How much would you pay to be young, fit, and full of hope again? I asked myself this while chowing down on a double cheeseburger at the airport. I first came up with $50,000 to be permanently 10 pounds lighter and $200,000 to be permanently 20 pounds lighter. Wouldn’t it be so amazing to eat all you want and never gain weight? Double fudge cookie milkshake here I come!
Then I thought about how much I’d be willing to pay to be 5 or 10 years younger. I’m 39 now and wouldn’t mind being 34 again for $300,000. I’ve loved my 30s so far. But if I could rewind back to when I was 29, I’d be willing to sell my rental condo to pay $1,000,000. What a sweet spot in life! You’re still young enough to feel young, but old enough to feel like you’ve got your groove on.
For those of you who were born in 1981 or later, cherish your youth. It’s more valuable and awesome than you realize!
When Capital One invited me to cover their #CapXTalk in person in Seattle, I jumped at the chance. It was a way for me to broaden my perspectives about millennials and catch up with old blogging friends. I’m unfamiliar with any other large financial institution hosting these types of events around the country, so I applaud their initiative.
The panelists included:
Stefanie O’Connell, a 30-year-old ex-actress based in NYC who now is a professional speaker and growing media personality on everything millennial. I’ve known Stefanie since she first started her site, The Broke and Beautiful Life.
Jake Fuentes, a Forbes 30 Under 30, and co-founder and CEO of Level Money, a financial app acquired by Capital One in early 2015. Jake is based in San Francisco, where he continues to work on advancing digital financial innovation for Capital One. We’ll hopefully catch up again soon.
Erin Lowry, a 27-year-old theatre and journalism major, also based in NYC, who is coming out with a book in July 2021 entitled, Broke Millennial. I’ve known Erin since she first started blogging as well. We got some scrumptious Korean BBQ in Manhattan several years ago.
Mario Armstrong, an Emmy Award Winning TV Host seen regularly on NBC’s TODAY show, who acted as our moderator. Mario is based in NYC and Baltimore and is starting a new show called Never Settle.
What really impressed me about the panelists is that they are ALL doing something unconventional to make a living. Stefanie and Erin’s main income streams are public speaking about personal finance. Jake built a startup that he sold for what I assume was millions after only three years. While Mario, a fellow Gen Xer, earns his living from hosting shows, moderating, and speaking. How cool is that?
When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I was slaving away in an office for 10 – 15 hours a day. I always wanted to do something entrepreneurial, but was too afraid to try. It was only until I built a livable passive income stream of ~$80,000 that I decided to take a leap of faith at age 34.
In a way, I only discovered my “millennialism” until I was almost middle age! Now I can’t stop talking about building your brand online and leveraging the internet to be more free. It just took me longer than most younger folks because I grew up in a different technological era.
Generation X, those born between 1960 – 1980, is probably the most appreciative generation because we know what life was clearly like before and after the internet became mainstream in the mid-1990s.
When you grow up with an Apple IIc computer, you appreciate the power and portability of a 13″ Macbook Pro. When you had to sit tethered to a landline phone for three hours to talk to your crush, you appreciate your Bluetooth enabled mobile phone. And when you had to go to the library to work on a research paper for hours and hours on end, you really appreciate Google’s ability to find all the pertinent information and images for you.
The panel was live streamed at 10am and lasted for one hour. I arrived at Capital One’s office in downtown Seattle at 8:45am, got to know the panelists in the “War Room,” and listened to how the team would organically present their thoughts.
It’s interesting because everybody flew in the night before – Erin and Stefanie from NYC after a 5 hour flight delay, Mario from Dallas, and Jake and I from SF – to all come together to help make the magic happen. And if you watched the panel (replay), magic did happen!
After the event, I have little doubt Mario will invite at least one of his fellow panelists on his new show one day. I’ll probably catch up with Jake over a beer in SF to finish our discussion on whether it’s better to own a lifestyle business or go for the homerun. And maybe the next time I go back to McLean, Virginia (I went to McLean High School), I’ll stop in to say hello to the Capital One folks at their WHQ. Networking is how opportunities are created!
Here are some key sound bites covered that I thought were most insightful.
“Money matters, there’s a difference in doing something that you love and having a lifestyle that you love.” – Stefanie O’Connell
“My mom and dad’s dream isn’t my dream and that’s OK. The dream for millennials is more diverse than ever. If I had to sum it up it would be living and working on our own terms.” – Stefanie O’Connell
“The delusional self-narcissism has a positive: it’s making us entrepreneurs” – Erin Lowry
“We didn’t give ourselves the participation trophies, just saying!” – Erin Lowry
“I wish I had invested in myself sooner.” – Erin Lowry
“If we are going to allow the millennial generation to take control of their own finances, we need to make it easier to put your finances on autopilot.” – Jake Fuentes
“Nobody’s in charge of this world.” – Jake Fuentes
“We need to not only talk about numbers when it comes to money, but the things that make people happy. Starbucks is one of the most delightful parts of my day, yet every financial advisor I meet tells me to cut it out to save money.” – Jake Fuentes
Banks are building culture and community, e.g. Capital One cafes all over the country. It’s no longer about trying to get in and out of your bank as fast as possible. Now, it’s about breaking down the taboo of money so that everybody can be more comfortable managing their finances and growing their wealth.
All of these money problems aren’t just millennial problems – they’re HUMAN problems.
Millennials are ~83 million people strong, therefore it’s hard to generalize. But what I’ve come to believe is that millennials will be the richest and happiest generation ever. Here’s why:
1) Massive generational wealth transfer. When the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers die, we will be leaving behind $30 trillion to the next generation. When the median inheritance is expected to be around $1.1 million according to one survey, the worst case scenario for many millennials is financial stability. When you know you won’t starve, you tend to go after your dreams.
2) Greater freedom, greater happiness. The people who are most unhappy are those who feel stuck working at jobs they hate. Now, with the help of technology, a study by Intuit estimates that roughly 40% of the American workforce will be freelancers by the year 2021. The more you can work on your own terms, like all the panelists do, the happier you will be. My happiness has significantly increased since I left my day job in 2012 to build ONIG Financial Blog full-time. Despite making 80% less money my first two years, being able to make my own rules was priceless.
3) A voice that’s heard. Unhappiness creeps in when nobody cares or hears what you have to say. With social media and blogging, millennials can be heard instantly. No wonder why I get so much joy writing for you guys! Further, financial institutions such as Capital One and so many of the fintech startups are listening and adjusting the way they do business. I don’t know of any other large financial institution who is proactively reaching out to bloggers and millennials, hosting fireside chats around the country, and making finances more relaxing and fun. Creating a community atmosphere early is just smart business.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the millennial generation? Will they be the richest and happiest generation ever until the next generation comes along? What are some things financial institutions can do more of to help make financial tools accessible for all? How much of your net worth or money would you give to be 5 and 10 years younger?
Thank you Capital One for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own and were not directed by Capital One. To learn more about the Capital One Bank, visit: www.capitalone360.com