearing money
Jon Schulte—Getty Images

Why you cave instead of save

Like to take your time browsing in the store? Watch out: Time is money, as they say, and the longer you’ve spent shopping in a store, the more it could be costing you money. A new study finds that you’re more likely to spend money on unplanned splurges as your shopping trip progresses, even if you’re really just intending to buy the stuff you came for in the first place.

“The unplanned selection may cue other forgotten needs,” writes lead author and University of Notre Dame associate marketing professor Timothy Gilbride in a new Journal of Marketing study. Basically, buying one thing you weren’t planning on getting makes you remember all of the other things you might have needed but didn’t put on your list, so that first impulse item you pick up opens the floodgates.

In experiments with 400 supermarket shoppers equipped with handheld scanners to record what they put into their carts — and in what order — Gilbride and his fellow authors found that the likelihood you’ll splurge on an unintended purchase is almost 10% higher at the end of a shopping trip.

“There is support for the cumulative effect of shopping cues and/or [self-control] resource depletion toward the end of the shopping trip,” he says.

One thing that might help save your wallet is having a tighter budget. The researchers found that penny-pinchers were less susceptible to the siren song of impulse purchases. For subjects with budgets of less than $64, that first unplanned purchase helped deter them from putting an unplanned purchase into their cart next, although — be warned — Gilbride and his team find that buffer fades by the end of the shopping trip. And for freer-spending consumers — those with budgets between $64 and $109 — the action of purchasing new goodies feeds on itself, and one impulse buy is likely to be followed by more of the same.

“An unplanned selection increases the probability that the next selection will also be unplanned, and this effect grows stronger over the course of the trip,” Gilbride says.

Interestingly, shoppers who budgeted more than $109 per trip didn’t really seem to be affected, either; Gilbride theorizes this is just because they don’t really have to think and plan as much in advance when it comes to their shopping budgets, so there’s less of a distinction between what’s on their list and what they just throw in the cart when it catches their eye.

To avoid sticker shock when the cashier rings you up, try avoiding promotions for items you hadn’t planned to buy, like free samples, that are located in the back or in the more far-flung corners of the store you’re likely to visit later in the trip. Having an idea of your maximum budget in mind when you enter the store can also help. “Making and monitoring a mental budget (or using a shopping app) for unplanned purchases during a shopping trip provides the shopper flexibility… while avoiding an unexpectedly large overall expense,” Gilbride says.

MONEY 401(k)s

How the New-Model 401(k) Can Help Boost Your Retirement Savings

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Betsie Van Der Meer—Getty Images

As old-style pensions disappear, today's hands-off 401(k)s are starting to look more like them. And that's working for millennials.

If you want evidence that the 401(k) plan has been a failed experiment, consider how they’re starting to resemble the traditional pensions they’ve largely replaced. Plan by plan, employers are moving away from the do-it-yourself free-for-all of the early 401(k)s toward a focus on secure retirement income, with investment pros back in charge of making that happen.

We haven’t come full circle—and likely never will. The days of employer-funded, defined-benefit plans with guaranteed lifetime income will continue their three-decade fade to black. But the latest 401(k) plan innovations have all been geared at restoring the best of what traditional pensions offered.

Wall Street wizards are hard at work on the lifetime income question. Nearly all workers believe their 401(k) plan should have a guaranteed income option and three-in-four employers believe it is their responsibility to provide one, according to a BlackRock survey. So annuities are creeping into the investment mix, and plan sponsors are exploring ways to help workers seamlessly convert some 401(k) assets to an income stream upon retiring.

Meanwhile, like old-style pensions, today’s 401(k) plans are often a no-decision benefit with age-appropriate asset allocation and professionally managed investment diversification to get you to the promised land of retirement. Gone are confusing sign-up forms and weighty decisions about where to invest and how much to defer. Enrollment is automatic at a new job, where you may also automatically escalate contributions (unless you prefer to handle things yourself and opt out).

More than anything, the break-neck growth of target-date funds has brought about the change. Some $500 billion is invested in these funds, up from $71 billion a decade ago. Much of that money has poured in through 401(k) accounts, especially among our newest workers—millennials. They want to invest and generally know they don’t know how to go about it. Simplicity on this front appeals to them. Partly because of this appeal, 40% of millennials are saving a higher percentage of their income this year than they did last year—the highest rate of improvement of any generation, according to a T. Rowe Price study.

With a single target-date fund a saver can get an appropriate portfolio for their age, and it will adjust as they near retirement and may keep adjusting through retirement. About 70% of 401(k) plans offer target-date funds and 75% of plan participants invest in them, according to T. Rowe Price. The vast majority of investors in target-date funds have all their retirement assets in just one fund.

“This is a good thing,” says Jerome Clark, who oversees target funds for T. Rowe Price. Keeping it simple is what attracts workers and leads them to defer more pay. “Don’t worry about the other stuff,” Clark says. “We’ve got that. All you need do is focus on your savings rate.”

Even as 401(k) plans add features like auto enrollment and annuities to better replace traditional pensions, target-date funds are morphing too and speeding the makeover of the 401(k). These funds began life as simple balanced funds with a basic mix of stocks, bonds and cash. Since then, they have widened their mix to include alternative assets like gold and commodities.

The next wave of target-date funds will incorporate a small dose of illiquid assets like private equity, hedge funds, and currencies, Clark says. They will further diversify with complicated long-short strategies and merger arbitrage—thus looking even more like the portfolios that stand behind traditional pensions.

This is not to say that target-date funds are perfect. These funds invest robotically, based on your age not market conditions, so your fund might move money at an inopportune moment. Target-date funds may backfire on millennials, who have taken to them in the highest numbers. Because of their age, millennials have the greatest exposure to stocks in their target-date funds and yet this generation is most likely to tap their retirement savings in an emergency. What if that happens when stock prices are down? Among still more concerns, one size does not fit all when it comes to investing. You may still be working at age 65 while others are not. That calls for two different portfolios.

But the overriding issue is that Americans just don’t save enough and a reasonably inexpensive and relatively safe investment product that boosts savings must be seen as a positive. With far less income, millennials are stashing away about the same percentage of their earnings as Gen X and boomers, according to T. Rowe Price. That’s at least partly thanks to new-look 401(k)s and the target-date funds they offer.

Read next: 3 Ways to Build a $1 Million Nest Egg Despite Lower Investment Returns

MONEY Personal Finance

Oh No! Needing a Fridge, Rubio Raids Retirement Account

Larry Marano/Getty Images

Dipping into retirement savings to fund an everyday expense is a common but costly error.

If Florida Sen. Marco Rubio intends to lead by example, he’s off to a rocky start. The Republican presidential hopeful raided his retirement account last September, in part to buy a new refrigerator and air conditioner, according to a recent financial disclosure and comments on Fox News Sunday.

In liquidating his $68,000 American Bar Association retirement account, Rubio showed he’s no Mitt Romney, whose IRA valued at as much a $102 million set tongues wagging coast to coast during the last presidential cycle. Rubio clearly has more modest means, which is why—like most households—if he doesn’t already have an emergency fund equal to six months of fixed living expenses he should set one up right away.

He told Fox host Chris Wallace: “It was just one specific account that we wanted to have access to cash in the coming year, both because I’m running for president, but, also, you know, my refrigerator broke down. That was $3,000. I had to replace the air conditioning unit in our home.”

Millions of Americans treat their retirement savings the same way Rubio did in this instance, raiding a 401(k) or IRA when things get tight. Sometimes you have no other option. But most of the time this is a mistake. Cash-outs, early withdrawals, and plan loans that never get repaid reduce retirement wealth by an average of 25%, reports the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Money leaking out of retirement accounts in this manner totals as much as $70 billion a year, equal to nearly a quarter of annual contributions, according to a HelloWallet survey.

Rubio’s brush with financial stress from two failed appliances probably won’t set him too far back. He has federal and state retirement accounts and other savings. And let’s face it: The whole episode has an appealing and potentially vote-getting Everyman quality to it. Still, it is not a personal financial strategy you want to emulate.

 

 

TIME

These Are America’s Secret Money Habits

Pile of new series American money twenty on top.
Getty Images

You'll be surprised at how we really see ourselves

Young adults spend less on groceries, but eat out more. New Yorkers are suckers for a fancy brand name, Bostonians love giving gifts and Floridians want to get money advice from Warren Buffett.

These are some of the finds in the new TD Bank Saving and Spending Survey, which uncovers some good news as well as some red flags about how Americans manage their money today.

Respondents under the age of 35 have the most financial confidence of any age bracket. They’re less likely to use the words “conservative” or “cautious” to describe their approach to saving, and they’re a full 10 percentage points more likely when compared to the overall pool of respondents to say they’re “very confident” that they’ll be able to save enough for retirement.

This apparent contradiction is because young adults are at very different points in their lives, says Nandita Bakhshi, TD Banks’ head of consumer bank. “Some are just graduating from college while others are married and starting a family. This mixed group lends itself to mixed answers.”

Bakhshi adds that because many of them are landing their first “real” post-college jobs, they’re seeing their financial circumstances shift rapidly. “Many of them… finally have extra income they can use to splurge on items they want,” she says, and they also have the ability to save a meaningful amount for the first time in their adult lives. “Seeing their savings grow, even if it is a small amount, is a big accomplishment and gives them a sense of pride and confidence,” she says.

Other recent research yields similar findings. The Bank of America/USA Today Better Money Habits Millennial Report finds that more than two-thirds of young adults have savings or save regularly each month; more than three-quarters of those who have savings goals say they meet them.

But when people were asked where they tend to overspend, millennial respondents to the TD Bank survey are most likely to say they spend too much in all categories, and more likely to say they wish they could save more.

In particular, they stand out for splurging on restaurants, even though they spend less on groceries than other age groups.

Bakhshi says this is a combination of millennials being unable to resist an option that offers greater convenience, and this demographic’s preference for doing things in groups. “Dining out is also considered to be a social event that many millennials look forward to [even if] it may stretch their budget a bit,” she says.

Both surveys find that parents and friends are a big influence on how young people manage their money. The Bank of America/USA Today survey finds that almost two-thirds of young adults say they get financial guidance from their parents, and nearly 30% get financial information from their friends.

The TD Bank survey found that a little more than half of young adults get financial advice from their parents, just over the average for respondents of all ages, but 14% say they turn to their friends — a considerably higher figure than the 8% of all respondents who say the same.

There are other differences that break down by geography rather than age. TD Bank finds that Florida residents, for instance, are much more likely to say that their ideal person to talk about financial strategy with is famous investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett.

“Florida has a high population of retirees [who]may no longer have that support system” of friends and family for financial advice, Bakhshi says.

Bostonians are the only group of respondents who say they overspend on gifts for other people, but that generosity has limits: This is also the category more Bostonians say they’d cut back on if they hit a financial tight spot.

New York City residents report higher spending on purchases like restaurant meals and tickets to sporting events, and overspending on more categories like high-end brands and coffee, than people who live in other places do.

“In many urban areas, such as New York, consumers have easy access to many things such as dining out, entertainment and clothing,” Bakhshi says. “It is hard to walk down the street without passing any of these places.”

MONEY 401(k)s

1 in 3 Older Workers Likely to Be Poor or Near Poor in Retirement

businessman reduced to begging
Eric Hood—iStock

Fewer Americans have access to a retirement plan at work. If you're one of them, here's what you can do.

A third of U.S. workers nearing retirement are destined to live in or near poverty after leaving their jobs, new research shows. One underlying cause: a sharp decline in employer-sponsored retirement plans over the past 15 years.

Just 53% of workers aged 25-64 had access to an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan in 2011, down from 61% in 1999, according to a report from Teresa Ghilarducci, professor of economics at the New School. More recent data was not available, but the downward trend has likely continued, the report finds.

This data includes both traditional pensions and 401(k)-like plans. So the falloff in access to a retirement plan is not simply the result of disappearing defined-benefit plans, though that trend remains firmly entrenched. Just 16% of workers with an employer-sponsored plan have a traditional pension as their primary retirement plan, vs. 63% with a 401(k) plan, Ghilarducci found.

Workers with access to an employer-sponsored plan are most likely to be prepared for retirement, other research shows. So the falling rate of those with access is a big deal. In 2011, 68% of the working-age U.S. population did not participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan. The reasons ranged from not being eligible to not having a job to choosing to opt out, according to Ghilarducci’s research.

She reports that the median household net worth of couples aged 55-64 is just $325,300 and that 55% of these households will have to subsist almost entirely on Social Security benefits in retirement. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and the National Institute on Retirement Security, among others, have also found persistent gaps in retirement readiness. Now we see where insufficient savings and the erosion of employer-based plans is leading—poverty-level retirements for a good chunk of the population.

At the policy level, we need to encourage more employers to offer a retirement plan. On an individual level, you can fix the problem with some discipline. Even those aged 50 and older have time to change the equation by spending less, taking advantage of tax-deferred catch-up savings limits in an IRA or 401(k), and planning to stay on the job a few years longer. That may sound like tough medicine, but it’s nothing next to struggling financially throughout your retirement.

TIME

5 Money Habits of the Filthy Rich You Can Learn Now

How to save and invest your way to seven figures

Think it’s impossible to save a million bucks? It’s not. Fidelity Investments took a look at the 401(k) portfolios of its clients to see if those in the million-dollar-plus club have characteristics that make them stand out from the crowd.

Surprisingly, being super-rich wasn’t one of them. Although the average annual earnings of people with more than $1 million in their 401(k) was a substantial $359,000, Fidelity found that a number of these people had reported earnings of under $150,000.

As of the end of last year, more than 72,000 Fidelity clients had 401(k)s with more than $1 million in them — that’s more than double the number who had reached that monetary milestone just two years ago. Sure, investors across the board have benefitted from the stock market’s recovery, but the most retirement-ready people also displayed some specific saving and investing habits that helped them reach their goals.

They go slow and steady. “They really took a long term approach… took most of their careers to get there,” says Fidelity retirement expert Jeanne Thompson. The average age of Fidelity’s 401(k) millionaires is just under 60, and have been in the workforce for 30 years. It’s also worth noting that many of the people with the healthiest nest eggs also started saving for retirement early. “It’s not like it happened overnight,” Thompson says.

They max out their contributions. Fidelity found that million-dollar investors contribute roughly 14% of their income towards their 401(k)s — $21,4000 a year, on average. Now, this is above the annual amount workers under 50 are allowed to contribute — those workers are capped at contributing $18,000 a year in 2015 — but the average age of Fidelity’s million-plus 401(k) clients skews about 10 years higher than that. In other words, the most aggressive retirement savers seem to ramp up their contributions once they get the legal go-ahead to sock away more. By contrast, those with portfolios under $1 million contribute only $6,050 a year.

They don’t rely on target date funds. Target date funds have been pitched as a kind of “set it and forget it” option for investors, but a peek into the portfolios of the people who accrued $1 million or more shows that they don’t rely on them entirely or even primarily. As of the end of 2014, about 40% of these investors’ portfolios is in domestic equities, another 12% is in company stock and 6% is in foreign equities, on average. Only 10% of the average portfolio is allotted to target date funds.

They stay in equities. “To some extent, if you’re invested in cash you’re only going to have what you put in,” Thompson says. “Many people may be in retirement for 30 years or more,” she points out, so people might want to reevaluate if or when switching to a more conservative allocation is right for them. “As people are working longer and living longer, many will hold higher equity allocations,” she says. “You still have 30 years your money has to last…If you go too conservative too early you might not keep up with inflation.” On average, about three-quarters of the holdings of millionaire 401(k) clients are in equities — and remember, these are investors with an average age of around 60.

They don’t panic. “The key is when the markets go down not to panic,” Thompson says. Although it can be scary watching those numbers go down, selling at a loss only makes it harder to recover when the market eventually recovers. “They did bounce back, and so they’re were able, as equities rose, to ride the upswing,” Thompson says.

MONEY Savings

5 Signs You Will Become a Millionaire

150304_EM_MILLIONAIRES
Martin Barraud—Getty Images

A million isn't what it used to be. But it's not bad, and here's how you get there.

A million bucks isn’t what it used to be. When your father, or maybe you, set that savings goal in 1980 it was like shooting for $3 million today. Still, millionaire status is nothing to sniff at—and new research suggests that a broad swath of millennials and Gen-Xers are on the right track.

The “emerging affluent” class, as defined in the latest Fidelity Millionaire Outlook study, has many of the same habits and traits as today’s millionaires and multimillionaires. You are in this class if you are 21 to 49 years of age with at least $100,000 of annual household income and $50,000 to $250,000 in investable assets. Fidelity found this group has five key points in common with today’s millionaires:

  • Lucrative career: The emerging affluent are largely pursuing careers in information technology, finance and accounting—much like many of today’s millionaires did years ago. They may be at a low level now, but they have time to climb the corporate ladder.
  • High income: The median household income of this emerging class is $125,000, more than double the median U.S. household income. That suggests they have more room to save now and are on track to earn and save even more.
  • Self-starters: Eight in 10 among the emerging affluent have built assets on their own, or added to those they inherited, which is also true of millionaires and multimillionaires.
  • Long-term focus: Three in four among the emerging affluent have a long-term approach to investments. Like the more established wealthy, this group stays with its investment regimen through all markets rather than try to time the market for short-term gains.
  • Appropriate aggressiveness: Similar to multimillionaires, the emerging affluent display a willingness to invest in riskier, high-growth assets for superior long-term returns.

Becoming a millionaire shouldn’t be difficult for millennials. All it takes is discipline and an early start. If you begin with $10,000 at age 25 and save $5,500 a year in an IRA that grows 6% a year, you will have $1 million at age 65. If you save in a 401(k) plan that matches half your contributions, you’ll amass nearly $1.5 million. That’s with no inheritance or other savings. Such sums may sound big to a young adult making little money. But if they save just $3,000 a year for seven years and then boost it to $7,500 a year, they will reach $1 million by age 65.

An emerging affluent who already has up to $250,000 and a big income can do this without breaking a sweat. They should be shooting far higher—to at least $3 million by 2050, just to keep pace with what $1 million buys today (assuming 3% annual inflation). But they will need $6 million in 2050 to have the purchasing power of $1 million back in 1980, when your father could rightly claim that a million dollars would make him rich.

Read next: What’s Your Best Path to $1 Million?

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