About a week before Christmas last month, I was interviewed by Julie Glum of International Business Times about millennial spending habits for the holiday season. One of the reasons I started writing about millennials is not only to correct misconceptions, but because it’s been fascinating to observe how often I’ve fallen into “millennial” trends myself.
This year I spent a bit more for Christmas than I have in previous years. According to Bankrate.com millennials were the demographic projected to spend more than other age groups this year. Who knew?
One big reason for more spending this holiday season was because of my son– this is the first Christmas he was really able to enjoy, and hopefully remember. Another reason is because we paid off a sizable student loan back in October.
Fellow millennial blogger Erin Lowry of Broke Millennial was also interviewed for the article and also purchased more this year. “I feel like I’m in a place where I can afford it,” she said. The article goes on to mention that she, and many of her peers are still on strict budgets.
I will continue to have a tight budget. Personally, I use a free downloadable Excel worksheet to budget which has been incredibly helpful in tracking our spending. But 2014 has been an interesting shift for me personally, and is reflected in broader trends effecting millennials.
Now Trending: Joy
Another trend I’ve accidentally fallen into is the anti-FOMO mindset called JOMO– the Joy of Missing Out. Ironically, I missed out on reading about this trend in this HuffPost article from a YEAR ago (12/31/13) which projected that 2014 would be the year of JOMO.
If Fomo arises from second-guessing your choices, Jomo means taking ownership of them – whereupon Fomo falls away. -Oliver Burkeman, NYT
Personally, I’ve had a great year of JOMO. Here are some ways I’ve already been falling into this trend.
1) Cutting back (but planning for more) freelance. Although I’ve backed off from the amount of work I’ve done this past year, I’ve also expanded the type of work I do, and also clarified some of my goals. I’ve accepted and am also excited by the fact that building a business is slow but steady work. I’ve also stumbled across inspiring blogs like Brim Papery, which is run by Jolie, a designer, business owner, blogger, and work-from-home mom. I can definitely relate to some of her posts! I love entrepreneurs and bloggers, so if you are looking for a graphic designer check out my website Rachel Gall Creative.
2) Un-Spamming my life: Social Media & News. Before I read about JOMO I had already cut back on my social media use. I took Facebook, and News apps (except The Onion) off of my iPhone, but I noticed I started to use Instagram much more often. Like every day. I think it’s because Facebook has become too spammy, with more commentary than just status updates from friends. And I noticed I actually don’t like the trending news feature on what used to be just a way to connect with friends. Too much click-bait. Instagram helps me feel connected to people I don’t have the privilege to be around in person. As far as news, I’m able to keep up with important events, but hear less about things I don’t need to. Or don’t want to know, like the trending story on Facebook I saw on New Year’s Day about this guy who decapitating his mom.
3) Realizing my age. This year I turned 30, which is practically a baby in light of how “traditional” milestones have been delayed for millennials. I’ve written about Meg Jay’s TED Talk called “30 is not the New 20” which advises to take your 20s seriously. Paul Angone’s book 101 Secrets for Your Twenties is a humorous look at the awkward journey of growing up. I hope to take each decade of my life “seriously”. It’s true that age is “just a number,” but it’s also informative of how long you’re been on this Earth, and that the countdown is still going. I’m 30… and I don’t want to miss out on the things my 80-year-old self would scold me for missing out on. I fear her.
4) And speaking of milestones… Becoming a Mom, again. I was pregnant with baby #2 this time this year. Since last March my life has been slightly more hectic, but incredibly more joyful. Being a mother of two, my time budget has greatly been effected. And similar to budgeting money I’ve been forced to cut out the non-essentials, and it’s been a joy to discover how many things are not essential for my happiness.
5) Emoji. As a millennial it’s naturally embarrassing to admit that I’ve been a late-adopter (perhaps even laggard!) but Emoji has brought unprecedented joy to my daily life, and hopefully not too much annoyance to my friends and loved ones.
As millennials we’ve had a crazy, unpredictable, and over-editorialized adventure into Adulthood. Finding ways to make your mark in your own little world seems like one of the best ways to keep the joy flowing. How are you finding ways to joyfully miss out?
Also here is the full article by Julie Glum from International Business Times:
Rachel Gall has a small reason for her big spending this winter, her almost-4-year-old son. “He’s at that point in life when he’s going to be developing memories, so we’re making sure that his Christmas counts more,” Gall said.
Gall, who runs the So-Called Millennial blog out of Riverside, California, said she’s spent about $300 so far on holiday shopping for her sons, siblings and in-laws. The 30-year-old and her husband are also buying more gifts than last year because they paid off a large loan in October. “We actually are letting ourselves spend a little bit more,” she said. “It’s like, ‘OK, let’s just get all the presents that we need to and we want to.'”
Gall is one of 87 million U.S. millennials expected to buck yet another trend this December. While 82 percent of Americans want to spend less this Christmas, millennials comprise the demographic most likely to up their spending this year, according to a recent Bankrate.com report.
“[Millennials] keep throwing us a curve, don’t they?” National Foundation for Credit Counseling spokeswoman Gail Cunningham said in a press release. “I hope that these folks have a job and are responsibly paying back their student loan debt and they’re not letting the emotion of the holiday season carry them away into a financial disaster zone.”
The rise in spending can only partly be attributed to falling gas prices, as one-fifth of the millennials surveyed said they’d be buying more regardless. The Bankrate study found millennials were twice as likely as people 50 and over to say they felt “more comfortable” with their savings now than they did a year ago. The report was based on phone surveys with 1,001 adults in the U.S. last week.
The National Retail Federation determined that the average American celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah planned to spend about $596.53 on gifts this year. But people between ages 18 and 24 averaged about $350.56 — about $25 more than last year. The data came from about 7,500 interviews in October.
This could be linked to youth employment levels, which U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data show are returning to their 2008 prerecession levels. Although the ages don’t exactly align — Bankrate’s study defined millennials as young adults between 18 and 29, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics looks at 16- to -24-year-olds — an increasing number of young people have jobs.
That’s part of the reason why Erin Lowry, the 25-year-old founder of BrokeMillennial.com in New York, is purchasing pricier gifts this year. She said she’s spent about $600 on gifts for her family, friends and bosses. “I feel like I’m in a place where I can afford it,” she said.
Still, Lowry is judicious with her holiday shopping. She plans it weeks ahead, taking on more freelance work, cutting her movie theater trips and earmarking funds for December spending. She also adheres to a budget. “People are assigned dollar numbers,” Lowry said. “My parents and my sister typically receive more and more expensive presents than, say, my best friend.”
Lowry’s friends stick to strict budgets, many of them donating time and creating do-it-yourself presents. They have student loans to pay off, and “I think debt will always impact your ability to spend money on nonessentials,” she said.
Julie Roye of Miami said she hasn’t exchanged gifts with friends in years. Instead, they throw a holiday dinner party, the 28-year-old behind personal finance blog Millennial Cents said.
But, she is spending more this year. Roye is getting gifts for her husband, mom and brother on whom she’s spending about $100, $80 and $60, respectively. “I’m only buying, like, three presents, so I’m buying them nicer things,” she said.
Roye keeps her budget in check by keeping her Christmas list short, and nobody’s getting added. The sole exception? Babies. “I would never buy my friends a present, but all of a sudden they have a kid, and now I’m buying their kid a present,” she said