Millennials are often set back financially from the get-go. You have student loans, probably some credit card debt, are living on an entry-level salary, and are always trying to keep up with the Jones’s (or your Instagram friends).
I used to be this way too. It took me awhile to understand that unless I did something about it, my financial situation would always be this way. I desperately did not want to be making student loan payments in 10 years and I didn’t want to continue putting my hard earned money towards debt.
That’s when I realized that if my behaviors were going to change, my attitude towards money and spending needed to change first. The first step was to re-evaluate how I spent my money and why I chose to spend that way. Eventually, I narrowed down the philosophies that help me turn my financial mindset around:
1. Realize that everything you have is temporary.
If you think about, everything you have could be gone tomorrow. We’re taught to do our best to protect the things we have by purchasing insurance and building an emergency fund, among other things, but these actions don’t necessarily guarantee that what we have today will still be ours next week.
Ultimately, at the end of the day, all we have is ourselves to carry us through. If money no longer existed, would you be able to fend for yourself?
You may have an iPhone right now, but will you always have that phone? No. A new model will come out and you’ll probably end up with that one. Or you could drop that phone tomorrow and shatter the screen. Where would you be then? Will you have this phone in five years? The likely answer is no.
If you aren’t trying to always have the newest, the best, the brightest, the boldest, and start accepting that everything you have right now is temporary, it will be a lot easier to reach your financial goals.
2. The concept of delayed gratification.
We live in a culture of instant gratification. We can order our morning Starbucks from an app, we can log on to Instagram for immediate validation, and we can have virtually anything we want within 24 hours.
Because of this, millennials aren’t very patient. We want things instantly and we want them exactly how we want them. I think we can all agree that practicing patience isn’t the easiest thing in the world. It’s much simpler to swipe your credit card now and promise you’ll pay it off when you get paid next Friday than it is to actually wait for that paycheck and then go out and buy what you wanted.
In reality, if you don’t have the cash to buy whatever it is you’re wanting now, you probably won’t have it next Friday either.
You lose nothing by waiting to purchase your item for another week or two. The only thing you gain from buying it now, though, is a higher credit card balance and an item that you’ll forget about a month from now.
By forcing yourself to wait until you can buy your desired item in cash, you also give yourself time to live without it. Chances are you didn’t really need whatever it was in the first place, and unless it’s something you’ve wanted or needed for a long time, putting space between you and the item will help you make better financial decisions for your future.
3. Be intentional with how you spend your money.
Before you checkout — no matter where you’re shopping — do a review of your cart. Go through each item and decide if you really need it or not. Many times, we buy things simply because we seem them, saw someone else with them, or we’re hungry.
The best way to do this is to ask yourself if you really need that item right this second. Toilet paper? Most likely, yes. Those three tubes of mascara? Probably not.
Some people live by the shopping philosophy, “You can always return it later.” I live by the philosophy, “You can always buy it later.” The change is subtle, but the impact is huge. Choosing to be intentional and put a reason behind every dollar you spend helps you to focus on the things that truly matter to you.
If you feel like your financial situation is hopeless, perhaps it’s time for an attitude change. While adopting these philosophies won’t eliminate your student loans over night, they will improve your relationship with money and positively change your financial situation in the long run.