Spending Money: You’re Doing It Wrong

Listen up, Millennials. According to your mom, your figure, and now researchers, you’re spending money all wrong. Instead of using cash, members our generation are much more likely to use a debit card to pay for our overpriced coffee, the one-gallon of gas that we need to make it to work, and our tickets to the Dollar Movie Theater.

TIME reported last week that the totally legit-sounding website “CreditCards.com” has found that Millennials are ditching the Benjamins in favor of some plastic. While more than three-fourths of adults over the age of 50 use cash to pay for items that are $5 or less, only about half of adults between 18 and 29 are doing the same (no, they aren’t stealing the stuff instead. They are just paying with either a credit or debit card).

Using a card instead of forking over a small chunk of cash may be a bad thing.

Research has suggested that we’re inclined to spend more when we swipe. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that physically handing over bills triggers an emotional pain that actually helps to deter spending, while swiping doesn’t create the same aversion. As a result, the study found, cash discourages spending whereas plastic encourages it.

So, apparently this all means that we’re more likely to spend more money than we have since we aren’t actually watching real money disappear from our hands.

Other downsides to paying with a credit and/or debit card: apparently you become more focused on the benefits of a purchase instead of the price, and you’re more likely to overspend if there’s a “minimum purchase amount” requirement in order to use a credit or debit card.

However, “CreditCards.com” (I keep putting this in quotation marks because the name is just so ridiculous) fails to give us enough credit. Let’s be real: at least a debit card is better than paying with a straight up credit card. Money is immediately withdrawn from your account when you pay with a debit card, and if you don’t have enough money in your checking account, you’ll either be unable to make the transaction at all or be forced to pay a hefty overcharge fee.

Not gonna lie, I am far more inclined to use a credit card than any other method of payment. But I actually find myself more willing to spend money when I actually have cash as opposed to when I only have a credit card. It’s almost like I see it as loose change or something (like, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal to waste a few one dollar bills on some junk from a vending machine).

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The 40-Year-Old Millennial Sympathizer

It’s no secret that Millennials get a bad rap – especially among folks in the post-Baby Boomer generation. This is why it was especially refreshing to run across a 40-something’s “apology” in the New York Times for his generation’s tendency to rag on us.

Op-Ed columnist Frank Bruni writes,

Among Americans age 40 and older, there’s a pastime more popular than football, Candy Crush or HBO.

It’s bashing millennials.

Oh, the hours of fun we have, marveling at their self-fascination and gaping at their sense of entitlement! It’s been an especially spirited romp lately, as a new batch of them graduate from college and gambol toward our cubicles, prompting us to wonder afresh about the havoc they’ll wreak on our world.

We have a hell of a lot of nerve, considering the havoc we’ve wrought on theirs.

Bruni’s article is a poignant piece on the many different ways our generation has been shafted, and he remarks what a shame it is that no one is doing anything to fix it. Here are some of my favorite excerpts and points from his piece:

  • He notes we’re not spending enough public funds and resources on supporting America’s youth. Quoting a former Nebraska governor, who said, “If we’re trying to figure out how to advance the next generation’s future, we need to be spending more on the next generation, and we’re spending it on yesterday’s generation. I am not the future. My 12-year-old son is. But if you look at the spending, you’d think I’m the future.”
  • “Employment figures… confirm a much higher rate of joblessness among Americans ages 18 to 29 than among the whole population.”
  • The government’s regulation of carbon emissions is nowhere near strict enough. In half a century, it will lead to disastrous consequences.

We conveniently overlook how much more they’ve had to pay for college than we did, the loans they’ve racked up and the fact that nothing explains their employment difficulties better than a generally crummy economy, which certainly isn’t their fault.

Millennials are by no means untouchable angels who can do no wrong. We are far too addicted to social media, we often demand and expect far too much, and we have a tendency to be rather self-absorbed. But that’s not all we are.

We are also the most educated generation in history, we are more adept at accepting change, and we are more connected to people all over the world than ever before.

Every generation has its quirks and its flaws. Millennials aren’t some unique generation that suddenly its elders disapprove of. It’s rather unfair that the generations that came before us (X and the Baby Boomers) are so quick to judge us – especially when those generations were placed under the same scrutiny and condemnation only a few decades ago.

A Sneak Peek Behind My Laptop Keyboard: My Writing Process Blog Tour

Last week Ase at A Spoonful of Style invited me to take part in the “Writing Process Blog Tour.” A Spoonful of Style is delightful, charming, and so very chic. It’s chock full of beautiful photographs, yummy recipes, inspiring interior design ideas, and trendy fashion-forward finds. I’ve been a fan of Ase’s blog for several months, and I can’t recommend it enough! Thanks again for inviting me to participate and for your all-too-kind words, Ase!

You may be wondering what exactly this blog tour is all about. Well, it starts off with an invitation from a fellow blogger and is essentially a brief Q&A session about your own blog writing process. In order to keep the tour moving along, the blogger who just posted their answers (in this case, me) then invites three other bloggers to answer the same questions in a post exactly one week later. It’s a never-ending tour, my friends! Join us, won’t you? Here we go!

1. What are you working on?

I admit it: there’s nothing but a DIY Harry Potter coffee mug and accouterments from Ikea behind my laptop keyboard.

I’m not working on anything in particular at the moment, to be quite honest. I’m in the middle of studying for the bar exam (for those of you who are unfamiliar with the process of becoming a lawyer in the United States, after you graduate from law school, you must still pass another exam in order to be licensed in the particular state you want to practice law in. The exam covers a wide range of legal topics, from criminal law and procedure to property law to contract law and more. The exam itself can last anywhere from two to three days and is only offered twice a year), so I’ve been devoting less time to the blog over the past week or so.

However, I am constantly on the hunt for new quotes to incorporate in my “Monday Motivation” posts. I often run across quotes on Pinterest that are worded beautifully, but aren’t visually depicted very well, so I will design a new image with the same quote. Graphic design can take a fair amount of time, especially if you’re using apps on your phone instead of Photoshop on a computer.

2. How does your work differ from others in its genre?

The answer to that question depends on what genre my blog falls into in the first place, and I’ve had a rather difficult time trying to figure that out. It seems that most of the blogs I love are lifestyle blogs, but I don’t know if T#G falls into that category. Maybe this is a culture blog? I have a tendency to write posts that make references to reading, television, and pop culture in general. I suppose even the posts about fashion and technology are tied to Western culture.

I don’t know. Oh, man, now I’m all flustered. Excuse me while I try to figure out my blog’s identity. #BlogLifeCrisis

3. Why do you write what you do?

I think I may have mentioned this elsewhere, but I started writing this blog with the intention of discussing topics related to Generation Y/Millennials/my generation’s interests. I decided not to stick to that mission statement so strictly, mainly because there is already an overload of news websites, and everyone doesn’t want to read blog posts about how much the economy sucks all the time.

Nevertheless, I think there’s a bit of a void when it comes to discussing youth issues in the blogosphere, and hopefully this blog helps fill a tiny piece of that void. So, from time to time, I still post my thoughts on articles about Generation Y’s attitudes, work lives (too many unpaid internships!), education, etc.; scientific studies that may affect our generation’s health; and this generation’s pop culture obsessions (Jennifer Lawrence, anyone?). This generation wants to keep track of its job prospects and vent about the trials and tribulations while pursuing higher education just as much as it wants to keep track of what new shows Netflix is streaming and what gorgeous outfit Emma Stone is going to wear next.

4. How does your writing process work?

My writing process, just like pretty much everything else in my life, is all over the place. There are two different writing processes I may use. Regardless of which I use, it’s safe to say that I don’t have a post outlined properly in my head before I begin writing. I usually just go with the flow and edit as I go along. I try to use my reporting skills from my journalism classes as much as I can in order to help make each piece as readable as possible.

Writing Process #1: I find a cool article, see a cool YouTube video, or experience something that makes me think, “Hey, this has ‘BLOG POST’ written all over it!” Then I start writing and either
a) decide my writing is nowhere witty enough and abandon my endeavor all together,
b) write the post, decide “Meh, this is something I can post whenever. I’ll let it live in the drafts folder for a little bit,” and then “a little bit” turns into “eternity,”
c) spend an insane amount of time writing the post and then schedule it to post later, or
d) write it, post it, and then realize that not very many people think it is quite as cool as I did. #SadFace #NeverAgain

Writing Process #2: I realize that people really liked a certain post (for example, fashion at the Oscars), and decide I need to make more of those kinds of posts. This was the main reason why I had Kate Middleton fashion posts twice in one month (see here and here). In other words, I post things that I know y’all will like to read – or at least I hope you will like to read.

On a somewhat related note, I make the Monday Motivation posts weeks in advance and schedule them to post on their own. Like I mentioned above, I often design the quotes myself, but I also find a bunch of them on Pinterest as well.

Some Well-Written Blogs

A Worried Student | This blog tells the tale of my life better than I ever could. This British student is incredibly insightful, witty, and well spoken. While he often discusses the trials and tribulations of studying, taking tests, and trying to survive school, he also ventures into non-school-related territory to talk about cool apps, current events, and cultural issues. It’s a great mix of topics, and the blog will be a great addition to your WordPress Reader!

The Fashion Huntress | She’s a young professional with an eye for style and savings, and her blog features some trendy outfits that you can wear to work or when you’re out with friends. The photos themselves are works of art, and each post comes with tips on how to make certain pieces work for you and your budget. Love it!

Cupid or Cats | A sometimes quirky, sometimes silly, sometimes serious, but always intriguing blog. One of my favorite posts was Janey’s story about trying to save an unintentionally rogue bird that was flying around her home. It was beautifully written and really struck a chord with me. I just recently began following Cupid or Cats, but it has quickly become one of my favorites.

Thoughts That Run Through Your Head While Waiting for an Interview

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A few weeks ago, I arrived at an office a few minutes early (as per proper etiquette) for a job interview. So, I found myself sitting in the reception area waiting until the scheduled time of my interview. Now, I’m one of those people whose mind darts all over the place when they are nervously awaiting something. I see something random, fixate on it, and then my stream of consciousness goes all over the place. It’s like I’m suddenly transformed into Dory from Finding Nemo.

So, while I was sitting there waiting for my interviewer to come collect me, I had a few minutes to both a) panic and b) look around the room and notice things that I probably never would have noticed otherwise. My thought process went a little like this:

“Ugh, these heels are uncomfortable. Why did I ever think it was a good idea to buy them? Are these too “high”? Are they too shiny? Ooh, look at these hardwood floors. That’s a fun little pattern they’ve been placed in. People don’t have hardwood floors like this anymore. I wonder how old this building is. It looks old, but nicely renovated. I mean look at that furniture – it’s modern, but still traditional. I wonder how much that furniture costs. Oh, man. If I get this job, I’m going to have to buy real furniture, and I really like that chair. That side table next to it has a tiny gold Julius Caesar (I think? Or is it some other Roman? Or maybe it’s supposed to be a Greek mythological deity?) ornament on its legs.

“There’s an urn up there on that bookshelf. Clearly it’s there for decoration, but what if it has something INSIDE it? Okay, time to stop thinking about that. Look at this clock! It’s all old-fashioned and stuff. That reminds me, should I completely turn off my cell phone? Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. Goodbye, digital world.

“I wonder if anyone actually takes the mints sitting in that bowl on the receptionist’s desk. Should I take one? Probably not. I already ate two breath mints.

“Oh, this must be my interviewer! All right, self, try not to look like an awkward giraffe when you stand up in these high heels. Ahhh! Here we go.”

Having a Quarter-Life Crisis? Calm Down, You.

…and read these stats on post-grad millennials’ views on jobs and education.

We’ve all been there. You’re at some social gathering, maybe a wedding, a family get-together, or a night out with friends. You’re having a great time… UNTIL somebody says this: “Oh, you studied [insert any college major/master’s degree here]? You must have learned so much. So, what do plan on doing with that?”

Your brain freezes. GREAT. Being the paranoid parrot that you are, you assume that this person asked this question because he or she:

  • a) is genuinely interested in your future (hah! yeah, right!).
  • b) is trying to size you up like Regina George (“So, you agree? You think you’re really smart?”).
  • c) is under the impression that your major is about as useful as mastering the art of Ross Gellar’s “unagi.”
  • d) doesn’t think you’ll ever find a job, and is insinuating he/she believes you will be living in a cardboard box.
  • e) is just trying to make conversation (hah! yeah, right again!).

You try to be nonchalant. You try not to give away the fact that you’re panicked beyond belief. You try to give a safe answer. “Oh, you know, I’m open to pretty much anything,” you say. Which is true. You are willing to take something, anything just to get your foot in the door.

Ugh. “Could this BE anymore awkward?” says the Chandler Bing voice inside your head.

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Chip up, buttercup! You’re not the only person who has experienced this awkward conversation. And while the last thing you may want to hear about is how well other twenty-somethings are doing career-wise, or what they think about our current economic state, you could learn a thing or two from them. Their insights into the economy, what skills are necessary in the workplace, and regrets they have about their education may help you figure out how to make it in the real world. Remember: if those fools can do it, so can you! Continue reading