Millennial: it's not a one-size-fits-all term

Millennial: it's not a one-size-fits-all term

I sometimes forget that, even though I’m in my 30s, I am still a millennial. The media often portrays millennials as 20-somethings who were born with iPhones in hand and social media at their finger tips.  

Whereas, I remember not too long ago flip phones were high tech and my first social media encounter was with MySpace. This does not exactly match the version of millennials I see on TV and in movies most of the time.

Maggie Sullivan with millennial colleagues

Maggie Sullivan with millennial colleagues

When this topic comes up at family dinners my father is quick to remind me that me that I am very much a millennial and was his “millennium / Y2K problem”, since I turned 16 and started to drive on the first day of the millennium. The same day he was worried about whether his tech company was going to properly compute the transition from 1999 to 2000.

I recognise the Y2K event is something younger millennials probably do not remember or know much about - just like I don’t completely understand memes and Snapchat.

This gave me the revelation that, not only is financial advice discounting the difference between millennials and other generations but also the range of experiences within the millennial generation.

What exactly is a millennial?

I think it’s important to note attempts at hard boundaries around the start and end of generations are constantly disputed. Some say the age range for millennials is those born at the beginning of the 80s to those born in mid 90s (1981-1995). That means an age range from 23 to 37. Others say anyone born in the 80s or 90s.

When you really take into account these numbers and the cultural evolution and historical shifts over the last few decades, it should be common sense that financial needs and lifestyles will probably vary across the spectrum. And advice on these matters should take into account these differences.

Someone who was six when 9-11 happened is going to have a different view of the world to someone who was 20 and about to move to New York in 2001.

Younger millennials are probably more concerned with finding roommates, being able to afford rent and then maybe transitioning from college finances to more responsibilities of adulthood.

Many of their older millennial counterparts may be more focused on balancing living alone on one salary or supporting a growing family, while also savings goals and thinking about retiring.

The range of advice for millennials needs to reflect the diversity of experiences and range of expectations.

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