I’d like to start this discussion with a fact: Millennials are in more debt than any generation yet. Already knew that? I figured. Millennials are characterized by their cynicism and self deprecating nature, and are also known to be one of the most materialistic generations, so is it any wonder why we are so in debt?
...Are you depressed yet? (Speaking of depression: rates have gone up significantly in the millennial generation, says this study!)
Unfortunately, millennials have quite a few trials and tribulations sprinkled into their generation; this makes the “greatest debt of any generation yet” seem like the cherry on top.
So, where is the sunshine when there are so many clouds in the stormy sky that is what we call the millennial generation? Cheesy or not, I believe that the sunshine is located within each and every millennial themselves, apart from the stormy weather they exist in.
Now, I’m going to tell you four ways to find the light of financial freedom and disconnect from lousy millennial stereotypes by looking right through the lens of the looming debt crisis that we are supposedly so stuck in.
- Take pride in not contributing to the suffocating debt of your generation.
With millennials’ trillions of dollars of debt coming out of the closet, it’s a great time to own the fact that maybe you don’t contribute all that much.
So yes, there’s debt, and yes, it’s the largest amount yet, and yes, each person is technically contributing to it in some way— but like your carbon footprint, the magnitude of your contribution is always in your control.
So that means just as you recycle water bottles and turn out your lights, try applying that same effort to things involving finances as well— this could look like “recycling” clothes by shopping at trendy thrifts instead of retail shops and “turning off” your student loans as quickly as possible by, you know, paying them.
When you exist in a massive generalized stereotype, there is a certain golden opportunity that exists there too, and that is the opportunity to be different. To break the norms. To be the gold in a sea of silver. The opportunity to contrast yourself against the stereotype of your surroundings is one that can give much pride and happiness.
2. Learn to not make excuses and take ownership of your financial endeavors
So here we have an interesting situation. There are a number of crises that have made their residence within the millennial generation, and this debt issue is just one of them.
More good news? We know that within each crisis of great magnitude is a lesson of equal magnitude. While there are many lessons to be found here, here's the one that I see most fit to point out: We need to learn how to not make excuses for ourselves and take ownership of our financial endeavors.
Now is not the time to open credit cards at all our favorite boutiques and buy a brand-new car every few years.
Now is the time to own up to our materialistic nature, because once we do so, we take the power away from anyone who tries to dangle that over our heads.
Now is the time to educate ourselves about our finances, learn how to make a financial plan for our lives, and take charge of our spending.
3. Don’t be ashamed of playing it small financially.
Taking it back to contrasting yourself with your surroundings--in a time of over-the-top everything--how much more special would it be if you could be just as happy, accomplish just as many bad-ass things, and shine just as bright without being over-the-top?
Playing it small when it comes to your finances is not something to be ashamed of
Have a small apartment if that’s all you need.
Don’t get a car just to flex. (No one cares what kind of car you drive, they care about what kind of person you are).
Sprinkle in “treat yourself” days, but don’t blow every paycheck on clothes you’ll wear once every few months.
Take pride in saving money and supporting yourself and breaking the stereotype.
4. Dream big and vast, but plan small and detailed.
Planning is always good. It just is. As young people, we have a huge, blank canvas ahead of us that we get to slowly paint and decorate however we want. What a beautiful and hopeful concept.
That being said, although improvising sometimes produces great art, it’s a good idea to have some sort of organized structure to stay within.
Whether it’s a very general ten-year plan, a semi-detailed five-year plan,
or a super intricate one-year plan, or all three, any type of planning will benefit you. While you’re at it, add some financial goals: How much do you want to have saved at each checkpoint? Where will you be distributing your money at each different checkpoint?
Living in a generation that has so many stereotypes can put some clouds in your sky for sure, especially when those clouds are looming debt and financial struggle.
But the bigger the stereotype, the more impressive it is when you break it.