Soft Saving: Gen z’s Solution to the Everything Crisis

With the planet is on fire, the cost of living crisis, greedflation, shrinkflation, social security running out of money, student loans on an all-time high, the joke of home ownership, the loss of the middle class, rising wealth gap, and so much more, no wonder, many Gen Z and Millennials have turned their focus from their financial futures to the present. Instead of focusing on the “retirement” promised after zapping away 45 years of their life, many have renewed their focus of living their best life now. But is it at the expense of a crude financial future?

Soft saving is the idea that it’s better to spend your money now and enjoy your life than to save in hopes of retirement and potentially never getting to enjoy your life.

Soft saving, an offshoot of a “soft life” is a new financial trend described as putting more money towards enjoying daily life than long-term financial planning such as retirement. It is characterized by living in the moment and balancing financial responsibilities with enjoying life.

Soft saving differs from traditional retirement-oriented saving in that it is more rigid and planned. You pay your daily expenses first and then save after the fact for your retirement. Some people focused on traditional retirement planning may forgo vacations, family events, or other luxuries for the opportunity of financial stability.

The Millennial and Gen Z Perspective

If you are anyone who participates in soft saving or you’re considering it, you are totally valid.

Saving less money and spending it on what pleases us today is a normal reaction to the world we live in today. Need I recap that the planet’s on fire, the girl boss is no longer girl bossing, hustle culture, loss of pensions, 45 years of work etc.? It’s no secret that the burden of retirement has shifted from the employer to the employee.

  • According to CNN, 67% of employees say the cost of living is outpacing growth in their salary and wages.
  • According to Education Rate, the average student loan debt, currently $37,338.
  • According to the Federal Reserve, only 31 percent of non-retirees thought their retirement saving was on track, down from 40 percent in 2021.

All of these figures affect our attitude towards saving for retirement.

If you are anyone who participates in soft saving or you’re considering it, you are totally valid.

Soft Saving as a Response

Soft saving has emerged as a need for control. If I can’t control the future, surely, I can control the present which means my day-to-day. If I must work a 9-5 to survive, I can also eat out for lunch and/or dinner. If must work, I must also enjoy a girl’s night out weekly or celebrate when the plans finally make it out of the group chat.

It’s the financial equivalent of staying up past a healthy time because you felt like you didn’t get enough time during the day to do what you wanted.

However, as a financial expert, there really are some tips for personal finance that work for any mindset. And I urge Gen Z and Millennial in their soft era to make their soft lives better by following these tips.

Tips for Succeeding in Your Soft Saving

Pay Yourself First

Pay Yourself First (PYF) is the idea that you earned your money, and as such, you are the first person who should get a cut. Meaning, before you pay bills, invest money in a retirement account or brokerage account so that your money keeps working for you.

PYF perfectly aligns with living a soft life because your money goes to you first which ends up being your future self. Your money works for you, which gives your future self the ultimate soft life.

Build an Emergency Fund

Whether you’re off in the Bahamas or in Tallahassee doing hood rat stuff with your friends, things go wrong all the time. Flights get missed, tires pop, DD’s start drinking.

Having an emergency fund allows you to get ahead of emergencies by always having money on hand. Instead of going to Mom, Chase (bank), or a friend

Try saving for 3-6 months of expenses. For example, if it costs you $1,400 (including rent, groceries, phone, car payments, & fun stuff), aim for saving $4,200-8,400 in a high yield savings account (an account that pays you just for having your money there; extra income for literally no extra work. Talk about a soft life).

If you’re younger or that seems intimidating, try $500 or $1,000. That’s $500 more than you likely had before.

Introduce Gentle Finance

Similar to gentle nutrition, gentle finance promotes a holistic and balanced approach to managing personal finances. Just as gentle nutrition encourages a balanced and flexible approach to eating, gentle finance focuses on sustainable financial habits that prioritize long-term financial health and well-being without rigid rules or deprivation. It involves aligning financial goals with personal values, cultivating positive money mindsets, and fostering financial resilience and stability over time.

Okay but what does that look like?
  • One night, at 3am, during your spur to change everything in your life, you simply look at your student loans.
  • The following week, you get curious about what life would look like without loans.
  • In a few days, that curiosity allows you to calculate your loan payments. You think, “The balance is huge.” However, you take a deep breath and affirm yourself, “in due time” and click off the site.
  • Meanwhile, you increase your financial literacy by watching YouTube videos, reading books, even Tik Toks to see what your options with your money even look like.

These tips are less financial but still essential to truly embrace a soft life and soft saving. Increase enjoyment of all aspects of life and not just the Instagram-able or most enjoyable parts.

Embrace the Present

Soft saving is not a pass to escape from the injustices you witness daily.

I know it seems hard but cultivating an attitude of mindfulness is much more beneficial for you and those who you will eventually fight for. Mindfulness grounds us to our life. It ties to the activities and things we enjoy about life and aware of the ones we don’t. How can you know what you’re running to if you’re always running away?

Find the Balance

Chances are that you’re not focused on spending 100% of your money nor saving/investing 100%, so use the tips above along with your values to find a balance of enjoying your money and taking care of your daily responsibilities.

Find the balance between living in this beautiful moment that you’ve been given and preparing for the future. You may not want to prepare or think about 45 years from now, but what about just 1 year from now?

Maybe that’s taking that extra extra nice vacation instead of choosing the cheapest of everything, buying organic produce, or getting your nails done, but being mindful to ensure that you’re not overpaying for necessities such as rent, car insurance, or life insurance.

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