Millennials aren’t stingy, they’re saving for the future

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Saving money used to be regarded as a smart practice. Now, only when millennial saving is threatening traditional consumerism, saving is being depicted as an enemy to a successful economy.

A theory has emerged, according to CNBC, that “stingy” millennials are at fault for the economy’s slowed growth. By saving more money for their futures, some financial analysts fear millennials are contributing to the framework for the next global recession.

The practice of pinning the blame on millennials for decreasing consumer demand is hardly new. The generation has been accused of killing just about every industry, from cereal to fabric softener.

Millennials have been reduced to stereotypes in the media, as scapegoats for undesirable economic trends facing older generations. 

Caricatures of millennials either paint them as the financially irresponsible “avocado toast-loving generation,” or, now, as cheap, frugal spenders. As we begin to see an increase in the US’ personal savings rate, the latter has become an increasingly popular criticism.

But saving isn’t a bad thing. It’s a smart financial practice that looks to the future instead of adhering to the consumerist values of the past. If millennials aren’t avid spenders, it’s for good reason.

Simply put, millennials don’t have enough money to spend their earnings on non-essentials. Rising housing costs have forced the generation to save whatever money they have left for practical spending on essentials like groceries and education. University tuition has risen 40 per cent in Canada over the last decade, far outpacing the rate of inflation. 

Living is expensive. Once millennials have spent most of their money on housing, food, utilities, and an education, they don’t have the financial means to float the dying marmalade industry.

The decrease in consumerist shopping trends also reflects a shift in collective values, as a younger generation begins to fill out the workforce and control disposable income. Many millennials have significant concerns about the environment, leading them to prioritize sustainability with a focus unprecedented by older generations.

Moving away from spending money on cheap, single-use, and unsustainable products doesn’t only mean saving money on non-necessities, it’s also a better practice for the environment.

Change can be difficult to accept: a decline in spending may seem like unwelcome change to some concerned for the economy’s wellbeing.

But saving is practical, and it steers us away from a consumerist culture with negative implications for our personal finances, as well as the environment.

While it may be tempting for older generations to villainize millennials for saving their money, a small increase in the personal savings rate doesn’t spell out automatic economic downturn.

—Journal Editorial Board

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