Life Skills

The plight of millennials is a hot topic these days. If it’s not our fixation with social media and self-gratifying gadgets, it’s our seemingly apathetic approach to adult responsibilities. Mortgages, parenthood and job longevity? Ha ha.

And then, my word, what about those spending habits? How rash! Splashing cash without a real care in the world (or career for that matter). Wanting this and that – we can’t afford it but we’ll take it; paying for it later along with that hefty student loan and credit card debt (best gap year EVER). According to a range of reports and experts, it would appear we’re all financially doomed; every last one of us selfie-taking budget-breaking Gen Y-ers.

There’s an SBS article doing the rounds at the moment, entitled I Stopped Eating Smashed Avocado and Now I Own a Castle.  It’s a really entertaining read in response to another article by The Australian which highlights (and totally generalises) the ill-ordered priorities of brunch-obsessed millennials. The messages (while not totally literal in either – castle or house?) are just as poignant as they are comedic.

Looking past the sarcasm and stereotypes (I know several twenty-somethings with home loans, sturdy jobs and children), what can we take away from both reads? Splashing cash on unnecessary items is causing millennials more money troubles than many would care to admit.

Such ignorance to the ‘bigger picture’ manifests neatly in our extravagant dining behaviours, which we gloat about online (my eggs are better than yours). But is regular weekend brunching really to blame for our monetary misfortunes, or is it just the social scapegoat for its slightly older and more boring cousin, known as lavish weekday lunching?

Let’s talk about food

  • We need it to live
  • Consuming it brings us joy
  • Most singular items are within our immediate price range
  • It makes for great daily Instagram content

And, it can also be the perfect recipe for disaster. For want of trying to defend the brunching phenomenon I’m inclined to engage in from time to time, I want to turn your attention to what I see as a far more harmful habit, also guilty of robbing our hip-pocket. That is, the whole ‘buying food out every day’ thing, instead of bringing it from home.

Yes, I’m talking about spending 5 times as much money as we should be on vegetables, fruit, caffeinated milk, eggs, yoghurt, porridge, muesli bars, meat and bread… just to have someone hand it to us over a counter in a paper bag or cup tray to take back to the office.

The real millennial monster isn’t smashed avo, it’s overpriced salads (5 times a week)

When we were kids, bringing a packed lunch every day was normal (at my school anyway). Inside a brightly coloured lunch box there’d be a sandwich waiting for us, alongside some fruit, a yoghurt and maybe some cheese strings or a biscuit if we were lucky. Our pocket money was used for a new game, clothes or kept in the piggy bank for later; we certainly weren’t spending it on SALAD!

Somewhere along the line things changed. It happened around the time we started earning a real salary and, instead of fulfilling our childhood dreams by jam-packing snap-lock bags full of anything we want from our pantries, we opted to do away with the lunchbox altogether and splurge on fast food every day; a brand new kind of freedom altogether. “It’s just what everyone in the office does!” … I think our younger selves would have trouble digesting the absurdity of this!

Some simple maths

When you consider the premium paid for packaging, plastic wrappers and pre-prepared food, it’s safe to say that buying lunch from a cafe or outlet every day is an unnecessary expense. Reading the aforementioned article on exorbitant brunching behaviours inspired me to do a bit of simple arithmetic (yet another thing my child self would struggle to swallow – voluntary maths, you’ve got to be joking).

So, instead of dangling the comfortable retirement carrot yet again (which millennials clearly don’t respond to), I thought I’d see what real luxury might look like now, if we were to cut back on some of our mundane weekday food buys for a year.

I stopped buying a coffee every day and now I…

Own an Apple Ipad Pro! At £2.50 a pop, buying a coffee 230 days of the year amounts to £575… It’s a fair chunk of money considering there are a million and one ways to make your own coffee for cheaper.

I stopped buying two coffees every day and now I…

Own a Delonghi Primadonna Elite coffee machine. If you stop buying two coffees every day, you will save £1150 in a year!

I cut out the blueberry muffin too and now I…

Walk past the bakery every morning in my Christian Louboutin heels. Cutting out a £2.00 muffin every day will see your wallet grow by an extra £460… then rapidly diminish when you realise you can afford an amazing pair of kicks!

I stopped buying a juice every morning and now I…

Eat an apple every morning as I walk to work in my new Gieves & Hawkes suit. Dropping the daily £4.00 cup will allow you to pick up a brand new £920 getup.

I stopped buying overpriced salads for lunch and now I…

Am holidaying in Australia for a month over Christmas. Saying ‘no’ to the £8.00 sweet potato and feta salad could give you an extra £1,840 to spend on travelling the world!

I stopped buying sushi for lunch and now I…

Carry my homemade sandwiches in a real Louis Vuitton handbag. If you curb your tendency to splash out on a fresh sushi lunch pack every day, you could be the owner of a flash handbag with a £2,300 price tag.

I stopped buying pre-made fruit salads and chocolate cake at 3pm and now I..

Have The X Factor playing on my brand new 3D television every Sunday night while I bake some homemade cookies.

Okay, okay, I’ll stop there.

Final thoughts

I am in no way endorsing not eating as a means to affording luxury items; I’m simply suggesting that maybe brunch on the weekend isn’t actually so detrimental to us millennials, as long as we do away with weekday wastage and revert to a home-packed lunch like the good ol’ days.


About Phoebe Spinks

Editor of Undercover Recruiter & Senior Account Executive at Link Humans, a recruitment marketing agency.

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