Millennials have some tough choices—whether tofocus on digging themselves out of debt they incurred for college,or to sink some serious money into future needs like a homepurchase or a retirement account.

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Related: Top financial concern for workers:Emergency expenses

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That’s according to a USA Today report, which points out that while thegeneration is mostly getting by on their salaries, it’s not as ifwhat they make is giving them much wiggle room when it comes tofocusing on the past (those loans) or the future (house,retirement, etc.). After all, the money will only go so far.

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Given the effect of compounding on a retirement account, even asmall amount saved now can make a difference 30-some years fromtoday, but on the other hand, the need to avoid insomnia over howmuch that compounding factor is eating away at other goals byaugmenting the balance of unpaid student loans means that there’ssome careful calculating to be done.

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And when it comes to buying a house, there’s the samedilemma—although if they’re planning on moving around for a bitbefore settling down, it’s probably better not to put money into ahouse that could either reduce debt or build a retirementaccount—especially if there’s any indication that home prices inthe area might not continue to appreciate.

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Calculating the interest rates on mortgages can be a useful wayto decide whether a house is in the immediate or the more distantfuture—especially when compared with the interest rate on thosestudent loans and other debt. And while marketreturns, as everyone learned to their sadness during the GreatRecession, are far from guaranteed, a retirement account thatprovides an employer match is something to be coveted.

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According to Kristen Robinson, senior vice president of emerginginvestors at Fidelity, there’s a way for millennials to approachfinances when they’re not quite sure which leg of the stool theywant to tackle first.

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In the report, Robinson suggests that the first thing on theiragenda should be an emergency fund with 3–6 months’ worth ofincome. Other things can come after that.

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The 401(k) should come next, she suggests, particularly makingsure to save enough to take full advantage of an employer match.“If you don’t,” she says in the report, “you’re literally leavingmoney on the table.”

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Next should come paying down debt, particularly high-interestdebt like credit cards. After that come student loans, providedtheir interest rates are lower. And whenever it’s possible,millennials should start boosting those retirement account savingsa percent or more at a time, until they hit the max—Robinsonsuggests they gradually increase the amount until they’re saving10–15 percent of their income toward retirement.

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And the house? Robinson suggests building a separate housepurchase fund via a direct deposit straight from the paycheck intoa separate account—if savers don’t see the money before it’s safelyensconced in an account, they won’t miss it (as much).

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And it won’t be in the checking account where it’s all too easyto spend it before getting to that goal: a home.

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