The Millennial Question: finance trends through the generations

The Millennial Question: finance trends through the generations

I recently watched a video that suddenly made a lot of things about my life, and the lives of my generation – the Millennials – all make sense. It is a video that I believe everyone needs to watch. It was a fifteen-minute clip of Simon Sinek answering the “millennial question” on Inside Quest. If you feel that fifteen minutes is too long and a waste of your time, then you probably fall right into the category of people that he is talking about.

Sinek believes, and now so do I, that people born from the 80’s onwards have been “dealt a bad hand”. We are growing up in a rapidly changing world, and the combination of new parenting techniques, exponential technological advancement, and a consistently harsh and self-interested corporate world is proving to be detrimental to us.

One thing Sinek didn’t talk about, however – something that I feel to be equally problematic – is the Millennial’s relationship with money. We don’t really understand it.

75% of Millennials consider wealth to be an extremely important attribute – a much, much higher percentage than previous generations. And yet, nearly 9 out of 10 Millennials place an importance on work-life balance. Millennials have grown up being told that they are special and that they can have anything they want just by believing that they can have it and that they deserve it. Millennials all want a career that they are passionate about. 64% of them have said that they would take a 60% pay cut to do this. Combine this with the fact that with growing technology Millennials are becoming accustomed to instant gratification, and you have a frustrating outcome. Compared to previous generations, the work ethic of Millennials is poor. We all want to make a lot of money doing very little of something we love.

We can break this generation down further, as some have done, into the Millennials and Generation Z – the 90’s kids and younger. Generation Z grew up in a recession. They are proving to be much more cautious with money. In fact, they take much less risks in general. The number of teenagers who try alcohol before they are of age has dropped from 82% in 1991, to 66% in 2013. In that same time, the number of teenagers who don’t wear a seatbelt has dropped from 26% to 8%. Though this generation are more careful with their money, they have still fallen victim to the undesirable attributes earned from the use of technology and social media. In fact, this generation are even more comfortable in the virtual world than the Millennials. We are impatient, and we are an unusual mix of impersonal and yet dependent on staying connected with people. 30 billion Whatsapp messages are sent per day, and yet we are not as comfortable in face-to-face interactions.

On top off all of this, there seems to be an extremely limited understanding of banks. I spoke to a group of girls in their early twenties who said that they didn’t really have a clue what banks do. They just “keep my money safe”. One girl then said, “I just joined the bank that my parents were with.” The reality of banks, as outlined by a non-millennial, a fifty-year-old man, is that “their prime interest is no longer to keep peoples’ money safe. It is to make a profit for their shareholders. Banks are no longer trustworthy – they can go bankrupt just like any other corporation. Hence the government involvement to try and guarantee customers’ savings.” Cautious though they may be, Millennials and Generation Z don’t seem to be taking the time to understand who they are entrusting their money to.

I am not encouraging anyone to sit back and use the fact that millennials have been “dealt a bad hand” as an excuse. It is not too late to change our own attitudes towards adult life. Make your New Year’s resolution this year to be more patient. Take the time to educate yourself about your bank. Set up a separate savings account and put a portion of your income or your loan into it every month.

If you are a Millennial still searching for the perfect career, then this could give you some financial security. If you are Generation Z, then this could quell your embedded feelings of insecurity. When your patience improves you may find that your work ethic increases. As the saying goes, “Good things take time.” Millennials, help each other, but most importantly, help yourselves.

 

Watch Simon Sinek here

 

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Reality or RealiTV?

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Made in Chelsea; Real Housewives of Cheshire; The Only Way is Essex; Great British Bake Off; The Apprentice; Strictly Come Dancing; X Factor.

Throw in a few pizzas and bowls of pesto pasta and there you have a week in the life of a twenty-one year old.

We pile into our student lounge sporting various combinations of tracksuits, pyjamas and onesies and settle down for an hour of becoming a little too emotionally invested in the lives of others. We all cheered on Ollie Locke as he put JP in his place on the Henley river bank. We all giggled like school-girls when Selasi piped that icing. We all screamed in outrage when Sharon Osborne decimated the Over 25 category at Judge’s houses. Reality TV continues to be an ever growing phenomenon. But why?

It was not all that long ago that I was spending my weekends at the beach. I was staying out until highly unsociable hours of the morning. I was going to cool clubs with fancy cocktails and swimming pools in the back. I would sit in a room full of girls and spend hours gossiping about people we knew. Living our own dramas. It was not that long ago when a night in front of the TV would have been a welcomed blessing after the never ending birthdays, socials, special events and catch-ups. Now, almost every night of the week I stare enviously at a screen and watch people getting paid to do those things.

I wonder out loud who Nicole Scherzinger is dating, rather than focusing on my own, slightly lacklustre dating scene. I have reached that unfortunate stage in life when reality TV has become my personal reality.

We all know that in recent years there have been many questions raised about how healthy social media is. I know I can’t be the only one whose parents have banned phones at the dinner table. Kate Bush once requested that her fans refrain from filming her show because if people wanted to watch it through the screen of the person in front of them, then they would have stayed home to watch it on TV. We are rapidly breeding a culture of people who struggle to enjoy anything until they share it with the world.

When I was a child, popularity was determined by your Top Trump skills in the playground. Today, ‘likes’ are the new symbol of status. Smart devices and social media have opened up a whole new sphere of connectivity, and not everyone is happy about it. I would argue, however, that we cannot reasonably throw our arms up in exasperation at this and not reality TV. How is it fair to ask someone to look up from their phone and stop talking to their friends in order to spend some quality time with you watching the lives of complete strangers unfold? At least through social media we are, for the most part, keeping in touch with people we know. I once had a friend use my snapchat to check up on her ex. I have known relationships to start through an Instagram. FaceTime is a revolutionary concept that enables me to regularly see friends and family who live on the other side of the world – people that I would otherwise only see every few years. Whilst we may not quite be able to call living through a screen ‘reality’, in my opinion it is certainly more deserving of the title than say Joey Essex or Amy Childs.

My solution? TV dramas! More often than not they give us far greater role models: Aspire to be as witty as Chandler Bing, as successful as Dr Grey, find a love like Marshall and Lily’s. But most importantly, know that they are all fiction and that the best life to live is your own.

India- Tribal traditions vs. pop culture

IMG_4108Tattoos have ancient roots embedded deeply in Indian culture. Mehndi, commonly known as Henna, is a form of temporary body art that began centuries ago and typically lasts only a month. While we now may see these intricate patterns as synonymous with the onset of Coachella or Glastonbury, they were usually reserved for festive celebrations of marriage, religious occasions and ceremonies. However the nature of its practice has come under threat in recent years.

The henna plant, also known as Mehndi in Hindu and Urdu, is indigenous to much of Asia and is used as a temporary ink in the ritualistic application of these intricate patterns. The swirling geometry is traditionally applied to the hands and feet, yet a decreasing supply of traditional Mehndi artists is contributing to the recent degradation of its popularity. As more and more people are drawn to the urban centres of India, maintaining the tradition has had to compete against its market ready counterparts of mass-produced and professionally prepared D-I-Y henna cones. Only in rural areas is the practice of grinding henna leaves with oil by stones preserved.

It is not just availability of traditional artists that is driving the design change, but the influential role that pop culture is beginning to play. Like a dialect, different regional patterns of tracery have developed across India, as well as variations that appear in neighbouring Bangladesh and Pakistan. Each custom has a slightly different ethos and inspiration, with traditional Indian designs being representations of the sun. Mehndi’s interaction with a new urban environment is perhaps just another variant in this way- drawing on the media for inspiration rather than nature.

Recent years in India have seen a growing demand for realistic tattoos, of monuments or animals, in addition to the rising importance of personal touches and tweaks into the design. Instead of simply going for the classic Mehndi design of your region, people now look to Google for inspiration. When given the choice, the traditional patterns usually used in Mehndi applications rarely come first. The pressing presence of pop culture combined with globalisation has seen cultural relevance and personalisation over take community orientated artistic expression.

This is nothing new in Europe or America, where no traditional body art practice existed before the onset of permanent tattoos. However by joining the dwindling of the temporary, traditional Mehndi practise to the increasing demand for permanent, personalised tattoos, one thing is apparent: ease of access and customisation come up trumps.

 

 

 

“… and How Do you Feel About That?” Argentina’s in Therapy. But It’s Okay with It.

tango-935221_1280Nicknamed the Paris of South America, Buenos Aires provides an abundance of culturally rich and unique experiences. The infamous Tango dancing in the streets, the exquisitely cooked steaks in exclusive and quirky restaurants, the multitude of late night salsa clubs and the art of drinking Mate (pronounced ‘matt-ay’; a caffeine-rich infused drink) whilst basking in the glorious sunshine aside one of the city’s popular lakeside parks.

However, it is the Argentine people themselves who are most intriguing, with the enormous presence of psychoanalysis and use of therapists among its inhabitants.

There are over 60,000 psychotherapists working in Buenos Aires alone. It is so popular in fact, that the neighbourhood of Palermo is nicknamed ‘Villa Freud’.

Buenos Aires is the psychoanalytical capital of the world with twice the number of therapists per head than New York. Chatting with a local ‘porteño’, the name given to those Argentines living in the port city of Buenos Aires, he explained that most of his friends had gone or go to therapy, “I have been for seven years, my mother for fifteen and my father for twenty years”.

Interestingly, the word ‘porteño’ dates back to the first half of the 20th century. Entitled the ‘Golden Age’, the country looked set to become a leading global economic power as millions of Europeans immigrated to start a new life there. It is believed that Argentines therefore felt they did not have strong roots in the local traditions and it is still ‘a country in constant search of its identity’.

Writer, actor and psychotherapist, Eduardo Pavlosky believes that Argentina is a country traumatised by a history of violent conflict, economic crisis and an uncertain future. In this regard, he suggests “In times of crisis like that, it’s very easy to go from one extreme to another. From black to white and from white to black. That’s what personality disorders are about.”

Psychoanalysis is said to be intertwined heavily with the idiosyncrasies of the Tango. The dance in its present form was developed around the mid to late 19th century in Buenos Aires with psychoanalysis beginning in Vienna at the same time. Both are born of European Romanticism, in a time of asking ‘Why?’. Why is this happening to me?’. A time heavily entrenched in melancholia.

Despite its sullen beginnings, psychoanalysis is now an integral part of Argentine society. It is so well-respected in fact that Bueno Aires has the radio station La Colifata (which literally means looney), written and produced by patients of a mental hospital. The documentary, ‘Argentina In Therapy’ explores this further, as one patient highlights, “It connects the institution with the community. It’s a way of communicating”.

Psychoanalyst Gabriel Rolon believes that the proliferation of therapists is good news. In contrast to other countries, Argentina gives as much space to emotional health as it does to physical. He explains that a history of war, corruption and persecution have made Argentines great “listeners interested in the pain of others, because we also need people to be interested in our pain”.

Intrigued by the open approach to mental health and sitting in one of the glorious parks drinking Mate, a friend summarised her reason for using therapy: “Talking about your problems can be an amazing experience, to talk and to listen is an art, it helps you understand your experiences more clearly, it helps emotional wounds to heal”.

Hannah Dean: Cultural Writer

For Disease or For Fashion?

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When foreigners come to Japan, many wonder why so many people here wear masks. On the train and in the streets, masks are everywhere. Typically in Japan, masks are used to prevent diseases from spreading. When the flu is going around school, some parents make their kids wear masks, or when someone feels that they are going to get a cold, they wear a mask. Similarly, on trains, many wear masks due to the amount of people around them and the potential to catch germs. However, recently, these masks are being used for something other than prevention of illness.

mask 1

According to Nikkei Net, some women wear these “fake” masks when they wake up late or don’t have time to do makeup.  In some cases, eye makeup may be applied but by wearing a mask they look like they have made up their whole face.

Some wear these masks because they think the masks accentuate their “V” line, which accentuates your chin to your cheeks, smoothing the face line, and the “E” line (aesthetic line), which is when one looks at your face, the tip of the nose and the bottom of the chin appear in a straight line, apparently the standard of beauty for plastic surgery.

mask 3

In a shopping strip in Shibuya, one of the most crowded areas in Tokyo, when 100 Japanese male and females aged between 10 and 30 wearing masks were surveyed, 31 people, 9 men and 22 women (31%), were not wearing these masks for any medical reason. One 19 year old college student’s reason for this was because he ‘did not want to talk to anyone’.  Additionally a 16 year old high school student who was also surveyed, said he was ‘too lazy to make facial expressions’, while a 25 year-old store clerk said he wore it ‘to hide his tiredness during his shifts’.

Yohei Harada, an analyst of young adults ‘culture, says the reason why some wear these masks may be due to people being used to internet and social media, and the need to block off communication with others.

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Some masks are being sold solely for the purpose of beauty, with the shape of the mask less square, to accentuate the “V” line or “E” line.  While common face masks have 4 pleats in total; 2 on top and 2 on bottom, the beauty mask has 1 on top and 3 on the bottom. The mask industry has been able to capitalize on this trend, since the masks which fit womens’ faces are actually better filters, because the typical square mask doesn’t fit the face and can cause particles to sneak inside from the chin and cheek areas. We are also seeing a choice of colour appear, so apart from plain white masks, some men and women are choosing complimentary colours to their outfit (black is a favourite) and even characters’ mouths, and patterns.

Moscow’s Anti-Cafés: Where Time is Money

image russianSince their conception by Russian writer Ivan Mitin, anti-cafés have been spreading from Moscow to all over Russia, and now Europe. Mitin’s chain ‘Ziferblat’, established in 2011, reached London in 2013 and Manchester just last year. The main concept of the anti-café is that the customer pays for time spent in the space rather than for food or drink. More to the point, however, the anti-café aims to encourage socialising and communication, thus providing a cosy, comfortable atmosphere for people to make new friends and spend time with old ones.

An anti-café will usually offer hot and cold beverages, cakes, free Wi-Fi and board games, with some even hosting Xbox or PlayStation consoles at no extra cost. The customer is also at liberty to bring their own provisions and use the kitchen to cook – though they should expect to share!

The process is simple: you go in and register, take a clock and your time starts. The going rate is typically only around 2-3 roubles per minute (the equivalent of 2-3 pence at the moment). Therefore, two hours amounts to what you’d typically pay for a coffee in Starbucks.

Unsurprisingly, these cafés have really taken off with students who are looking for a space to hang out and have a drink or snack within a sustainable budget. Stepping into ‘Zelyonaya Dver‘ (Green Door) in Moscow, paints a typical picture of anti-café life: ping pong tables in the garden, students singing with guitars on the sofas, and others sipping tea and playing Jenga.  It is a common occurence for people to strike up conversations with strangers and make new acquaintances – a sight rarely seen in a standard Western café.

Indeed, a key part of their popularity is that anti-cafes provide a removed space with an informal atmosphere where social norms and rules are relaxed.  In a city like London where interaction between strangers is rare, this might be just what is needed to escape the nonstop rush. As Mitin himself outlined, the concept of a ‘free space’ is key; the customer is autonomous and able to create his own world within the café setting.

The past five years have not only allowed the concept of anti-cafés to spread, but also to develop into some quirky approaches to the idea. Perhaps one of the most weird and wonderful is ‘Kotiki i Lyudi’ (Cats and People) near Tsvetnoi Bulvar metro station. Claiming to make Moscow ‘warmer and fluffier’, this is the perfect place for cat lovers to enjoy pastries and tea whilst playing with the 14 house cats, and of course only paying for time (kotocafe.ru).

So if you’re travelling to Moscow any time soon, and looking for a place to study, eat or just take some time out on a budget, why not pop into an anti-café, where time really is money.

Image: The Calvert Journal

Arkansas: Locally Sourced Servings for the Soul

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On a blistering cold Saturday morning, many people are tucked in bed with a nice, hot cup of cocoa or sleeping under their flannel sheets.  However, in Northwest Arkansas, young people and young families are standing outside at restaurants like the Farmer’s Table, waiting for upwards of thirty minutes for a table inside of a three room, older home.  There is no fancy menu, or a world-renowned chef. These people are here for simply delicious and nutritious, locally-sourced, comfort foods.

Food trends in the USA have historically focused greatly on food on the go – quick and easy meals for millennials to grab while rushing from work, to sporting event, to home. Recently, however, a new culinary trend has emerged among the younger crowd, who are less concerned with speed of preparation and convenience, and increasingly focused on the quality of the meal, the taste, and enjoying locally sourced produce.

Eating food grown by local farmers may seem an old notion for consumers in Europe and elsewhere in the world, but with the enduring dominance of super chains like Walmart in the US this has meant many of these once thriving local farming communities in the US are suffering, or have completely disappeared.

As Northwest Arkansas is developing and younger families are moving in, a revitalized community spirit is growing, this shift is predicated on promoting health, community and local food for the family. A growing number of young families are therefore attempting to develop a community spirit based on happiness, activity and healthy eating. A new wave of new restaurateurs have subsequently emerged, extending the focus on  local community by supporting local farmers and promoting sustainable living.

On any given Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday at 7 a.m. central time, local farmers come to sell their produce, meats, and breads at Farmer’s Markets that are growing in popularity. One such market is located in the town square in Fayetteville, Arkansas, this hosts approximately 30 vendors. These farmers, who once had problems selling once or twice a week, can now sell out in a few hours.

Out on the early morning hunt are local chefs and restaurateurs searching for their next featured dish. Because of the different seasons here, the produce available is constantly changing, creating an amazing array of possible new delicacies for local, and some not so local, patrons to enjoy, while giving local farmers income year round.

After the farmers market, many common items like bacon from local farmers in Gentry and eggs from a chicken farm in Farmington are the basis Sunday brunch.  The only herbs used are the ones grown next door in the restaurant’s garden. Nothing is frozen or genetically modified. Anything that is served on these menus is organic and free of chemicals, leaving only the natural goodness that our bodies crave.

Local restaurants in Arkansas are also keeping waste at a minimum. Composting is a large part of this equation, diminishing the amount of trash being thrown away. The egg shells and left over plant waste are redistributed in the garden to help the soil in the garden. Chicken bones are used to create a broth. Very little packaging or plastic is thrown away simply because there was none in the first place.

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These ‘locally sourced’ restaurants are growing in number, and include; the Farmers Table, Herb and Elks, Four Corners Kitchen, and Greenhouse Grill. The philosophy that these eateries are promoting is easy to buy into because of the quality of their menus, the delicious and colorful nature of each meal, and the knowledge that this is helping our local community and promoting sustainability. These culinary developments have revitalized what it means to eat local and have created a more wholesome and healthy community for families in Northwest Arkansas.

 

Picture: The Farmer’s Table, a ‘locally sourced’ restaurant in Fayetteville, AR.