As millennials, we grew up through the dotcom crash of the 90s and experienced firsthand the Great Recession during our formative years of personal and career development. Some of us saw our parents lose their jobs, retirement savings, and homes. We saw the luxury cars, over-sized houses and stuff our parents purchased to create a happy life taken away. We were also raised in a period where we’ve been in a constant state of terror and war.
These were the foundations of our YOLO mindset.
When we were coming of age, YOLO was at its peak pop culture usage. YOLO stands for “You Only Live Once,” and a few years ago it was uttered feverishly by millennials as a lifestyle choice and to explain our irrational belief that there is no tomorrow.
I used to hear the acronym more often exclaimed while mindlessly shopping at the mall or taking shots at the bar. It became akin to making irrational decisions in the heat of the moment. Why? Because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed so it is better to act on impulse today. Financially speaking the actions tend to be used to overspend.
As the years go by, there is one thing I’ve learned the choices we make today create the life we live tomorrow.
I’m not arguing against YOLO. I’m reclaiming YOLO in its full context of living a life of moments.
The YOLO mindset is perfect when it’s applied to the understanding that today is the best day to start living by saving, investing and consciously spending. There is no better day than now to start learning about money and start building the actual YOLO lifestyle.
When I use the acronym “YOLO” during seminars, I typically hear chuckles from the crowd. Being an older millennial, the YOLO lifestyle has been part of my experience and therefore ingrained in who I am. I do value living life and at one point believed valuing life was similar to valuing purchases.
The YOLO mindset has influenced millennial behaviors around banking, saving, spending and investing. We’re less likely to save and spend way more than we make and forgo long-term investing for instant gratification.
As a millennial, I believe we have the right life mindset but we need a better understanding of it. This way we can apply that mindset to sound financial decisions today.
The YOLO Money Mindset
Saving is delayed for instant spend gratification. We all know that saving money is important but spending money is so much more fun. The reason is that we can associate all the time we’ve spent working on a physical item. As millennials, we grew up in the age of continuous marketing that shaped our perceptions of what we need. The result is confusion between what we need and what we want.
Do we really need a new smartphone every two years and in many cases every year? Become more mindful of how you spend your money today and allocate your dollars to future spending too. Open savings accounts and use automatic transfers to set up your future spending goals.
Spending means allocating future hours to work rather than fun. I don’t really subscribe to the idea of never spending. Spend where it matters and that means understanding the more you spend the more cash you need. If you don’t have Scrooge McDuck money (Note: Scrooge McDuck wasn’t a spender), then you’ll be required to work more to earn more cash.
YOLO is about living life now but if you’re spending most of your time working than how much life are you actually living?
Debt is a ball and chain and weighs down your hopes and aspirations. Debt is a ball-and-chain and once shackled prevents you from YOLO experiences like fancy dinners, exotic vacations, and luxury goods. When we don’t make enough but continue to spend using credit we create debt. Whether it’s student loan debt or credit card debt, any type of debt weighs on your psyche and keeps you from pursuing your dreams.
If you have $10,000 of debt and only make $10 an hour, you will have to allocate 1000 hours (or 25 weeks) of your life. Get rid of debt by using a debt repayment strategy, consolidation, refinancing or increase your income to afford additional payments.
Not investing in the future because of uncertainty. Growing up through two economic crashes have had a profound impact on how we view investing in the stock market. We may think the stock investments are risky but we’ve seen in our lifetime how quickly the market recovers.
Do you want to have more control over your time? Start making money with money and begin saving a portion of your income and investing some into long-term investments (like stocks, ETFs, index funds, etc). Find a brokerage or micro-investing app in the financial marketplace.
How has YOLO impacted your life? Can you see how you can apply the new YOLO mindset into achieving your financial and life goals?
Learn more about how you can shift your mindset and live your best life on the road to financial wellness. Get a copy of my book, You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life.