Millennials: The Answers to All the Financial Questions You're Too Embarrassed to Ask

What is a 401(k)?


A 401(k) is a retirement savings plan, which commonly accrues interest over the years. Taxes are paid only when you take the money out of the account (which kind of explains why everyone is huffing and puffing over tax increases).

Some employers will match whatever you put into your 401(k), so that means….free money. If you leave your employer, you still get to keep the money. But if you take the money out earlier than when you retire, you'll be hit with taxes and a 10% penalty.

Still confused? Watch John Oliver break down the do's and don't's of 401(k) accounts in this hilarious video below:

What Is Social Security?

We hear politicians mention social security over and over again. And a lot of older people worry if social security will be drained by the time they retire. But what exactly does this all mean?

Social Security covers a lot of people in America. It provides funding to retired and disabled workers, as well as to the families of deceased workers. Basically, it does what the title implies. Think of it as one big safety net for the some of the nation's most vulnerable citizens.

According to a Time 2016 report, Social Security Trust is on track to run out by 2036, at which point only 75% of what it doles out will be from payroll taxes (you know, the part of the reason why your check is always slightly lower than what you expect it to be).

The projected depletion is why there are numerous calls to raise the retirement age.

How much should I be paying for rent?

The rule of thumb is that you should be spending no more than 30% of your income on rent. Therefore if you make $4,000 a month, your rent should be no more than $1,200.

Did my parents have it easier growing up?

Short answer, yes. If your parents were embarking on their careers before the 80s, inflation was lower, unions were stronger, and the job market was overall stronger. You can read more about the shift towards emphasizing owning bonds, increasing demand in the housing market, and encouraging consumers to take out as much credit as possible, here.

How Many credit cards are too many credit cards?

There is no magic number! What is most important is that you are paying all of your credit card bills regularly and managing your debt. So don't reverse logic yourself into thinking more credit cards is being more of an adult. Not biting off more than you can chew is what adulting is really all about.

What is the cheapest way to go out?

Drink at home beforehand (but no drinking and driving!), but also bring a set amount of hard cash with you out for the night. It's easy to keep swiping that card throughout the night. With a set amount of cash in hand, you're forced to pace yourself and know when it's a sign to call it a night.

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