Millennials – they’re the worst. But what if we were to tell you that, apart from the difficult financial climate they now find themselves in, you’ve actually been a Millennial all along?
We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but you might be ‘the worst’.
Millennials are the undisputed global scapegoat of the past decade – a generation of social media junkies that are nothing more than lazy, entitled, good-for-nothing narcissists.
They really are the worst.
But before you bask in the moral high ground of your own, more well-rounded generation – make sure you know for certain that you’re not a Millennial.
Redefining The Millennial
We all know about the post-war ‘Baby Boomers’ and the disaffected souls of ‘Generation X’, but those suffering from the Millennial condition are usually more casually dismissed as anyone a little bit younger and lazier than yourself.
Nielsen have cast an interesting new perspective on the idea of the Millennial however. Focusing on the generation that has grown up in an era of unprecedented globalization and technological innovation, Nielsen contest that anyone born between 1977 and 1995 are of the Millennial generation.
So even if you happen to be celebrating your 40th birthday this year (sorry for the reminder), you are – according to Nielsen – a Millennial.
The struggle is real.
The Curse of The Millennial
Nielsen’s study is important in challenging our perception of an entire generation. And though you might not necessarily identify with some of your newfound peers, there are some traits that seem to bind younger members of the workforce together.
For one thing, although they are undoubtedly the most educated generation to date, Millennials seem to suffer from a case of chronic underemployment and inadequate wages. The New York Times recently reported that the average wage of the American adult (18-34) between 2009-2013 was $33,883 – the lowest figure since 1980.
Data from the Pew Research Center has also shown that, for the first time in over a century, more Americans between the ages of 18 to 34 are still living in their parents’ home than with a spouse or partner. One of the primary reasons for this is believed to be the steady decline in average wage for young men since 1970.
Millennials are lagging behind previous generations in terms of creating long-term financial security. Almost 15% of Millennials in their early twenties were left jobless after the last recession – tripping them up at an age where they should have been laying solid foundations of a future career.
We can’t just blame everyone else though. Millennials are also guilty of some pretty bad financial literacy.
Everyone hates paying bills, but studies have shown that most Millennials actually don’t even know what they should be paying. In fact, three-quarters have admitted to just doing whatever their friends do when it comes financial planning, while about 25% missed a bill or payment in the past year – a killer for your credit score.
Daily finances aside, a recent OECD survey has suggested that less than half of adults around the world understand what is probably the most important vehicle of long-term wealth creation – compound interest. This lack of appreciation for wealth growth is reflected in abysmal rates of financial planning amongst Millennials. 70% told a Franklin Templeton Investment research study that they feel stressed and anxious when they think about investment funds for retirement (who doesn’t!?)
But these will soon become a lot more than worries, with a further admission that 40% have no retirement plan set for the future… at all.
So Where’s The Good News?
So… Millennials are screwed, right?
Not exactly, but it’s a distinct possibility that the future’s not so bright if there aren’t concerted efforts to shore up financial planning soon. The last thing the world needs is roughly 40% of an entire generation hitting retirement age with no plans in place.
Whether we take Nielsen’s definition of Millennials on board or not, it’s indisputable that most workers in their twenties and thirties face a volatile financial landscape. Long gone are the days when you could afford to buy a house in your late-twenties.
In some ways, it’s understandable that the question of future financial planning is avoided more often than not. How can workers be expected to plan for the future when they can barely plan for the month ahead?
But burying your head in the sand (or smartphone) is not feasible if you plan on retiring sometime this century. In fact, now that we know some Millennials are actually entering into their fifth decade (again, sorry future forty-year-olds), it’s paramount that people start getting their finances in order so they can actually enjoy their retirement.
And surprisingly, it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, there are some adjustments the average Millennial can make right now to ease some of the pressure on your future self.
1.Pay Off Your Debt
Easier said than done, right?
Of course, you can’t be expected to just clear your debts off all of a sudden. But the very first thing you need to do is understand and control the amount of money you owe to other people.
This is as simple as tracking your monthly expenses to get a better idea of where your paycheck goes. Once you understand exactly how your account seems to magically drain, you can start figuring out the best ways to streamline your obligations.
2. Start Saving Now
Saving doesn’t have to involve a diet of bread and water for the next year.
Once you know where every dollar is going, you can start siphoning off just a little bit of your wages every month into savings – maybe even as little as 1%.
With savings, the first objective is to set up an emergency fund. This should be a separate account that you keep to cover emergencies. Ideally, you should aim to have at least one month’s salary in this account to tackle most unforeseen circumstances, but don’t limit yourself to that. You can never be too careful.
Once you have a significant emergency fund set aside, then you can reduce the amount of money going into it and start the real business of future planning.
If you don’t understand compound interest, a few years of investing will give you a great idea of its power!
None of us are getting any younger, and that means that we all need to start figuring out a future plan, whether we’re 22 or 40. Investing has been proven time and time again to be the best way to build future wealth for yourself.
You could set up a 401K, which will invest your retirement savings for you. Or you could do it yourself, and invest your money into companies you know and love. Either way, investing is a crucial part of setting yourself up for retirement, as it ensures you’ll accumulate a lot more wealth than in a savings account.
You can be a proud Millennial or a thirty-something in denial, but no one can argue the fact that it feels pretty good to have some sort of plan to tackle all of your current financial woes.
It’s also true that once you tackle these problems, they’re never as bad as they seem. In fact, once you get into the habit of preparing for the future, you’ll begin to wonder how you coped before.
The jobs market might stay cut-throat and you might have to wait a little longer until you buy your first home, but once you have a definite plan for your future, a good deal of the pressure is off.
However, if you’re struggling with having just discovered you’re a Millennial… well, we can’t help you there.
Make the first step towards shaping your own financial future. Download our free Invest app now and invest in the top 1% of companies quickly and easily.