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How to Spend, Save and Earn Like a Millennial

Updated on December 28, 2020
Chris Martine profile image

Chris is a freelance writer in the self-help and personal development niche. His interests also vary from anime to zodiac signs.


How hard is it to save money when you’re a millennial?

If you’re the typical millennial like me, it’s pretty hard. Banks and insurance companies, even our parents and older people, wonder at the very easy way that we swipe our cards or buy things online.

No wonder, many ads target millennials as their preferred niche. And, you in your game face on, buy without a thought.

But if you’ve finally become aware of your spending habits and you want to start securing your future, how do you begin?

Many financial advisors, consultants, even books, TV shows, Youtube videos, blogs, and podcasts will give you ideas.

But if their first advice says that you need a budget, tell them this:

Millennials dislike budgeting. To manage your personal finances better, what you need are millennial saving habits that will help you set goals, delay gratification, and become efficient. Result: spending less and earning more. These millennial saving habits will save you.

I know because I've been there. After learning these habits, I was wiser when it comes to my finances and growing money.

If you want it to work for you too, let’s begin by discovering if you and I share the same habits and preferences. Then, later, I'll share about the millennial saving habits that will save your future.

What’s a typical millennial lifestyle?

Here’s what a typical millennial lifestyle look like.

Monday to Friday

Busy day. Lots of deadlines. You buy coffee from Starbucks (or any high-value brand). You make the trip to the coffee shop at least thrice during the day. #Coffeesavestheday.

You’re taking a break from work. Got to browse my social media. Hey, my friend just bought the latest iPhone model. Got to buy one for me. #earlybirthdaygift

Weekends again. TGIF. You went to the nearest fine dining restaurant and splurged on a heavy meal. You snapped a picture of the food while waiting for other orders to arrive. Then, you post on social media. What a fine reward for a heavy week! #TGIF

Saturday to Sunday

You’re strolling in the mall, saw a brand new design from Nike. You’ve been thinking of running for a long time. OMG, I’ve got to buy! It’s the motivation I need. You swiped the shoes from its stand without another thought. Then, you swiped the card over the counter and exhaled. Finally, it’s mine. #justboughtmynewrunningshoes #gottadothis

You’re sitting on the couch, browsing—AGAIN. You saw an online sale. You drooled over the discounts and freebies. You clicked add to cart—many times. Then, you input credit card details without a hitch. Weeks later, you still haven’t opened the packages. #neveragain

Why millennials dislike budgeting, according to a millennial like me

First, you never follow the budget you set in the first place. And that’s probably the most obvious reason why budgeting never works.

Not especially for millennials whose cravings change every minute. And, not for millennials who click on buy buttons impulsively.

Other than that, budgeting doesn’t work because:

  • It’s very tiresome to monitor your spending every single time.
  • You don’t even know what an effective budget is.
  • Many factors affect your buying decisions.
  • You’re easily persuaded to buy, by your peers alone.

What millennials want from their personal finances

If you’re a millennial, what you really want to happen are these:

  • Retire early and live long.
  • Save for retirement.
  • Build an emergency fund.
  • Put money away for travel.
  • Save for a house or a car.
  • Set money aside for future family.

But unfortunately, your impulsive buying and unwise choices make it so hard to achieve all of the above.

So, why bother?

Millennials savings habits that can save you

For you to become smarter at managing your finances, you don’t need a budget.

A budget will just confuse you. If you’re not able to follow it, you’ll get discouraged. And you’ll never try doing it again.

What you want to do is to build habits that will CURB YOUR SPENDING and ALLOW YOU TO EARN MORE.

Below, you’ll find some tips to get you started:

The habit of goal-setting

You’ve heard of goals before. The best ones are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bounded). You can set a goal for anything. But don’t set many goals at once if you’re just a beginner.

It will discourage you more if you don’t achieve it.

According to the book Think and Grow Rich (an all-time financial freedom favorite), your desire for riches can be translated into six, easy steps:

  • Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire.
  • Determine what you want to give back in exchange for that money.
  • Establish a definite date when you want to achieve that money.
  • Create a definite plan and begin at once.
  • Write out steps one to four above on paper.
  • Read your written statement out loud, twice daily.

Will it work? Why don’t you try to do it and find out?

The habit of delayed gratification

Every time you find yourself buying on impulse, think of this Stanford Marshmallow experiment. Walter Mischel from Stanford University gave marshmallows to children. He said that the children can eat the marshmallows right then. But if they wait for 10 to 15 minutes more, their marshmallow treat will double.

If you were one of the children, would you have waited?

If you would have, here’s what the test results showed about people who delay gratification:

  • You have better scores and academic intelligence.
  • You have better social skills and sustained marriages.
  • You have higher income and better financial health.
  • You have a lower probability of health issues.

The habit of efficiency

Do you have spare time? What do you do with it?

You know, thinking about time management is a huge waste of time. Really.

We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day. How you choose to spend it is up to you.

You don’t manage time. You manage yourself to be productive and efficient so that every minute that you spend produces results.

Well, not exactly every minute. But, have you heard of the 80-20 rule?

Vilfredo Pareto discovered that 80% of society’s wealth belongs to only 20% of the population. And it’s not just that. The infamous Pareto principle showed that 80% of the output will be produced by 20% of the input.

Depending on how you interpret this principle, here are insights on how you can apply it in both ensuring productivity and in managing your finances:

  • If you’re a professional, focus only on doing the tasks (20% of your list) that produce the greatest results (80% of your output).
  • If you’re a business owner, focus on growing the customers (20% of your client base) who provide you the greatest value (80% of your revenue).
  • If you’re just an ordinary guy/gal who wants to save, focus on investing money (20% of the investment vehicles) that produces the greatest return (80% of interests/dividends).

Why would you want to follow the Pareto principle?

Because it will give you more freedom and flexibility to do the things that matter to you while spending only on the most minimal amount of cost and effort.

Now, that you have at least three habits to build, the challenge is how to start.

If you want an in-depth resource on habit building, I recommend the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It's a New York Times bestselling classic that explores how you can change your life by changing your habits. The insights inside apply to almost all facets of living.

Final thoughts

As a millennial, you’re probably big on change and innovation. You want to debunk existing systems and old myths (especially when it comes to finances).

You want a secure future for yourself and your family, hopefully, without much of a fuss.

But your attachment to the offerings of the modern world prevents you from doing what you can.

You Only Live Once (YOLO), after all. If YOLO-ing makes you happy, so be it.

But if you’ve finally grown tired and wanted to settle (which would come eventually), it pays to be prepared.

What are other saving habits that you follow?

Let's share tips and comments below.

Does a budget work for you?

See results

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2020 Chris Martine


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