Generation Guide: 3 Simple Survival Tips for Millennials

People love to bash on my generation. Even people of my generation like to bash on people on my generation - for example, those born in the 80s looking down on those born in the 90s. 

I am a millennial, and there is no bashing to be found here today. Instead, I want to talk about survival tips. 

We may not live in a jungle and have to learn how to identify poisonous mushrooms (although I still think this is a good survival tip), but in this digital concrete jungle, there are plenty of traps to watch out for still.

We live in a world where:
  •  we are told to study hard, work hard, gain more skills, and we will have "a good life" (😂),
  • we have to borrow and/ or fork out 5-7 years worth of our fresh graduate salary to get tertiary education for 2.5 years,
  • 20 years of our fresh graduate salary won't be able to pay for a decent house,
  • employers these days don't respect you because we are pretty much "replaceable" to our employers, and everything that goes wrong is our fault but not theirs,
  • we are expected to find someone, get married, and have kids - this is the ONE TRUE WAY to live, and last but not least,
  • money is worth more than human lives.
Our workplaces are now exploitative, with less pay, less benefits, less job security. They will think nothing of just getting rid of you as soon as they like, even if you're doing your best. They sugarcoat it in terms like "not the right fit" and "letting you go", but make no mistake - they're just firing you to cut costs in their operations, because there's always another cheaper sucker to take your place.

Much to my surprise, even workaholics are subjected to this(!?). I thought this behavior was prevalent only for freelancers - like cheap people telling me that "writing is easy and you should be able to get it done in 20 minutes, why are you charging so much?".

However, I now know that quite a number of companies exhibit the same behavior in this manner.

Employer has impossibly high KPIs ➡️ Employees fail to reach KPIs despite working all the time because IMPOSSIBLE ➡️ Employer gets angry ➡️ Employer decides it would be best to let go of employee ➡️ Employer repeats the same process with the next employee without ever seeing it is their own fault.

There is no verbal warning, warning letter, no compromises. The attitude is pretty much:

"Either you make me a million dollars, or you get lost. I don't care if you can help me make half a million dollars, I WANT A MILLION DOLLARS."

I find that a lot of employment now is mostly on contract basis too with NO BENEFITS, because that makes it easier to get rid of you when they don't want to renew you.

So much for "study hard, work hard, gain more skills, and you will have a good life". I've seen workaholics suddenly NOT have a job, and the employers pat themselves on the back thinking that they've done the morally right thing by "giving notice" a month or two prior.


But I digress. I am not here to discuss the state of the world we live in.

Instead, I'd like to discuss how on a personal level we CAN survive this world. If you can't change the jungle, you adapt to the jungle, right?

So here's 3 simple survival tips for all my older working millennials out there, tips I have gleaned from the past few years of working.

Spoiler: all of them are to do with money.

Tip #1: Money Looks Better in the Bank than Anywhere Else


People get funny about money. They exchange hours of their lives for money, but as soon as I say I can't go out because I need to save money, I'm "no fun" or that I "can make more money".

Okay, let me rephrase that.

"I find keeping the money I spent hours earning is more important to me than exchanging them for this social engagement I am completely not interested in." 

When I got my first job, I went SLIGHTLY wild. I bought a lot of clothes, accessories, and shoes I thought were "cute", because I was finally getting a pay check.

I never ended up wearing most of them more than 10 times.

For a few years, I also spring-cleaned my closet according to Marie Kondo's philosophy. I'm now proud to say I don't even need to spring-clean my closet any more because at a glance, most of the clothes I have now do bring me joy.

Side-note: Marie Kondo is so soothing to watch on Netflix. 

My biggest expense, apart from my monthly bills, is my travelling. Currently, I don't make enough money to travel more than once or twice a year. I only make the "TWICE" when I really cut down on other aspects of my life, and so I keep saving, saving, and saving.

Every time I spend money nowadays, I ask myself: "Is this worth the hours I spent trying to earn it?"

A month with 31 days has 744 hours. If you take the amount of money you earn per month and divide it by 744 hours, you will find out your hourly monetary worth.

Individually speaking, we value the worth of each thing we purchase differently. Personally, I can't see the point of spending two month's worth of earnings on a branded bag - unless that branded bag will never break for life, and you will use it for life - and others can't see why I'd happily spend two months of my earnings on a two week trip.

I keep a budget book, and firmly insist on keeping track of how much money I have once a week. I jot down how much I spent that week, what big purchases I made (if any), and see if I should cut back even more the following week.

I cannot insist how important it is to be financially independent, especially if you want to survive in the world we live in in 2019. Every bit of money you have in the bank is assurance that you won't suddenly be saddled with additional debts should your employer decide that you're to go today. Fixed deposits and retirement income funds are also a good, low-cost way of insuring you will get money back to you.

Of course the best survival tip is to MAKE MORE MONEY in addition to SAVE MORE MONEY.

If you are able to, always hustle, find ways to make money - the amount of ads in this blog is my attempts to make money, so... 💁‍♀️ -  and upgrade your skills until you reach an hourly income that is compatible with the lifestyle you want.

Just don't go overboard. You DON'T need to live in a mansion and have several cars.

Tip #2: Don't Get a Mortgage. Don't Get Married. Don't Have Kids. Basically, Don't Have Big Expenses.

Sometimes people tell me they can't afford kids...

... but then they go on to have kids.


Like, perhaps parenthood is really important to these people, and that's great for them. Having kids can even spur you to make more money for the sake of the kids, in some cases, so I guess they serve their purpose.

HONESTLY, though? If you can, it's much better to avoid big expenses as much as you can. Everything we've been told to do to "get a good life" - get a tertiary education, get married, get a car, get a house, get kids - ALL THESE COST A LOT.

Whose definition of "good life" is this anyway?

I think EVERYONE should have basic education, but nowadays, a degree isn't a ticket to a high-paying job. Even high-paying jobs aren't that high-paying anymore - someone with trade skills can make much, much more money. Yet everyone is stuck paying their debt for their degree, which isn't paying itself off.

Weddings CAN be cheap, but what with "traditional expectations", they're not cheap anymore. I personally think small ceremonies with ONLY loved ones are the way to go, but my Asian family thinks otherwise because it's a "once in a lifetime" opportunity.

Divorces says they're not, but anway...


I have friends who bought a house and are now regretting it because their job security is non-existent but the house needs repairs, needs renovations, and so on and so forth.

Then, there are the kids. Kids may bring you joy with their wide-eye innocence and laughter, but are you capable of raising a child for the next 18 years of its life, and when they're not so... joyful anymore? If you want the child to have the lifestyle you had thanks to your own parents, are you capable of recreating what your parents did for you in this economy?

Society may have conditioned us to believe that this is THE ONE TRUE WAY of living, but it really.. isn't, especially if it puts you in decades of debt with snowballing interest rates.

People are putting off getting married and having kids later, and I think this is a good thing not just for us, but for the planet as well.

Older parents may not have as much "energy" to run around after their kids, but the energy these parents spent trading hours of their young lives for money is also a form of ensuring a future for their future children.

In short, if the thing with the large expense isn't something you desperately want, maybe put it off for later first. Otherwise, it'll just become a burden you resent.

Resenting your kids is not a good look.

Tip #3: Get a Secondary Creative Skill That Fulfills You AND Makes You Money on the Side


I think like many other people, I have a few secondary interests that I'd like to get better at. A lot of people are taking calligraphy, art, pottery, spin, and other classes to fulfill their time.

It'd be great if these interests could be honed into making you money, doesn't it?

Currently, my main job has nothing to do with writing, but I do have a side gig as a freelance writer (need a freelance writer? my e-mail is!) . Some of the things I write fulfills me, and some... don't, but I love making money, so there you go.

Sure, we can argue that it's sad that we have to constantly be thinking of how to monetise everything, including our hobbies.

However, my reasoning is - if it makes you happy, it can also make you money. The two don't have to be mutually exclusive. I scoff when people accuse me of being money-minded - of course I am, have you seen the economy? Have you seen how workplaces treat their workers?

Cold, hard cash is the way to secure your own future. It's not a new concept, people don't just work for money, they also marry for money, and do all kinds of crazy things for money.

Having your hobbies generate money for you is... the least crazy thing to do for money.

I'm not saying you need to be a billionaire, but it's good to envision the lifestyle you want, and to steadfastly work towards it.

Believe that you are capable of the financial income and safety (SAVE 👏 YOUR 👏 MONEY) you deserve, and make sure you will accept no less i.e. no writing for cheap people who will only pay you RM20 for a full-page article.

Your time is worth much, much more than that.

Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

Happy surviving.