As a millennial, I dream big and everything I do is intentional and serves a purpose. I wasn’t always this way. It took years of professional success, financial distress and low personal satisfaction to get to where I am today. I am more mindful of the decisions I make and understand the implications my financial knowledge has had in my ability to live my dream lifestyle.
On June 1st, I set out on an epic summer road trip called The Road to Financial Wellness, a local grassroots and social media experiment to turn local money discussions into a national conversation on financial wellbeing. We met with thousands of people in the 30-day road trip and had deep meaningful conversations with hundreds of millennials.
We are a purposeful bunch and we care a lot about social impact. We also understand the importance of financial freedom in order to do things of significant importance. However, many millennials are straddled with student loan debt, low wages compared to cost of living in the cities they reside, and difficulty in finding affordable housing.
I wanted to make an impact this summer and that led us to drive 137 hours and 10,218 miles zigzagging across the country to participate in 30 events in 30 locations in 30 days. On June 30th, we successfully participated in 37 events in over 30 locations and reached over 8,000 people.
So what did I talk about on this road trip? I focused not on the tools rather on the mindset that can hinder or support our financial wellbeing.
Here are six money mindset lessons that truly resonated with the millennials we met around the country:
1. Define the lifestyle you want to live.
We’re often focused on financial goals but as millennials we need to understand how those financial goals contribute to the lifestyle. Many did not want to commit to a monthly car payment or plant themselves with a mortgage. It’s important to understand the life you want to live and then identify the financial goals that support that lifestyle.
2. Money can buy happiness.
One thing I’ve learned from the wealthy is that money does buy happiness and those who understand that make better financial decisions. Knowing that money can buy happiness will make it easier to choose long-term happiness over short-term satisfaction. Money provides for the needs that allow you to use the rest of your time on creating.
3. Pay yourself first and have a purposeful savings strategy.
Make sure you identify how you plan to spend your money today and how you’ll spend it in retirement. Prioritize savings so you can retire sooner rather than later. The more money you have saved towards retirement the sooner you’ll be able to say goodbye to your job.
4. Watch out for lifestyle inflation.
We might tell ourselves that we’ll wait to save or contribute to our company’s 401K after the merit increase or promotion. There will never be a better time to start saving money. Lifestyle inflation causes us to spend at the same rate making $75,000 as we did making $30,000.
5. Don’t keep up with the joneses
. Spending your hard earned cash to keep up with someone else’s lifestyle will lead to financial disaster. Be mindful that when you’re keeping up with the joneses your money is spent to live another person’s dreams not yours.
6. The purchase of things and experiences are the exact same thing.
Whether you decide to travel around the world or buy that luxury car, spend only on things and experiences that matter to you. For most of us, experiences trumps things but I can tell you that driving my BMW on the winding roads of Napa Valley was definitely an experience. Understanding what you truly value will make you spend on things that add value in your life.
The Road to Financial Wellness was an epic success and my hopes to connect the dots between financial knowledge and living our dream lifestyles became a reality.