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Financial Baby Steps: The Tools Letting Millennials Ease Into Money Matters

Millennials are wary of investments, unsure about savings, and generally anxious about their finances. So what now? New services are appealing by allowing them to take baby steps into the financial world.

Young consumers have every reason to be afraid of finances. They’ve come of age during the most massive recession in recent memory, and witnessed first-hand the fact that money can disappear in an instant. Younger Millennials might not even have memories of boom times. They’re used to caution, budgets, and a world filled with debt and financial stresses. They’re scared of investing, proven by the fact that currently 64% of those 18-32-years-old say they have no investments. They’re also different from previous generations, and increasingly more comfortable with digital solutions to their financial woes: 40% over 21-years-old use an online service to help manage their money. Tomorrow, we’ll be taking a deep dive into Millennials’ financial views and behaviors in an Infographic Snapshot that gives a full picture of their money POV—today, we’re looking at some of the new services letting young consumers take baby steps into the financial world they are so cautious of:

1. Society of Grownups

For Millennials, finances can be a scary concept. Between debt, trying to save, and the risk of investments, there is a lot to overwhelm and stress them out. The Society of Grownups wants to be the “safe place” where they can learn about money and have even complicated financial concepts “demystified.” The company call themselves a “master’s program for adulthood” and “A place to learn how to deal with adult responsibility without losing your soul or sense of adventure along the way.” They provide group classes, one-on-one “check-ups” with advisors, and a host of pleasantly-designed digital tools to manage their money. Financial “check ups” are available for $20, and give walk-in visitors a quick sense of how they are doing financially-basically if they’re ok or need an emergency turnaround. 

2. Acorns

It’s no secret that Millennials are wary of stocks—so one app is giving them a way to dip their toe into investing without having to spend too much. Acorns hooks up with users’ credit or debit cards and rounds every purchase they make to the nearest dollar, investing the “pocket change” that made up the difference. The app suggests an investment plan that matches up with users’ goals, there are no minimum investments or transfer fees, and the whole thing costs $1 a month. A widget lets users see the progress of their investments on their screen in real time so they feel they are getting constant feedback (a very Millennial desire). 

3. SmartAsset

One of the biggest issues that Millennials have with finances is they have a lot of questions, but aren’t sure who can give the right answers. In fact, mom and dad are likely their top source of advice on money matters. Not exactly expertise (in most cases). SmartAsset is pitching itself as the ultimate resource for those starting out planning for their futures. They provide “Instant answers to your financial questions” all for free. By providing a little bit of their financial information, users can find out how to save for a house, pay off students loans, buy a car, or any other achieve any other goal on their minds. Say a visitor was hoping to buy a home. Tools like a mortgage calculator help users to figure out how much to save, then a host of questions like “should I buy points” and “Do I need mortgage experience” can be answered for them. Netted calls the site “like Mint, but for what lies ahead.”