Position Yourself for Financial Success

A recap of what was shared at the Young Professionals and Money Management panel

By Leia Ostermann
Senior Account Executive, Perry Communications

Millennials in their late 20s and 30s are faced with huge financial decisions; many of which come with significant debt elements. Even worse, student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt in the United States, particularly impacting young professionals today.

As a part of Sacramento’s Manage Your Money Week, Assembly Member Roger Dickinson, chair of the banking and finance committee, co-hosted an EDGEucational forum to help young professionals think about how to position themselves for financial success. The panelists included Leandro Vicuña, vice president and senior trust officer for Bank of the West and CEO of non-profit SusFinanzas, Laine Himmelmann, corporate development and public relations officer for Habitat for Humanity, and David Nelson, regional liaison manager for the 2nd District of the California State Board of Equalization.

Overall, the panelists addressed many of the financial issues facing young professionals in Sacramento. Some of their key pieces of advice include:

  • Prioritize paying expenses before spending or investing. Until you handle credit card and loan debt, you won’t get above the fray.
  • The only way to reverse bad spending habits is to provide incentives. Use apps like LearnVest to force you to stick with your budget. “If we don’t punish or embarrass ourselves, nothing is going to change,” said Vicuña.
  • Build an emergency fund. Save three months of income in an account before you start saving for a down payment or investing in the market.
  • Be honest and take advice. If you have poor spending habits, a job with no future, a small business with a failed business plan, be honest with yourself and change how you are handling your money.
  • Discipline, discipline, discipline. You want to travel Europe? Save for a car? Buy a house? Make a plan and stick with it. Even on a limited income, if you manage your money well you can do what you want.
  • Rule of thumb for investing: stay in the market. In general, stay in the market with an aggressive and diversified group of investments. Don't panic and cashout when there are downturns in the market. Take a long-term outlook. “Have someone to analyze your unique situation and provide advice,” Vicuña said. “But remember, pay off debt first.”

Assembly Member Dickinson’s district director, Kula Koenig, also shared some of her favorite money management apps, including:

Overall: Save money, prioritizing paying off debt, be aware of your spending habits and choose your goal and stick with it.