How money motivates millennials – and why it matters

3rd November 2016
by:

Over-zealous spending, followed by shameful head-burying: two qualities which, when combined, give you a rough idea about my turbulent and often traumatic relationship with money.

The days of living outside of a student overdraft feel like distant memories and the dread that fills my body when checking my balance is a feeling I avidly avoid.

Ringing any bells?

In no way is this phenomenon endured solely by impoverished graduates like myself, but with university fees rising exponentially and mortgages feeling ever out of reach, the shadow of debt seems to come hand in hand with life as a young person.

Having said that, it’s plain to see that millennial ambitions and goals are incredibly varied.

Frequently tarnished with a false reputation for being the lazy, entitled and tech obsessive, the only thing that really seems to tie the demographic cohort are the proximity of the years they were born into – generally recognised as between 1980-1995.

That in itself shows a great disparity within the group.

35 year olds and 21 year olds allegedly going through identical financial experiences?

I’m unconvinced.

However, at Starling, we’re pretty heavy on the 20-35-year-olds. And that got me thinking. Asking our own millennials about their relationship with money quickly revealed that my scepticism was well-founded.

A quote about money management from a Starling employee

Challenges varied from struggling to keep track on spending in real-time and knowing where money is, to not having cash to hand and having to temporarily borrow from parents. God bless the Bank of Mum and Dad, right?

Given we all work for a fintech startup, I realise this isn’t the most diverse of tests (bear with me). And perhaps it was unavoidable we would be looking for a fast, easy, bespoke service that can be harnessed through our phones. It was also apparent from the outset that the Starling app is being designed by people who would also greatly benefit from it themselves.

But the only unanimous desire across our team of millennials was greater ability to understand and control money.

On the other hand, what we plan to do with the money showed real diversity.

A quote by a Starling employee on what is she planning to do with her savings

Unsurprisingly, travelling and living abroad seemed to be greatly valued over property ownership, with many emphasising their “live for today” mentality.

Serhat (32), part of the product team, mentioned how he moved to the UK from Australia with two small suitcases last August and basically hoards nothing. “This means that when I spend money it is usually for ‘the here and now’, chasing holiday experiences, random nights out with friends, and being spontaneous (and sometimes irresponsible) when it comes to dining out. I don’t think I will ever own a car in the future and can’t see myself buying a property either. Life is too short.”

He’s in no way alone. Patrick (28) said he values travelling too, constantly putting money aside for this, and Jane (24) mentioned how she would love to work in another European city such as Berlin.

However, whilst we may be a generation of jet setters dreaming of distant lands, ready to pay for holidays before pensions, owning a home and feeling secure in our finances isn’t that far from our minds.

A quote by a Starling employee on what millennials save for

Hessie (20-something), who stands in charge of People Operations, said that she’s setting aside a nest egg as she’s a saver by nature and feels better knowing she’s got something for a rainy day. Likewise, Sarah (32) explained how her ambitions were dependent on “having a good credit rating, and enough savings for our deposits but also being able to know [she] will be able to keep up with the mortgage payments.”

Interestingly, our copywriter, Aidan (29), sat in the middle of the two groups – savers and spenders – saying he’d like to live abroad at some stage but also dreamt of living in his own house.

A quote by a millennial Starling employee on money management

Being ‘Good with Money’ also meant very different things to us.

For some it meant being able to master the perfect balance between daily spend, regular utilities, travel budget, “fun money” and being able to do all this whist still being able to put some away for the future. For others, it meant being able to put money towards products, investments, events and experiences that sat with their personal values – their ethical and social concerns. However, there was a general sentiment that ‘Good with Money’ meant a healthy balance or a healthy financial lifestyle. This in itself says a lot about how we view our balances and what they actually mean to us.

What’s key to note, is that the age gap between the millennials in the office was 11 years. This meant some are already property owners or married, some, like me, are fresh faced and bushy tailed straight out of uni (and living at home for the time being).

I’ll fully admit that I’ve got the financial restraint of an 8-year-old boy, the prospect of property ownership feeling somewhat like a fanciful pipedream. Decision making and being prone to a little rash spending is definitely something that challenges both my wallet and I.

But I’ve got ambitions to spend my money more wisely. And invest in a few exciting experiences along the way.

Most of all, I think I agree with Jacob when he said “I live in the hope that from a successful future career, the burden of money worries will be left in the past”. Oh, what a life that will be!

The digital revolution is transforming the way young people interact with their money, so the dream could be reality much faster than we think.

How can starling help millennials manage their money?

Why not check out Good With Money? They’re dedicated to helping you become good with money while doing good with your money too.

You can also sign-up to the Starling community to find out how you can get involved with us, and be one of the first to have a Starling account. 

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