Things You Should Own as a Millennial

Millennials are often stereotyped as being lazy, entitled, and broke. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Millennials are some of the hardest-working people in America. They’re just not working in the traditional sense that their parents were used to. The days of climbing up a corporate ladder are long gone. Millennials aren’t driven by money or power like their parents were. Instead, they have a different set of priorities: namely, finding happiness and fulfillment at work, which means taking on jobs with meaning rather than prestige or high salaries.

And so many millennials find themselves starting businesses—small startups that give them all sorts of opportunities for creativity and personal growth but don’t always come with big paychecks right away (or at all). Here are things you should own if you’re a millennial looking to get ahead:

1. A business wardrobe

Times have changed. No longer do job interviews, client meetings, or networking events require women to wear uncomfortable dresses and closed-toe shoes. A professional woman’s attire should be formal enough to look put together but easy enough that you can move around effortlessly in it.

Dress pants with blazers are the perfect solution. They’re comfortable sitting at your desk all day without looking too casual for when you need to give a presentation or head down to the basement for an equipment installation (or whatever the case may be). Make sure you invest in quality pieces rather than cheap outfits; otherwise, they’ll shrink after their first wash and fade after you’ve worn them several times.

As far as what separates work clothes” from “weekend clothes,” you should always look your best at the office, no matter how casual it is. You never know when you’ll run into an important person on their way to the elevator, so save the yoga pants for after-hours.

2. A reliable car

If you’re one of the many millennials, who live in a city where public transportation runs late, and cabs are nonexistent or unreliable, owning a car might not be an option for you. It may seem like most people under 30 prefer Uber over buying their own set of wheels. However, there’s still nothing like having a car that knows where it’s going without needing anyone’s help and that you take to a car mechanic when it needs some repair. And if new cars aren’t in your budget, don’t worry. Many reliable used cars on the market today will get you from Point A to Point B without breaking your bank account.

3. A 401(k)

Your parents might have been able to get away with just putting money into a savings account, but you can’t. The economy is different now, and it’s time millennials realized this fact: You need an IRA or a 401(k). If your employer offers one for their employees (and why wouldn’t they?), take advantage of it.

Matching contributions are essentially free money—and the longer you let your investments compound (without draining them), the bigger return you’ll end up getting on your investment. Having an IRA or 401(k) is good for you and good for the economy; every dollar that stays in someone’s retirement fund instead of being spent means less inflation throughout the economy as everyone spends at once.

4. A (good) side hustle

If you haven’t heard of the term “side hustle,” you might be living under a rock. Side hustles are jobs that millennials take on in addition to their full-time 9-to-5 work—think Uber, Postmates, or TaskRabbit—and they’ve become one of the favorite millennial pastimes in recent times.

Funnily enough, not only does working a side hustle allow you to make money while doing things you love, but it can help your main job by boosting your skillset and giving you valuable experience in what could soon be your career field. The economy has conditioned millennials to take on more than one job for additional income if needed; in this case, the side hustle is the equivalent of a part-time job.

5. A savings account

Whether you’re saving up for your next big purchase or want to have money to fall back on during an emergency, you must maintain some form of savings account in addition to your retirement fund(s). For one thing, having cash at home allows you to avoid racking up credit card debt when unexpected bills need paying off (or when you can’t resist buying something expensive). And secondly, if you ever do decide to switch jobs and find yourself unemployed after all, your six-month savings cushion will keep you afloat until you land another paycheck instead of drowning in debt.

6. Good health insurance

While you might think a penalty for not having health insurance doesn’t affect you, especially since so many millennials have been classified as “young invincible,” your lack of coverage can catch up to you the second it’s needed. A broken arm from a skiing accident or a severe illness with an unexpected round of bills can easily eat up every dollar saved in your savings account, and after that comes maxing out your credit cards. And without good health insurance, those bills will only get worse.

Millennials are fortunate enough to live in an age where investment vehicles are available to us that our parents never had access to. Still, the working world is also more competitive than ever before. This boils down to a simple equation: The longer you take making investments in yourself, either through your retirement fund(s), IRA or 401(k), side hustle, savings account, or good health insurance package, the better off you’ll be in the long term

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