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Millennials and acute financial stress: it’s real

Mother and DaughterMy 11-year-old daughter went to Lowry Park Zoo last week with her teen camp. She brought me back the most beautiful shell shaped jewelry dish, which had a silver seahorse in the middle. I was very excited, but quickly told her that she didn’t have to spend her money on buying me anything, even though secretly I love it when people spend money on me.

“Well, Mama, I was mean to you this morning, so I thought this would make you happy,” she said. Well, ain’t that sweet.

“It’s ok, Mac, we all have bad days but really, next time buy something for yourself,” I told her.

“You know gift shops are so expensive. I’m pretty sure I have Acute Financial Stress brought on by this situation,” she replied.

HUGE eyeroll from me. “What in the world is Acute Financial Stress?” I asked.

“I saw it on TV. The symptoms are like PTSD. Look it up.” she replied.

EVEN HUGER eye roll from me. Well, I looked it up.

What is Acute Financial Stress?

Turns out, scientists DO claim that Acute Financial Stress is a real thing. According to MarketWatch, millennials say anxiety Is – literally — making them sick and is affecting their work and personal lives.

Sure MarketWatch, but what do the real doctors say? According to a study by the American Psychological Association, millennials have the highest perceived amount of stress of any living generation!

Acute Financial StressTop 3 money stressors for millennials

Personally, I know millennials of all kinds who are really killing it at saving — and in life in general — but still get stressed over money… even though they are doing so well. That’s why it’s not surprising that a Student Loan Hero survey revealed the top 3 money stressors for millennials are:

  1. Too much debt,
  2. Inability to afford rent, and
  3. Difficulty managing a budget. (The dreaded b-word.)

What does a young lady who just graduated Salutatorian from High School and will be attending Cornell worry about? Believe it or not, she worries about money. She realizes how much college costs and what student loans will mean to her long term. She quickly had to learn how much gas, food, clothing and housing will eat into her budget. She knows that she be laden with student debt and sometimes that feels overwhelming, even though she also realizes job offers might come flying her way fast and furious.

Millennials see opportunities in setbacks

Another friend of mine, who is almost 28, said her friends have observed the gender pay gap, especially in the S.T.E.M. fields. It’s real and it’s nasty in smaller markets like ours. These ladies have taken it as a challenge and now say it’s an opportunity instead of a gap. What if the rest of the nation saw it that way… as an OPPORTUNITY? But alas, I digress…

She and her friends also know that they must continually grow their education to receive promotions and pay increases. Without that they know the math is stacked against them. They will pay less into Social Security, save less, and live longer. At the same time, sometimes this increases student debt, meaning the vicious cycle causes even more anxiety.

How millennials can seize their financial opportunities

She also feels like her age group entered the work force at a weird time when baby boomers weren’t yet ready to retire or were still recovering from the 2008 recession. Many Veterans were re-entering the traditional workforce as well. And so, it may take her age group a little longer to get ahead. She feels she takes on a little more — with a little less. At the same time, she knows technology has improved accessibility to higher paying jobs and her vast knowledge of this gives her an edge.

Everyone I talked to said they just keep moving forward. They knew there would be times when they were broke… and depressed about it. They knew there would be times when they would have to be slinging beverages as a barista despite having two degrees. They have taken these things on full force; I believe they will come out on the other side of it wiser and richer for it.

Claiming Financial EmpowermentDon’t give up the fight: claim your financial empowerment

The younger the person I interviewed, the more fight they had in them. As for my 11-year-old, she will be just fine, too. Sometimes I regret teaching her back in her toddler days what a mutual fund was (she called it mutual FUN) instead of letting her watch Teletubbies. She also told a teacher in pre-school that I sold socks, not stocks. I know she will find her way, despite hearing all of this so early on from her financial advisor mom!

I don’t have an original financial quote to leave you with because I heard a lady on PBS sum it up best:

“Financial empowerment will not be given to you, it must be claimed.”


July 2018

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