When it comes to money matters, millennials have gotten some conflicting messages.

From a young age, millennials were told to “save up their money.” That’s what your piggy bank was for — all your birthday cash works better as a big bundle, right? Then the 2008 housing bubble burst and the economy upended. Everywhere a millennial looked, they saw financial trouble. Neighbors lost their homes in foreclosure, people — including parents and extended family members — lost their jobs, and financial institutions needed a bailout. It’s no wonder they’ve been frightened off investing.

The good news is that eight years out from that economic meltdown, things are slowly but surely improving. As with all things in life, it’s time to look towards the future. That means financial planning and investing your money starts today.

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Evaluate Your Cash in Pocket

A good way to look at this is to take a hard look at your current cash flow situation.

With regard to cash in your pocket, how “flush” are you? Do you find yourself borrowing the occasional 20 bucks from a friend? Do you hesitate accepting a dinner invitation with friends because you’re low on funds between paychecks? You’re not alone in any of those scenarios.

Now imagine that you’re in your 60s and 70s and are still struggling to come up with the money to get through a day. That might seem like a total buzz kill for your future — but it’s a reality that’s all too real for many senior citizens.

You could avoid that type of financial insecurity by starting to save money toward your retirement today. Although setting aside a certain amount of money each week is a good way to build up your savings, it makes more sense to put that money to work for you. That means it’s time to consider investing.

Review What You Can Cut

You probably have several good reasons why you think you shouldn’t invest your money. It could be that you simply don’t have any money to invest. This is where you need to get serious about saving what little money you can each week.

For instance, if you gave up your daily coffee habit for a year you could end up with close to $1000 in your savings account. That would mean literally taking the four dollars you spend on a cup of coffee each day and putting it into a jar. Then don’t touch that jar and come back in a year! Those small dollars add up to a big piggy-bank, and can become a decent amount to start your investment portfolio.

Consider Wall Street Options

A robust financial portfolio is all about diversification. If that fancy financial jargon sounds scary, breathe. Diversification just means variety — and that you shouldn’t put all your assets in one fund. Think about this like you’re a squirrel storing nuts for the winter or a dog hiding bones in the yard. You want to keep things in different places so you have a backup for a rainy day.

There is a lot of buzz in this election cycle about the evils of Wall Street. Many millennials might see Wall Street as this monolith of greed that will just take your money, shuffle it around and not care what happens if it’s all lost. Here’s the thing to keep in mind about investing in “Wall Street”: They want to make money and that only can happen if they have money to invest.

While there is certainly a lot of greed coursing through those financial institutions, it’s also the best place where you can put your money to work. If you were to speak to any type of financial planner or money market manager, they would offer you three levels of investment opportunities. Those would be safe, moderate or high risk. This is your call to make.

The rate of return can be greater if you take bigger risks. However, think of your investments as part of “the long game.” This is not the time to embrace the “greed is good” philosophy. Although it would be nice to cash out millions of dollars by the time you turn 40, that isn’t always realistic. Instead, slow and steady growth investing in commonly traded areas such as oil wells and natural gas production could be a way to go. Remember, a wealth of information awaits you with the click of your mouse and doing due diligence with your research!

Improve Your Money Smarts

The new Showtime series “Billions” depicts the ongoing struggles of a hedge fund manager as he moves around billions of dollars catching the attention of federal prosecutors. It’s a very compelling drama, but you can relax — you’re probably not going to get near that level of earning. (If you do though, you rock, and you should share your tips!)

Instead, you can make many smart investment choices either with the help of a qualified money manager or through your own research. You know that thing you spend hours on posting pictures of what you had for lunch? Yes, the Internet. It’s the same place where you can find all kinds of information about small-scale investing.

Suppose there’s a local microbrewery you frequent. It could be that this business is looking to take on partners. You could invest some of your savings in that type of business. Of course, it’s important that you would learn everything you can about how a microbrewery operates. That would apply to any type of business you want to invest in. if you do your homework, you might find unique opportunities for investment.

A Brighter Financial Future

Getting serious about investing at this very moment will help set you up for a brighter financial future. If You plan now, When you reach retirement age, you can be selective about exactly where and how you want to spend your golden years. There’s nothing wrong with moving to another city or even another country where your retirement savings can go a lot further. To get there, you need to start investing today.

Your future might mean sharing your life with a significant other and adding kids to the picture. It might mean being single and pursuing your passions in a city. Whatever your choices, you’re going to need money for a home, college funding and big life moments. Once again, this is not the time to freak out! Instead, embrace that wise piece of advice that portends “slow and steady wins the race.” Reach your finish line — your retirement — by making wise choices today.

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Hi, I'm Kate Harveston. I'm originally from Williamsport, PA. After pursuing my degree in Professional Writing, it seemed only natural to get out there and start blogging! I am currently pursuing a career as a journalist and freelance writer, covering everything from human rights and gender equality, to US government and international politics. My life goal is to be one of the best female political writers online, while having some fun along the way (because politics can be fun!).

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