Since the pandemic took hold, we’ve been talking about money more than ever. From furloughs to redundancies to the fact we finally realised how much commuting and socialising has been setting us back financially, it seems 2021 may finally be when we get our money act together.
But when the dust settles on Covid, and we are actually living in a post-lockdown world, what new money habits should we be installing? What investments should we be making? How should we be planning our financial futures? And the big question is: are we financially f*****?
One money guru is convinced that Millennials can actually use this opportunity to achieve financial freedom – and he’s adamant that we can do it in 10 years or less.
Matthew Smith, who has penned The Millennial Money Masterplan, believes that, thanks to the internet, Millennials are the generation with the “easiest path in history” to achieve true financial freedom with the many opportunities and assistance it provides.
And tbf, he has the receipts. In just seven years, 30-something Matthew went from being £25,000 in debt to repaying it in full, launching a business worth over £2 million, and saving £500,000.
It was a near-death experience that ran up a £210,000 hospital bill whilst he was on honeymoon in the US that caused the money guru to re-evaluate his life back in summer 2013.
“In hindsight, nearly dying was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me,” he writes in his book. “If it were not for that experience, I’d probably still be working that corporate job, doing long hours, earning okayish money, but never really feeling truly fulfilled.”
And contrary to popular belief about a ‘bleak Millennial future’, he says that there are an army of Millennials who have defied the odds of the global financial crisis and COVID to triumph against it all during one of the most challenging decades on record for young people’s economic prospects.
“With everything going on in the world right now it’d be easy to just give up,” he said. “Every five minutes it seems there’s another news story about the devastating economic consequences of this pandemic on young people (and older people too, of course) or another story about a business going bust, people losing their jobs, their homes and their livelihoods. I’m telling you not to give up just yet.
“Somewhere between the extreme saving of the Boomers and the extreme spending of the Millennials, I believe there’s a new world order. One where people can enjoy fantastic experiences on a regular basis, travel the world and see all it has to offer, eat out with friends over wine and laughter at the weekend yet STILL be able to buy a house, accumulate a nest egg and STILL enjoy more of the same during their retirement.”
His book, which features a simple six-step guide to achieving financial freedom, examines where you are now and where you want to be financially, how to banish debt and build financial resilience. It looks at finding financial freedom as an employee, and maximising your financial freedom as a business owner, as well as supplementing your income with side hustles and passive products.
“Millennials have tools and capabilities enjoyed by no previous generation,” he explains. “The funny thing is the key to your true financial freedom – the most game-changing tool that will transform your financial life forever – has been right under your nose for a decade or more. You just haven’t noticed its transformative power yet. This magical tool is called… the Internet!”
Ok, so how can we achieve financial freedom and live our best lives? Firstly he believes the internet plays a huge part of that and can help in three simple ways:
Matthew reveals how the internet can help us achieve financial freedom
Knowledge: The internet makes it so much easier to get financially educated. Financial education is sorely lacking from the national curriculum and most of us leave school with little real world financial expertise. The internet can help to plug that gap with nearly limitless knowledge and wisdom available at the click of a button, if you are prepared to look for it.
Community: There is a whole underground group of Millennials in the FIRE (Financial independence, Retire Early) community who are willing to help and support others on their journey. Like anything in life, achieving true financial freedom is a lot easier if you have a support group cheering you on.
Earning Potential & Expense Reductions: The internet contains so many easy ways to increase your income. For example, did you know that you can earn anything from £5-£15 an hour transcribing meeting recordings on Fiverr.com or £7 for 20 minutes work doing online website tests on usertesting.com?
Imagine someone who is struggling financially right now. Someone who is just about making ends meet. If they did one 20-minute online user test a night, 5 nights a week, that’s around £35 per week or £150 per month extra income – think of the difference that would make.
The internet has also given us many easy ways to reduce our expenditure. For example, just the other day I used ‘that annoying meerkat website’ to save around £60 per month on my utility bills at the end of my previous contract.
The 6-step process that Matt used to move towards ‘true financial freedom’:
- Step 1 – Tell The Trust (Be honest about where you are now financially)
- Step 2 – See The Future (Get very clear on where you want to be in the future – paint a vivid picture of your goal)
- Step 3 – Avoid and Prevent Pitfalls (Avoid common ‘traps’ that stop people becoming financially free – things like ‘lifestyle inflation’)
- Step 4 – Banish Debt (Get rid of the ball and chain)
- Step 5- Build Financial Resilience (Accumulate an emergency fund and get the right insurance in place so you are protected if things go wrong)
- Step 6 – Get Your House In Order (Take advantage of financial tips and tricks that are ‘easy if you know how’. Make sure you have maximised your employee pension plans, share schemes etc – so many people leave free money on the table by not taking advantage of the opportunities in front of them.
The Millennial Money Masterplan is published by Springtime Books, priced £14.99.