Millennial savings accounts are in trouble. Less than half of people under age 34 have more than $1,000 in savings, a survey by cost information website How Much found. Of the 2,585 people between the ages of 18 and 34 surveyed, 51.8% said they had less than $1,000 squirreled away, while another 18% had between $1,000 and $5,000. Just over 16% had managed to save more than $20,000.
Greater savings were generally correlated with a higher income. Half of people earning more than $150,000 a year had saved more than $20,000. But the group most likely to have paltry savings wasn’t actually the lowest earners. Fifty-six percent of those earning between $25,000 and $49,999 annually had less than $1,000 set aside. In comparison, 44% of those earning under $25,000 a year had less than $1,000 and 28% had managed to save between $1,000 and $5,000. Younger millennials also had less saved than older millennials, and men were better savers than women.
The survey results are a sobering reminder of the financial challenges facing many young people. Research by T. Rowe Price found that while millennials generally had good financial habits, many didn’t have much of a financial cushion for emergencies. Fifty-five percent said they’d ask family or friends with help when faced with a financial crisis and 57% said they’d use a credit card to get through a tough time.
Neither approach to managing financial emergencies is ideal. Generous loved ones can turn off the money tap at any time, while whipping out a credit card when your bank account is low can be a fast path to debt. Saving more money, especially for unexpected expenses, is the best way to protect yourself. If you’re among the group of millennials with a very skinny savings account, here are five ways to double your savings from $1,000 to $2,000, fast (none of which involve selling your beloved possessions).
1. Share your knowledge
College students can score some extra cash by selling their class notes on Study Soup, an online marketplace for study materials. “Elite Notetakers” can earn between $300 and $500 per course by selling the notes they take in class. Udemy allows you to share (and monetize) your knowledge by creating online courses for the site’s 6 million registered users. You get paid every time someone purchases your course; the site claims the average instructor earns $8,000.
2. Find lost money
No, we’re not suggesting digging for spare change between your couch cushions. We’re talking about searching for unclaimed funds that belong to you, like undelivered refunds, uncashed paychecks, missing royalty payments, and forgotten bank accounts. In 2011, $2.25 billion was returned to consumers, with the average claim totaling $892, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. Check out MissingMoney.com to find out if there are unclaimed assets you’re entitled to.
3. Rent your stuff
If you’re willing to trust a stranger with your wheels, consider renting out your vehicle on RelayRides. Letting someone borrow your car five days a month could earn you an extra $2,800 per year, the site claims, while renting out an unused parking space with Spot could net you an extra few hundred a month. CameraLends connect photographers with people who want to borrow equipment and Spokefly lets you rent out your unused bike. Or you can rent out tools, camping gear, musical instruments, and other items on Zilok.
4. Get a side gig
Driving for Uber or Lyft or renting your spare bedroom on Airbnb are popular ways to make extra cash, but they’re not the only players in the gig economy. Those with creative skills can pick up extra dough as a freelance writer, photographer, or designer, while people who love kids can look for babysitting gigs. InstaEDU pays online tutors $20 an hour, while DogVacay helps you set up shop as a pet sitter.
5. Slash the extras
You can boost your savings total by slashing the fat in your budget, even temporarily. Pause monthly subscription services like Netflix and Hulu and funnel that cash into savings. Commit to not eating out at lunch for an entire month and stop spending money on new clothes or other non-essential purchases. Walk or bike rather than taking cabs. You may even find that you don’t really miss the extras you cut out, which can encourage you to permanently cut your spending and save more.