Millennial Money Matters

If you are one of the lucky ones that are going to be able to retire at 40, then kudos to you. You have made all the right moves, and you should be proud of yourself for getting that far ahead in the game. For the other 99.9% of us, we are admiring and being slightly (or a lot) envious from a distance. 

Photo by Lex Sirikiat on Unsplash

Especially with Facebook and LinkedIn helping us to track all the major money moves of our peers, it gets a bit of show and tells of who is the absolute best. 

What doesn’t help for those born in the late 80s and beyond is the fact that baby boomers (and little extent Gen X) are still comfortable in their C-suite positions and are not planning on making room any time soon?


A Changing World

That doesn’t mean that people who had the challenge to grow up in an economy where wages have been stagnant (corrected for inflation) and things such as house ownership or tuition fees have skyrocketed in price (even adjusted for inflation). 

Every modern business leader will acknowledge that the rules of before don’t apply anymore. The whole idea of going to work on Wall Street (or any national equivalent) seems to be a shrinking dream. Does this mean that traditional pearls of wisdom have gone entirely out the window? 

Not at all, there is still plenty of insight from the financial world that could help the majority of people who haven’t saved up 100s of thousands in their early 40s.


Unrealistic Advice

One of the all-time favorite wisdom must be “when you receive your income, save first, then spend.” It’s something Warren Buffet might say. Another one is “when you earn say 50K, try living like you were earning 25K”. 

Paraphrasing Gary Vaynerchuck here. Both are generally addressed at people who complain they can’t save up capital because they don’t have enough disposable income. One of the commonly heard criticism of the Millennial generation (or Gen Y even) and more and more of the Gen Z is that they are unwilling to “suffer in the short term” to reap the rewards long term. 

More specifically, examples are expensive special coffees from well-known coffee chains, grabbing Ubers (or equivalent) as often as possible and, of course, eating expensive avocado toast. 


What It Really Comes Down To

The flipside of the coin is, as Millennials would argue, that the motivation for saving up ‘things’ is gone. House prices are too high, cars seem to be an excessive luxury as more and more work is footloose (and you can rent a car if you want to go away on the weekend), and in most cases, people are drowning in debt already (most likely tuition fees). 

And on both sides of this discussion, there is a genuine willingness to explain but also stubbornness in understanding each other. It’s a classic duty of care approach from an older generation versus a dignity of risk for a younger one. What is dignity of risk, you might ask? It’s essentially the individual right to make their own choices, even when those choices might hurt that person in the end. 


The younger generation needs to understand that the older generation feels a duty of care, but vice versa the older generation needs to understand that because the world does not look like the days of the past, that this younger generation has grabbed their dignity of risk as their (perceived) only controllable element in their lives.


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