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
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.
Superpower gained: HARNESSING THE PROPERTY BOOM
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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