Millennials & Money: How Can We Help Ourselves?

Subscribe to My Big Rich Life for more blog posts and to receive a free ebook about the eight money archetypes!

Read more about Claire here!

Interested in Money Coaching? Read more here!

Take the Money Type Quiz and receive a free consultation!

Millennials have gotten a bad reputation over the years – that we’re entitled and lazy

Entitled because we receive support from our families and live at home.

Lazy because, despite the amount of jobs available, we cannot seem to find one that satisfies our needs. 

If someone took the time to look a little closer at the environment we grew up in, our families, and the institutions that surround us, they’ll be able to see and understand why some of us are in these positions. 

While these are common trends amongst this generation, it doesn’t apply to everyone. There are a handful of us that have been fortunate enough to receive financial education at a young age, to have had families that accurately advised us regarding our financial futures, to have had strong investment and savings advice, and much more. This has led many millennials to be confident in working their finances today and for the future. 

This handful of individuals are setting great examples; however, we still need to be empathetic and compassionate to the fact that they have all had their own woundings from the past that can be impacting their financial decisions unknowingly. 

For example, individuals who received financial education and support as kids could have also experienced compensatory love, the idea that in order to receive from their parents, they had to perform a certain way. This results in the children seeing money as a form of love, approval, and their overall worthiness. When they grow up, they can still have a dependency on their parents to continue this relationship of ‘you give me money to feel worthy and loved’. It is also possible for them to become more of a spender where the items purchased represent the love they may not have received as a child. This can also spill over into their relationships outside of family, and things can get…well….messy.

Of course, how much it impacts them depends on the active archetypes in their lives at the moment – find out yours here! If the individual has an active Creator/Artist archetype there can be a love-hate relationship with money, a very conflicting ideology. Despite their Creator/Artist that is against involvement in the material world, they have to be involved in spending because it’s what they has as evidence of love and affection from their parents. 

Although it sounds illogical for financially literate and successful millennials to have a compensatory love dynamic, it is very common and the majority of individuals experiencing this don’t even realize it’s impacting them as their active archetypes are subconsciously driving their financial decisions everyday.

The rest of us who are not as financially literate have our own challenging patterns and behaviors relative to money that have stemmed from our childhoods and solidified through our experiences. Despite these challenges, we have also experienced tremendous resistance from the institutions surrounding us. Millennials were either growing up or entered the workforce when the recession of 2007 hit. Starting careers in a recession is an enormous challenge for young adults; similarly, those who were still adolescents at the time of the recession saw the enormous impact it had on their parents. Those insanely stressful times have had subconscious impacts on us all, and unless they’ve been identified and worked through, still remain today. 

According to the Investopedia article, Money Habits of the Millennials, written by Mark Cussen, the recession caused lenders to “…tighten up their requirements for loans and extensions of credit” (Cussen, 2019)  which has made it challenging for millennials who are ready to settle down and start a family. It is much more challenging now to get approved for larger purchases. While this has reduced some credit card debt, the debt devil has hit millennials elsewhere: the education system. 

The CNBC article, 62% of Millennials Say They’re Living Paycheck to Paycheck, by Megan Leonhardt, states that “the median amount of loan debt millennials carried was $19,000, significantly higher than Gen Xers’ balance of $12,800 at the same age” (Leonhardt, 2019).  Millennials are struggling to build wealth because they start their careers in a hole of debt and have to slowly climb their way out of it.

Due to soaring housing prices, millennials have to save longer to buy a house. If they are not buying a home, they deal with soaring rents and our salaries are not keeping up with these prices!

Many millennials are caring for their aging parents. Scott Williams of Embracing Carers says “millennials spend 27% more of their incomes on caregiving than other generations in the same situation, and that one-third of millennial caregivers who have jobs earn less than $30,000 on average” (Hoffower, 2018).

Due to inflation, millennials need to save more for retirement than most expect. In 2016, Business Insider reported that by the time millennials want to retire, “$1 million in savings would have the same spending power as $306,000 today” (Hoffower, 2018).

No wonder a large percentage of millennials are either living with their families, receiving financial assistance from their families, and/or struggling to find a job that can support their needs. We all deserve to feel financially safe and have our basic needs met. These systems and unfortunate circumstances are keeping us weighed down and the only way we can feel safe or meet our basic needs is to get that support and assistance. 

Next time you feel all millennials are entitled and lazy, I simply ask you to take a look at the bigger picture as our circumstances are symptoms of a much greater problem in this country. 

Similarly, the woundings and challenging patterns we’ve developed during childhood do not help the situation. We cannot put the blame on anyone, especially not our parents, as they were doing the best they could with the information and skills they had obtained from their families, and so on. These patterns are multi-generational and we must have compassion and provide assistance to help break them to learn new patterns and behaviors. 

The most common archetypes I see actively influencing millennials are the Fool, Creator/Artist, Innocent, and Victim. 

The Fool is…

  • Restless
  • Undisciplined
  • Financially irresponsible
  • Impetuous
  • Optimistic
  • Overly generous
  • Happy-go-lucky
  • Adventurous
  • Lives for today

The Innocent is..

  • Trusting
  • Happy-go-lucky (externally)
  • Fearful or anxious (internally)
  • Indecisive
  • Seeks security
  • Financially dependent
  • Repressive of feelings and beliefs
  • Non-confrontational
  • Feels powerless

The Victim is…

  • Prone to blaming others
  • Highly emotional (melancholy or angry)
  • Living in the past
  • Financially irresponsible
  • Seeking to be rescued
  • Feeling powerless
  • Resentful
  • Unforgiving
  • Living out a self-fulfilling prophecy
  • Addictive

The Creator/Artist is…

  • Highly artistic and/or spiritual
  • Passive
  • Internally motivated
  • Detached
  • Non-materialistic
  • Often loners
  • Seekers of truth

For more information about the Money Archetypes, subscribe to My Big Rich Life and receive a free ebook about the eight money archetypes! 

Curious about your active money archetypes? Take the free Money Type Quiz!

It is clear that millennials today are experiencing internal conflict when it comes to finances. Thanks to the increasingly influential tendencies of social media, millennials feel the need to be accepted, liked, and worthy within their generation. In fact, “..over three-quarters of Millennials want to have the same clothes, cars and technological gadgets as their friends” (Cussen, 2019). Social media also allows people to display their larger purchases, such as homes or cars, for the world to see and envy.  So despite the credit card debt, student loan debt, and dependence on their families, we are still spending on material goods that we do not need.

One challenge this demonstrates is low self-esteem amongst the millennial generation. It isn’t the only thing influencing our financial illiteracy, but it is clearly creating an enormous internal conflict. As a generation, our Creator/Artist that has this conflict with money and detachment from material goods is being heavily influenced by social media and being able to see all the things we don’t yet have. 

So we can become the Innocent, also called the wounded child, feeling anxious and fearful we don’t have enough or that we won’t be able to obtain those same goals. We end up retreating and becoming more dependent while still making irrational financial decisions. We can also become the Victim, resentful of past experiences and/our current situations and the fact that we don’t have all the things our peers have. Or, we can become the Fool and make financial decisions in the moment that do not always end up working out in our favor, but we are optimistic and hopeful that they will. We can also have a combination of these archetypes, where the strings are pulling us from all different angles and making it impossible for us to avoid self-sabotage and living out our self-fulfilling prophecies

As a generation, we constantly feel we aren’t doing enough, making enough, or just plain being enough. The internet creates a competitive marketplace for material goods and life goals. It increases the conflict within ourselves where we want the things we see online, things we can’t afford, things we don’t need, and all the meanwhile we are drowning in debt, just breaking even with our income, and using “…a credit card to pay for basic daily necessities such as food and utilities” (Cussen, 2019).

So, where do we go from here?

To be honest, focusing on financial literacy at this point in time will not be beneficial to us individually or collectively. If we cannot identify or understand our core challenges, we will never be able to change them. Once we are able to do this, then we can focus on financial literacy.

That being said, I am going to provide a few small but significant steps that we can take to reduce these active archetypes in our lives. 

Relative to money and finances, if you are…

  • Anxious or fearful
  • Feeling powerless
  • Resentful
  • Detached

Here are a few simple and easy steps for you to take…

Anxiety/Fear:

  1. Breathing! to help rewire the brain and ease anxiety begin by taking a deep breath in to the count of 5, hold it for 1, then breathe out to the count of 10. I like to imagine the ocean waves coming into shore, and then going back out. Repeat for 2-5 minutes or until you have calmed down. 
  2.  We must ask ourselves, is this fear/anxiety real or a projection?

In a moment of anxiety or fear, ask yourself the questions in the following order: 

  1. What is the worst case scenario of this situation? 
  2. What are some other outcomes that aren’t the worst-case scenario?
  3. Is this anxiety/fear an actual threat to your physical being? 
  4. What do you hope will happen? 

Careless: 

  1. Slow it way down! Whenever you feel the need to make an impulsive financial decision, take the time to write out if you can afford it, why you feel you need it, what it will do for you, what impacts it could have on you, and any consequences you can foresee. Think carefully and logical before making your decisions.

Powerless: 

  1. Positive affirmations to increase self-love!
  2. Daily Right Action! Write out your daily activities and how they help you achieve your goals. This helps get clear about how you are using time, energy, and resources and helps track your actions daily.

Resentful:

  1. Forgiveness of self and others! Holding onto the past will inhibit you from moving forward. Even if we do not feel we are the ones in the wrong, we need to forgive. Forgiveness is the first step to healing the wounds we hold. 

Ho’oponopono (ho-o-pono-pono) is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. You can do this in relation to yourself or others. Whenever you are in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eyes and say:

I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.

Repeat 2-3x and do this when you’re in your bathroom, morning and night!

Forgiveness letters. Write a letter to whomever you need to forgive and keep it. You can send them if you’re comfortable. 

Detached: 

  1. Get involved! 

If you experience being detached relative to money, you must first start by taking a look at your finances. Find a way to lay out your income and expenses to see what you have. Often, we get so fearful and anxious at the thought of looking at our finances when the reality of the finances isn’t as scary as we think. We can sometime have a patterning to avoid finances. Most people find when they look at their finances, it isn’t that bad.

Find a tracking system that works for you! Quickbooks, Mint, Quicken, and Microsoft Money are all different depending on how your think, organize, and process.

Never doubt what’s possible. We are the drivers for our lives. Despite the challenges we may be consciously aware of or not, we can turn our dreams, goals, and hopes into a reality. All it takes is a little work on ourselves, dedication, and time to turn any challenging patterns to a pattern that will help us fulfill our greater capacities.

Don’t forget to take the Money Type Quiz to learn about your money archetypes!