Flat White

Millennial? Stressed? Then stop the spending habits that are stressing you out

13 February 2020

5:00 AM

13 February 2020

5:00 AM

Every generation thinks that they have had it tougher than the one before them. Each generation faces the challenges of its time in its own way. 

However, it has always been a battle for everyone in some way. It is not a twenty-first century problem magically afflicting millennials.  

A new report has found four out of five young Australians are so overwhelmed by the pressures of modern life that they say they feel stressed out at least once a week. 

Is it real stress or is it just that they have not been prepared for the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that anyone over the age of 40 has subconsciously dealt with their whole life? 

Many millennials say that balancing work and study commitments means money is a trigger point for their stress. Inevitably, when you scratch the surface of what the money problem really is, you find that “cost of living” and “housing affordability” are the words that pop up repeatedly.  

It may come as a complete shock to the current 20-somethings but many of us in Generation X faced the same and so did the generations before us. 

True, anyone over the age of 50 has not had to deal with the social media pressures of today’s 20 and 30-year olds. But common sense should dictate that people know what they see is not reality. 

Do the vast majority of millennials really believe that what they see in social media feeds from the momentarily famous and the “influencers” is true life? 

It is genuinely sad that people in their 20s and 30s are suffering and feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of life, but resilience seems to have been bred out of them. 

Each generation has had to work out how to get ahead whilst living in the rat race of their time. And it was always tough no matter how we might gloss over our own struggles with the effluxion of time.  

It all comes down to knowing what prioritising and making a few sacrifices is all about. 

You can have the brand new car, the latest phone, the best apartment in the best suburb, weekly dry cleaning of shirts because you think you don’t have time to put them in a wash cycle yourself, the yoga and pilates classes followed by $25 breakfasts. But it will come at a price.  

And that price is the chance to be saving that money for the future. The chance to have some savings put aside for unexpected events in life. Credit card and Afterpay facilities should be used as a last resort. That way you avoid adding further stress about mounting personal debt. 

Then there is saving for a rental bond or a deposit on a house.  

There is truth in the fact that no matter when you saved up for that deposit, at the particular era, it was tough. It was tough for your parents and their parents. That has always been part of life. You have to have the resilience to work out the ways you can get ahead. And make a few sacrifices along the way.  

Perhaps you can get a refillable water bottle and drink water from the office water filter rather than buying another overpriced bottle of water. Or try the novel idea of bringing lunch from home. Maybe even reconsider that extra take away coffee. First world toughing it out. But is it really? 

In my twenties we used to laugh about eating twominute noodles, chased the man with the ‘reduced pricing gun’ around the supermarket or sent shopping just before closing time to get the reduced food. 

For many of us the “reward” when we managed to finally save a home deposit was the prospect of 17.5% interest rates on our home loans. Yes you read that right. 17.5% is not a typo! 

True, when we bought an electrical appliance we expected it to last a decade or two. True, we didn’t have the expense of mobile phones, computers, tablets you get my drift. 

But, we were also strong enough to resist peer pressure or fashion to get the latest and greatest, just because. Is upgrading a mobile phone annually really necessary? 

When we think about it, we all look back and wish life had been easier at that time. In my case, I wish there had been a train in Perth which would have saved me the threehour return commute to university via six buses for four years of my life. I couldn’t afford a car until I got my first fulltime job so I toughed out the bus rides and managed to juggle casual work as well as study. 

The secondhand bomb I eventually saved for gave me back hours in my life away from public transport. I too had HECS that had to be paid off and rents still seemed out of reach on a graduate salary, especially when I moved to the eastern states. But the pattern of saving had been established out of the necessity to finally end that crazy commute. Once established it became a habit that has served me well ever since. The story is familiar to Australians of every generation.  

The fact is, being able to work out that Netflix, UberEats and going out somewhere are not priorities is the first step to the modernday millennial becoming less stressed. Break those habits and establish some new ones that will serve you well for the rest of your life.  

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

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