10 Things Millennials Don’t Understand About Money & Life
Millennials have built a less than stellar reputation for themselves for many reasons. Considering that they will one day become the politicians, lawyers, artists, and leaders of the world, it is understandable that older generations worry about millennials’ ability to pull it off. Especially since studies reveal that millennials hold an average debt of over $50,000 and struggle with a high unemployment rate. Unfortunately, so far there seem to be important things that millennials either don’t know or simply ignore. Let’s tackle some of the things that millennials don’t understand about money and life.
1. Feelings are not the same as facts.
Feelings are entirely subjective and personal and it is exaggerated to expect the whole world to bend itself not to hurt your feelings. The world is a harsh place for many people who struggle with bills, diseases, heartbreaks, natural disasters, and much more. In the grand scheme of things, being easily hurt or offended stops your growth. Criticism, especially based on facts and rational viewpoints, is helping you become a better person. Besides, freedom of speech is more important than hurt feelings.
2. You cannot become whatever you want to be.
This is mostly a narrative that parents, sometimes even teachers, and motivational gurus force on us to make us feel good about ourselves. However, the truth is that in reality, things are much more nuanced. For example, if you can hardly spell, it is safe to assume that becoming a writer or editor is outside your reach, at least without years of hard work. Once you accept that everyone has certain limits, it is easier to focus on your unique potential and skills, instead of losing time chasing the improbable. Historically, millennials are the first generation to have this firm, yet somehow irrational belief that everyone can become whatever they want to be.
3. Some degrees are not worth your time, effort, or money.
It is a bit harsh to say that some degrees are useless, since learning always has benefits on its own, but you must be really convinced that all the effort, time, and money you invest in learning something will bring you back some value. Spending years and thousands of dollars to earn a degree that no one will take seriously enough to pay you more than minimum wage is definitely not a smart investment.
Society doesn’t owe you anything.
Healthcare, education, housing, and good income are privileges, not rights for more than half of people on the planet and there is no reason why you should see them as rights. Besides that, billions of people worked hard before you for the world to look as it does today, and it is only fair that you bring your own contribution to the table.
5. Mindless, routine spending affects your budget.
If you track all your expenses for a month, you will realize how small purchases make a big amount of your expenses. Spending a few dollars here and there may seem harmless but small purchases add up really quick. Indulgences such as a latte each morning or a pack of cigarettes daily factor heavily in your budget and might be the subtle reason why you live paycheck-to-paycheck.
6. You need an emergency fund.
Millennials are a generation used to instant gratification, which means that delaying to satisfy their desires is not something they can easily do. This is one of the top reasons why they don’t have emergency funds but prefer to seek help of friends and family when a financial emergency occurs. Although it is understandable that young people have a harder time saving when they’re just starting out their careers, an emergency fund should be higher on their priorities’ list that going to a bar on the weekend.
7. Time is money.
Success is less about talent and opportunity and more about discipline and hard work because opportunities are easy to find once you are ready to put in a lot of work. However, the greatest struggle of millennials is to stay focused. There are countless distractions that take up their time, from checking their social media news feeds, to watching the newest TV series that the whole world talks about. However, if you don’t value your time, you let life carry you from one thing to the next, until you realize you haven’t achieved any of your goals. You have to be the captain of your ship and decide your own course, but you have to become the master of your time for that to happen. That is why millennials should learn to say no to things.
8. Investing is better than spending.
Millennials have been spoilt with instant gratification which means that they usually prefer short-term rewards, even if they are less significant. However, investing and ensuring that the future will hold opportunities is crucial for a life of well-being. Spending all your money instead of investing is fun at the moment but it is less fun as you get hit by an emergency or a financial crisis. Most of the times, people who are extremely successful in their 30s and 40s are those who delayed gratification in their younger years, choosing instead to invest in their skills and to use their money to build capital.
9. Instant gratification has nothing to do with success.
The productivity of our age has dwindled severely because feelings of productivity and accomplishment are easy to recreate through false incentives. Millennials feel productive when they check things off their to-do lists and accomplish small things, forgetting that on the long-term these small accomplishments that bring instant gratification don’t add up. It’s easy to stay busy with all the distractions that surround us but it is not the same as being productive. Choosing instant gratification leads millennials to delay important decisions and to stay in a place of safety but no growth.
10. A small accomplishment is better than nothing.
Millennials seem to spend a lot of time in the brainstorming phase, debating what to do with their lives, where and how to live, and what goals are worth dedicating themselves to. Since they don’t know where they’re going, they have a difficult time making the first step. However, making the first steps in any direction is how you learn what is best suited for you. It is preferable thus to move in any direction than to stagnate in the planning phase. Endless theorizing seems to be one of the guilty pleasures of millennials, yet nothing can be achieved without action.