We’re no stranger to how different life looks for millennials when compared with previous generations. The internet and mobile technology have fundamentally changed how we carry out our personal and professional lives.
Money management is another part of daily life that’s getting a makeover now that millennials are coming of age. From earning to investing money, Generation Y is doing things a bit differently.
Little Faith In The Stock Market
One of the most significant differences between the millennial generation and Baby Boomers is the former’s aversion to risk. Millennials are likely to purchase a more comprehensive healthcare plan even if it means higher monthly premiums. They’re also much less likely to invest in the stock market than previous generations.
If there’s a generalization about millennials that seems to hold water, it’s that they’re more skeptical than previous generations and more likely to keep their savings in a checking account or even cash. Thanks to their general mistrust of the government’s fiscal direction and the average corporation’s profit-first mentality, millennials tend to avoid investing in the stock market altogether, fearing the risk won’t pay off.
Technology is slowly rewriting the rulebook on just about every facet of modern life — including money management. But new technology needs beta testers willing to try a new way of doing things, help work out the bugs in the system and then share the good word with their friends.
Enter millennials, who are taking app-driven money management to uncharted places. Apps give millennials up-to-the-minute snapshots of their workplace-provided savings vehicles — like 401(k)s — but they’re also helping us save money in brand-new ways.
Apps like Digit create digital piggy banks with a modest accrual of interest to help save for trips or major purchases. Acorns rounds up your credit or debit card purchases to the nearest whole-dollar and invests those pennies for some surprisingly quick returns. Robinhood makes buying and selling stocks ludicrously easy. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and PayPal are all helping us pay for purchases or send money to friends more easily than ever, all without using cash.
The point is, “Generation Smartphone” is also “Generation that likes to save money effortlessly.” And thanks to the proliferation of mobile technology and thoughtfully-designed apps, that’s exactly what millennials are doing.
Millennials are likely the most price-conscious generation ever, but that doesn’t necessarily mean “cheap.”
For millennials, discounts under 20% are typically not seen as worthwhile. They’re also likely to have done thorough research on major purchases ahead of time, making them more likely than older shoppers to buy from a different store if it means netting a savings on the sticker price. Store loyalty means little to millennials.
That said, millennials are driving a push for more generous loyalty programs among retailers and financial companies — it’s the one thing that might keep them coming back. More so than previous generations, millennials want to feel as though sticking with the same brand for a few years will get them attractive perks like better rates, discounts, cash back, material incentives and more.
The Art Of The Side-Hustle
Many millennials graduate from college saddled with debt and without practical work experience. Making things yet more difficult is the maddening catch-22 of an “entry-level” job that requires nine years of experience.
To put their skills to work — even if they’re not leveraging them for a full-time career — many millennials are turning to the side-hustle to keep their talents sharp and pick up some extra money on the side. Opportunities abound on Fiverr, Mechanical Turks and even on Craigslist, if you’ve learned to filter out the spam and the phishing scams.
A pessimistic, but all too plausible, explanation for millennials’ fondness for side-hustles is that they’re all this generation’s got. With the student debt crisis being what it is, along with the dubious value of spending four years and one’s entire life savings on a college education, millennials are turning to less traditional employment at a rapid clip.
By some accounts, nearly one-quarter of America’s millennial population has a side-hustle — and this number is not likely to drop any time soon. Right now, the healthcare industry is leading the way with 30% of millennial side-hustlers. Sales and IT rank second and third with 30% and 17%, respectively.
Conventional wisdom has said for generations that the better-paying job is almost always the more attractive option. But millennials see a better way.
The size of the paycheck or salary is no longer the most significant deciding factor among millennials when it comes to looking for work. Instead, they tend to favor jobs with attractive perks — like flexible scheduling and family leave — or work which either helps them grow personally or gives back to the community at large.
We should recognize these trends as a refreshing change of pace. Many of the perennial problems around the world were created — or at least exacerbated — by the assumption that money ought to be the spoke at the center of the wheel of life. As Generation Y has grown up, they’ve come to question that assumption — both by choice and out of necessity.
The result is a new paradigm for the way money is pursued, spent and invested. As millennials take over stewardship of America’s economy in the coming years, we’re going to see the obvious next steps in the abovementioned trends: a greater focus on local commerce and locally-sourced materials, more capable software that further reduces the complexity of saving for retirement, an economy that rewards cooperation rather than competition.
The list goes on. The point is, millennials are showing the way when it comes to money — and we’re probably never going to look back.