With a whopping 30 grand of student debt on your back, the convenience of Ubers and renting, and the distant dream of marriage around 40, why would we prioritise our pension over a party? As the modern day millennial sees their overdraft as a mere 2 grand extension of their debit account, unrealistic expectations and short term spending is changing the way we think and act financially.
So where did this all begin? Well for me it was with SAAS, the Scottish University loan company, who so very kindly decided to pay for my drinks at Leeds University. Not just one year of hungover dominos, rounds of tequila and a couple of ski passes, but all 4 of them. SAAS was there for me when I was broken down, financially and mentally, when I needed sushi for lunch and a ticket to Outlook. In the depths of 21st season when I needed outfits, train tickets, overpriced Links jewellery and copious amounts of prosecco, SAAS never let me down.
When exiting university I had to say good bye to SAAS, and hello to Santander Graduate Account. I was moving to London, my rent was half my salary, and I wasn’t willing to be a bus wanker just yet. I like my lunches from Pret, my hair being blonde and my Ubers home. Unlike SAAS, with Santander, I didn’t need to wait for my termly cheque. It was almost as if they had dumped £2000 on my account. The concept of being overdrawn diminished into thin air, and all I could see and hear was interest free money. I now had a cushion to lie on. From experience, I can confirm this overdraft safety net did not motivate me in any way to save for a first time buyer’s scheme, or a car, or my pension, but for Sonar tickets. Extended disposable cash for more short term fun. Santander’s money was complimentary with my account, so why would I not go to Rio de Janeiro for a week of carnival?
This is where, the terrible term, YOLO comes into play (you only live once). We spend what we want and we have fun right now #yolo. Yes, we should all book flights to Verbier for a rash one because we could get hit by a bus tomorrow and we would regret missing out on cheese fondue on the slopes and a session at public. And why not go for a Wednesday night drill on the Kings Road and a splurge on the hang at Selfridges on Saturday. We could put £700 into a low risk portfolio, with high fixed income, or we could put it on a table at Bodo Schloss and get a bottle of champagne? What would make a better Instagram upload? We could pay off a chunk of our student loan, or we could get a full sleeve tattoo just in time for summer? Surely the tattoo will get likes? Us millennials fully embrace #yolo, and it’s this live in the moment mentality that is changing the way we save. Or do not save. We do not fear the future, we fear FOMO. We invest in horse racing at Ascot, not the stock market. We are about intangible experience, not tangible ownership.
My personal concept of financial success is not the same as my dad’s concept of financial success. For me paying off the over draft, paying my own rent, my own phone bill and my own Ubers is being financially successful at 22. For him having a funded pension plan, no mortgage and a niche investment portfolio is success. If I had spare cash at the end of the month I would go to Stanstead and hop on a plane to Berlin and try get into Berhain, but if he had spare cash at the end of the month he would research some innovative Japanese biotech companies and purchase some low risk shares.
When us millennials decide that the Grad scheme isn’t for us, we jump ship, because we are bored now. We need constant challenge and personal fulfilment. Job security? Not for us. Long lasting career paths to fund our future family and home and school fees? Too far away to think about. My dad’s personal perseverance to gain financial security and provide a cushion of financial support has infected myself, and my siblings, with full blown YOLO FOMO syndrome. We live for the moment, for experience, and for us.
We may never buy a home, or a car. We might not have pensions and we probably will not manage our own money. But in the modern global economy, with transport at your fingertips, who wants to be tied down to a spouse and kids and a semi-detached 3 bedroom in your early twenties? Unlike our parents we can move to Hong Kong tomorrow, we can have children at 45, and we can take a 3 year gap yah at 27 if we want to. We can crowd surf, we meet people online, and we can air b n b, we can even rent a dog to walk for the day. We are not going to tie the knot, any time soon.