MONEY SENSE FOR US

Why the need for the new vocabulary? Our generation is looking at money differently. Sometimes we’re confronting new issues. Other times, we’re confronting age-old issues in new ways. And when an entire generation is faced with unprecedented money obstacles, it’s going to take some new words to sort through the numbers and the emotions behind them. Because when it comes to millennial money, some of it is good, some of it’s bad, and some even gets a little ugly.

The Research

First things first. Let’s talk research. How do I know all this? Besides being really smartspending all my time on Twitter, Filene Research Institute sent me their Millennial Money Chatter findings, a summary of an online ethnography that looked at semiotics, syntax, and other things that I haven’t thought about since I was an English undergrad. See? Smart. But seriously. The report analyzes the way millennials talk about money online* with words, hashtags, and emojis. And it turns out, we’re talking about everything from being good grown-ups to drowning in debt.

*They’re reading our tweets, guys! We’re basically famous! Now when do we get to be rich?

The Good

Adulting – We’re adulting! We made it. And we’re totally owning it. We have jobs, we pay bills, we rent, we buy. We are officially grown-ups. Merriam-Webster says the use of adult as a verb showed a six-time increase in 2016 compared to 2015. Why shouldn’t we make a little noise? We’re figuring life out and doing awesome things.

Degifting – An example of our awesomeness? We’re not just big on DIY. We’re not just stretching our dollars with staycations. We do both of those things, and we also degift. Instead of just regifting, many millennials are pausing or stopping the gift exchange. Some of us are trying to stretch our dollars further. Some of us are looking to minimalism and meaningful experiences. And most millennials are taking a long, hard look at the consumerism that literally crushed my closet.

The Bad

Frugle – I love me some frugality. I crushed our grocery budget goal. I spend $7 on breakfast all month. Aldi is my BFF. That’s frugality by choice and for a purpose. Being purposeful with my money takes the latte factor out of my closet and helps me tackle goals like slaying the mortgage monster. So what’s with the weird spelling? It turns out that frugle is similar to frugality, but it is due to financial hardship. Forced frugality, if you will. When I stumbled across this word, it was another great reminder to check my privilege.

The Ugly

#debth – What do you get when your debt feels like a death sentence? Debth. Before anyone accuses our generation of being hyperbolic, let’s look at the numbers. This study quoted other research (like Inception but with data, not Leonardo DiCaprios) that shows 43% of millennials have delayed starting a family over debt, 55% worry that they won’t actually pay off their debt, and 75% have delayed saving for retirement because of debt.

Pause. No, full stop.

Almost half of the people surveyed aren’t having families on their own time because of money. Over half don’t feel like debt will ever end. And three-quarters of the people surveyed are going to be sad old people because of their currently-overwhelmed-selves.

While the numbers aren’t all pretty when it comes to millennial money, the fact that an entire generation is talking so loudly about a topic that was once considered incredibly taboo speaks volumes about what we can do. We can have smart conversations. We can share real stories. We can climb out of debt and make sense of our money in ways that should leave other generations inspired.