I’m a millennial and I have thirty-six years until I retire.
I was listening to the CBC on my way home from work a couple weeks ago and they were running a segment on personal finance. As someone who works in finance I found myself nodding along with the broadcast and their list of financial tips of what to and not to do.
There was a moment in the segment when the interviewee (a finance man from Blue Shore) said something interesting: people aren’t saving for retirement because they’re living the lives they want to live now. That might not have been what he said exactly, but it’s what I interpreted and have been thinking about since.
I work in Communications and am constantly reading studies about social media advertising strategies. One strategy I recently stumbled across, which stood out significantly, was the link between social media and gambling. Now, it might not seem like there’s a correlation, but I guarantee you, there is – and holy moly is it relevant.
Now, when we look at social media on our mobile devices and we want to refresh our screens, what do we do? We pull down to refresh. That act of pulling down on the screen resembles the pulling of a slot machine handle. Designers have intentionally strategically structured social media around this aspect because they know that it will give us an endorphin rush, and we’ll keep doing it over and over again – the longer we hang out on social media, the more ad revenue they earn.
So what does this have to do with personal finance? It’s easy – instant gratification. Social media may not seem like a silent retirement killer, but it’s been slowly teaching us that instant gratification is okay; consumerism and debt and getting what you want instantly is okay, and we don’t have to wait for all the good stuff, we can have it now! But there’s one thing we can’t have right now (unless you win the lottery, and maybe not even then) and that’s retirement. It’s the one thing we all have to work for and yet, it’s the one thing that we’re kind of blowing.
So how do we get out of this rut? How do we reverse engineer our brains to stop with the impulsive instant gratification and save it for the future? Now, I’m not saying don’t enjoy life – but maybe be more cautious of getting caught in a honey trap you can’t get out of.
Here are five tips on not blowing retirement:
Yeah, yeah. Cash is dead – but should it really be? The idea of using debit cards and credit cards and not really seeing the instant impact of a balance goes hand in hand with social media and that idea of instant gratification. The design was literally created to make spending money easier.
- With all the free accounts out there, you can have more than one and limit the amount in your account. You can also lower your debit card limits so that you have a daily maximum ensuring you don’t overspend.
- Millennials like to google a lot and sometimes the simplest answer is a conversation. It’s weird talking to people about finances and a little taboo because if you’re from a household like mine, it just wasn’t talked about growing up. Talk to experts because they might have that nifty piece of info that is buried on page 9,472 of the google search results.
Seek advice and share tips from friends because the thing with millennials and debt is that most of us are going through the same thing (*cough* student debt *cough*). I have a friend that had never heard of a consolidation loan before and it literally saved her hundreds of dollars in interest.
Eating out, smoking, buying coffee every day or up-sizing to a large popcorn at the theatre – what’s the one thing you can live without? Could giving it up have a drastic effect on your bank account? Do that! Try it once in a while and put the money in a savings account that isn’t linked to your online banking (yes those things exist).
One day, thirty some-odd years from now, millennials will start retiring. Make sure you have the means to do so because, as millennials know all too well, we do not like to be told what we can’t do – retirement included.
|Written by Cori Ramsay, BA – Communications Officer|