There’s no question that personal finances can be daunting to the under 30 crowd. It doesn’t help that there seems to be an unending stream of conservative think pieces about Millennials peppering the latest financial blogs, calling us coddled special snowflakes with entitlement complexes. As a member of this generation why should we listen to anything these authors have to say — especially when they’ve created in us the perfect scapegoat for every issue in the world?
You name it and there’s probably a long-winded editorial about how we’re to blame. The rise of selfie culture, Hilary’s loss to Donald Trump, and the challenges the napkin industry face are all thanks to young adults born between 1980 and 2004. It’s gotten so bad that you can even find a tongue-in-cheek blame generator to pin random issues on those 37 and under.
Though most of these articles are just click-bait, some aren’t, and they can get under your skin and turn you away from traditional sources of advice. This is in part reason why so many Millennials are suspicious of typical financial advisors and why you may have even found yourself on a page like this.
Millennials, far more than any other generation, rely on social media, friends, and financial blogs for advice. We see banks and other financial professionals as catering to Baby Boomers, handing out advice better suited for someone who has accumulated savings and assets for longer than some of us have been alive.
There’s a ripple effect to this behaviour. When you ignore a financial blog for the tips your equally uninformed friend has to share, you can find yourself in hot water. As fewer of us find advice from legit sources, more of us end up harming our credit scores. A poor credit rating can limit our financial flexibility as these numbers hurt our chances of securing a loan with a big bank. As a result, a large portion of the generation turns to alternative lenders for help.
Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) and George Washington University found that roughly 30% of college-educated Millennials use payday loans when they need help. If you aren’t sure what those are, you can click here to learn more about these short term financial options.
Not to say that these aren’t valid ways to bridge the gap between paychecks. In many ways, these financial products are the ultimate pinch hitters when it comes to momentary financial emergencies and you don’t have any savings of your own. But they aren’t the answer if you expect to travel the world before you see your 40s.
The answer lies in prioritizing the way your spend money in uniquely Millennial ways. As a generation, we’ve been accused of being too cautious with our money, but this isn’t a pejorative. This behaviour has resulted in the rise of the sharing economy, where sharing and saving money is valued over ownership and sinking into debt, and it can be an incredibly helpful tool for saving money.
Strictly as a consumer, you can save money by downloading apps that help you connect with this sharing economy. When you need to get around town or move heavy furniture, there are ride share programs like Uber, Lyft, and Car2Go that can help. When you want to travel without spending a fortune, there are apps that can hook you up with frugal accommodations like AirBNB, FlipKey, and Home Exchange or cheap eats, like BonAppetour and VizEats.
You can also take advantage of these apps if you hope to make a little side money. If you own your own car or condo, you can offer up your services as a driver or open you home to travellers and earn some extra cash.
Though simple, these apps can have a larger pay off on your finances than you think. It helps that your phone is a lot less daunting than reading advice given by someone who obviously distrusts our generation. There’s also satisfaction about taking the criticisms the world has about our generation and turning them into money making techniques. The sharing economy is just one of the ways you can use this generational bias to your advantage and turn Generation Me into Generation Money.