Do Millennials Care Only About Making Money?


The millennial generation is pegged as being in a constant battle over PC versus Mac. We're discussed as eminently searching for the right majors that will lead to the best jobs and stressing ourselves to oblivion with extracurriculars we don't really even like to get there. In short, people tend to think we're selfish even when doing selfless acts. And though we've caught media flack for being basically terrible people for all this, to steal a sentiment from the awesome William Shatner, we're working on that.

To derail the argument of those who claim we're a money-obsessed group, it would be profitable to discuss what we're even capturing with the sweeping term "millennial." Using generational names is helpful when discussing large statistical movements or differences (usually in comparison with another generations' habits). But missing from these discussions is the nuance within the generations themselves that lead to very diverse experiences. It's impossible to use the term without in part flattening the sentiments of some and grouping them with the majority.

But are we even mostly focused only on getting rich quick? I don't think so.

A generational study conducted in 2009 by the American Psychological Association showed a whopping "63% increase in the number of young people who rated money as 'extremely important''between boomers and millennials (16% of boomers compared to 26% of millennials).

So we think money's extremely important. Guilty as charged. But what are we looking to use this extremely important money for? Most likely getting by and making it work. Our generation has been witness to an ever-shrinking middle class. There's a scary dichotomy in our minds (and reflected in our world) that you're either scraping by or you're living easy. Of course each and every dollar will seem important.

We might have grown up seemingly worry-free and thus labeled as a generation of frivolity and unnecessary spending. But while getting rich will still be the dream as we age (and make us look all sorts of selfish in survey responses), in this "poor or wealthy" dichotomy we live in, we're realizing we are just going to have to work on steering away from money as the answer to not living in fear.

As a generation, we would generally agree being rich would be awesome, however, we don't appear to be thinking of doing it by losing our minds sitting in a cubicle to get there. It's been suggested that we're working towards melding our civically minded goals into enterprises not solely concerned with money-making.We're working to apply our passions to our careers and trying to give back to the community through our careers instead of simply outside of them. We're working to make as much money as we can doing what we love. And after rounds of unpaid internships, we're trying to start doing what we love as a means to a (hopefully) prosperous end.

So if we seem like we only want to get rich quick, we're working on that. We're working to envision a middle class that has room for us and to become a part of it. We're working to not be motivated by fear into jobs that will just give us a paycheck (even if we'd really like it). And though it has been used as mark against us, we're working to cash in if we can on our spirit of volunteerism through our careers.

As a fairly young generation, we're still working on a lot of things, and much has seemed to shift since the 2009 study. Money seems to have some staying power as a source of worry in our generational collective consciousness. But only looking to get rich? Its time as a primary concern seems to be ending.