'We do want to save': How young professionals balance rising expenses, long-term financial goals

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Tuesday, August 2, 2022 10:12PM
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Young professionals are facing a rocky financial market. Here's things experts suggest they do to set themselves up for success.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Tuesday was a beautiful day for a stop Pullen Park, where siblings Favur, David and Sam kicked off their family trip.

The three are all in their 20s, each separated by a year -- with Favur and David starting their professional careers and Sam finishing his education. When it comes to financial goals, their outlooks are largely aligned.

"We do want to save for retirement. And me, I have student loans that I need to pay off. For a lot of us, our priority is with expenses we have right now in front of us. Not to say that we don't want to invest, not to say that we don't have goals that we want to invest and save for the long-term," Favur explained.

"Trying to save as much as I can, but also trying to delegate some of that towards investing. I know the stock market, I know it's pretty volatile right now, but I feel like it's a good time to buy in," added David.

"I have day-to-day expenses, that I like to purchase money on. But I also have to have that mindset that down the road I have to pay for this, this, this and this, so I have to keep my priorities straight," noted Sam.

Favur said she is factoring in the current economic climate when making decisions.

"If I wasn't dealing with inflation, if we weren't in this somewhat crisis, I would have been looking at one bedroom apartments. But because of that, I'm leaning towards staying with my parents for some time," said Favur.

In June, the 12-month inflation rate hit 9.1%, the highest in more than 40 years. It coincided with a choppy year in the markets, where the Dow Jones has dipped about 11%, the Nasdaq nearly 22%, and the S&P around 15% year-to-date.

"They should be taking advantage of a downturn in the market," said Nick Pino, a financial planner with Capitol Financial Solutions in Raleigh.

Short-term losses tend to have less of an impact on younger professionals, who are decades away from retirement, and have less invested in the market. However, Pino acknowledged they are also likely more impacted by rising costs.

"Things like gas prices, food prices, those things affect everybody. When we're younger, making a lower wage, it's going to have a higher effect," Pino said.

He recommended having an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses, and then investing in retirement accounts like a Roth or 401K.

"I'm a big fan of Roth, especially for younger folks who don't necessarily need the tax deduction today. Throw the money into Roth, pay a little bit of tax now, let that grow for many, many, many years, and then have a tax-free bucket in retirement that you can diversify your income where it comes from from a tax standpoint," Said.

For those whose jobs offer 401K matches, hitting that minimum to ensure the contribution is vital.

"Take advantage of the free money that our employer is going to provide through the matching for sure, at least. But that should be the minimum," said Pino.

"You've got to live for today, but you've got to plan for tomorrow," added Brian Raleigh, President of Raleigh Wealth Solutions in Cary.

Raleigh encouraged people start saving early, even if it's just a small amount to build upon.

"I always tell people - start with 1 or 2 percent. You're not going to miss that. And then every six months, go up by half a percent until you get to 10 percent," said Raleigh.

It's also good practice to set patterns at the beginning of a career.

"It's so much easier if you develop that good habit early on, because what we see (is) if people save when they're younger, they'll continue to save," Raleigh said.

Currently, the unemployment rate in North Carolina is just 3.4%, below pre-pandemic levels.

"Candidates are asking for better pay, more benefits, more bonuses. Remote flexibility, a better work-life balance. I think people don't want to commute anymore right now, and I certainly think inflation is playing a role in that. People are being more intentional with their time and their money," said Taylor Myers, a senior account executive with Management Recruiters of Raleigh, part of the MRI Network.

He suggests looking at the total compensation package instead of solely the salary. Remote flexibility also offers potential savings, including less money spent on gas and child-care.

"Ultimately, I think people are kind of finding their groove right now, coming into the office (sometimes), staying home (sometimes). And companies that are succeeding and businesses that are able to retain people and bring new folks in are the ones that are being flexible," said Myers.

While job-hopping can potentially lead to higher pay, Myers noted there is also value in stability for younger workers.

"I encourage them to learn, to grow. If they are job-hopping a lot, if they have a lot of jobs on their resumes and they're not even 30 years old yet. That conversation I have with them is if there's not a good story that aligns with it, people are going to be hesitant to interview you and it's going to be a problem long-term."