Are you worried millennials are doomed to financial inadequacy? That retirement is a pipe dream? Here’s a book with tough-love advice.
Young people attend a seminar on investing, Brookline, Massachusetts, 8 January 2016 (AP Photo/The Christian Science Monitor, Ann Hermes)
“I can afford to ‘work’ just three days a week and am on track to have enough money for a comfortable ‘retirement’ by the time I’m 52, possibly before. And I’m going to tell you how to do it, too.”
Those are Lucy Cohen’s opening words in her generational wake-up call entitled “The Millennial Renaissance.”
A successful entrepreneur who traces her start-up success to her decision not to go to university, Cohen is a living rejection of the conventional wisdom that the only path to success is an advanced degree and lots of debt.
“The Millennial Renaissance” is a fierce challenge to tradition, but that should hardly scare us millennials.
Like a sage laying out her secrets, Cohen invites her generational cohorts into the future. She begins by hitting readers with a few tough-love news flashes.
Millennials need financial advice.
First, the job market is — ding ding — not at all like it used to be. Young people today are entering into a new and unstable gig economy not at all like the traditional pension-providing 9-5 of our parent generation.
It is this fading feasibility of conventional “retirement” that Cohen questions.
Instead of ‘”sitting around in my slippers and collecting the state pension,” she proposes a financially-sustainable, old-age renaissance: a re-envisioning of our later years as more active, maintained with a steady income and crucially less reliant on handouts.
The idea of having to work all of one’s life makes being young seem so grim. What is it that we are working towards, if not weekday golf and early-bird specials? Who will play all of the bingo?
In “The Millennial Renaissance,” Cohen tackles the socially-constructed desirability of napping through the last 15 years of one’s life. Surely that seems dull to the stimulated, nomadic, curious and civic-minded millennial generation.
Despite the bad rap that millennials — those born between the mid-1980s to early 2000s — receive, Cohen says we are the most tolerant and forward-thinking generation the world has seen and we are ready to shake things up.
That attitude will not erode with old age, and neither should our desire to get up in the morning and make a bit of money doing something we enjoy. We need to accept the consequences that the gig economy will have on our notions of retirement, and work towards laying a foundation for our renaissance.
The whole ordeal just seethed start-up sleek.
At just short of 70 pages, “The Millennial Renaissance” will consume two days of London commuting time, and its brevity testifies to Cohen’s understanding of her audience and their fleeting attention span. It is stacked with nudges many of us need to get our act together and to consider our future selves.
Particularly refreshing was Cohen’s reasoned response to the baloney that millennials get blamed for and dragged through. She pulls Internet trolling onto the page, disassembles and attacks it.
Even cooler, the book is self-published. For me to get an advance copy, I simply emailed her my address. The next day her little guide to success arrived on my doorstep. The whole ordeal just seethed start-up sleek.
Read it not for the self-help, but for some well-thought out steps from someone who was lucky but also smart. Cohen suggests: take your time, make your bed, stay on top of your workload. Cultivate healthy habits that will propel you into a life of claiming your passions and constant renaissance.
I’ll be passing “The Millennial Renaissance” on to my friends. It’s the wake-up call that many of us toiling at university need.
Kit Keane is a second-year undergraduate student at King’s College London, studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE). She is from Washington, DC, is passionate about philosophy and creative writing, and hopes to become a screenwriter.