Millennial Money Matters : Live off of Less

Money. Money. Money. Must be funny in the rich man’s world. Ahh the lyrics to another lit ABBA bop that also happens to be relate-able af. 

I know that this blog has primarily been about Millennial dating with splashes of culture critique here and there, but I want to chat a bit about money. Trust me I can make this relevant. You see money is a huge concern for millennials and ends up affecting their dating lives in many ways, whether they avoid it because they cant afford to take their Tinder hottie out to drinks, or girls looking for sugar daddies, or perhaps a man does want to propose because he is yet to get his finances in order. See I just tied it back to dating didn’t I? Money can actually have a huge impact on our dating lives whether we realize it or not. Truth be told money is the number one thing that couples fight about. If you can get your finances and debt in order now you will a. make yourself a more appealing mate and b. save yourself the trouble of entering into a debt ridden, financially unstable hot bed of resentment when you eventually want to settle down. 

The point is that money is a rather pressing matter for most Millennials, mostly because we are often caught in a dichotomous relationship with money and what we are suppose to be doing with it in our early twenties. On one hand the culture is rather adamant in telling us to “treat yo self” and that self care is comprised of luxury skin care purchases and manicures. We are often instructed that little luxuries are a right and not well…luxuries. On the other hand, we can’t seem to escape the deluge of news telling us how financially screwed millennials are, that we can’t afford homes due to our insatiable appetites for avocado toast, and we are drowning under student loan debt and that we are the most over educated and underemployed generation of all time. The two conflicting messages are confusing and daunting. One side of the story is telling me I am irreparably poor and the other is that I am entitled to constant frivolities. 
Where is the truth in this stream of messaging????

So first and foremost i want to unpack where these messages come from. They come from the media, an institution hell bent on keeping poor and miserable so that we look to them for whatever antidote they are selling. Obviously a “treat yo self” mindset is great for business! The spa business must be thriving! Likewise, financial consultation and so-called “get rich quick” schemes are big businesses in the western world, and the poorer people are, or at least feel (a la social media comparison) the more likely they are going to seek out solutions to problems that are perhaps not even real problems. Yeah, millennials have debt, but I wouldn’t exactly call them an impoverished generation with their fancy college degrees, North Face jacket collections, and Amazon Prime addictions. Yes, their 12 TV show subscriptions and weekly bottomless brunch routines might be irresponsible, but it doesn’t exactly scream financial struggling. All I am saying, is that it is possible the vague entity called the media is exaggerating/creating the “crisis” of millennials finances for their own benefit… Wouldn’t be the first time…

Now that we have called into question the legitimacy of millennial wealth or lack there of, lets get to my actual point. Millennials do have a lot of irresponsible money mindsets that i want to challenge. Regardless of where we rank on the salary totem pole, Millennials have an often negative relationship with money. They don’t know how to spend responsibly or save carefully and are unsure where to draw the line between the two. Moreover, most millennials just want to know how they can “live their truth” and follow their passions while also not going broke. 

The truth is that regardless of what you make you can still accumulate wealth. 

1. Change your mindset to live off of lessThink about how much you spend each month. Where does it all go? if you were to strip down that spending to the absolute bare bones necessity how much could you truly live off of? 
I want to challenge millennials to take a hard look at what really truly constitutes as necessary spending in their lives. When we make more we often spend more, but what if your expenditures did not change with income and your lifestyle remained the same no matter how much your salary increased over time? You would save a ton right!? Well that is the kind of mind set I want to encourage. Increasing our lifestyle every time we make more money keeps us enslaved to the system and creates wealth dependence not wealth Independence. When your lifestyle is independent of your income you are free from living paycheck to paycheck and your wealth is free to grow at increasing rates. So what does this look like? Reduce your lifestyle to bare bones necessities with a few splurges for priority items here and there and watch as you find yourself free from financial burdens. it is all about creating a more sustainable lifestyle, and not I am not talking about composting. It is about creating a lifestyle that doesn’t require much financial upkeep and leaves plenty of room for saving, rather than spending. So ditch the expensive habits and brand loyalty and treats in favor of a lifestyle that need only a minimum salary to maintain. 

2. Make sacrifices 
There is no such thing as wealth without sacrifice. It is a necessary component. What this means is that while you should treat yourself now and then and have a few splurges in which you enjoy your life, note that you will never accumulate wealth without making sacrifices in your spending and lifestyle choices. Shop at cheaper grocery stores, use coupons, drive a shittier car with cheaper insurance for a a while, delay gratification until you can actually afford it outright, say no to frivolous spending, live at home for a while,  say no to things you know won’t make you happier to add value to your life beyond a fleeting moment. I am not saying to quick eating out, but when you eat out that $30 meal lasted an hour, while the same 30 dollars could buy groceries for the week, or fill up your gas tank, or purchase a new dress that you wear for years. Be mindful of value and the value of the dollar. Recognize that sacrifice does not mean living worse with no benefits, it means making changes in which there will be more benefits in the future, such as a fatter savings account and the freedom to make bigger purchases when you are ready. Wouldn’t it be worth it to live at home for a year longer if it meant you could buy your own home 5 years sooner??? 

3. Become addicted to saving 
Saving money doesn’t sound like much fun, but once you start meeting those savings goals it is hard to not get excited watching that number in your account grow.  Soon making that account transfer is a source of endorphins and helps re-prioritize your spending. Perhaps that purchase you were saving up for does not really mean so much? Maybe it is more fun to keep your savings and keep growing it! 

4. Create new channels of wealth and never become dependent  on one channel 
The key to true financial independence is to never become dependent upon a sole income. When you are dependent upon that one income channel you reduce your options to make changes and adjustments in your life whether they are voluntary or involuntary. Being a slave to one job and one income means you are unable to step away from that position if you so chose, or perhaps if life got in the way. More income and more savings means more freedom and more options to make changes in your life. Maybe you want to go back to school or move to a new city or country, or stay at home with your kids more, or maybe you just want to take time off and travel, or maybe you want to go to part-time instead? Without single income dependence these opportunities become more manageable and realistic. As with dating, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, rather create a multitude of opportunities and possible opportunities for yourself. So what does this look like? It looks like having at least one side hustle, which in this gig economy is more than feasible, it looks like making investments with your savings, and it looks like saving as much of your salaries as you can. 

I know Instagram is a huge source of information on how our generation lives, or at least how we think our generation lives. Often times the ‘gram makes us think that the majority of our peers are on yachts in the Maldives sipping rose while you are at your cubicle job. This is both unrealistic and a false comparison based on a curated highlight reel. As a result, Instagram creates a lot of feeling of jealousy, inadequacy and social comparison that can drive us to a. feel bad about our own lives and b. inspire us to make purchases we don’t need. I myself have never spent more on skin care than I have while following beauty bloggers! It isn’t even necessarily that i am buying what they are selling , more that I felt more like I needed fancier skincare after watching their videos. It made me feel like I was one step closer to achieving their seemingly perfect lives. 

I think too often we get caught up with living our best life today, rather than preparing for our best life over the course of the next 40 years. And trust me when I say it does not take a fat salary to become wealthy, being wealthy really comes down to making wise money choices with whatever means you have, whether that be limited or abundant. Even if you have a entry level salary you can still save and accumulate wealth by living off of less, making sacrifices. becoming addicted to saving and creating multiple channels of income. 

Good luck,

xoxo Ellie

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