If you’re born between 1980 and 1996 you’re part of the “millennial generation”. You’ve grown up in an age of unprecedented abundance and incredible technical innovation, and as a group, enjoy a greater wealth of opportunity – professionally, socially and recreationally – than any previous generation. Many goods and services have never been cheaper in real terms, allowing you to live more for today than adopting your parents’ and grandparents’ single-minded focus on buying a home and saving for retirement.
That’s not to say you don’t face challenges. Increased employment casualisation, short-term contracting, and the threat of automation, can potentially threaten your job security. Or you might actually embrace a ‘come and go’ career, interweaving periods of work with stints of travel, child-raising or volunteering. Indeed, many millennials are discovering that the whole concept of work versus recreation is becoming blurred. With a computer the primary tool of trade in many professions, you may be able to work just as easily from a spare bedroom in Berlin or Barcelona as in Brisbane or Perth.
Medical advances promise a long and healthy life, meaning you may not even intend to ‘retire’, choosing to work for as long as health allows.
Some of your cohort find it liberating not to be tied down to one place by a mortgage and a heap of stuff, however the likelihood is that if you haven’t bought a house already, you still aspire to the great Australian dream of home ownership. This is a real challenge particularly for younger millennials and may involve unacceptable compromises such as living a long distance from work. But attitudes to long-term renting are changing. While Australia has yet to develop both the culture and cooperative ownership structures that make life-long home rental the norm in some countries, it’s a sure bet that enterprising millennials are working to change that. In any case, renting can be an economically viable alternative to buying.
Whether it’s finding a meaningful job, financing a new venture through crowd funding, borrowing through P2P platforms, finding a house or just a room, or even looking for love, you know where to find the apps. Still, with the mass of opportunities that have arisen from greater connection and changing social attitudes, life is in many ways more complicated than it was for your forebears.
Managing money is no exception. For a start, there’s the challenge of working out what the right balance is between funding a desirable lifestyle now and saving for medium and long term goals. Once that’s decided there are the questions of how to save and where to invest. The Internet is awash with information and advice, with much of it of a high standard. Unfortunately, this is balanced by a vast amount of misinformation and an abundance of shonky investment offers, making it difficult to distinguish the good from the bad.
Fortunately, help is at hand. We’ve made it our business to understand the wants and needs of all generations. There is more to life than saving for retirement and maximising your entitlement to the age pension.