Millennials are saving for retirement earlier than any previous generation. They’re beginning this journey at age-25 rather than at the age-35 threshold their predecessors had followed. This is partly because many want to lower their personal retirement age from 62 to 55 or even to age 50. Currently, the average retirement age is 65, and many Baby Boomers are opting to work until at least age 72. Today, the reason, the future is uncertain, and unlike dairy products, none of us carry an expiration date! To make sure their money lasts the remainder of their lifetime, even thrifty Boomers are choosing to work at least part-time past the standard retirement age for their generation. Millennials have noted this, and are opting to save more, starting even earlier, but their objective is different: they want out of the corporate world as soon as possible. Regardless of their occupation, most Millennials are seeking ways to make their money go farther, so they can control their futures and their future quality of life.

By the time most Millennials graduate from college, they have heard the talk: “Save as much as you can, and if you can put 15% of your salary into a 401K you can easily build a $1 million retirement portfolio”. The caveat here being a proposed retirement age of 65 AND the reminder that by that time, a million dollars ain’t gonna buy as much as it does in 2018. Here’s what anyone at any age can do right now: live below your means. Many scrutinize their monthly bills to find ‘fat’ then excise it. Cancel cable, or reduce your plan to the lowest service they offer. Bundle services whenever for additional discounts. If you belong to a trade organization or hold any kind of membership, learn if there are extra perks or discounts available to their members at local businesses, national chain retailers, etc. Yes, the edict here is, “It isn’t what you make, it is what you keep.””

Other ways to live with less can be accomplished by diverting money from your paycheck just for savings into a direct deposit account. Still other ways to save include dining out less, and putting at least half of any pay increases, monetary gifts, and revenues towards savings. If you are starting to feel resentful and argue that you are missing out on experiences, etc. channel that energy into locating discount coupons, preseason ticket prices, and redefining what it means to ‘live large’.

What Does ‘Being Rich’ Mean to You?

That’s right: affluence means different things to different people. Having expensive items, a huge home, a luxury car, may be doable, just by utilizing a few selective buying techniques. A combination of exercising thrift by only buying what is needed, exploring second-hand options for larger financial expenses such as furniture, cars, and even housing will save money leaving more to save or to invest. Retaining as much of one’s paycheck as possible will also enable savers to see how easily they can ‘get by with less’. For those who must have luxury items, why not shop for these ‘holy grail’ items in outlet malls or on ebay and online thrift shops where they can be had for a fraction of their original cost, sometimes new with tags!

As for the stock market, the days of the quick killing in technology stocks have been over for decades but the fantasy of getting rich quick unfortunately has not. There will always those who think that they know a person who had an uncle who turned one-thousand dollars into a million in three months. The standard rule is not to risk more than you can afford to lose. The stock market is very volatile, and high risk stocks are for high-rollers only. Instead, invest for the long term with annuities and slow growth, lower risk, blue chip stocks. If you wish, you can put a small percentage of your savings in high risk stocks, but be prepared to watch your investment daily and pull out when the market trends downward rather than lose all.

Another way that boomers earn money for retirement is to have a second job. Rather than depend on schedules set by employers, these intrepid souls have started their own enterprises. Usually based on an existing skill set, these additional income sources range from giving piano lessons, to making jewelry, clothing, and crafts, to bookkeeping, and even auto repair. In lieu of dipping into savings, the more enterprising boomers turn to alternative lenders for additional financing for equipment and supplies. Like today’s Boomers, Millennials plan to continue these as often lucrative side hustles long after they ‘retire’ from their full-time, long-term employers.

Readers seeking a magic bullet will have left this article long before its conclusion. Those who have hung in to these final paragraphs realize that there is no shortcut to investing wisely for a secure financial future. For all of us, regardless of age-group, redefining our needs, what we consider ‘rich’ by changing our own mindsets, may be the most important step we take to secure a comfortable retirement. After all, freedom of any kind, including financial, is the ability to make personal life choices that make us content. Being frugal, saving, and investing prudently, will ensure that happy outcome.