We really didn’t win a prize with the financial challenges our generation has to face. We, as Millennials, born between the years 1981 and 1996, are often said to be the first generation that is less wealthy than the previous one. Currently being at the age of 28-43 years old (yes, time does run that fast, we were also a bit in shock when we did the numbers), there are significant differences between us and the Gen X (1965-1980) / Boomers II (1955-1964). Differences, that make it difficult for a lot of us to live a settled life, overcome financial hurdles, and set ourselves up for success.
Why Are We Left with Less?
A recent international study between the UK, Germany, and France has found that the general impression of us losing out might be not facetted enough – not pinpointing the exact issue. Instead, the results found that the problem is the widening wealth gap – a “fundamental moral and political challenge.” It’s not that we’re left with nothing, no. The wealthiest Millennials are richer than ever before – but the lower-class, workers in low-paid jobs, are the ones being left further and further behind. “This divergence in financial rewards is exacerbating extreme levels of wealth inequality […]. Individuals with typical working-class careers, like truck drivers or hairdressers, used to be able to buy a home and build a modest level of assets, but this is more difficult for the younger generation.” The study shows that a way higher percentage of Millennials are engaged in social or service sector jobs at the age of 35 than Baby Boomers were – who had a higher percentage of being in prestigious profession (17% to 7.3%). Compared to the 8.7% of Boomers II, there are now 14% of Millennials have a negative net worth, meaning their debts are higher than their assets. A difficult situation to be in.
What Can We Do to Get the Ball Rolling?
Our financial challenges are undeniably daunting – and understanding the root causes is crucial for devising effective solutions. The consequences of the divergence are profound, and building assets can be challenging. Start by thoroughly analysing your monthly income and expenses. Track every pound you earn and spend, to identify areas where you can cut back. Once you have a clear understanding of your financial picture, it’s easier to set realistic spending limits for each category that you’re able to separate your expenses into (like necessities, such as rent, utilities, and groceries, as well as discretionary spending, such as entertainment and dining out). Being disciplined is a huge factor here. What helps with this is a dedicated savings account, that allows you to put money away, without being tempted to use the money for something you’re not supposed to. There are fantastic options available, some are even able to boost your credit score at the same time. Especially for an emergency fund – which is crucial – this might be an excellent choice. And don’t worry about the sum – even the smallest amounts, contributed regularly, can amount to larger sums eventually. Important is, that you start. Try to put away a fixed percentage of your income right when you receive it – it’ll make it easier. And if you are rewarded windfalls, such as tax refunds or work bonuses, resist the urge to spend them impulsively. Instead, allocate a portion of them to boost your emergency savings, too.
How to save is not exactly a secret – but that doesn’t make it easier. The key is consistency and adaptability. Tailor what options you have to your specific circumstances, and don’t be discouraged if progress is gradual. Small changes can make a big impact over time, helping you build the financial resilience that you need, even in challenging situations.