6 Ways Millennials Have Changed Money (So Far)


Every generation of Americans have changed the face of this nation in its own way.

In the 1990s, our country was very different from it was in the '70s, which, itself, was a far cry from the 1950s. Today, Millennials are overhauling our political, social, and financial landscape so much that it's barely recognizable from just 10 years ago, and that's not necessarily a bad thing (depending on where you stand on certain issues.)

As far as money is concerned at least, the "Me Generation" is making it easier to earn money and more efficient to spend it, while reinventing entire aspects of personal finance, like investing. They're living up to the old idiom of putting their money where their mouth is — and here's how.

1. Cash Back Is Growing While Coupons Fall Behind

I used to be a major coupon clipper, once saving more than $80 on my grocery bill on double-coupon day at my local supermarket. My couponing prowess (and interest) has consistently waned over the years. Instead, substituting my savings with cash back deals through my bank and grocery apps, like Ibotta, Checkout 51, and SavingStar, has skyrocketed.

I'm not alone. Millennials are hopping aboard the rebate train in droves.

If you're not familiar with the concept of the cash back service, it's basically the opposite of the upfront savings that coupons provide. Instead, these rebate providers pay out the consumer on the back-end, after the shopping trip is complete.

SavingStar, for instance, offers deals from popular grocery brands like Cheerios, Yoplait, Dove, and more. For some chains, it'll link deals directly to shoppers' loyalty cards. For other stores, shoppers can submit a picture of their receipt through the app or website. In either case, shoppers earn cash back into their SavingStar accounts, which can be paid out to a bank or PayPal account, or as gift cards from Starbucks, iTunes, and AMC Theatres.

Of course, cash-back-adopting Millennials would maximize their savings by using both coupons and the rebate services, but, ya know — kids these days.

2. Investing Is Being Completely Reinvented

As an investor myself, I've avoided putting money in stocks (I just don't trust that market), preferring to invest in real estate or other entrepreneurs' business ideas. Michael Banks, founder of investing and personal finance blog Fortunate Investor, says I'm in good company. Millennials are turning the investment industry on its head by rethinking long-held strategies, perhaps out of necessity.

"As the generation with the largest student debt and toughest-looking future, traditional investing is out of the picture," Banks says. "Instead, more Millennials are relying on micro-investing — investing small amounts of money frequently — to accomplish their savings goals."

Micro-investing allows would-be investors with little starting capital to bypass the roadblocks that usually keep them out of the game — minimum investment levels, trading costs, market research, and really just not having a ton of money.

"Investing has always had a high buy-in value, which you would think eliminates the generation that is doing everything they can to save whatever they have — but a handful of apps are changing that, and opening the doors for Millennials to try their hands at creating their own investment portfolios," adds Banks.

3. Hardly Anyone Under Age 35 Walks Into a Bank Anymore

Your grandma probably still goes to the brick-and-mortar bank. Heck, maybe even your dad likes to roll in from time to time for a withdrawal and a lollipop, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a Millennial in a bank, unless it's to grab cash from an ATM for after-work drinks (or working there). Rather, they prefer the easy-breezy mobile banking that accommodates their fast-paced lifestyle.

According to a recent study, 75% of Millennials are at least somewhat reliant on a mobile banking app to interact with their bank for tasks such as depositing or sending checks, checking their balance, and paying bills.

"This seems like somewhat of a no-brainer, but the power of convenience and control often goes overlooked," writes creative media agency Brokaw. "Within mobile interactions, there are multiple avenues in which banks can increase their influence and exposure, including text messages and push notifications. Take FirstMerit Bank's text banking and alerts, for example: It allows their customers to request activity alerts for different aspects of their account right from their phone."

Legit, though — mobile depositing is one of the best inventions of the 21st century. I will stand by that until my retinas are replaced with laser scanners that do all my banking for me. Which is totally gonna happen, ya know.

4. The Monetization of Ideas

Think you need to push product to turn a profit? Old school. Millennials' intellectual property is their bread and butter — and they're fiercely protective of it.

"The increasing monetization of ideas is one trend Millennials are driving, which doesn't look to be slowing down anytime soon." explains Monica Mizzi, editor of LegalTemplates.net, a website that equips people with the tools to be their own legal advocates. "The boom in startup culture can be largely attributed to the throng of Millennials who are taking the plunge to make their 'one in a million' idea come to life."

Successive studies highlight that a growing number of Millennials are bucking the trend of traditional employment to try their hand at entrepreneurship. With this has come an increasing interest in using nondisclosure agreements to protect their business ideas.

"While using an NDA to protect business ideas is not a novel concept, growing market competition has led Millennials to become more proactive in legally protecting their ideas — even before they have come to fruition," Mizzi continues. "It's not uncommon to hear reports of big companies pinching ideas or being 'inspired' by their competitors' ideas, so Millennials wanting to become entrepreneurs are more conscious of ensuring their ideas are never compromised."

5. Instant Financial Transactions Are Becoming More Common

When do Millennials want their money? Now!

Domestic instant transaction service has become commonplace for this demographic — I get paid instantly via Venmo when I deposit money from my Lyft earnings (like a boss!) — and its expansion to international exchanges is inevitable. The problem is, sending money internationally is a bit trickier with more complex compliance and regulations needs. But at least one service right now, Remitly, has built compliance and regulation rules into their app making it possible to meet Millennials' need for speed and convenience.

6. Digital Currency Has Real Value

Digital, or cryptocurrency as it's formally known, went mainstream with the runaway success of Bitcoin — a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange using cryptography to secure the transactions and to control the creation of additional units of the currency (as explained by Wikipedia). In layman's terms, it's cyber money that you can spend wherever cyber money is accepted, which is a real thing in this day and age.

But Bitcoin isn't the be-all or end-all of digital currency. Imitators have popped up, relevant in their own rights. Using a digital currency called Steem, for example, users of brand-new social network Steemit (which looks a lot like Reddit) get paid for posting and curating content. And it's become wildly popular. After launching this past May, Steemit (which has a 26-year-old CEO) already has nearly 120,000 registered users and posts nearly 1,000,000 unique visitors per month. They've also paid out more than $4,000,000 in rewards to users to date.

While digital currency is still in its infancy despite these successes, you can expect to see more and more of it infiltrating sectors of industry. Will it ever replace cash or credit? Probably not. But it's certainly an interesting concept as a new form of legitimate currency as we've move forward with Millennials at the helm.

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