Where do you see yourself in five years?
Some of us might be able to give a clear answer, but many of us don’t know if we’ll be working for the same company (or even the same industry), if we’ll be living in the same town or city, if we’ll be single or partnered, and so on.
This makes it hard to plan ahead, financially. Is it worth saving up for a down payment if you’re currently living in a city where house prices are far beyond what you can ever hope to reach? Is it foolhardy to save for a wedding, or for the cost of raising future children, when you aren’t even dating anyone right now—and aren’t even sure if you want marriage or children?
For those of us who are struggling with debt and student loans, and/or those of us who might have experienced repeated layoffs, low wages, stagnant salaries, or underemployment, the very concept of saving for a long-term financial goal might feel risky — or ridiculous. It’s hard to plan for the future when you’re trying to figure out how to pay for today.
If any of this sounds like you, you’re not alone. According to Deloitte, Millenials in Australia have a lower outlook on the future than most:
"Millennials' opinion of business’ motivation and ethics is at its lowest level in four years. Less than half (45 per cent) of millennials believe business has a positive impact on society, down from 72 per cent in 2017. Two thirds (63 per cent) believe political leaders are having a negative impact on society. Over a third (39 per cent) of millennials believe they will better off than their parents (compared to 51 per cent globally) and only 35 per cent believe they will be happier (compared to 43 per cent globally)."
Even if you can only save a little bit every month. Even if you don’t know how you’ll spend the money. Even if you don’t ever imagine yourself buying a home or paying for a wedding. Even if you don’t think this economy will ever let you retire.
Why? Because saving money now, especially when you’re young, will pay off in the form of compound interest — especially when you invest some of that money instead of stashing it all in a savings account. In a world where many of us rarely get a raise that does more than cover the cost of inflation, investing is often one of the best ways to increase our net worth, long-term.
If you’re like the average human being, you’re already losing a bit of steam on your New Year’s resolutions. Rather than fret over all of the ways you’re not measuring up, though, cross an easy one off of your list, and invest a little extra money.
Saving money now will also give you the freedom to make choices in the future. Maybe you will want to buy a house after all (if the housing market ever becomes affordable again). Maybe you’ll want to take some time off for the birth of a child (time you may not be able to get off with parental leave depending on your workplace or industry standards), or take some time off to travel the world. Maybe you’ll even use some of those savings when you retire someday.
So I’ll ask you again: where do you see yourself in five years?
Or, more importantly: where do you see your money?