In a tumultuous time, many adults under the age of 35 have stopped playing it safe. Instead of paying as much of their salary as they used to, they save less, spend more and run passion projects or risky careers.
Nimarta Narang, 27, said she was careful about almost everything until the end of last year, when she received a revelation: “I do not want to spend my life being so careful and cautious.”
During most of the coronavirus pandemic, she could not travel to Bangkok to see her family. When she finally made the visit, she was struck by how much she had missed – her mother’s 50th birthday, her grandmother’s funeral, her sister’s engagement, her father’s beard that turned gray.
“When I came back to the United States, I realized I needed to do things differently,” says Narang, literary editor at Brown Girl Magazine.
One thing she always wanted to do was live in New York. She packed everything in her Los Angeles apartment and moved in March. She also took a new approach to her finances. Before the pandemic, she said, she deposited about $ 2,000 into her savings account each month. Now it’s half as much. The rest goes to a more expensive apartment (600 USD more in monthly rent), nights out with friends and small indulgences that she would have denied herself before.
“I wanted to use my savings to gain a life experience,” she said. “Visiting home made me see how much life I had missed.”
She is not alone. A recent Fidelity Investments study found that 45 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 35 “see no point in saving until everything is back to normal.” In the same age group, 55 percent said they have put pension planning on hold.
For some, like Narang, the isolation of pandemic life triggered the decision to enjoy the moment, economic consequences are condemned. For others, the motivation has come from concerns about climate change, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, domestic political instability, soaring inflation, through the roof housing costs and a top-notch stock market.
Hannah Jones, a stand-up comedian in Denver, said she used to save almost all of her discretionary income. She was a regular at a thrift store that refused to pay for a Netflix subscription. Now she has become what she calls a “financial nihilist”, which means she spends significantly less on her savings account.
The shaky state of the world was in her mind. “I do not intend to deprive myself of some of the comforts of life now for a future that feels like it can be torn away from me at any time,” she said.
In her standup act, Ms. Jones, 27, a reliable joke: “No, I do not save for retirement. I will spend my money now, while we still have a supply chain at all. “It’s a joke that changes with the headlines. Some nights, instead of” supply chain “, she simply connects the disaster du jour.
The anti-frugal atmosphere is consistent. Hannah Fuller, 25, said she was once enthusiastic about saving for the future. After receiving financial support when she went to a private high school and college, she was careful to manage her money and made sure to maximize her Roth IRA every year. But now, she said, her mindset has changed. It started when she lived in Portland, Oregon, where she grew up, during the 2020 forest fires.
“When you’re surrounded by smoke, you could really feel the doom and gloom,” says Fuller, who works for the Farmers Market Coalition, a non-profit organization in Washington. “It felt like we were living in ‘The Martian’, like we were living in an airlock and trying to keep the smoke out of our apartment.”
“Going to these places you visited as a child and seeing them burn to the ground makes it very difficult to build new things,” she continued.
Now Ms Fuller has broken her old habit of ordering the cheapest item on a menu. She even booked tickets to a summer music festival in Barcelona. And given the explosion in the housing market, she has decided that saving to buy a home is not something she will worry about right now.
“Houses are just so unaffordable,” she said. “I do not even know if it’s worth my time and energy at all.”
Some experts say the spend-it-now attitude is not specific to young people in 2022. “Every generation has had an apocalyptic view of their lives,” said Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist in Boulder, Colo. During the Great Depression, he noted that many people lost confidence in banks. At the height of the Cold War, the fear of nuclear war affected how many young people planned for the future. And during the financial crisis of 2008, saving for a home felt meaningless to many.
“We are not committed to saving,” he said. Klontz. “We are committed to consuming. If you have an exciting vision for the future, it is they who are aggressively saving for retirement. If you have an apocalyptic vision for the future, why would you save for it? Of course you would not.”
The blurred view of what is to come may be exacerbated by issues such as climate change. Danilo Jiménez, who plans to go to graduate school to study environmental policy this fall, said he has put pension savings on hold in favor of spending the money on weekend trips and moving out of his parents’ homes to live with roommates in Brooklyn.
“The idea that I should put money in an account that I can not access until I’m 60 – it’s 2056!” said Mr Jiménez, 25, who has worked as a youth football coach and carpenter’s assistant. “Many things will change then, in terms of climate change.”
Instead of putting his salary in a traditional savings account, Schuyler Wagner, 25, has put his time and money into a unique investment: coral farming. For Mr Wagner, a financial analyst in Tempe, Arizona, aquaculture was a childhood hobby he gave up during his college years – big thoughts do not exactly fit in dormitories.
After graduation, he continued it again. Now he devotes himself to Goniopora (also known as flowerpot coral), Eufylia (which can be very expensive, said Mr Wagner) and Acanthophyllia (“a massive simple polyp coral that can be as big as a pizza”), among other types of coral. Mr. Wagner has seven tanks in his apartment, with a total volume of over 450 liters. He buys and exchanges the pieces with other hobbyists in Arizona, as well as specialty reef stores and pet stores for aquatic animals.
Mr Wagner said he spends $ 750 to $ 1,500 on materials and equipment each month. He hopes that one day his expensive hobby will pay off and that he can pursue aquaculture as a full-time job.
“Instead of just trying to save to compete with inflation or buy a house in five years, which does not make sense to me right now, I want to continue with this passion,” he said. “There is so much uncertainty in the world, and Covid has driven passions to the forefront.”