Do Millennials Face “Money Bullying”?

Have you experienced the same thing at home that I have been experiencing over the past few years.  As you plan out great family vacations, wonderful dinners, and cool birthday activities, you often find conversations about how one of your kid’s friends always seem to be doing something better?  I guess part of this has never really changed.  No matter how cool of a shin dig you end up putting together, there is always someone else who has Johnny one upped you already.  The difference with our kids today is that the vacations, the new clothes purchases, the new cars, and the special events are so much more in your face with Snapchat and Instagram with pictures meaning more than just a few words.

In a recent study done by TD Ameritrade, some extremely interesting data came out about Millennials and their comfort level about discussing money.  While 56% of young millennials feel comfortable talking to their parents about money, only 53% feel comfortable talking to a financial advisor.  What the staggering statistic of the study revealed is that only 29% of all young millennials are comfortable talking about money with their friends.  In fact, the study showed that many young millennials actually consider their friends to be budget busters.  More than one third of the young millennials feel extreme pressure to keep up with their friends purchases and most of this was driven by the pictures of the purchases and vacations that they see online.

There is a lot of discussion about bullying and cyberbullying today in the media.  However, none of the discussions talk about the vicious side effect of ‘money bullying’ and the effect this has on our money habits.   The old traditional keeping up with Joneses was all about what your neighbors were doing.  You could see the 2 cars in the driveway, the installation of a pool in the backyard, or whatever material purchases they were wearing such as jewelry.  Today’s world provides such a limited glimpse into the lives of others that you actually can’t make a distinction about one individual, but instead our brains are masked with the multitude of powerful images that skim past our brain as we scroll through our daily Facebook and Instagram updates.  Here are a few tips to consider to help your kids (or yourself) with money bullying.

  • Nobody Posts A Net Worth Statement On Social Media – Remember, until the mask comes off you don’t really know what someone is worth. Some people spend all of their money living today and not caring about tomorrow whereas some will save like crazy today to enjoy more of it tomorrow.  Take stock that you don’t know someone’s net worth.


  • A Picture Is An Isolated Incident – Just because you see a picture of someone basking in the sun having a cocktail on the Amalfi Coast doesn’t mean they are enjoying that lifestyle all the time. If you want to really see what is happening, seriously look at all of the pictures on their profile along with the timelines and you might realize that this is just one trip they have taken in the last two years.


  • Remember, Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness – It might look like your friend is happy in that picture, but money can’t make you happy over the long haul. It may momentarily bring you some joy for a trip or a purchase, but real happiness is derived from much more than spending a few Benjamin’s.


  • Be A Leader – Even your Millennial friends who are having great dinners and fabulous cocktails will eventually struggle with managing their cash flow as well. Set up a night where you and your friends discuss how money make you feel and what concerns or scares you so the group can see that all of you are feeling some of the same emotions.  While your parents may be your most trusted resource, you don’t want to feel like your friends are doing so much better than you when the truth is they are dealing with the same issues that you are right now.

You are always going to meet someone who is due a bigger inheritance, gets more handouts, and experiences better things than you do, never ever feel bullied that you have to spend money to keep up with others.  The best thing you can do is to find someone you feel comfortable to talk about your money issues so you can feel confident about planning for your future.