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Millennials: Our Generation vs. Our Upbringing

Then... Growing up was a breeze for me- I always had everything I ever wanted. My parents moved to America from Europe to pursue the "Great American Dream." When they were not much older than me, they had a family, a house, a business and money in the bank. Money never seemed to be an issue. As children, we had new clothes, toys, vacations and pretty much anything we wanted, thanks to my parents taking control of their lives and achieving their goals. Sure, I heard my parents bickering periodically about bills and things but I also remember going out to dinner almost every weekend and it seemed there was always money for extracurricular activities. My mom, sister and I would go to the mall and into stores and shop while my dad would wait outside the store and when we were ready, I would just run out and get my dad; he would come in and just pay for everything. It never seemed to be a problem. If I needed money, I would go to my dad and ask for twenty bucks and he would give me fifty- to me money was great and seemed easy to get, but what did I know? My parents always stressed to us about the importance of saving and respecting money. Sure- it may have stuck for some of us but for me, at the time... not
really. When I turned 17, I somehow found my savings account number and started to spend the money in it not realizing I would soon be down to zero! I know what you're thinking, what the heck could she have spent all her savings on? Well my best answer to that is... I couldn't tell you. How did my parents make it look so easy? This life I was living was not preparing me for the real world. I never took money seriously. I never thought about how it would affect me in the future, and I was living in the moment, certainly not prepared for what was to come.

and Now... Being 27 years old now, I began to realize I still knew nothing about how to prepare myself for the future. I knew nothing about 401(k)'s besides the fact that they are a retirement plan that's offered by employers. After two years at my previous job, my employer told me that he was going to be setting aside money for me in a separate account. I thought he was being generous, but didn't really realize the meaning until I made a career move to a financial company and surrounded myself with the people and education I would plunge into when joining Chestnut. As I began my journey at Chestnut I realized how much I didn't know about finance. Terms like IRA, Roth IRA, life insurance and trusts previously meant nothing to me. The more I learned about what these terms meant, the more I understood that I needed to begin thinking of my own financial future. As I thought more and more about retirement, I wondered what would happen in situations big or small – everything from a car repair to a serious hospital visit. I began to freak myself out, because saving money has always been very difficult for me. Things are so different in my generation compared to our parents. Many of us live paycheck to paycheck. Having enough money for rent, groceries and the occasional night out is hard enough. How is it even possible to save for retirement? Being independent now, money now seems to be the only issue. Sure, my partner Mike and I combine our incomes, but it still barely covers our expenses. Is the cost of living so much higher today than it was 30 years ago, or are we just "doing it wrong?" So I sit here as I'm writing this I question how much of our spending habits are determined by who we are as a generation, or how much by our upbringing? Either way, the importance of saving for our retirement cannot be put off for the treats of today. I'm now realizing that the tomorrows of my life are coming faster than I thought.

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