Here's The Biggest Thing Keeping Millennials Up At Night

by Natalia Lusinski
Ashley Batz/Bustle

Money is a feminist issue — and yet, women are still reluctant to talk about it. According to a recent Bustle survey of more than 1,000 Millennial women, more than 50 percent of people said they never discuss personal finances with friends, even though 28 percent reported feeling stressed out about money every single day. Bustle's Get Money series gets real about what Millennial women are doing with their money, and why — because managing your finances should feel empowering, not intimidating.

Like it or not, money management is something you have to deal with in life, and on a daily basis. Now, according to a new research, Millennials say their financial situation keeps them up at night more than anything else. BMO Wealth Management quizzed more than 1,000 Millennials and found that 65 percent of respondents said their financial situation is one of their top concerns. Millennials cited it more than any other concern, including personal relationships (which came in second) and job insecurity/opportunities (which came in third).

"Just like you wouldn't go on a road trip without at least a map of the journey, you need a roadmap for your financial future in the form of a plan," Stephen Williams, Senior Vice President of Wealth Planning, BMO Wealth Management (U.S.), tells Bustle. "A plan is not set in stone — expect to adjust it over time — but it can help set priorities, address budgeting decisions, and future goals. Also, seek help from an advisor."

Of course, as Williams indicates above, there are ways to not stay up all night worrying about your finances. With the following tips, too, you should be well on your way to getting more sleep as a result of being less stressed about money. Yes, please!


Make A Budget

I know you probably hear about the importance of budgeting a lot, but without it, it'll be very difficult to stay on top of your finances. "The key to financial health is paying attention to your money," Maggie Germano, a certified financial education instructor and financial coach for women, tells Bustle. "Figure how much you make and how much you spend every month. Come up with a budget that aligns with your goals, and then track your spending as the month goes on. Apps like Mint or LearnVest can take a lot of the effort off your shoulders. If you have room in your budget to save, automate your savings so that it happens every month."


Create A Financial Plan

Just like making a budget, having a financial plan, with short- and long-term goals, is also key to being financially healthy. "Once you figure out your savings goals, then focus on your spending, trimming where necessary to avoid spending more than what is in the bank," Kimmie Greene, consumer finance expert at Intuit's Mint, tells Bustle. "Whether it's avocado toast or a travel adventure, experiences are rising to the top as an important priority for many. So, be sure you're saving for the future, as well as making room for short-term savings (and living) goals. Honestly, as long as you're meeting your savings goals and living within your means, we're not as concerned with how the rest is spent!"


Save Slowly

If you don't have much in savings, that's OK, since it's never too late to start! "To save more, ramp up your savings slowly, in line with a raise or increase in income," Arielle O'Shea, investing and retirement specialist for NerdWallet, tells Bustle. "Figure out how much you need to save monthly with a retirement savings calculator, and then work your way up. That way, you don't feel like you're losing money to savings, because you're saving money you never had. If you get a raise, increase your 401(k) or IRA contribution by that amount, or half that amount." Excellent advice right?!


Save For Retirement, Too

BMO Wealth Management's survey found that Millennials do not view saving for retirement as an immediate priority, with only 10 percent naming saving for retirement as their top priority — 14 percent of men compared to seven percent of women. In addition, overall, only 25 percent of Millennials said they're worried about their ability to ever afford to retire. Why? Thirty-seven percent indicated that retirement is too far off, and 22 percent of respondents said they would rather pay off their accumulated debts first before starting to save for it.

"IRAs, Roth IRAs, and 401(k)s are some of the best plans for helping Millennials save for major purchases, such as buying a home or saving for retirement," Williams said in a press release. "Contributions to these accounts grow tax-free or tax-deferred, and savings can significantly accumulate over time. I cannot stress enough to Millennials the value of utilizing these accounts for retirement-planning and also for other means."


Automate Your Savings

Of course, a simple way to make saving easier is by automating your savings, both for short- and long-term financial goals. "Making it automatic is the single most effective way to hit your savings goal," Jennifer Barrett, Chief Education Officer at Acorns and Editor-in-Chief of Grow, tells Bustle. "I used to have all the best intentions, but something always seemed to come up and I'd either forget to transfer money or find something else to do with it. Now, I have money automatically transferred not just to a 401(k) and IRA, but to a regular investment account for mid-term goals and to a savings account for unexpected expenses and short-term goals. Since the money is now transferred automatically after each pay day, I barely have time to miss it. And I plan my spending as if I never had it." I agree — once you start automating, you'll love it and soon see your savings grow!


Separate Your Savings

You may be using a high-yield savings account to earn extra money, but did you know you can also split up your paycheck, too? This will help you save in more categories, and is a no-excuses way to save. "I've seen people have lots of success splitting their paycheck into separate accounts," Brianna McGurran, student loans and personal finance expert at NerdWallet and fellow female Millennial, tells Bustle. "I didn't even know this was possible at my first few jobs, but it's probably the most efficient way out there to save. To set it up, all it takes is a few minutes with HR or on your online payroll portal, and you're in business."


Pay Down Debts

Whether you have credit card or student loan debt, paying them down is a way to be less restless, financially speaking. According to BMO Wealth Management, 25 percent of Millennials reported that paying down debt is their number one priority when it comes to financial goals. "My best tip is to get a handle on your credit card spending early," Alyssa Furtado, Co-Founder and CEO of, a financial comparison site that connects its users to the best credit cards, mortgage rates, and bank accounts, tells Bustle. "Staying out of debt and maintaining good credit are two habits I think women need to develop to have financial independence and financial strength." And, of course, not having student loan debt weighing you down will make a huge difference in your life, too.


Follow The 50-30-20 Rule

If you're not familiar with the 50-30-20 rule, it's a lifesaver when it comes to the way you spend and save your money. "Follow the 50-30-20 rule," Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, tells Bustle. "Fifty percent of your take-home pay should go to your needs: rent, food, insurance, and other basics. Thirty percent goes to fun. And 20 percent goes to your future."


Emergency Savings (Even If You Don't Think You Can Afford It)

I know, you may think that you don't have enough money to save for short-term goals, let alone emergency savings. But wrong! Especially with all the apps out there to help you manage your money, like Digit, there's ~always~ a way to save, dollar-by-dollar. For instance, with Digit, you can create a category like "Emergency Fund" and have money from your checking account go toward it. After all, an emergency is an emergency, and you never know when you'll need to have funds to cover one.

"Make sure you have an emergency savings account with cash available for three-six months' worth of living expenses," Katharine Perry, Associate Financial Consultant at Fort Pitt Capital Group and a fellow Millennial, tells Bustle. "It'll take some time to build that up, but if you have an emergency, having this cash handy will be helpful rather than having to pay for something on credit or borrowing from an investment account."


Eat In

How much money do you spend on food and eating out per month? Week? Day? Chances are, too much. Now, think about ~not~ eating out for a month, week, or day, and all the money you'd save. Instead, spend a set amount on groceries per week and only eat those. Then, you can set aside the money you ~would have spent~ eating out and save it, whether you put it into a jar or physically take it to the bank every day to deposit it.

As for grocery shopping tips, Lisa Lee Freeman, savings expert at Flipp, has some. "Don't buy the same groceries every week," she tells Bustle. "Only stock up on your staples — cereal, toilet paper, etc. — when they're on sale. To make sure you're getting the absolute best deals, keep a list of the prices of your top 10 grocery buys so you'll know a really good deal when you see one. The best way to stay on top of sales is to use an app like Flipp, which puts all of the weekly local ads at your fingertips and automatically rounds up circular deals on the items you need." I think it's definitely worth a try to eat in more and eat out less. Once you see how much money you'll save, you'll probably be a convert, too!


Improve Your Financial Know-How

Even with all the apps out there to help you manage your money, sometimes they can't replace face-to-face help. An IRL financial advisor may be the answer to help you set achievable financial goals. BMO Wealth Management's survey found that 37 percent of men are more concerned about their level of financial knowledge compared to 29 percent of women. "As Millennials' incomes grow, financial planning and literacy will become even more important in order for them to achieve their financial goals," Williams said in a press release. "It is imperative for Millennials to engage advisors as they start to map out their financial plans, in order to maximize their financial potential in a way that suits their current lifestyle and helps accomplish their aspirations."


Get Health Insurance (If You Don't Have It Already)

Just like with an Emergency Fund, having health insurance is key, too. "Unforeseen events such as illness or a death can happen at any time, even for young and healthy individuals," Williams said in a press release. "Insurance can help Millennials ensure their plans are not derailed by disability or death, and that they are prepared for out-of-pocket expenses."


Change Jobs Or Begin A Side Hustle

Sometimes, the fact of the matter is, you're not making enough money to support your lifestyle. Whether you are spending out of your means or just don't have much money leftover after your essential expenses, like rent, you may need to think about switching jobs or adding a side hustle to your income mix. In terms of financial goals, after paying down debt (25 percent of those surveyed by BMO Wealth Management), finding meaningful or better paying work came in second for Millennials, with 17 percent of respondents saying so, 20 percent of men versus 14 percent of women. Plus, 15 percent said purchasing or upgrading a home was their financial goal, 18 percent of women compared to 11 percent of men. Of course, having an income property, like a home to Airbnb, is one way to make extra money via a side hustle. Even if that means going to stay with a friend or significant other for a night, week, or month at a time, you can put that Airbnb money toward your savings, Emergency Fund, or another financial goal.

As you can see from the above, even though some Millennials are losing sleep over their financial situations, they don't have to be. There are plenty of ways to make money matters less stressful, as long as you invest the time it takes to take control of them, and the sooner, the better.

Check out the “Get Money” stream in the Bustle App for more tips and tricks on how to save and spend your money.