Is your financial future looking a little bleak? You’re not alone. Many millennials are currently struggling to pay their bills and afford daily necessities, and only slightly more than half are saving for retirement.

Of course, it doesn’t help that the majority of us entered the workforce at a pretty depressing time and are also drowning in student loan debt [insert a heavy sigh and an eyeroll here].

That being said, we can’t blame everything on our current circumstances, no matter how unpleasant they may be.

If you’re ready to take control of your finances, keep reading for five easy money management tips that you can apply today.

Monitor Your Accounts Regularly

First things first, you’ll never get out of your financial rut if you never know how much money you actually have.

Check in on your bank account regularly -- at least a few times a week, if not daily. No more swiping your debit card and hoping for the best.

It might make you anxious to log on and look at your accounts. But, it’s better to know where you stand so you can actively fix the problem. You’ll never get anywhere by pretending your problems don’t exist.

Regular check-ins also help you track your spending and see where your money goes. You may also want to download a free budgeting app like Mint, which will help you identify patterns and give you tips for making improvements.

Start Building (or Rebuilding) Your Credit

Once you’ve finished checking your bank account, do yourself a favor and check your credit score, too, especially if you’re part of the almost 60 percent of Americans who don’t know their score.

If your score is not where you’d like it to be (above 700 is considered “good”), then you need to get to work either building or rebuilding your credit.
Maybe you’ve hurt your credit in the past by racking up more debt than you can handle or letting past-due bills get sent to collections. Or, maybe you’ve never had any debt, meaning you’ve never proven that you’re a reliable person who pays their bills on time.

Neither situation is ideal. The good news, though, is that it’s not hard to turn things around.

One of the easiest ways to start building credit is to -- gasp -- get a credit card. A no credit check credit card is a good option if your credit is not where you’d like it to be. You can also talk to your bank about getting a secured card or try to become an authorized user on one of your parent’s cards.

No matter how you go about it, you need to make sure you use your credit card correctly (i.e., in a way that won’t make your problems worse).

Some good money management tips to follow include:

Paying your bills on time (setting up automatic payments can help with this)
Paying off your full credit card balance each month
Avoiding unnecessary or impulse purchases (yes, you have a credit card, but that doesn’t mean you need to use it for every little thing)
Avoid cash withdrawals, as they come with high interest rates

Look for Ways to Cut Costs

Those little purchases you make every day -- a cup of coffee on your way to work or school, a sandwich from the shop next door -- add up over time. By planning ahead and cutting these out, you can save thousands of dollars a year.

Every financial expert says this, but that’s because tons of people still aren’t listening.

When you start monitoring your accounts, you’ll probably notice where you’re spending the most. You can then use that information to find opportunities for painless but powerful cuts.

If you’re paying for cable, stop. Streaming services are infinitely cheaper and usually give you more of what you actually want to watch. If paying for multiple services is a drain on your account, look into sharing with a friend or family member -- you pay for Hulu, they pay for Netflix, etc.

Build Up a Safety Net

Are you part of the 57 percent of Americans who have less than $1,000 in their savings account? Would a sudden emergency totally derail your finances?

It’s okay if the answer to those questions was yes. Like I said, millions of people are in the same boat. But, you should still be working on creating a safety net for yourself.

Ideally, your savings account should cover your basic living expenses for 3-6 months, minimum. If you’re nowhere near this, don’t panic. Start by setting a goal to save $100 per month.

You may also want to set up an automatic transfer so that a percentage of each paycheck (even 2-3 percent is a great start) goes directly into savings. After a while, you won’t even notice that amount is missing.

Start Planning for Retirement

Once you’ve got your ducks in a row and are on your way to building healthy credit and a solid savings account, it’s time to start thinking a little further ahead.

Eventually, there will come a time when you’re ready to retire. If you want to be in a good place financially when this time comes, you need to start saving now.

This might seem like an impossible goal. You’re barely making ends meet now, how can you put more money away?

Remember that time is on your side. You’ve got quite a few years before you retire. This means that even saving a small amount will add up to a pretty significant nest egg.

You don’t need to make saving for retirement complicated, either. Just start saving something, now. Open up a Roth IRA and arrange for a small amount of your monthly income to be deposited there. You should also take advantage of your job’s 401(k) matching policy if they offer it -- it’s free money!

If you’re self-employed, you can still contribute to a solo 401(k) and/or a Simplified Employee Pension plan.

If you’re married and filing jointly, don’t forget to file for the saver’s tax credit. This lets you claim a credit for up to 50 percent of your contributions to your retirement plan!

Wrapping Up

When you’re barely making ends meet, it’s hard to feel optimistic about the future. If you keep these tips in mind, though, you can get your finances in order and start living the post-college life of your dreams!


Author's Bio: 

Natalie Thongrit is a freelance writer who focuses primarily on fitness, health, and wellness-related content. She is also an avid yogi who is fascinated by natural medicine. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, or check out her portfolio to read more of her work.