Will the Real Geriatric Millennials Please Stand Up?
If you read that title and immediately recognized the reference, this article is for you!
As a proud member of the millennial generation, I have stood by while many disparaged us as lazy, over-educated and coddled. I have also come to accept the fact that, according to a more youthful opinion, my skinny jeans and side parted hair style is no longer cool. As if! Now, the most recent afront to my generation comes in the form of a new label – “the geriatric millennial.”
Upon further research I found that this term (while word choice may be a tad questionable) is, in fact, a compliment. According to the recent article posted on Index.com by Erica Dhawan, geriatric millennials are born between 1980 and 1985 and possess unique skills to work across the boundaries of the older generations (Gen X and Boomers) and the younger (Gen Z) in the workplace. Quite diplomatic.
Bravo to us! Seems years of straddling intergenerational technological advances has been in our favor. Finally, a moment when our skills both in cursive handwriting and the creation of TikTok videos combine to form a superpower.
Indeed, Millennials have long been told that the world is their oyster. Success in school and in the workplace has come (and gone…) and while we remain poised to take over the world economy, our generation remains significantly behind in amassing wealth. Through 2020, our wealth accounted for about 5% of the total. In contrast, the Baby Boomer generation at our comparable age, controlled 21% of the nation’s wealth. Pretty stark difference.
So with this in mind, it is time for us geriatric’s to embrace our 40s-ish and take full control of our financial future to ensure that our nest egg is well prepared to support a retirement lifestyle full of avocado toast, and Instagram-worthy vacations.
The question is – how?
The seemingly major issue that plagues us is the mass amount of student loan debt we are all carrying around, not to mention the miscellaneous credit card balances that exist month-to-month. The first step towards financial freedom is eliminating debt. Use any extra dollars in the budget to reduce these outstanding balances and stop adding more. If there is a surplus in your short-term savings account, pay a lump sum towards a payment to make even more progress. It can be a sacrifice, I know, but true freedom will come from keeping more of what you earn.
So, first focus on debt, then on investment.
For many of us Geriatric Millennials, the company sponsored retirement plan is the single most important savings tool at this stage in life. Saving in a structured retirement plan or, for self-employed individuals, a SEP IRA, is the most efficient way to save for the future and manage tax liabilities today. Review your plan options with your employer to sure you are maximizing your benefits. Companies often provide a matching contribution or profit-sharing contribution for those that participate. This is essentially free money that will help grow and compound retirement savings over the long-term. Don’t leave money on the table!
Once the retirement plan is in order, look to the next investment step. After years in (and out) of the employment world, you may find yourself with other investment or retirement accounts. Consider working with a professional to help consolidate these accounts. Having multiple like-kind accounts with different providers is inefficient and complex. Manage your money in aggregate with a cohesive long-term strategy for best results. You can also begin to work with this advisor to develop a personal financial plan which will help codify your spending and saving habits and prioritize financial goals.
So you’ve worked hard to get debt free and have your retirement saving in progress (give it time!), now what? Now you can start thinking about the next stages in life. Maybe you have started a family and have young children and need to consider savings strategies for college in a 529 Plan or minor accounts. Or perhaps you’ve got your eye on a new home…or pool, vacation, car, etc. and will need to put extra cash aside to bolster your savings account. For everyone, the answer is different, but the path to starting this next chapter of your financial future is clear for you to start planning for these new goals and move forward fearlessly.
I challenge my fellow geriatric millennials to stand up and take a leadership role not only in the workplace, but in your life. Rather than trying to keep up with the latest trends of Gen Z, let’s lead our younger cohorts forward by setting good money manners. Let’s embrace our stage of life and use our skills to empower each other and our peers. Start planning for the future and securing your financial independence today.
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