We all remember that interview — you know, the one where a millionaire boldly claimed that the reason millennials can’t afford milestone purchases like a home, car, or even retirement is because we spend too much on avocado toast? It still sounds just as ridiculous as it first did when the interview was released.
As someone with enough student debt to last a lifetime (insert crying emoji here), I know just how difficult it can be to save up and hit those major financial goals such as owning your first home. I’m more occupied with paying my utility bills on time, let alone being able to afford a mortgage. However, with all of that in mind, it’s time to talk about the actual money suckers. Don’t worry — you can definitely keep your avocado toast!
A Real-Life Golden Ticket (Spoiler Alert: It’s a Library Card)
Using your local library is one of the easiest ways to save money. And they just don’t lend out books either. Most libraries offer a variety of movies, TV shows, comic books, video games, and more — for free. Keep in mind there might be a waiting list for hot ticket items. But it’s still a cheaper option than purchasing something new.
Furthermore, it’s also a great way to support your local community and contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle. As explained by Rutgers University, “With the inception of the Internet, people of all ages consume content faster and more often than ever and librarians are key in providing guidance in helping the public navigate these key systems. Libraries have evolved into thriving research capitals and significant learning centers.” Which means, replacing libraries with Amazon Go stores sounds just as ridiculous as avocado toast ruining millennials’ finances.
Even if you decide to not visit your library for everything you want to rent or read, by making it a regular habit to visit it, you can still cut down on the overall typical costs of buying everything new.
Rock n Roll On a Budget
This money saver might come as a surprise. Paying for a premium account on either Pandora, Spotify, or Apple Music can help with your music addiction. The costs can be lower than buying albums and singles regularly off of iTunes. Furthermore, many premium accounts allow you to share a single account with multiple people (without messing with your own). You can even split the cost with friends or family to make it cheaper.
It also can help with those impulsive music buys, like when you hear the latest hit on the radio and need to give it a second (or third or fourth) listen. Instead of impulsively buying it on iTunes to satisfy your musical needs, most current hits can be found on music streaming apps, and a premium membership allows you to play it as many times as you need. Plus, when you inevitably grow tired of the song, it doesn’t continue to haunt your music playlists or appear in your shuffle constantly.
Getting a Helping Hand
Another “luxury” item that millennials often get a lot of flak over is their love of coffee, specifically the kind enjoyed from local coffee shops or a favorite chain.
There was even a “study” published, claiming that millennials spend more on coffee than they do on saving. Forbes debunked that article, but they did cite the Consumer Expenditure Survey findings that, “the average Millennial household spends $3,097 each year on food away from home.” While it’s highly unlikely that millennials are spending all of that on coffee, it still is worth considering how to cut down on those extra, costly expenses without depriving yourself of life’s simple pleasures, like a hazelnut latte for example.
But how do you even begin approaching this task? The majority of millennials have never received any kind of useful financial education or advice from school or their parents. Of course, the internet exists, but if you’re trying to create a budget from scratch or trying to learn how to invest, it can quickly become overwhelming digging through all the jargon and confusing information.
That’s why, if you find that you still struggle to stick to or even create a great budget for you and your lifestyle, you might consider turning to a financial advisor, if only temporarily.
Some fiscal experts explain that financial advisors can help you learn how to manage your money by providing direction with your:
However, it’s worth noting that it’s essential to take your time picking a financial advisor. As explained by those same experts,
“It’s also important to know that, titles and duties aside, not all [financial] advisors are created equal. Some are merely salesmen, trying to sell you on their firm’s products, rather than having your best interests at heart.”
Working towards financial confidence and getting a better grip on your taxes, mortgages, savings, and more can benefit you and your wallet in the long run. If a financial advisor is definitely not within your budget, browse your local community group sites to see if anyone happens to offer financial advice classes for free or for a small fee. Your local library would be a great place to start! (See what I did there?)
Even Homeowners Need to Save $$$
If you happen to beat the odds and purchase your first home, despite all the avocado toast, you might still be running low on personal funds month-to-month.
Of course owning your own home is a huge and amazing victory, but the battle isn’t over quite yet. It’s likely you’re ready to part with the majority of your college belongings, the torn and stained couch, the vandalized coffee table, etc. However, with a mortgage to pay each month, it’s daunting trying to decorate and personalize your new home while on a tight budget.
In an effort to save some money, without giving up style, utilize budget friendly decorating tips.
- Plants are a cheap, but vibrant addition to any space, plus you’ll reap those oxygen cleaning benefits.
- Lighting can also make a huge difference in brightening up a space. Adding lamps with distinctive lampshades is a lot cheaper than replacing the entire light fixture in a room.
- You might also consider printing off a dozen or so of those pictures collecting dust inside your phone. Printing photos these days is actually pretty cheap and fast.
- Thrift for photo frames at your local thrift store! You can make those empty walls come to life with fond memories.
Creativity is going to be your best friend when it comes to decorating!
At the end of the day, the majority of us can agree that it isn’t avocado toast preventing millennials from hitting important lifetime milestones. Many of us are just fighting to just survive paycheck to paycheck, and it isn’t because of the toast.
In an economy that’s seen better days, millennials are faced with plenty of difficult financial problems. While I can’t guarantee that cutting corners where you can will give you enough to buy your dream house, practicing more frugal habits can at least ease some of the burden on your bank account. Good luck — and enjoy all that avocado toast.
By Alex Quayle
Alex Quayle has her degree in Creative Writing and puts it to use as a writer for the internet. She can never say no to coffee, doughnuts, and good conversation. One day, she hopes to own a home in the Pacific Northwest with her partner, Boston Terrier, cat, and dwarf hamster. Connect with her here on Twitter.