The millennial generation have long been criticised for being bad with money. We’re not saving enough for retirement; we’re clueless at investing; and as much as it pains me to repeat this defamatory nonsense yet again, we can’t afford to buy our own homes because we’re spending too much money on avocados.
In reality, when it comes to millennials and money, the truth is we’re just less likely to have enough of it than the generations that came before us. To make matters worse, we have to work harder to earn less too. After a long day working, side hustling, and drowning in the depths of social media comparison, the last thing the average millennial wants to do when they get home is compare ISAs and check out their stock portfolio. LOL at the idea of us having stock portfolios. We’re not lazy; we’re just exhausted.
Earlier this month Anne Helen Petersen wrote an article for Buzzfeed that dubbed millennials ‘The Burnout Generation‘. The article argues that because of the multitude of pressures inflicted upon the average millennial, small day-to-day tasks such as cleaning our kitchens and taking parcels to the post office become stressful and impossible pressures.
Peterson has called the phenomenon ‘errand paralysis’ and shared that she often adds tasks to her weekly to-do list only for them to roll over from one week to another until weeks turn into months and the anxiety gradually builds and builds.
With so much on our plates, is it really any wonder that we’ve resorted to digitising almost every aspect of our lives?
We get our books from Amazon even though we fear the death of Waterstone’s; we buy clothes online and then procrastinate ourselves into a pit of self-hatred when an item doesn’t fit and we can’t be arsed to return it; and we look for love on Tinder instead of patiently standing in the corner of a club as The Smiths long ago instructed.
Peterson writes: “We use Fresh Direct and Amazon because the time they save allows us to do more work. This is why the fundamental criticism of millennials — that we’re lazy and entitled — is so frustrating: We hustle so hard that we’ve figured out how to avoid wasting time eating meals and are called entitled for asking for fair compensation and benefits like working remotely (so we can live in affordable cities), adequate health care, or 401(k)s (so we can theoretically stop working at some point before the day we die). We’re called whiny for talking frankly about just how much we do work, or how exhausted we are by it. But because overworking for less money isn’t always visible — because job hunting now means trawling LinkedIn, because “overtime” now means replying to emails in bed — the extent of our labor is often ignored, or degraded.”
While Peterson’s article focused largely on the difficulties we have in juggling small day-to-day errands when faced with so much work, it’s easy to see how this exhaustion hinders our ability to make decisions that can make meaningful changes to our finances too.
I know so many people who’ve heard about banking switching bonuses, cheaper energy tariffs, and better broadband deals, but when action costs time and energy, it can sometimes feel like it’s not worth the effort.
The good news? Tech and finance companies are under increasing pressure to adapt and cater to time-poor and energy-depleted millennials. With every aspect of our lives going digital, finance is too. If you’re keen to be better with money despite spending most of your free time cowering in a corner like a Sim that’s hungry, exhausted, deprived of intimacy and desperate for a wee all at the same time, read on for just a few apps that are helping The Burnout Generation improve their finances.
Oh Monzo, how I love thee.
Monzo is an online bank that lets you manage your finances in the palm of your hand. It takes mere minutes to download the app and create your account. You could do it on your lunchbreak and within a matter of days, you’ll get a stunning coral red debit card in the post. Every time you spend money, you’ll get a little notification on your phone to tell you exactly what’s been spent and where. You can set spending budgets, see an easy summary of your finances, and send effortless bank transfers in seconds. You can use your card anywhere in the world and send money internationally for up to 8x cheaper than if you were to use a high street bank.
The primary reason I love Monzo is for its transparency and devotion to sharing data that allows users to make meaningful changes to their finances. At the start of the year it emailed every customer with a link to a 2018 roundup of their spending habits. In true self-deprecating millennial fashion, many Monzo customers took to Twitter to reflect on their addictions, take comfort in the erratic spending habits of others, and make promises to do better in 2019.
Like Monzo, Starling is another online challenger bank which offers real-time data on your income and spending. It also offers real-time banking updates, effortless bill-splitting options and numerous travel benefits.
Again, it’s really easy to create an account and you could be up and running in no time at all.
While I use Monzo for fun spending, Starling is devoted to food costs. At the start of each month I have an automatic standing order going from my main current account into Monzo and Starling, making it easier to manage my budget and see exactly what’s going where.
Money Dashboard is perfect if you have a few different bank accounts and you’d like to be able to see the balances and expenses for each all in one place. Download the app to your phone, connect each bank account to the app, and then split transactions into categories so you can see what’s going where. It’s not quite as intuitive as Starling and Monzo when it comes to automatically categorising purchases, but it’s great if you want to see everything all under one roof.
Money Dashboard takes a bit of work to set up, but it’s the sort of thing you can do with a drink in hand and Brooklyn Nine-Nine playing in the background.
If you’re keen to save money without having to think too much about it, Chip could be worth a go. Simply connect the Chip app to your current account and the app’s AI-powered algorithm will calculate how much you can afford to put away before saving that amount for you automatically.
If you already have a savings account with 3 to 6 months of emergency savings set aside, it may be time to consider investing. So many millennials – myself included – procrastinate when it comes to investing because we assume we have to be experts before we begin. It’s certainly true that it’s unwise to throw large chunks of money at investments we don’t properly understand, but there’s an increasing number of platforms available for those who want to dip their toes in the investment waters without sacrificing large chunks of cash.
Plum is one such tool and Holly’s shared her experience in a Plum investments review right here on Gadgette. You can start investing with as little as £1, choose between different risk levels and invest in companies you’re passionate about.
Now, I’m not for a second suggesting these apps are the cure for millennial burnout. We need real systemic change if we’re ever going to reduce the number of overworked and underpaid people bursting into flames. But if you’d like to make a few improvements to your finances, these apps should help you make some meaningful changes without taking up huge chunks of your time.