There are countless personal finance movements that have evolved since the pandemic and many of them are picking up steam with millennials. One of these is FIWOOT, which stands for Financial Independence, Work On Own Terms. Banks and credit unions can be valuable partners by helping guide customers who seek the FIWOOT lifestyle.
The Backstory: Millennial Shift
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic new characteristics about the millennial generation became evident. For instance, they value authenticity, flexibility and self fulfillment. As with most of the working population, the pandemic caused a reset and a focus on work and life balance (or in some cases, lack thereof) for millennials. This reset is reflected in the trend of millennials moving to suburbs to be closer to family and the major increase in demand for jobs that offer flexible work arrangements.
“I feel like our decision [re: to move to the suburbs] was 100% affected by Covid. We saw what fearing for your life in a big city being so close to people was like and were like….yeah no thank you. We went from not wanting a yard to definitely wanting a yard in like 3 months,” says a member of the Banktastic National Millennial Advisory Board.
“I have the option to be hybrid but am choosing to be fully remote. I feel that WFH has a tremendous impact on my satisfaction with my job, stress levels, and work/life balance,” says another board member.
Millennials are currently the largest generation in the US labor force. Ages 25-42, they’re working adults, many with families and all with responsibilities. The pandemic has allowed them to see that the flexibility to spend more time with family and friends and the ability to pursue their passions are major priorities for them. Enter FIWOOT.
The Right Now: Why FIWOOT?
It's likely that you’ve heard of the FIRE movement (Financial Independence, Retire Early). The goal of the FIRE lifestyle is to gain financial independence by saving and investing as much as possible to retire earlier than the societal norm. Alternatively, the goal of FIWOOT is to reach a level of financial stability that allows people to continue working but on their own terms, most often in a more flexible and purposeful line of work. This can range anywhere from a few hours a week to a full time job, but the idea is that the individual isn’t reliant on a full time salary to live.
“I’m attracted to the FIRE movement, but more specifically something like FIWOOT. I hope to achieve financial comfort that lets me choose flexible, meaningful work that I can do for 20 hours per week. I wouldn’t feel the need to retire from this kind of work,” says a member of the Banktastic National Millennial Advisory Board in a recent study.
Another board member says, “I think what resonates the most with me is having the mental freedom to do what I love versus a job that just pays the bills. I’d love to reach FI and then start spending more time giving back.”
The idea is that this freedom and being able to partake in personally fulfilling work would eliminate the need to retire at all. This changes the way millennials in this movement look at banking and saving for retirement. This is an opportunity for financial institutions to be a part of that change.
The Future: FIWOOT and You
It’s crucial to understand the spending and saving habits of your millennial customers. Banks and credit unions can help them to reach financial independence by delivering the products, services and education they need.
Millennials are known for being independent and technologically savvy. Offer digital services that help them reach their goals. Make it easy.
One specific online service that could support millennials in reaching FIWOOT is budgeting. Here are a couple examples of how:
- Create a specialized retirement calculator on your website that allows them to model various scenarios. This resource would help them to reach their goals while also growing your website and app engagement.
- Send them a monthly report that breaks down their spending habits and income. Tell them where their money is going and provide tips to help them save. This encourages a more personal relationship between the customer and bank while also helping them improve their habits.
Some of your customers may already be paying a third party app for these services, but you can offer them an opportunity to do it all in one place with the convenience and security of a bank or credit union.
Messaging and Marketing
If you’ve invested in learning more about millennials and their interests, make sure that they know it.
- Market directly to this demographic: go where they are. If you don't, Your Financial Marketing to Millennials may be as Effective as an Empty Page. Share your thoughts and insights on social media. Talk to them about FIWOOT and the specific tools and resources your institution can offer to help them achieve it, if that’s their goal.
- Millennials are hungry for more financial education. Share tips on social media and encourage them to take control of their finances so they can be part of FIRE, FIWOOT, or any other financial approach that suits them.
- Show them where they could be. Appeal to their desire to live a more purposeful life. Share stories and videos of how your bank helped others change their lifestyles to inspire and engage.
Helping your customers to reach their goals and move towards more fulfilling lifestyles is a win-win for you and them. FIWOOT can help them to achieve this and you can help them develop the necessary habits to achieve FIWOOT.
For more research results on millennials and financial education, watch our 5-minute video: Millennials are Missing the Financial Forest for the Trees.