For Millennials like myself, the past few weeks have brought some bad news. The latest round of eye-opening stats started with a MarketWatch piece that declared that individuals should have twice their salary stashed away by the time they’re 35. This revelation launched a meme where Twitter users and others offered what they viewed as more attainable milestones for your mid-30s. Following that bout of fun in the face of depression, a new study has declared that some Millennials born in the 80s might never recover from the Great Recession — even referring to me and my kind as the “A Lost Generation” (and presumably not because of the ABC drama that was popular a decade ago).
Between these two articles, it could be easy for my fellow Millennials to start feeling overwhelmed, disheartened, or even victimized by their financial realities. However now is not the time to throw in the towel and accept defeat. On the contrary, these reports should serve as motivation to take a more active role in the things you can control and live the life you want in spite of the bad hand we Millennials may have been dealt. How do we do that? Here are a few financial tips I think can help our generation make up for lost time.
Financial Tips for Millennials
Consider some form of downsizing
I’ll be the first to admit that, if my wife and I are on our way to having twice our salary saved by the time we’re 35, it’s only because our salaries aren’t much to write home about. Despite that we’ve been able to live a comfortable life due to some changes we made a few years back. While the Los Angeles life was filled with fun and excitement, the premium paid to live in the area was high. That’s why we ended up moving to the Midwest where the cost of living was a fraction of what it was in the City of Angels. This lifestyle change has not only allowed us to catch up on savings but also enables us to enjoy things like travel (he typed while packing for Paris).
Whether it means relocating to a new city, shopping around for a more affordable apartment or house, or finding other ways to eliminate some expenses from your life, I sincerely believe that many Millennials can afford a better life if they learn to embrace their priorities and cut out the excess.
Make saving a game
Recently I’ve been reading and enjoying Kirstin Wong’s new book Get Money (which I’ll have a full review of sometime in the near future). While sharing her views on money and savings, one of the things Wong brings up is gamification. This is the idea that cutting spending and building up savings don’t have to be chores but can instead can be rewarding and, dare I say, fun.
You know how some apps entice you to open them each day by displaying your streak? You can set up a similarly alluring scheme by challenging yourself to cut out a certain type of spending and attempting to extend your streak. Moreover you can also divert the money you’re saving to an account that you can watch grow, which can also lead to some released endorphins with the added bonus of enhancing your finances. On that note apps like Clarity Money for savings or Acorns for investing can help make the process painless by automatically moving your money for you.
By utilizing gamification and changing the way you think about saving money, you’ll be on your way to achieving money milestones you might not have previously thought possible — all while having some fun as well.
Try monetizing your passions
Finally, while saving money is a great way to boost your finances, making more money (and not spending it) can be equally as effective. Contrary to what you might think, this doesn’t necessarily mean changing careers, going back to school, or burning the candle at both ends in order to take on another job. Instead, with some creativity, you may be able to monetize your hobbies and passions — or at least help subsidize them.
I’m actually a great example of this concept as I’ve been lucky enough to write for a popular Disney fan site, LaughingPlace.com. While I may not get a traditional salary from this gig, I am occasionally able to cover special events or openings for the site, which helps make our travel far more affordable. Also in the world of Disney, I’ve also been able to make a few dollars by writing and selling a book about my Disney travels on Amazon. Since I elected to do a print run of the book, it did cost me a few dollars upfront. However, if you wanted to write an ebook on just about any topic that interested you, you could publish it on Amazon in the Kindle format for little to no upfront cost!
Although these are some very specific examples, there are plenty of other opportunities for you to pull off a similar stunt, be it by starting your own website or blog about a particular interest of yours, selling crafts on sites like Etsy, or offering your skills to others by using platforms like Fiverr. Like I said, this could take some creativity on your part as well as some further research to learn exactly how to accomplish your plan but, as I’ve learned first hand, there are ways you can make extra money doing what you love to do.
There’s no doubt that the Millennial generation hasn’t always received a fair shake when it comes to finances. Thanks to factors like the Great Recession, the price of higher education, and student debt, achieving some traditional money milestones may be more difficult for those my age than it was for our parents. That said there’s no excuse for our generation to turn cynical and pessimistic now. In fact, unlike our elders, we are now blessed with a number of tools that can help us turn our finances around. From the ability to work remotely while downsizing our lives to savings apps that will automatically help us build wealth, along with various platforms and sites that can allow us to monetize our passions, there’s a lot for Millennials to be thankful for — and plenty of time for us to catch up financially.