Sidney Pearce doesn’t buy into the hype that Millennials are financial flakes who would rather buy a Venti latte than invest in a retirement fund.

“Yes, some of my friends have credit card debt and they’re not saving a dime, but that’s not me,” says Pearce, a 22-year-old publicist in Phoenix. “I learned the value of investing from my grandfather. He grew up in a time where ‘saving for a rainy day’ was the go-to mantra.”

For his part, Pearce is laser-focused on shoring up his financial future, despite only earning $36,000 a year. He has $3,500 stashed for emergencies, and contributes $90 a month to his company’s 401(k) plan.

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Investing less than $100 a month may not sound like much, but Bankrate’s compound interest calculator tells a different story. For instance, if Pearce continues to invest $90 a month in his 401(k) with a 7% rate of return, the money will grow to nearly $280,000 by the time he reaches age 65.

Unlike some of his peers, he’s bucking the trend that younger Millennials tend to steer clear of the stock market.

The reason, according to 46% of Millennials who responded to a 2016 Bankrate Money Pulse survey, is that they don’t have the money.

Still, Pearce is undaunted.

“I’m focusing on paying off all of my bills, including a $15,000 car balance,” he says. For now, investing in an IRA is not financially feasible, “but I have a friend who is a broker and we talk about trends on a regular basis.”

With Pearce making progress on two financial goals, the publicist is eyeing a third —getting hitched in the next year or two.

Pearce and his fiancée, Mira Richey, age 21, want to foot the majority of the bill for their wedding and honeymoon. “Yet, we don’t have the luxury of paying for an expensive wedding and an over-the-top honeymoon,” he says. They're considering getting married by a justice of the peace and hosting a reception, and then honeymooning in Mexico.

It makes sense given his careful budgeting. In 2016, the average cost of a wedding day rose to $35,329 nationally, up from $27,021 in 2011, according to a survey by The Knot.

While her parents are going to pitch in, the plan is to save $10,000 for their nuptials. “I use a free app called “Albert” and it helps me save more and manage my budget,” says Pearce. It connects all the financial accounts, makes real-life suggestions, and tracks every dollar spent. The goal is to emerge from the experience debt-free.

His advice for young investors: “Don’t buy into the ‘party now, save later’ philosophy. Start today.”

The Expert Advice

Rianka R. Dorsainvil, CFP, president of Your Greatest Contribution, a financial planning firm in Washington, D.C., says Pearce has done quite a bit to start investing in his future. Below are tips for young investors, whether single or a pair, on how to grow and protect your money.

  • Invest in disability insurance. A young worker’s most valuable asset is his or her ability to earn income. “Protect your income with disability insurance, which can replace 50% to 60% of your income should you become unable to work for a period of time,” she explains. Many employers offer group disability plans which may be less expensive than an individual plan.

  • Start a side business. Like many Millennials, Pearce has a good eye as photography enthusiast. "He should do photography as a side gig," Dorsainvil says. "He could create a site on Square Space that costs little to nothing and start snapping photos this summer." There's money to be made that can go toward achieving some of his financial goals, she says.

  • Have money talks. “Pearce understands his money script and the history of where his money mind-set came from," Dorsainvil says. "I encourage him to have the same conversation with his fiancée." Before marriage, couples should not only have the big picture talk about saving and investing habits, they should also delve into how their money style came to fruition. Failing to talk about money can lead to financial strain and miscommunication.

  • Create S.M.A.R.T. financial goals. Pearce and his fiancée have to develop S.M.A.R.T. goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound."First, they need to set a wedding date," says Dorsainvil. "That will tell them how long they have to save and how much they need to set aside each month to accumulate $10,000." Another tip: Every single dollar you earn needs a home, whether you are getting married or saving for a home, she says.