Call us what you will. Millenials. Gen-Y. Echo boomers. (We’ve been called worse.) The truth is, it doesn’t matter what the “title” of our generation is, since it’s up to us to decide how we’ll be remembered. It’s up to us to counter the way we’re perceived, which unfortunately includes a lot of talk about being a self-centered, unmotivated, and entitled.
Personally, one of the reasons I believe we’ve been given these stereotypes is because of the unbelievable about of things we want to have. It’s the sheer amount of dreams we want to reach in such a short lifetime. We’ve grown up in a very fast-paced environment, sitting in front of computers as kids, seeing the evolution of cell phones, and watching as most people our age pine for and in most cases get as many gadgets as possible.
I’m not saying these “wants” are necessarily bad things. Quite the contrary. What I am saying is that in order to get mostly what we want without being portrayed as entitled, we’re going to need to crack down on our budgets, get out of debt, and learn how to save. So, let’s do this.
1. Let’s Get Out of Credit Card Debt
How many times have you heard this before? A million, right? But, how many times have you taken the initiative? Trust me, I love buying nice things just as much as the rest of you. I counted my pennies from my first job to buy an iPod, and almost 8 years later, I hug my new computer as if it’s my first born child.
Yep, I’m just as bad as the rest of you as far as the things I want to have. The difference is that I work very hard to save up for what I want before I purchase it. I haven’t always done this in the past, but over the last few years, I’ve conditioned myself to save up for big purchases before I buy them. I can promise you that I derive a greater sense of satisfaction from buying something all at once than I ever did paying in monthly installments. I’m on a mission to get as many people as possible to do this as well. If we all banded together and achieved this, Gen Y-ers would be known as the smart and financially savvy generation, as opposed to the impulsive one.
2. Let’s Pay Back Those Student Loans
We’re the generation who graduated from college during a recession. Or, if you’re a little older than I am, you’re the generation that got laid off a few years after starting your first job.
Gen Y-ers, we’ve taken out a trillion dollars worth of student loans, and I think it’s time we pay them back. Whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re working, pay a little above the minimum on the payment this month. Work harder than you’ve ever worked before. Pick up a side job and apply all the extra money to your loans. Many of us, myself included, have taken out far too much, and if we’re going to get back on track and save for retirement, we have to get rid of them. If we did that, Gen-Yers would be known as the generation that got out of debt instead of the one that got in it.
3. Let’s Remember What’s Important
The world is such a sparkly place with lots of things buzzing, beeping, and in general distracting us from what we should be doing. It’s been proven time and time again that owning particular things won’t make us happy. All the money in the world can’t buy us peace of mind. So, as we go through these tasks of becoming more budget conscious and minimizing our spending, let’s remember to take a second to smell the roses. Turn the phone off from time to time. Go to bed reading an actual book and not one that’s on your bright iPad screen. Take a walk. Enjoy the sky. Remember that it’s okay to make financial mistakes, so long as we learn from them. Then, maybe if we do all these things, we’ll be known as the generation that got it right, the one that finally achieved the balance so many people crave.