Do Millennials Want to Talk About Money?
By Tim Schuster
This article was originally published in Giving Magazine Vol. 22, No. 3 in 2020. You can access the full issue here.
Millennials want to talk about money. We do.
The reason is simple. We want to talk about the things that matter most. And money matters to us.
Millennials are ten years older than they were a decade ago. That sentence may sound ridiculous, but we’re growing up. A few of us even have mortgages, kids, careers, and an earlier bedtime.
There’s never been a better time to reach out to the Millennials in your life and community.
We are more thirsty than ever to talk about the things that matter.
That’s why I’ve devoted a significant part of my life to collaborating with churches and ministries across the country to expand the conversation about money.
Here are 3 ways a generation is talking about money.
#1 Start with value
Don’t skip this section.
Talking about values can feel wishy-washy or outdated. That’s why a value must be approached as a tool: something we can hold in our hands and leverage to make life easier or to accomplish something that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to. Thinking of values as a tool is a giant step in the right direction when talking about money.
Values filter the noise and help us make decisions. Values remind us about what’s important during uncertain times. Facing ambiguity? It’s amazing how a glance at one’s values can bring much- needed inner peace.
The best tools are used daily without realizing. Values that can’t be used every day aren’t, well, valuable.
Too many financial courses start with a budget. But a budget is simply an expression of one’s values, so it’s better to be clear about the guiding ideals and vision behind the budget. We do a disservice if we talk about a budget or spending plan without discovering the core values.
This is true for organizations, families, and individuals. Many ministries and churches undergo strategic planning processes to discern their values that, in turn, guide how they allocate resources. It’s a gift.
What if we gave the same gift to individuals and families?
#2 Embrace scarcity
What’s the opposite of scarcity? If you know your buzzwords, you’ll answer “abundance.” I’m not sure the scarcity vs. abundance dualism is helping us.
First, let me acknowledge financial fear and scarcity are very real experiences. Personally, I’ve learned that there are two kinds of scarcity.
Scarcity #1: The fear of not having enough.
Scarcity #2: The fear of losing what you have.
Notice how we strive to eliminate the former only to be confronted with the latter.
Whether I have it or I don’t have it, the direct circuit from my bank account to the hairs on the back of my neck can electrify as quickly as I can glance at a bank statement.
There was a time when I sought to ignore fear and scarcity. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of The Signature of All Things, penned a short and compelling letter to fear where she says, “I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still—your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. DUDE, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”
Once we recognize fear is along for the ride, we are better able to see the benefits of scarcity. If scarcity is what makes money feel so real, that means money is incredibly relevant. The experience of scarcity indicates in no uncertain terms: There is something at stake here. We only feel scarcity if it matters.
A true and robust abundance seeks to learn from the experience of scarcity. Abundance gets curious, asking: What can this scarcity I’m experiencing reveal to me/us about what truly matters in life?
#3 Give 100% of it away
There is absolutely zero financial freedom to be found in the relentless pursuit of more.
The financial freedom we desire in the marrow of our bones is the liberation we create for ourselves when we let it go. Giving is our way of saying to money, “You won’t control me. And I can prove it by letting you go. Thanks for all you’ve done. Goodbye.”
That cathartic, freeing, and real release? Well, that’s the gift fundraisers and stewardship professionals give the world. When we ask people to support a cause or ministry that is making change and lasting impact, we give the opportunity for joy.
And everyone deserves to feel the joy of giving away their money. There is no magic amount either. Whether it’s $5 or more, a gift is a gift is a gift.
When we let it go—one dollar at a time—we are giving witness to what God is actively doing in the world to bring ever-expanding realities of truth and reconciliation.
Wait, I thought this was about Millennials?
As you see, this article isn’t about Millennials. It’s about humanity’s ongoing experiment with this thing we call “money.”
It’s a conversation we all want to have.
Tim Schuster is the creator of 6 Weeks on Money, a platform that enables churches to offer a 6 week digital course and group study that leads to a new way of thinking and feeling about money. He is a millennial from Minneapolis, married to Kelsey, and has two young daughters.
Giving Magazine was a premier stewardship resource published by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center (ESC) from 1999 until 2020. The magazine served Christian faith communities throughout North America, providing thoughtful, practical, and inspirational content on faith and giving from thought leaders and practitioners alike. Giving was published annually from 1999 until 2018 (volumes 1-20), and then quarterly in 2019 and 2020 (volumes 21-28) in digital form only. In 2021 ESC closed its doors and committed its archives to the care of Lake Institute on Faith & Giving. For further information on ESC or its archives, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Insights, a bi-weekly e-newsletter, is a resource for the religious community and fundraisers of faith-based organizations that provides:
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