Millennials are increasingly identified with disrupting the status quo—from driving change within various industries to taking on saving the world through the next hot social enterprise. Still, a large percentage of millennials face a number of financial challenges that can hold them back from achieving the life that they desire.
So Prudential teamed up with Millennial Week and sponsored a town hall focused on overcoming those challenges. Moderated by Tonya Rapley, a nationally recognized millennial money expert and founder of My Fab Finance, the interactive discussion featured millennial experts who shared tips on navigating entrepreneurship, while protecting and maximizing your financial life.
The innovators on the panel included New York City-based entrepreneur, professional speaker, and media personality Kwame Jackson; digital influencer, Chelsea Krost; and Phroogal founder and CEO, Jason Vitug.
Financial freedom, while living according to your values, was a common thread throughout the town hall discussion. Panelists, speaking from their unique perspectives, had a lot to share about their experiences in overcoming their own financial challenges to reach their individual and business goals.
Don’t keep up with the Joneses
Vitug, author and creator of The Smile Lifestyle Movement, created The Road to Financial Wellness to engage millennials in financial awareness via local grassroots interaction and social media. In the age of social media, he emphasized that the need to keep up with the Joneses causes people to focus on others lifestyle’s when the focus should be your own. “We need to break social taboos and the underlying issues that prevent millennials from achieving financial freedom,” says Vitug.
Retirement is evolving. Identify and refine your portable toolkit
Jackson, who is a serial entrepreneur and one of the first contestants on NBC’s The Apprentice, shared a number of tips for budding entrepreneurs. “Despite being a member of Generation X, I’m a millennial at heart,” says Jackson. After working in wealth management at Goldman Sachs, Jackson received the call for The Apprentice and the trajectory of his life changed. Seeing the platform as a branding opportunity, he’s worked on two to four businesses since.
He stressed the importance of developing and packaging your own personal, unique skill set. “The idea of retirement is evolving,” says Jackson. As the “backslash” generation, millennials are positioned to take those skills post retirement and parlay them into a new career.
Save, save, save
While entrepreneurship was a clear point of interest for the attendees, Rapley, whose mission is to help millennials break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck so that they can become financially free, brought the conversation back to the importance of saving. When an attendee asked if they should sacrifice their 401(k) on investing in their first business, an overwhelming reply was—NO. “Don’t sacrifice your future for [a] possibility,” says Vitug.
Jackson added, “Saving is truly important because that rainy day WILL come.”
Additionally, saving and managing money has become easier than ever with the addition of technology and access. “We are the first generation to think of our money digitally and the average millennial has about five apps connected to their credit/debit card,” says Krost.
Growing your biz
Krost, who is a speaker, author, television and radio talk-show host, executive producer, certified health coach, and entrepreneur, has been an influencer since 16. She created a radio talk show, Teen Talk Live, which spoke to some issues specific to teens and young adults, and the show was the first of its kind. A branding expert, she recommended that attendees find their passion, start executing, and more importantly, maintain consistency. “Before you start a business, do severe social listening on social media,” says Krost. She also believes that entrepreneurs should work on consistent cash flow before quitting their day job, and also hustling before going out to fundraise. “Build out your side hustle until it becomes a full-time opportunity,” she adds.
Get a mentor
The panel also highlighted the need to network and build solid relationships with mentors to move your business to the next level. “Every moment is a moment for you to network,” says Krost. Jackson encouraged attendees to venture outside of social media to find mentors, adding that conferences are great for that purpose. Vitug adds, “Find a mentor who is five years ahead of where you are. Show a vested interest in that individual’s success.”