Whether it is oat milk or a new meditation app, ‘wellness’ has been the word on everyone’s mind. As consumers have continued to prioritise health-conscious choices, wellness trends have touched nearly every industry. Enter Financial Wellness, an avenue of wellness culture which promotes a healthy relationship to money. Dublin’s Wellfest, which is hosted in association with KBC Bank, promotes the idea that ‘ensuring your finances are as healthy as your body and mind is a powerful way to improve your quality of life.’ However, there are specific generational financial challenges for younger people. The wealth gap between millennials and boomers is staggering, as millennials continue to grapple with the fallout of the recession, increased living costs, stagnating wages, and the cost of education. Despite these disadvantages, millennials are being resourceful to further their financial wellbeing.
They are kicking the idea that one ‘shouldn’t talk about money’ to the curb. Refinary29’s popular Money Diaries series tackles the taboo by asking millennials to share their spending over a week period—from their food shopping, to their on the whim splurges. The series has resonated with so many people that is has become a successful podcast and a book. Much of the conventional personal finance wisdom has become outdated for younger people. An emergency fund of six months living expenses? Most millennials would struggle to do that. Instead, they are carving out new avenues to promote peer-to-peer financial literacy and formulating strategies that better reflect this economic moment.
Through this we’ve seen the rise of several millennial money experts and podcasts with tailored advice such as So Money by Farnoosh Torabi or the comedian Gaby Dunn’s show Bad with Money. Credit Karma has partnered with Johnathan Van Ness and hosted a Financial Wellness popup at Hudson Yards in New York last year, complete with cocktails and hand massages. Stackshouse is a pop-up museum for financial empowerment which features various experiential money themed rooms. Financial Therapy is also becoming a choice for people to work through their emotional barriers to financial wellness.
Fintech is also speaking millennial’s language, giving them personalised tools to optimise their finances. Plum, for example, uses AI to make investing seamless. Meanwhile, traditional banks are suffering the disruption from mobile banks such as N26. After first launching in Ireland in 2017, N26 now has over 100 thousand customers. The 24-29 age group (millennials) is its largest demographic, making up nearly a quarter of customers in Ireland. The 18-24 demographic is seeing rapid growth, which tells us Gen Z is not far behind in this tech-centered approach to money.
The concept of Financial Wellness re-frames personal finance in a way that young people can relate to. It prioritises quality of life over wealth for wealth’s sake. Brands would be unwise to limit their view of millennials as avocado-obsessed, over-spenders. While they have factors working against them, they are if nothing if not a cohort willing to ‘hustle’ for what is important to them. They may just rewrite the rules of personal finance in the process.