Millennial Money: Make your funds move at the speed of life

Change is constant — especially when you’re young. Chances are you’ll cycle through a few moves, job changes and romantic relationships as you establish your life as a young adult.

Each development in these three big areas of your life brings financial challenges, too. You might need a new wardrobe for the dream job you just landed. Dating isn’t cheap and moving is almost always expensive, no matter how far you go. Here are ways to manage the cost of change.

HOUSING CHANGES

Moving is a logistical and financial challenge, but you can mitigate some of the stress and expense.

“Having a plan is always key,” says Lacey Langford, an accredited financial counsellor. “Think through the steps of your move and the costs that go along with it.” The earlier you start planning, the more time you have to research, minimize and save for expenses you identify.

Try out a few easy ways to save money:

COMPARE MOVERS. Prices vary among moving companies. Some will require more movers to haul your stuff or higher hourly rates, which can drive up the price. Check the prices of three to five before choosing.

THINK BEYOND DIY MOVING TRUCKS. Hauling stuff on your own? Rather than using one of the go-to truck rental companies, check out rental car companies. See whether you can save money by selling or donating nonessential items and moving only what fits in a rental van. Depending on your move, you could save hundreds.

SHOP USED. Rather than buying a new sofa or area rug, check out local antique shops or secondhand stores. You may be able to save money and get a unique item at the same time.

RELATIONSHIP CHANGES

Relationship changes could mean your and your partner’s money is moving closer together — or further apart. Whether you’re shacking up or breaking up, the key to managing finances is communication.

JOINING FINANCES. First, have a deep, honest conversation. Talk about your money history, including things like how your parents managed their money, your current financial standing and your future financial goals, advises wealth psychology expert Kathleen Burns Kingsbury.

“Having this conversation does three things: First, it breaks the money silence. Second, it helps you understand each other’s money mindsets, and third, you get buy-in on how you’re going to pay bills and take on financial challenges,” Burns Kingsbury says.

Next, plan how you want to handle your joint finances. Burns Kingsbury suggests checking in every six months or so to keep the dialogue going and ensure the plan is working for both of you.

SEPARATING FINANCES. Breaking up has added complexity when you’ve commingled finances. But a level head — and outside help if needed — can make it less painful.

Sit down and talk through each account you share, Burns Kingsbury advises. Come to an agreement about how you’ll handle things like co-signed loans and authorized usership on accounts. Consider bringing in a third-party mediator to facilitate the conversation if you can’t do it amicably. A trusted friend or financial coach could be helpful.

A NEW JOB

Job changes can advance your career and bump up your pay. But there may be financial trade-offs.

“A new job can be exciting, but take the time to not make an impulsive decision,” says Thomas Nitzsche, communications lead at Money Management International, a credit counselling agency.

Think through potential costs to see if you’ll come out ahead, including:

BENEFITS. Consider total compensation. The new job might bring a bump in pay, but lesser benefits may offset it. For instance, if the medical coverage isn’t as robust as your former employer’s, you may end up forking over more for co-pays and prescriptions.

LIFESTYLE CHANGES. A new job can change your day-to-day life drastically, including what you wear, how you eat and how much time you spend travelling.

Consider how a new commute could cost you — in both money and time. The less time you have to make dinner after work, for example, the more you may end up eating out. Also, think about whether you need a new wardrobe. Run through your budget and make sure you’ve accounted for expenses that could pop up.

YOUR RETIREMENT ACCOUNT. Don’t leave your retirement account languishing with your former employer. You’ll likely want to roll it into your new employer’s plan. But check the fees and investment options that come with it; you might be better off with a second retirement account to contribute to after you get the company match.

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