Getting your clients’ grown children to set a course toward financial independence may be a tall order. In many cases, millennials’ desire to stand on their own may come into conflict with an urge to purchase life experiences — whatever the cost.
But saving and planning for the future doesn’t mean young clients have to deprive themselves of the luxuries in life, says Limor Markman, personal finance specialist in Toronto.
If you can account for the challenges young clients face and offer a financial plan that reflects their situation, you can help them dig themselves out of debt and learn to live within their means. And they can still enjoy life and keeping their goals in sight.
Here are some ways you can help millennial clients work toward financial independence:
> Explore alternative streams of income
As millennials contend with the notion of a lasting “job churn,” many have pursued a sideline to supplement their income or to cover additional expenses. Markman often advises young clients to reflect on their passions and figure out how they can monetize a hobby or skill.
For example, if you know a client is your talented illustrator or photographer, suggest that he or she open a shop on Etsy — a peer-to-peer e-commerce website — to showcase his or her work. There are many communities — both online and in the real world — that have sprung up to support individuals working informal gigs.
> Set micro-goals
Work with clients to break down their goals into manageable chunks, whether that goal is paying down a mountain of student debt or saving for a month-long backpacking trip.
Millennials are more receptive to goals that are tangible and not too far off, Markman says. Talking about retirement may not be motivating for them.
Instead, get your young clients to envision the big picture by focusing on small steps and the tradeoffs, she says. For example, if they want to pay off their $40,000 student loan by a certain age, calculate how much they would need to set aside per day to achieve that seemingly unattainable goal.
Having a clear idea of how they can reach their goal, your clients will be more inclined to consider the tradeoff and stay committed, rather than giving in to whims that could set them back.
> Advise them to negotiate expenses
When reviewing a young client’s budget, suggest ways that he or she can cut costs for non-essentials and inform them that they can negotiate some services.
For example, clients can shop around for better deals for their cellphone or Internet services — expenses parents often cover — by picking up the phone and making a case for reducing their bill.
> Encourage a change in mindset
Feelings of guilt over unsustainable spending habits often have the effect of discouraging people from changing their ways. If you want clients to seriously assess —and confront — their financial issues, you have to get them to look at their situation through a “guilt free” lens, Markman says.
Rather than dwell on bad financial decisions, urge them to accept their circumstances and help them map out how they can alter their spending patterns.
This is the second part in a two-part series on helping clients’ adult children gain financial independence. Click here for part one.
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