My biggest gripe with the boomer line about “kids would be able to afford a house if they didn’t eat smashed avo” is that avocado fkn sucks. I never eat avo and I still don’t have my own place so what gives? (Read about more of my questionable food hot takes here.)
But on top of it being annoying and, like, not true lol, it also completely ignores the systematic challenges young people face in the modern Australian economy.
Wage growth has been stagnant for years, youth unemployment is the highest it’s been in almost half a century, tertiary education is expensive as hell and the planet’s on fire. Love that for us.
It’s never been more important for us to be able to manage our money properly, but it can be super tricky sorting the actual good advice from the bullshit that gets circulated on daytime TV and that one guy you have on IG who thinks he’s an “entrepreneur”. (It’s a pyramid scheme, Daniel, come on.)
Syrup spoke to Glen James, co-host of the super successful My Millennial Money podcast and financial guru, who gave us some actually useful advice about what to do with our $$$.
Build good money habits
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve splurged out plenty of times buying sneakers I really shouldn’t’ve, but the most important thing you can do with your money is be disciplined with how you spend it.
“Habits will rule your life and your money,” James says.
Try to avoid temptation to splurge or buy things you can’t afford. One of the worst things you can do, James notes, is put too many things on lay-by or Afterpay.
“This is cancer of the wallet and harms more people than it helps. Don’t outsource your money management to 4 easy payments, learn yourself. The best way to form good money habits is at the start of your income earning life. Many people get into the credit cycle and can’t ever get out as it’s too hard. The best way is to never get in the habit to start with!”
However, we don’t mean you should never buy something new for yourself or splash out a lil. But the key here is making those decisions when you can back it up financially. Bookmark those new sneakers and put money aside for them. Move things around in your budget for that dress (i.e. new dress = no bubble tea for a month). Basically? Don’t spend money you don’t have.
Your first investment should be in yourself
Rather than tryna go all Wolf Of Wall Street and hit up the stock market as soon as you get some pocket money, James recommends you take things easier and look at the big picture.
It’s far more important to treat yourself as your biggest investment—whether that means investing in education, training, or just your mental health—than stocks or property.
“It’s totally fine if you use the first five years or so years or adulthood to study or really find out what drives you. Don’t be too concerned with trying to invest (as fun as it sounds)—just focus on you,” James reassures us.
“It’s also OK to finish uni with [only a] little money saved as long as you can stay out of debt (with the exception of HECS/HELP) and hustle your way through. Use this time to try and get by with little money you may have!”
Don’t wanna just eat two-minute noodles every day? Check out our practical meal hacks here.
Keep your cash flow lean and agile like a startup business
Be savvy about how you spend your money. To copy some corporate talk, you wanna stay nice and liquid—so that if bad shit happens, you’re prepared.
“It’s like you’re the founder of YOU incorporated,” James relates.
“Like a new business that needs to grow and scale. You’re not over-committed, signing up to big leases and employing staff in your new business.”
“So, with your own financial life; keep your cash flow lean and able to adapt to any changes that might pop up in your early 20s. This might mean a cheaper outright phone purchase and no contract or no car loans.”
It’s OK to have two separate banks
For a short period of time whilst I was on a student exchange in Switzerland, I genuinely had a Swiss bank account. Granted, it was just a transaction account, and I mostly used it to buy train tickets and Pringles, but I still felt like a baller. Balling on a budget, bb!
But having multiple bank accounts isn’t just something for billionaires; it’s a perfectly reasonable (and good!) thing for you to do even if you don’t have oodles of cash.
This is what James thinks:
“As we need to hack our behaviours and habits, why not set up a bank account for bills and any other income that you have and with another bank use a card that is just for day-to-day expenses like food, fuel, going out etc. Then set yourself an automatic payment from your bills account to your spending account each week.”
“Don’t have the bills bank/account on your phone and only carry your spending card with you or on Apple/Google pay. This may stop you from overspending!”
Look for ways to be sustainable
Here at Syrup we’re all about being sustainable. Not only is it good for the planet, it can be good for your money habits, James says.
“Since you’re just starting out, why not start well? Look for ways to be sustainable. Decide that you’re only buying from brands that do not exploit people, maybe you only use reusable coffee cups and you also look at sustainable clothing either by using op shops, markets, clothes swaps or buying local handmade quality items if your budget permits.”
Want to go boss level with thrifting? Check out our guide.