As I sit here and write this, it’s 8pm on a Tuesday night. I’ve just worked 10 hours at my full-time job and am now typing away, trying to grow my blog side hustle. Most of my evenings look like this, and weekends that used to be spent by the pool or at a local brewery are now filled with writing and social media scheduling. And I’m not alone.
Twenty years ago as children, we millennials were spoon fed the same life theory that had been set out for our parents: go to college, get a good job, stay with the same company for 40 years, and retire. It was supposed to be the road to true wealth, but as we got older and entered the job market ourselves, we realized the world had changed. Drastically.
We could no longer depend on Social Security like our grandparents to fund our retirement. We can’t even count on it to be there to supplement ours. Pensions? While over 60% of retirement plans fell under this umbrella in 1980, only 10% of companies now offer them. They are a dinosaur that is soon to be extinct, and we can see the meteor coming.
Our 9-to-5s can no longer be the financial crutch we fall back, and it’s not just for the reasons previously mentioned. Here’s why a full-time job is no longer enough for millennials:
STUDENT LOAN DEBT IS CRIPPLING US
According to the Center for Microeconomic Data’s latest report, student loan debt is up to over $1.3 trillion as of December 2016, a roughly 400% increase since 2004 when it sat at $0.26 trillion. And trust me, millennials feel the effects.
With an average student loan debt per borrower of $37,000, it’s no wonder that our full-time jobs are no longer enough to cover our current needs, retirement savings, and debt payback. With a 10 year loan at a 6% interest rate, you’re looking at a $410 payment each month, and when all is said and done, an extra $12,000 of interest paid on the loan. It’s the dark cloud continuously hanging over the heads of millennials across the nation, and relying solely on one income source just isn’t doing enough to move the storm.
WE REMEMBER THE HOUSING MARKET CRASH
It was standard at the time to think that if you graduated from college, you would almost automatically get a decent-paying job. You had worked hard, earned the degree, and now it was time for it to start paying off. Then entered the housing market crash, and that standard was flipped upside down.
Millennials entered the job market just as the recession hit, meaning companies couldn’t support their current staff, let alone start hiring fresh-faced graduates. The unemployment rate skyrocketed from 4.6% in January 2004 to 10% in October 2009, and jobs just weren’t to be found. Millennials were unemployed with astronomical amounts of debts, and they knew 9 years ago what they know now: you can’t depend on your 9-to-5 to provide you financial stability.
THE MARKET IS CHANGING
It’s a never-ending cycle: Skills that were once in high demand tend to not mirror up with those that employers are looking for currently. And in today’s world of accelerated technology and movement of the market, it brings to the forefront how much more we have to be aware of those twists and turns.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Mark Cuban commented on this movement, stating that while typical data analysis and engineering roles are popular now, automation is going to brush them aside for the free-thinkers who can come up with creative solutions. This means all those skills millennials learned in college, all those skills they are still paying thousands of dollars for per year, will no longer be relevant in the typical job market. Slightly frightening, isn’t it?
To add fuel to the fire: By 2020, it is expected that freelancers will constitute nearly 50% of the full-time workforce, further pushing aside those typical 9-to-5 roles. It’s no wonder that income diversification is such a hot topic among millennials and a reason why so many are working side businesses on top of their full-time job.
OUR WORLD IS EXPANDING
Good or bad, the goals that our parents set for themselves aren’t the same one we’re chasing today. Because we are so tapped into the world around us, we now have the incessant need to get more out of it. Vacations to Florida? We want Bali. A 1,600 square foot home? Double it.
While these wants aren’t inherently bad, they do cost significantly more, and when you factor in all of the other demands on your cash – rent and bills and those 17 weddings you were invited to this year – little of your full-time income is left to pursue them. Something’s got to give, and for many, they sacrifice their financial future in order to gain experiences now.
If you resonate with any of the reasons mentioned in this article, don’t be alarmed. There is a way to combat the effects of our changing society and that is to either invest your time or invest your money. The best move you can make is to never stop learning about your field to make sure you’re ahead of the curve when a shift occurs. Take webinars, read books, and follow blogs in your field, and you’ll be more assured you won’t be left behind.
More importantly, brainstorm ways to diversify your income streams. You can make money doing pretty much anything if you’re good at it, so find your passion and start researching ways to monetize it. Begin freelancing, invest in real estate, start an Etsy store or enter the stock market – just make sure you aren’t relying on one income source to fund your life. Your current and future selves will thank you for it.