In a tumultuous time, many adults under 35 have stopped playing it safe. Instead of cashing in as much of their pay as they used to, they’re saving less, spending more, and pursuing passion projects or risky careers.
Nimarta Narang, 27, said she was cautious about almost everything until the end of last year, when she had an epiphany: “I don’t want to spend my life being so careful and cautious.”
For most of the coronavirus pandemic, he was unable to travel to Bangkok to see his family. When she finally paid her visit, she was struck by how much she missed him: her mother’s 50th birthday, her grandmother’s funeral, her sister’s engagement, her father’s beard turning gray.
“Coming back to the United States, I realized I had to do things differently,” said Ms. Narang, literary editor of Brown girl magazine.
One thing he had always wanted to do was live in New York. She packed everything up in her Los Angeles apartment and moved in in March. She has also taken a new approach to her own finances. Before the pandemic, she told her, she was putting about $ 2,000 into her savings account each month. She has now helped her that amount. The rest goes towards a more expensive apartment ($ 600 more in monthly rent), nights out with friends, and little indulgences that she would have denied herself before.
“I wanted to use my savings to have a life experience,” he said. “Visiting home showed me how much life I had been missing”.
She is not alone. A recent study of Fidelity Investments found that 45% of people between the ages of 18 and 35 “don’t see the point of saving until things get back to normal.” In the same age group, 55% said they had suspended retirement planning.
For some, like Ms. Narang, the isolation of pandemic life has triggered the decision to enjoy the moment, to hell with the financial consequences. For others, the motivation came from concerns about climate change, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, domestic political instability, skyrocketing inflation, skyrocketing housing costs and an upside-down stock market.
Hannah Jones, a Denver stand-up comedian, said she saved nearly all of her discretionary income. It was a regular thrift store that refused to pay for a Netflix subscription. She has now become what she calls a “financial nihilist,” which means she puts a lot less into her savings account than her.
The shaky state of the world was in his mind: “I’m not going to deprive myself of some of the comforts of life now for a future that looks like it could be snatched away from me at any moment,” he said.
In her standing act, Mrs. Jones, 27, makes a reliable joke: “No, I’m not saving up for retirement. I am going to spend my money now, while we still have a supply chain. It’s a joke that changes with the headlines. On some nights, instead of “supply chain”, it merely connects the catastrophe du jour.
The anti-frugal mood is pervasive. Hannah Fuller, 25, said she was once thrilled to save for the future. After receiving financial aid while attending private high school and college, she assisted in managing her money, making sure to maximize her Roth IRA each year. But now, she said, her mindset about hers has changed. She started when she lived in Portland, Oregon, where she grew up, during the 2020 fires.
“Being surrounded by smoke, you could really feel the doom and the darkness,” said Ms. Fuller, who works for the Farmers Market Coalition, a Washington-based nonprofit. “It felt like living in ‘The Martian’, as if we were living in an airlock, trying to keep the smoke out of our apartment.”
“Going to these places that you visited as a child and seeing them burned to the ground makes it very difficult to want to build new things,” she continued.
Now Ms. Fuller has broken her old habit of ordering the cheapest item on a menu. She even booked tickets for a summer music festival in Barcelona. And given the real estate market explosionhe has decided that saving money to buy a house is not something he will worry about right now.
“The houses are so inaccessible,” he said. “I don’t even know if it’s worth my time and energy.”
Some experts say the spendthrift attitude isn’t unique to the youth of 2022. “Every generation has had an apocalyptic view of their lives,” said Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist in Boulder, Colorado. During the Great Depression, he noted, many people lost faith in banks. At the height of the Cold War, fear of nuclear war influenced the way many young people planned their future. And during the 2008 financial crisis, saving for a home seemed useless to many.
“We are not programmed to save,” said Mr. Klontz. “We are wired to consume. If you have an exciting vision of the future, those are the people who are aggressively saving for retirement. If you have an apocalyptic vision of the future, why should you spare it? Of course you wouldn’t. “
That dim vision of what’s to come may be exacerbated by issues like climate change. Danilo Jiménez, who plans to go to graduate school to study environmental policy in the fall, said he suspended retirement savings in favor of spending that money on weekend trips and moving out of his parents’ home. to live with roommates in Brooklyn.
“The idea of putting money away in an account that I can’t access until I’m 60 – it’s 2056!” said Mr Jiménez, 25, who worked as a youth football coach and a carpenter aide. “Many things will change by then with respect to climate change.”
Rather than putting his pay into a traditional savings account, Schulyer Wagner, 25, has invested time and money in an idiosyncratic investment: coral farming. For Mr. Wagner, a financial analyst in Tempe, Arizona, aquaculture was a childhood hobby he gave up during his college years – large tanks don’t exactly fit dorm rooms.
After graduation, he pursued it again. It now tends to Goniopora (also known as flowerpot coral), Euphylia (which can be very expensive, Mr. Wagner said), and Acanthophyllia (“a huge single octopus coral that can be the size of a pizza”), among others. other types of coral. Mr. Wagner has seven tanks in his apartment, with a total volume of over 450 gallons. He buys and swaps pieces with other hobbyists in Arizona, as well as reef specialty shops and aquatic pet stores.
Mr. Wagner said he spends $ 750 to $ 1,500 on materials and equipment each month. He hopes that one day his expensive hobby will pay off and that he can devote himself to aquaculture as a full-time job.
“Instead of trying to save to compete with inflation or buy a house in five years, which doesn’t make sense to me right now, I want to pursue that passion,” he said. “There is so much uncertainty in the world and Covid has pushed passions to the fore.”