Alexa von Tobel is the leadership-award-winning, New York Times bestseller-writing, presidentially-recognised young entrepreneur who founded LearnVest. Her company is online financial planning service geared primarily at millennials, who von Tobel says face more financial obstacles than any other generation.
She sat down with OneWire’s Skiddy von Stade to explain why financial planning is so challenging for millennials.
“If you think about my grandfather… he paid for everything in cash. You can’t really make that many financial mistakes if everything is paid for in cash,” she said.
But today, young people have access to credit, which can complicate things. On average, millennials rack up $US30,000 in student debt and $US4,000-5,000 in credit card debt before even entering the workforce, von Tobel said.
Then, their mortgages are more leveraged than ever before. And when it comes to retirement planning, defined contribution plans put the responsibility on the young person, rather than their employer.
All this means its a lot easier for young people today to make mistakes. And there’s very little affordable, accessible guidance for them.
“I went to Harvard twice — didn’t matter. We literally didn’t learn a minute of financial education about personal finance,” von Tobel said. That’s why she founded LearnVest.
But the financial challenges millennials face also present greater opportunities for wealth creation, von Tobel said. She thinks the future for millennials is bright, so long as they do a few critical things:
(1) Start saving for retirement early: “It’s actually a topic for your 20s, not a topic for your 40s.”
(2) Understand the concept of investing: That means knowing when to take risks and what that looks like.
(3) Get appropriate insurance: “The basics of financial planning are critical.”
(4) Understand what your means really are: We often hear about living within our means, “but actually defining what your means are — that’s the gap.”
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