Three millennial money trends (as MoneyLens celebrates its first birthday)

Three millennial money trends (as MoneyLens celebrates its first birthday)

Since launching on 24 May last year, MoneyLens has had more than 150,000 visitors and is now up for a string of awards. We launched our jargon-free site to guide readers through investing and money-saving decisions and dilemmas because we knew people were hungry for financial tips and tools – millennials particularly.

Research by investment company Schroders (that’s our employer) found 94% of millennials wanted to improve their investment knowledge compared to 85% for older generations.

We also know a lot of the industry’s jargon and scary acronyms can be off-putting, so we’ve set out to make money matters simple.

At the core of it all is a series of articles where money topics are made clear, brought to you by a group of (mostly) millennials working in financial services who are passionate about this mission. 

It’s a pretty straightforward website (with the added bonus of a jargon-buster), which is just as well when 2019 might feel anything but. 

Below are our top five most-read articles since we launched a year ago. Keep reading for my take on some of the most significant trends and money moments in our journey to date…

Below are our top five most-read articles since we launched a year ago. Keep reading for my take on some of the most significant trends and money moments in our journey to date…

The top five

A quick and dirty guide to the financial goals millennials should (and shouldn’t) worry about

Why your first 10 years of saving could be more powerful than the next 40 combined

My generation will be the one to ditch car ownership – and I’m delighted

Why age-old financial advice needs updating for millennials

My plan to become a financially independent ‘grown-up’, by 19 year-old me

2019 goals

The big events and millennial money trends from the year since we launched MoneyLens

1)      Delayed lifestages – surprised?

We’re facing a number of challenges that are unique to our generation. It’s probably not surprising that we’re going about our lives a little differently from how our parents and grandparents did (it happens, but historically it always seemed to be for the better).

The Office for National Statistics confirmed in its February report ‘Milestones: journeying into adulthood’ that pretty much everything has been pushed back for us. 

There are fewer young people in employment than 20 years ago. We’re moving out of parents' homes later (20 years ago 50% had left home by age 21, in 2017 the first age at which more than 50% had left home was 23.

The age at which women have their first child has been increasing for more than 40 years. In 2016, the average age of a first-time mum was 29 – two years later than it was in 1997. The average age for marriage is up too. And the most talked about lifestage trend of all: over the last 20 years, renting has become more common amongst all but the oldest age groups.

The most substantial change has been for those aged 25 to 34 – in 2018, among this age group 55% were renting, up from 35% in 1998.

In 1993, the average house price was 4.9 times the average household salary of a household headed by a 16- to 24-year-old. In 2016, it was 8.2 times (a decline from its peak of 11.2 times in 2007).

If you feel like you’re not where you expected to be at this point, you’re not alone. Later this year we’ll hear from the Government's statisticians on other life stages, including financial independence.                                                                    

2)      Young people are taking action against a backdrop of doom and gloom

Oh, yes. As we published this article, Prime Minister Theresa May was announcing her imminent departure after a disastrous EU election (but the vote for a new leader won't actually happen until after Trump’s visit in just over a week).

Brexit’s still as clear as mud, three years after the EU referendum, on 23 June 2016, that some of our readers and contributors were too young to vote in. Not to mention the fact that the risk of nuclear war is now said to be at its highest level since WW2. That’s according to the UN arms research chief.

However, millennials and young people, even school children, are undeterred in their battles for positive change. On MoneyLens’ first birthday, school children and students are on the streets in huge numbers in 150 countries demanding that governments provide a safe pathway to staying within 1.5C of global warming. Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish girl, is one of a number of youth activists calling on adults to help. Writing in The Guardian this week, she said of the climate campaign: ‘This moment has to happen. Last year’s UN intergovernmental panel on climate change’s special report on global warming was clear about the unprecedented dangers of going beyond 1.5C of global heating. Emissions must drop rapidly – so that by the time we are in our mid- and late-20s we are living in a completely transformed world.’

It is not a time to give up hope, it is a time to be inspired – to be engaged and take action.

You might be wondering what this has to do with finance. Sustainable investing is on the rise. Research by Schroders has found that investors around the world see sustainable investing as a way to drive societal, social and environmental changes as well as profit.

In its annual survey of investors it found three-quarters of people say sustainable investments have become more important to them in the past five years. This is driven by the younger generations, with 83% of those between 18 and 44 reporting an increase in importance versus 66% of those aged 45 and over.

3)      The nudges making it easier for us to save and invest

The financial crisis hit millennials hardest, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has revealed. However technology and ‘nudge’ theory are working in our favour, making it easier for us to build wealth for the future with minimum effort now.

Nudge theory, the behavioural science behind subtly influencing the decision-making of groups or individuals, was brought to the mainstream by Nobel prize-winning Richard Thaler. Now it is everywhere.

Thanks to technology, apps can send us reminders at key moments, or be set to automatically top-up our savings or investments on pay day. They can round-up our spare ‘change’ with each transaction, or show us the difference our actions now could make to our future selves.

Auto-enrolment is a nudge devised by the government to get more people putting money away for retirement. Around 10 million workers have been auto-enrolled in a workplace pension since it launched in 2012. Although people can opt out if they wish, few do. Most opt-outs are due to employees leaving their roles or becoming ineligible. There are minimum contributions for both worker and employer, though both could opt to put more in if they wanted.

And finally…

MoneyLens has been shortlisted for four awards: Money Marketing’s Best Financial Education Initiative Award and three different Investment Week Awards – Campaign Innovation; Digital Marketing Initiative of the Year and Open Innovation Award.

 A US version went live on 27 March. We’re followed (liked) by thousands on Facebook and other social media.

But we’re not done yet… 

Let us know what you think on social media or via email (old school), and wish us luck at the awards ;) You can suggest topics or terms for our jargon-buster, or simply tell us what you liked (or didn’t).

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