Financial freedom: A new plan for millennials

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By Taise Parente

I must admit, I’m a millennial cliché.

I have never thought about retirement let alone plan for it, and I save money to travel and enjoy life. And guess what, I’m not the only one. Crazy, right?

We know, we hear it all the time. Millennials are lazy, entitled and need to grow up. But “growing up” in the traditional sense of the phrase – as in owning a house, having a steady job and saving for retirement – is just harder nowadays.

Millennials have debt, houses are too expensive and it’s harder to get ahead in a company. Baby boomers got all the cheap properties and the good pension schemes, they didn’t pay for tuition and they destroyed the economy.

Basically, they’ve ruined it for us.

That’s the backdrop of Lucy Cohen’s book “The Millennial Renaissance: How to Thrive for the Rest of Your Life, Even Though Boomers Have Screwed It Up for Us. A Retirement Plan for Millennials and Beyond.”

It’s a cheeky yet sincere book by a successful businesswoman who is a millennial herself. Cohen is full of advice, from sound (“get to grips with living to a budget”) to weird (“change your bedding on a Sunday night”), and she tries to redefine ideas about “adulting” and retirement that have been pushed on us by our parents and grandparents for way too long.

Should millennials save and plan for the future? Yes. Should they do it in the traditional way? Absolutely not.

We have to stop thinking we must do things the traditional way.

The truth is, we are already saving. In fact, we are the generation that saves the most money, according to a recent report from Merrill Edge. We’re just not saving for retirement per se. We’re doing it for the sake of our financial freedom. And, according to Cohen, that’s exactly what we should do.

To help millennials accomplish the Herculean task of building a comfortable life, the author puts together a list of tips fit for our generation, which means it is heavily reliant on social media and technology.

Sometimes a bit too reliant. The book would have you believe that we can all make money being YouTubers and Instagram stars, when in fact there are other ways of making passive income that do not involve blogging on fitness or food.

But that’s a minor criticism. Cohen’s advice is not revolutionary, and I don’t think it is meant to be. It’s a sensible compilation of tips and a good start for those of us who are thinking that far ahead for the first time in our lives.

When I finished this short book, I had two thoughts. First, I’m screwed, there’s no way I’m ever going to pull that off. Second, I need to research this more and start planning.

Truth is, it’s a lot to take in, and we might not feel ready yet. But that’s ok. We are millennials, and we’re going to fight for our avocado, our trips and passions, and our comfortable financial freedom – or, as Cohen puts it, our millennial renaissance.

We just have to stop thinking we must do things the traditional way, and start using the tools at our disposal. If anything, the book achieves its goal: It has opened my eyes to the fact I need to do more if I want a comfortable life, and it has got me thinking about the future from a millennial’s perspective.

Now, excuse me. I have to go binge on Netflix and figure out what to do with my life.

(Editing by Alan Wheatley)


Taise Parente is a Brazilian national who lives in Paris and works as a freelance journalist for Radio France Internationale in Portuguese and English. She has a master’s degree from Sciences Po Paris. Before moving to France, she lived in California, where she worked as a reporter, news writer and producer at national TV station One America News Network.

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