We’re all learning the complexities of life in the pandemic as a balance is sought between stopping the coronavirus while keeping the economy going. For millennials, this pandemic hits at a particularly difficult inflection point in their lives. Navigating the financial uncertainties is tricky.
If you’re a millennial and you have a job, keep it. Even if it’s not your dream job, employment right now is something not everyone has. Make yourself someone that any employer would be happy to have. Be conscientious about your work. Volunteer to take on new tasks. Learn about the business. Be supportive of your supervisors and the business owner. These are difficult times for business owners. Employees who show they care about their job, the business and those they work with are a comfort to employers — someone they’d like to keep around.
Once the pandemic is over, you can change jobs or careers if you wish. You can even look for other positions now. But be aware that being in a position where you’re established probably has more security than a new position.
If you’ve lost a job or been furloughed, apply for unemployment and keep on top of all the requirements. Also, be aware that unemployment benefits are taxable, so either have tax withheld or save enough to pay the taxes when you do your return. Keep looking for jobs, even ones that don’t fit your long-term goals. This is also a good approach if you’re getting out of school and are ready for your first full-time, adult job.
As money comes in, do your best to save some — ideally 10% of the pre-tax amount — for an emergency fund. If the volatility in the economy continues, having savings to make ends meet if you are laid off or take a pay cut can be a lifesaver. Also, do some things to keep yourself sane — hiking, reading, online happy hours, staying in touch with your parents (unless that makes you insane). Staying as positive as you can is part of being productive and employable.
Employers for decades to come will understand if there are gaps in your resume during this time period. And having a job now will make you stand out as a desirable hire in the future.
Perhaps what’s most difficult for millennials is having their first years of adulthood during such aberrant times. This is not a normal time to start a career and manage finances. And yet this may be the beginning of our new normal.
Linda Leitz is a certified financial planner. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.