Much has been said about the state of the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the world is trying to get back on its feet, economists are saying that the disruption may be hitting Millennials hardest, causing disruptions in the job market and stalling potential moves up the seniority ladder.1 That could be a double-whammy for some after the 2008 recession interrupted the flight path of many Millennials just starting out. Sandra Bussey, a High Net Worth Planner with TD Wealth, says that these kinds of economic issues may result not only in economic instability for the individual but a lack of optimism and disillusionment.

It’s why she says Millennials can benefit from having a clear road map for getting through this bump in the road.

“Whether it’s a change of attitude or just seeing the glass half-full, Millennials have to accept the economic conditions for what they are,” Bussey says. Some may be losing faith that hard work and smarts can move you toward your goals anymore – that’s the wrong view to take, she says.

Bussey says while there are challenges, Millennials have many qualities other generations lacked: They are more careful with their money and are more socially and environmentally conscious. She says their goals have less to do with buying homes and accumulating wealth than exploring the world and having a positive impact on it.2

If anyone is mired in pessimism from the news headlines, Bussey offers these ideas on how they can manage through these troubled waters.

Accept the new reality

If you haven’t already realized that you may face a tougher time than your parents, time for some cold water in the face: Times have changed, the economic situation is different and avoiding those truths can make you unhappy and the situation worse. Much of the news sounds dire, but don’t get bogged down by it, Bussey says. Tough times are an opportunity to develop fortitude, character, and resilience. These are traits the free-spending previous generations may have lost touch with. Try not to compare yourself to where your parents or grandparents were at your age: Wishing you were further down the road in life can make you despondent, but coming up with a plan — and maybe a guiding life philosophy — can sustain you along your journey.

Embrace a frugal lifestyle

Millennials may be less consumer driven than previous generations and more motivated to accumulate experiences than “stuff.”3 This could be a different attitude or it may be driven by necessity, but it’s a wise perspective to have in this day. With money short, every penny (and what you do with it) will count, Bussey says. Saving money can help you move toward basic financial goals like a car, a vacation and a home. That means smart decisions on how much you are spending in every aspect of your life. It could also mean making a budget and paring down the money you spend to absolute necessities if it means you can reach your goals quicker. You may decide to use public transport (if possible) instead of owning a car and you may want to cook at home most nights rather than grabbing food where you can.

Plan/Save/Invest

Saving $10 and $20 here and there may not seem like you are making any progress — especially compared with the instant gratification you get when you spend on lattes and shoes — but over time, those funds can multiply. How much you should save and what to do with your savings takes some preparation and that calls for budgeting and planning. As mentioned, you want to save as much as you can but be realistic in your planning: Don’t allot your tax refund to your saving account if you will actually end up splurging it. Instead, think about an emergency fund that could help see you through if there is a gap in your pay. Next step is making your savings accumulate through investments, either through TFSAs for shorter-term goals or through RRSPs for retirement. One of the biggest advantages Millennials have is the years ahead they have to let their investments grow, Bussey says. Consider your risk tolerance together with your time horizon since, if you are saving for age 65, growth investments may be suited for the long haul. You may also want to be active in determining which companies and industries align with your values. Finally, remember sometimes it’s not how much you make but how much you get to keep: Make sure whatever plan you have is a tax efficient one.

Keep upgrading your skills

Getting yourself educated and making yourself as marketable as possible for jobs is good advice at the best of times but if the world slips into a prolonged recession, it’s a basic survival consideration. Millennials are tech-savvy and it is those skills that are both likely to be in demand and are apt to get rusty if they are not renewed. Fortunately, there is a wealth of information online on most topics and much of it is free. In a time when high-paying jobs may be scarce and competition for them is tough, improving yourself — and demonstrating that effort to improve — looks great on a resume, Bussey says. A broad repertoire of skills can do wonders for your confidence in any interview situation. Also consider volunteering if you need to put your new knowledge into practice.

Be flexible

Getting a job out of school and retiring from that job 35 years later, as your parents did, has become increasingly rare. You may find more opportunities working in the gig economy as a consultant, freelancing or having to make a major career change at some point. You may try relocating once or twice to find the work you want. But perhaps one of the worst things to do is to let opportunities slip by because you think you should be headed in another direction. Everyone should know that life isn’t perfect or even fair, but you can make it harder on yourself by insisting there is only one path for you to walk down, says Bussey. It may sound corny but every situation that arises is a valuable experience.

DON SUTTON

MONEYTALK LIFE

ILLUSTRATION

DANESH MOHIUDDIN

  1. MoneyTalk, “TD Chief Economist on COVID-19’s global economic impact and recovery outlook,” May 6, 2020, moneytalkgo.com/video/chief-econ-cv-impact/, accessed May 21, 2020.
  2. The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019, p. 3, published May 2019, www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/deloitte-2019-millennial-survey.pdf, accessed May 21, 2020.
  3. The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019, p. 5, published May 2019, www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/deloitte-2019-millennial-survey.pdf, accessed May 21, 2020.