Stuff, our lives have always been defined by stuff. The number of shoes in our closet, the number of plates in our cupboard, the number of books on our shelves, the number of inches on our TV.

We are trained from diaper years to consume more and produce less. Subconsciously, our minds have been tainted through “innocent” Disney cartoons and subliminal candy ads before we could even coherently form sentences.

But, this is changing!

Millennials are waking up and smelling the very stink garbage that has been fed to them for ages, and are realizing that life is more than the stuff they own.

There are four factors that are instrumental in this cultural shift from generations before. Can you relate to any of them?

1. Stability is Old School

millennials care less about stuff

This is the age of the digital nomad. The Starbucks Entrepreneur. The Bali Dropshipper. The Santa Monica Beach Vlogger.

Technology has changed our concept of the world and life at large. We are no longer tied to desks, houses, and belongings. It has made us explorers, adventurers, and global citizens.

A Flexjobs.com survey done in 2016, found that 93% of workers were most productive when working remotely, as it gives them the ability to tend to other passions.

It is also largely due to the internet accessibility of mobile devices from almost anywhere in the world and the freedom that a digital nomadic lifestyle provides.

Millennials feel less obligated to a city, an office, a home or family, more so than generations before them, and are looking for flexible career options that allow them to explore the world while making money.

There is no need to have “stuff” when you live out of a suitcase.

2. The Concept of Home is Changing

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The American Dream definition taken from the 1950’s basically states “the dream is to have a perfect family, secure job and a nice house in the suburbs.”

This dream provided motivation of sorts for low income, middle-class citizens to work their asses off in the hopes that they will one day join the upper ranks.

According to a Fox Business article from March 2017, millennials are investing less in homes and renting more. Home ownership no longer has the clout it did for their parents. It is seen as an obstacle to true freedom and a debt-free life.

Technology has also played a big part in this shift as it has allowed the development of a thriving sharing economy. The success of Airbnb and its competitors, speaks to how millennials are opting for more affordable living options which enable them to live without much responsibility.

3. Experiences Matter

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Economists are worried that millennials are not spending enough, but this could not be farther from the truth. They have just shifted their spending habits away from tangible goods to intangible experiences.

The travel and entertainment industries have grown enormously in recent years, due to millennials traveling, partying and concert-going a lot more.

It is considered much cooler to show off your dirty, sweaty T-shirt from Coachella now than it was in the 60’s. Back then, entertainment, travel, the building of social relationships and creation family bonds took a backseat as parents toiled away to build the “American Dream.”

However, millennials are changing that mindset, and are living lives full of memories, laughter, adventure and zero regret.

Hence, experiences will grow in value for the young adults who are buying less stuff and even making it a lifestyle.

4. Minimalism is Becoming the New Norm

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The minimalist lifestyle trend that started in the mid-2000’s is slowly starting to influence not only affluent lifestyle enthusiasts but also millennials.

Similar to the decision of non-home ownership, acquiring little to no belongings when you do decide to rent or buy is important to adapting a clutter-free life.

A capsule wardrobe, a tiny house or apartment, a greater connection with nature, and items that focus on functionality are some of the attributes of minimal living.

In a 2016 Forbes article entitled Millennials Go Minimal: The Decluttering Lifestyle Trend That is Taking Over, Robin Lewis of the Robin Report states:

“This is a generation that is bigger than the boomers in population, but their wallets are smaller, and they are more into the style of life than the stuff of life. This is a big threat to retail. They’re not into a lot of shopping.”

Millennials are pricing minimalism and simplicity over assets such as home goods, houses, fast-fashion, and cars. Less is more has become the new mantra, and the best way to express this is to become a minimalist.

The Generation Y (as they are scientifically called) population is not only abandoning societal traditions but making totally new ones.

They are defining themselves not by material possessions, but more so through things that add value to their lives and the environment around them.

For millennials, it is less about ownership and more about freedom, limited responsibility, and fulfillment.

What are your thoughts on this cultural shift?

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One Love,

Dave Anthony

Posted by:Dave Anthony

I am a Jamaican born Entrepreneur living in the United States. Adventurous, writer, weird, down to earth. Here I write about interesting stuff that educates, thrills and influences.

38 replies on “4 Reasons Why Millennials Care Less About “Stuff”

  1. Nice article.. whenever a new generation appears it seems that the trend is to criticize it… Then we start to see the positive side. I find wonderful to don’t need to buy a house and pay it during 30 years of your life or get married at 27 bcs then you won’t find a husband… or getting a hurry to have kids. I don’t accept that, I am a nomad mainly bcs of my job so I change location every year and I love traveling and learning from other cultures. It’s also helps me to give value to simple things in life and that is what I write about now

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your feedback. I agree, millennials don’t have to succumb to the mistakes made by their ancestors, or follow “norms” and “customs” to build a life. Nowadays, it is all about carving out your own destiny and not letting someone else dictate. Living freely, learning and taking risks. One Love!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your feedback. I agree that minimalism is partly due to consumers disappointment, but I think it is even more so a social shift with this up and coming generation. Views and ideals have changed over the past decades and the “things” that were viewed as necessary 50 years ago is not the case today. It becoming a social class specific movement, in some ways I think it already is. Minimalists are viewed as a sect of their own just like Vegans and Vegetarians for example, but I think it is slowly becoming more mainstream to accept minimalist values. In a consumer driven culture it is hard to totally ignore the frivolities being tossed at you left, right and center, but people are waking up. One Love.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha I’m kinda caught in the middle: I was brought up with the mindset that you need to work hard to earn alot of ‘ka-ching’, so that you can buy lotsa stuff for your family, get them a comfortable and secure home. But I’m also a millennial who wants to explore the world without being tie down by material possessions. I think each generation has something that we can all learn. So, either owning a house or renting a house, it all depends on what we really want in life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your feedback Rachel. I think many millennials like yourself and I were raised in that mindset. It is all about work, work, work, if you want to be successful and have the finer things in life. However, the lessons we have learnt in our lifetimes compared to that of our parents and grandparents are totally different, and I think that has helped put things and “life” into perspective for a lot of us. Less is more, and experiences matter. One Love.

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  3. This is such an interesting topic, and very well researched and supported. I’m 30, so not a millenial (?) and I was raised and hard wired into thinking that you work your butt off and if all you have to show for it is the sweat on your brow, then at least you have integrity. Meaning: you’re made of the good salt of the earth stuff. I’ve seen this type of experience over stability mindset in a lot of my younger coworkers over the years and have even tried to embrace it a little bit myself. But, there’s a confidence and a bravery that comes in not caring about stability. It would be interesting to look at where that confidence comes from that perhaps my generation didn’t get the message of? Or maybe it’s just me that missed the memo. 🙂 Great read, thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your feedback Jacqueline. You are still within the millennial age group lol, almost at the end but you are still there. I was raised the same way too in the 90’s and 2000’s but as I got older I started to realize that there is more to life than working your ass off for a paycheck. For many millennials, it also comes down to making these decisions based on economic reasons, work is harder to find and when you do find one, they do not pay well enough. So millennials are always moving to the next good thing to take care of their expenses. But, for some, as you mentioned, it is also confidence in putting experiences such as travel over things like home ownership and job loyalty. I think this shift in how we think of life changing risks has a lot to do with the economic landscape in which we have lived for the past 10 years. One Love! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not a millennial, but I can relate to this on so many levels. In fact, it sparked a conversation with my husband and I: “What IF we rented our house out and bought some kind of travelin’ van and traveled and wrote?” Very intriguing post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your feedback Cynthia. Its always good to have such conversations as it allows you to put your status quo into perspective and see where you can adjust and adapt. It is not even a millennial only thing, I think there is just a cultural shift in general among all ages to living lives that offer value and worth than hoarding things that leave you empty. One Love.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What an insightful article. I completely agree that millennials “mindsets” are focused more so on experiences and financial freedom than past generations. Financial freedom being having choices as to when, where, and why they are working. Finding purpose in their work is also important.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your feedback Levi. You have highlighted some good points. Millennials have taken a completely different trajectory than their parents as they are realizing there is more to life than things.

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  6. These are all so true! I traveled for 2 months around Europe last year and older people often said, “I’m jealous but I could never do it” – they see how the experience was valuable but don’t want to give up their stability, stuff, sense of home and such in order to attain it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your feedback. That must had been an educational and inspiring experience. Indeed, the reason why many people hold back from going outside their comfort zones is due to fear of change and attachment to the physical. It is not for everyone. One Love!

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  7. While I cant agree more with all the points in the post I wanted to say that let us please not slap a label on these things that we have to do as if they are a choice. We can’t have homes because we probably won’t ever make it there due to the following; We can’t get into the careers we want because the job market is God awful and We hop from job to job in hopes of being able to be remotely happy while making a couple more cent than the last job. We aren’t buying “stuff” because we can’t afford to buy stuff AND experience life at the same time. We have to live small because our opportunity has shriveled next to nothing. Please next us not desensitize ourselves from this stuggle. This way of life is by force not by choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your feedback Penelope. I do agree with you on the points you highlighted, a lot of the factors mentioned in the post stem from economic disadvantages, but it also has a lot to do with a cultural shift. Millennials are fighting for survival in their personal and professional lives, and they do whatever it takes to make a living. Whether that be taking a job 3,000 miles away from home or living with your parents until they’re 35. But, in many cases these millennials are also realizing that a hyper-consumerist economy and culture has led generations before them into unhappiness and lives of regret, and they don’t want to repeat those mistakes. Hence, they prioritize happiness, fulfillment, and achieving their goals over abiding by the status quo society has created. One Love!

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for your feedback Andrew. Indeed, millennials are changing culture, mindset and in turn changing the future. With every generation comes new thinking, I guess these are all a part of Gen Y’s ethos. One Love!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Isn’t this a little bit like reverse evolution where it appears they are returning back to the old days of nomads, the era before we settled, farmed, cultivated and generally became a civilised species?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your feedback. In some ways, I would say so. It is like going back to the basics in the early days when the focus was on building great relationships and enjoying life moments through adventure, hunting and exploration. So I think you have a point.

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