Courtney Hale /

Courtney Hale /

When young people launch out into the world on their own, they often crave freedom from their parents. While they may get that in terms of living and working on their own, a new report by finds that as many as 47% of parents are still financially supporting their adult children.

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To avoid this fate yourself — and to give your parents a well-deserved financial break — experts explain ways young adults can achieve financial freedom quickly.

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Set Clear Financial Goals

If you want to chart your way to financial freedom quickly, according to Keith Jones, senior financial professional with financial services company Empower, you need to “be honest with yourself about your financial goals, whether it’s retiring by a certain age, becoming debt-free or owning a home.”

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Get or Stay Out of Debt

Nothing will keep you hung up on your parents’ financial largesse worse than debt, Jones said.

“Pay down your high-interest debt, which is usually from credit cards, and sometimes student or car loans,” he urged. “While focusing on your debt with higher interests, make sure to continue meeting your minimum payment requirement — or more, if you can afford it — on lower-interest debt.”

Plan for Retirement

If you think that retirement is something you can worry about later, Jones said, “It’s never too early to start thinking about your future. Maximize your savings rate by contributing as much to your retirement accounts as you can afford.”

Derek Mazzarella, CFP with Gateway Financial Partners and the author of “Just Retire Already,” said he wished he had started a Roth IRA when he got his first job at 16. “Having the ability to even put $50 to $100 away at 16 and let it compound for 50 years is such a leg up that I didn’t even think of when I was in high school.”

Build Good Credit

Mazzarella also said a lot of young people also don’t really understand how credit scores work, which is key to purchasing power independent of parents.

“So I would really work hard at building your credit; get that started right away. Get a credit card, make sure you pay it off every month, and build up your credit score. That’s going to help reduce the cost of your car loan, reduce the cost of your home loan, etc.,” he said.

Prepare for Emergencies

The sooner you can build up an emergency fund, Jones said, the better. “Create and maintain an emergency fund that can cover the cost of unexpected emergencies — such as losing a job or a vehicle repair. A good goal is to save enough cash to cover about three to six months of living expenses, which you can base off of your average monthly spending.”

Start a Sinking Fund

You should also create a “sinking fund,” which is different from an emergency fund — it’s designed as a way to save for larger planned expenses such as a vacation, holiday spending or a wedding, Jones said.

He urged, “Instead of going into credit card debt to pay for these occasional expenses, consider creating a sinking fund, so you’re ready to pay for them in cash.”

For example, he said, say you spend around $1,800 during the winter holiday season on gifts, get-togethers and experiences. If you put away just $150 per month into a separate account or savings bucket, you’ll have that $1,800 ready during the holidays one year later.

Start Saving Immediately

Mazzarella said it’s easy for younger people to take up a mentality that they will begin to save when they make a certain amount of money, which is a mistake.

“Saving just gets more expensive, and it’s harder to keep up with that rate,” he explained.

Better to start early and put whatever you can away, because it adds up.

Engage Reverse Budgeting

Young adults trying to strike out on their own would also benefit from what Mazzarella calls “reverse budgeting,” in which you automate your savings first and then work with what’s left for bills and other expenses, he explained.

Instead of paying for the bills first, in reverse budgeting, he said, “We say ‘what are the goals you want to accomplish?’ Like, I want to save for a house. I need $50,000, so I’m going to save $300 a month for the next X years.

“So once you have all your goals mapped out and all dollars allocated to those goals, then whatever’s left is free to spend. So you kind of have guilt-free spending.”

Weigh the Career Value of Student Loans

Student loans can be a big drain on one’s finances for years, Mazzarella said.

He recommended being really thoughtful about the career path you plan to pursue and taking out loans accordingly so that they will pay off in a decent income.

“I don’t think people realize on the back end how much or how much of an anchor student loan debt can be,” he said.

Avoid Lifestyle Creep

Once you start to earn a decent income, it’s easy to start spending it on things like eating out, a nicer car and so on, Mazzarella said. But it’s really the big expenses that hurt your wallet the most, he added, such as your car and your housing expenses.

If you stick with the reverse budgeting approach and work hard on savings and retirement funds, however, you may just not have the extra funds to spend.

If any financial steps feel overwhelming, it’s always important to talk to a financial advisor.

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This article originally appeared on Give Your Parents a Break: How To Achieve Financial Freedom Quickly


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