Economists and Wall Street wolves like to tell Millennials two things: first, that we’re killing every industry under the sun; and second, that we can become self-made millionaires by following their easy – and completely unsolicited – advice.
Some are downright savage. Suze Orman, a financial writer, reckons that if you buy coffee instead of investing “you are peeing $1 million down the drain”. While Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank fame added jeans and shoes to the list of things that will allegedly bankrupt anyone under the age of 30.
And of course, there’s the infamous avocado toast uproar, wherein self-proclaimed ‘moraliser’ and columnist Bernard Salt accused hipster cafes of being the place where home ownership dreams go to die. The memes were glorious, but the economists remained staunch.
Others try a more uplifting approach. In an interview, Amazon-CEO-turned-motivational-speaker Jeff Bezos said: “You can have a job, or you can have a career, or you can have a calling, and if you can somehow figure out how to have a calling, you have hit the jackpot.” Cool Jeff, that’s all well and good, but it’s easy to be inspirational when a cup of coffee is about eight and a half million Bezos-dollars.
As personal finance reporter Tara Siegel Bernard pointed out, the reason all those ‘tips’ you hear sound way too obvious is because it’s easier to manipulate – or criticise – spending choices than all the factors that are out of your control, like wage growth or fluctuations in the housing market.
So instead of focusing on telling you to stop having nice things, here are a few steps to take that are a win-win for your bank balance.
1. Make the most out of your tax return.
At tax time, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the thought of all the paperwork you’ll need to do to claw those extra few cents back, but if you haven’t been keeping receipts then you might as well be burning money. Big expenses like a new laptop or printer could be deductible if you bought them for work. If travel of any kind is part of your job, then you can declare that too and be refunded. Unfortunately uni expenses like textbooks or admin fees aren’t usually eligible, but if you’re going from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s degree for example, in the industry you’re working in, you might be able to claim it!
2. Keep a separate, high-interest account open and don’t withdraw.
Most banks offer savings accounts that pay much more in interest than everyday accounts. If you can commit to depositing every month without withdrawing, you might even be eligible for a ‘bonus’ rate, which usually float around the 2.8% per annum mark. Start by asking your bank what they’ll offer you, and compare that with other options outside the big four.
3. Clear your cookies when you’re shopping online.
Flight comparison websites are notorious for doing this, but altering prices based on your cached data is not unique to the travel industry. Some companies have even admitted to using your location to change how they advertise to you. Because it’s very difficult to prove when a website is doing this, take the precaution of using Incognito Mode and regularly clearing your cookies and cache in your browser’s settings.