HELP! ‘We’re Addicted To The Luxe Life’
With ‘extracurricular’ millennial spending on the rise, some of us are taking it to the next ‘special’ level
Right now, half the Look team are stuck between our very own version of a rock and a hard place – that is, feeling like we’ve been hit by a rock (otherwise known as our monthly bank statement) but at the same time lusting over Zara’s New In section. New studies show that we’re not alone. While millennials are still figuring out how to make ends meet (rising rents, no increase in wages, etc) the way we spend our money is radically changing.
For example, a recent US study revealed that last year 44 per cent of millennials spent more on coffee than they put into savings, while marketing expert Pam Danziger cites millennials as the ‘most powerful consumer group on the planet’ who will become the largest spending group by 2035. That’s because apparently, as we know we won’t be able to afford a house, it means we’ll instead splash out on VIP holidays or treat ourselves to a Gucci Disco bag. In fact, marketing company Mintel says that we’re redefining luxury – it now means travelling by Uber or having restaurant-standard food delivered to your door. But are these habits bad for us – and are they addictive?
‘Yes,’ says Claudia Hammond, BBC Radio 4 presenter and author of Mind
Over Money. ‘The process of buying treats makes us feel as though we’re cherishing ourselves. We like that feeling and become accustomed to it.’
Samantha Clarke, 25, a buyer from London, agrees. ‘I love treating myself,’ she admits, ‘and I love a massage. My habit crept up to one a week. At first, £65 per session seemed a lot, but I quickly became addicted to the luxury of it – I felt like I deserved one after a hard working day. But the more I had, the more normal it became and I’ve been spending around £250 per month ever since.’
It’s the same for Lauren Fitch, 27, a nurse from Northampton, who admits her city-break habit has seen her fall into debt in the past five years.
‘Trips away are my ultimate luxury,’ she says. ‘After my break-up two years ago, I booked a spontaneous break to Berlin to visit a friend and it was the best holiday of my life. Now I’m addicted to the buzz. I get a lot of time off between shifts as well as annual leave and I can’t stand having nothing to look forward to. I always have at least one holiday booked and one planned, and I actually feel anxious if my diary looks too empty. I know that’s ridiculous, but I can’t help it.’
It’s something experts attribute to millennials’ love for experiences over anything else.
‘Although typically this demographic has less disposable income, the desire to seek out new experiences for the main purpose of filling their social media feeds is becoming the biggest trend, which can mean living the “perfect” life by any means or consequence,’ says social media marketer Ben Nancholas.
‘It wasn’t just the feeling of spending the money,’ admits Samantha. ‘It was the whole experience – seeing the women each week, going home for a nice, relaxing dinner. It became a ritual. My housemates would tease me about it, but really they were quite concerned about how much money I was spending.’
And for Lauren it was what drove her into debt. ‘Last year, I got a new credit card and started putting more and more trips onto it. Then I would just ignore the statements. I accumulated £5,000 in three months. It was only when my mum opened my bank statement that I got the wake-up call I needed and realised I had to slow down. I was so concerned about making sure I always had a new place to tell people about, about being that perfect person, that I lost my head a bit.’
Lauren’s now paid back most of her bill, but it’s a warning to others how easy it is to be sucked into living a lifestyle you can’t afford.
‘Pay in advance for experiences,’ suggests Claudia. ‘You’ll enjoy them more if they’re divorced from the pain of paying. Also, use a budgeting app to work out what your small purchases are adding up to – you might be surprised.’
Think your Deliveroo habit might be getting out of hand? We can help…
‘I’ll take one in every colour. Could you get me an Uber while you’re at it? And a Deliveroo?’