Whether it's a hipster coffee joint with local artists painting murals on the walls or a well-known java chain with a rewards card, you can and will find millennials there every single morning. They – we – love our coffee so much we are even willing to Instagram it, but worse we are also willing to forgo saving for retirement if it means getting that extra hit of caffeine.
A recent survey from Acorns revealed that millennials spend more on their caffeine habit, especially at cafes, than on their retirement. Specifically, 41% of millennials (okay so it's 44% of millennial women who have a more intense caffeine addiction, apparently). This is a problem in and of itself. But combine that with the 41% of older millennials (24-35) who don't think they will be "financially secure enough to retire until they are older than 65" and we've got a major problem.
Is there a way for us to have our cake and eat it too? Or should I say, have our hipster AF flat white and save for retirement too? I think so. Here's how:
Let an app do the heavy lifting
Why not have both? Apps like Acorns are super helpful in that when you make a purchase, they will round that purchase up to the nearest dollar. Whatever the difference is can be deposited into your retirement fund. So let's say that flat white is $4.70. Thirty cents will be deposited in your retirement fund while you still get your fix. Think of it as investing your spare change automatically. Goodbye containers of dimes, nickels, and pennies (quarters are for laundry…obviously).
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Full disclosure: SurveyMonkey did the original survey of 1,900 millennials for the Acorns app. But it's still a great tool and one that I use (okay, so I have it downloaded but haven't connected my accounts to it yet #rightontopofthatrose).
With this app, you get the best of both worlds and you don't even have to think about it.
Speaking about not thinking about it, let's not hate on my generation too much. We are making less and we have more debt. There's a lot of hustling going on, which means we don't always have time to sit down with an investment manager. Staying late at work to finish a project so we can keep our jobs so we can pay rent (because did I mention, home ownership is down too?) doesn't lend itself to too many opportunities to plan. So anything that can be automated is key.
Right now, choose a percentage of your paycheck that is doable for your household and arrange for it to be automatically transferred to an account, completely separate from your regular savings. Then do not touch it. This is your retirement fund. Better yet, put it in an account you cannot touch without consequences.
Make your coffee at home
Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is the oldest trick in the book and I can hear the complaining already. I use an old school espresso maker and a handheld milk frothing gadget to make my fancy coffee drinks and I save a lot of money. My friends also ask for them when they come over, so they aren't half bad. If you do this every day or even a few days a week, you're saving money. Just make sure the money you are saving is going into a retirement fund.
This isn't your extra weekend money so you can buy a round for everyone. This is your retirement fund in big bold letters. Because that 41% of older millennials prove that retirement, though seemingly a long way off, is something we have to think about and are thinking about. We live longer now and that requires more money so when you make cuts for retirement make sure they are actually allocated to your retirement.
Sit down and do some calculations
Still not convinced that you may need to make some changes? Why not pull out your recent credit card statement and see just how much money you are donating to your caffeine habit? Maybe it isn't as bad as this survey makes it about to be. Or maybe it is worse. Either way, it's something you should know.
Regardless, if you're reading this article, you probably aren't taking active steps to save for retirement (or at least not enough of them). Coffee may not be your weakness either. It could be your food delivery service (and who wants to cook during an 80 hour week). It could be your wanderlust and airline tickets. It could be your wardrobe or your weird obsession with buying old beanie babies on eBay. Who am I to say? And maybe you can afford all that. But also maybe you could be doing a little more for your retirement. What this survey shows is whatever we, as millennials, are prioritizing in our finances, for at least 41% of us, it is not retirement, and that's a problem. The good thing is, it's a problem with a solution.