My youngest daughter, who is one, has what I would call big kid envy. It doesn’t matter where my older two are or what they are doing — she’s down to participate with almost no fear. Swimming, going down the big slide at the park, or climbing anything (our living room has become the set of Free Solo 2, toddler edition) is all fair game. She thinks she can do everything just like her siblings and without the assistance of her parents. In that demanding “I’m a toddler who can’t talk yet” kind of way. Basically, this means a bunch of grunts, screams, and pointing while wiggling out of our arms to take part in whatever chaos is going on.
Of course, this is hilarious, until you consider the financial practices of many of those aged 25-38 in this country and see how this behavior might have a tendency to progress through life.
Millennials experience the same challenges, just later
Individuals in the age range that I’m presenting are also referred to “millennials” and a lot can come to mind with that, including several unfair stereotypes. My goal isn’t to highlight those, but rather to look at that situational point in life as it stands today. As people are going to school longer — as well as getting married and having children later — our timelines are pushed out further. Meaning, we still have the expense of buying a home, building family assets, and raising children, the last of which is the most expensive of all. But unlike generations before, millennials experience the same problems and challenges at a later age.
Plus, we’re conditioning ourselves to feel entitled
In a very misguided and quiet way, the young and upcoming generations throughout time have always desired the comfort and financial ability of the generation ahead of them. Which is understandable. Who wouldn’t want a home without a mortgage? Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to choose between contributing more to your child’s savings or getting them the braces that they need?
To make matters more complicated still, we are becoming very conditioned in the practice of measuring our own situation against the seemingly perfect life of others, especially on social media. How many Instagram profiles do we have to follow before we’re disenchanted with our own station in life? The challenges of the modern age are compounding the difficulty for the younger generation to stay on track.
Stability and success will come in time
So, what to do? Just like a business, your family must have a starting point. From there, you need time to accumulate and grow before you become stable and scalable.
It won’t be instant, and it comes down to forming expectations and focusing on a plan that is all about YOU.
In my last post, I talked about how important time is in allowing the market to do what markets do. In the same way, for this age range it is particularly important to allow time to work towards stability, an increase in income, and paying off debts like home mortgages. This “allowing for time” also does not preclude us from saving and staying out of unnecessary debt.
Remember: your financial goals are about YOU, not them
In other words — don’t get sidetracked from your goals by the shiny object your neighbor just bought, or the lavish lifestyle of the social media profiles you might be following. Just because someone else can fund a greater, more awesome expense than you can does not give you the permission to follow suit. And, it certainly does NOT demean your own worth!
To quote the new AT&T commercial: “stay in your lane bro.” Understand the role you’re playing in your current life and work toward greatness within your own constraints, and with joy in your heart. You get only so many chances to circle the sun — it doesn’t make much sense using that time to be worried about what you don’t have. Plus, as a financial advisor, I’m always here to help.