The Millennial Money Rebellion begins here


Right, prepare for some fighting talk.

In the UK, people born in the early 1980s – my age group – are being utterly fucked, financially, according to a new study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Ok, so I’m paraphrasing, but we are the first wave of this ‘screwed generation’ everyone’s been talking about since the recession.

And it’s not just the recession’s fault. Essentially, stagnating wages, Britain’s out-of-control housing boom (meaning young people are stuck renting) and the elimination of generous defined-benefit pension schemes are to blame.

The average wealth of someone like me, in their mid-30s, is about £27,000, but those born a decade earlier had twice as much money at our age, according to the study.

It’s clear successive governments have failed to help us, because they’re too busy appeasing older people who tend to be more likely to vote.

No-one will help us, so we have to help ourselves. It’s time for the MILLENNIAL MONEY REBELLION.

Here’s my (slightly controversial) battle plan:


We need to stop worrying about what other people think

Social media drives a really unhealthy life-comparison habit. If you ‘can’t afford’ to pay into a pension, you CAN’T AFFORD that stay in an over-water chalet in the Maldives, no matter how Instagrammable it is.

Superpower gained: FRUGALITY

Everyone born after 1980 should move out of the south-east of England

It’s way too expensive and we can’t afford that shit. Move up north, where houses can be picked up for less than £100,000. Yes, wages are slightly lower outside London but living costs are WAY lower.

Superpower gained: FLEXIBILITY

Newcastle-Gateshead. Doesn't look so bad, does it?
Newcastle-Gateshead. Doesn’t look so bad, does it?

Ditch the credit cards and car loans

We need to stop living off credit, full stop. It is not helping us in the slightest. Buy the car you can afford with the money you have. Yes, it will probably be a piece of crap. Suck it up. Think of the rebellion.

Superpower gained: INDEPENDENCE

Bank some serious cash

Cut your living expenses to the bone and stash your money like mad. If you’re not a homeowner already, throw it in a Help To Buy ISA. If you are, a Lifetime ISA (which launches next year) will also be a good bet.

Superpower gained: WILLPOWER

Buy a small, cheap house as quickly as you can

There’s no debate in the UK about whether buying or renting is best for your bank balance. Renting costs are out of control, as the study clearly shows. Yes, I know, buying your first home is harder than ever. So forget about buying an adorable new-build house with a picket fence and pick up something you can afford with a small deposit. Then, try to pay off the mortgage as quickly as you can.


Take out a workplace pension, even if it’s not a very good one

If you work in the public sector, you might still have a decent pension. But for those in the private sector, don’t despair. Paying into any pension is MILES better than not doing so at all. Take full advantage of any employer match. Bonus points for boning up about the stock market so you can make an informed decision about how to invest your pension.

Superpower gained: FORESIGHT

Harness our strengths

We are some pretty grizzled people. The smackdown from the global recession hit our generation square-on, and only gave baby-boomers a glancing blow. But we have more of one key resource than they do: time. We will only benefit from this if we put our money away NOW and leave it to multiply without touching it. The days of spending all your paycheque are over. Save and invest, for the sake of the Millennial Money Rebellion.

Superpower gained: COMPOUNDING

Learn from the enemy

I’m being flippant: individual baby-boomers aren’t the enemy. They might be your parents. Learn from them. Get to know what they know about money. Heck, even live in their spare room if you have to. Tell them about the problems you face – they might have solutions you could try. Tell them to support policies that help younger generations. And for God’s sake, vote yourself.

Superpower gained: STRONG ALLIES

We SHALL overcome. Who’s with me?


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14 thoughts on “The Millennial Money Rebellion begins here

  1. Caroline says:

    Such good advice! I do wish people would just post and boast about what they’ve actually paid for. It would help everyone else be more content when they can’t.

  2. Karen (Scotland) says:

    Hi, been following you for a while and keep meaning to comment – you make so many great points and your attitude to frugality/simplifying/life is just great. And you make me laugh. 🙂
    I was born 1975 and my cousin in 1982 (I always feel 7 years is enough for a generation gap).
    The biggest difference financially between our generations was the acceptance of debt. I am of the last generation to recoil in horror at (non-mortgage) debt. Debt was still seen as a bad thing when I entered uni, to be avoided at all costs. My grant was down at £900 for the year (last year ever of grants, if I recall). By the time my wee cousin entered, loans were normal and overdrafts expected. The government, banks and marketing had him conditioned to view debt as his “right”, not as the burden it would become and so many of his generation were the same.
    But I agree with everything you have written above. Take back control by rejecting a lot of the norms.
    Karen (Scotland)

    1. Well thank you for such a nice comment! 🙂
      And you are totally right about the debt thing. I’ve never considered it before, but being sent off to uni with cash from student loans kind of did set up debt as my ‘new normal’ for adulthood. And banks were throwing free overdrafts at us students left, right and centre, usually offering free gifts as an incentive to choose theirs. Of course, no-one forced me to spend the money!….but it does seem like there’s a generation of people now in a bit of a mess :-/

  3. Leesa says:

    Not to sound too ignorant but your post made me realize that the UK is experiencing the same financial woes as the US (no, I don’t really live under a rock…) I am glad to see Millenials taking charge of their financial situation. As a baby boomer I feel like it has taken me too long into my life to get the wake up call. I hope to convince my children to get on the band wagon earlier so they don’t have to face it later on. I truly believe that minimalism is a growth opportunity on many fronts – self esteem, finances, addiction (I’m talking shopping here), achieving peace and contentment. Love your post – and we baby boomers can take a hint from it as well!

    1. We need more parents like you, that’s great! And yes, I agree minimalism can be the gateway to all sorts of other improvements. It’s getting into that mindset that you can make positive changes to your life.

  4. I like the stop worrying other people think part. I guess that’s something that we all learn as we grow up. But how would you spend if you really like the things? I still like fine stuff even if no one is watching, so I can’t be frugal in that sense.

  5. Christine says:

    It’s interesting that buying a house is a good idea in the UK. I live in Canada, and in many places, especially the big cities housing prices are out of control. The majority of people claim that buying a house is a good investment, but in many places houses are extremely overvalued and there’s a huge risk the housing bubble is going to pop.

    I live in a much smaller area, perhaps a bit like your north. House prices here are more reasonable, so I’m considering buying in the next few years, but I’m also not sure I want to give up the flexibility of renting.

    1. Yes, I appreciate the situations in different parts of the world will be very different, so I don’t think there will be ever a ‘right answer’ to the question of renting v buying. It depends so much on where you are, and like you say, your need for flexibility etc. I have to say I have enjoyed being a homeowner. I had a mixed experience with landlords (and one letting agency of ours which ended up being featured on a TV programme about rogue companies). As a homeowner, I’ve also enjoyed decorating and altering my house as I see fit. Many of these considerations aren’t money-based, I guess.

  6. Ebba says:

    I’m in! It makes me so happy to read blogs such as yours and think “wow, things are really changing, we’re adapting, we’re trying to improve our situation” etc etc but and then I step out into the “real world” and I realise that in my group of friends and acquaintances I’m the strange one. Saving 15% of my salary into a pension, budgeting my spending money and not going into debt to buy a car is “not the way to enjoy and appreciate your youth”. So I go home and I read blogs such as yours just to not feel so darn odd.
    So yes, I’m in!

  7. Linda Sand says:

    As a baby boomer in the USA I would like to add “Don’t try to match your parents’ timeline.” Our daughter thought she should do things like buy a house at the same age we did. She doesn’t live in the same world situation as we did. She needs to do what is right for her not what was right for us.

    1. Great tip. The experiences of different generations will be so different, for many reasons. Also, I’d add that you shouldn’t let people of your own generation set your timeline either. It’s not about ‘keeping up’ with anyone.

    2. Totally agree. My parents were able to buy a house on one wage, have kids, maintain just one person working for years on end, etc etc. That was in the 70s. By the 90s that was not an option, unemployment was huge in the UK and it took me 8 years after graduation to find a job which paid more than minimum wage (which didn’t exist). And in my 40s I still have years left on the mortgage and not a lot of pension to look forward to, but in my retirement will likely have to shell out for elderly care for my parents as well as nursery/education for children. By contrast my parents generation are (mostly) retired, going on foreign holidays and living in houses they bought them for tuppence. I’m in the first generation to be worse off than my parents – millennials are unfortunately the continuation of that trend. Not sure what the answer is – but trying to follow a pattern set when economic conditions were totally different – won’t , can’t work.

      We’ll have to set our own patterns. 🙂

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