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RBC
Shannon Lee Simmons is the founder of The New School of Finance and has advised thousands of young clients on debt, budgeting, home buying and retirement planning. “It's a scary thing for millennials to acknowledge they're not going to have the same things their parents have," says Simmons. “But that doesn't mean they can't have a good life."

As an expert in millennial personal finance, here’s what Simmons says her younger clients are most concerned about:

1. Home Buying

Millennials in their late 20’s and early 30’s want to know how to buy a house more than anything. According to Simmons, “They want to start a family, but most can only afford a house in the $500,000 range given their income. It’s impossible to find a house like that in Toronto where, as the Building Industry and Land Development Association reported in May, the average price for a new detached home is now $1.05 million.”

To those clients Simmons recommends renting. It’s not as nice as owning a property by yourself, but you can move your extra savings each month that don’t go into mortgage payments to RRSPs and TFSAs, and try to earn some money in the stock market to save enough money for later. Simmons says, “I think it’s important for millennials to be reminded that real estate is not the only way to build wealth.”

2. Retirement Planning

Despite their relative youth, retirement planning is an area millennials care deeply about, according to Simmons. “Because they are priced out of the housing market they have a lot of fear about how that’s going to affect them 30 years down the road,” she says. 90 percent of her clients don’t have a pension plan, and the majority of them are freelancing to pay the bills; however, they all want to know how to retire comfortably.

Simmons believes living within one’s means and making saving a priority will get them there. “The main thing is you are going to be alright,” she says. “There’s still a lot of time, and a lot happens in 30 years. You have your whole career ahead of you to reach your peak earning. Also, a bit of money saved today can go a long way compared to people who start saving when they are 45 or 60 years old.”

3. Student Debt

Many of Simmons’ clients in their early 20’s seek her advice on how to pay back their student debt, and more and more graduates are choosing to live with parents in their first few years out of school. “The younger half of the millennials are aware that jobs are tight, and they are even more scared than their older peers about how things are shaping up,” explains Simmons.

The attitude towards debt has changed dramatically over the years as students are now aware how spending in school can affect them later. Simmons advises her clients to make debt repayment a priority on their financial list of to-do’s.

Simmons’ closing advice to millennials who are anxious about the future is to change their mindset about it. “For many of us who can’t buy a home and don’t have a pension, we need to keep a lean lifestyle starting at a young age and be ok with that,” she says. ” There are creative ways to still have a good life.”