This post is featured in the Carnival of Personal Finance hosted at Fabulously Broke in the City
I think its funny the way some people stereotype generation y as a whole and stuff them into the “have now” category. Yes it’s fair to say that many members of the gen y group have bad money skills and most probably need to practice delayed gratification, but if you dig a little deeper the average gen y does actually have a few redeeming features that can be used to your benefit, no matter who you are.
In this post I’m going to try and convince you that generation y has brought with it some good traits that can benefit everyone in any situation. Yes, even generation y has something useful to teach us.
Gimme, Gimme, Gimme
The workplace is generally where you find the biggest complaints are made against members of generation y. Many people view them as lazy workers who want to walk into management roles, do as little as possible and get paid bucket loads of money for it. While this kind of behaviour is usually thrashed out of them eventually, most still retain a certain amount of gen y cheekiness and the clever ones will often use this to their full advantage.
If there is one thing that gen y’s are good at, it’s asking for things. In the workplace these requests are generally thought to be completely outrageous, they haven’t earned them and in the minds of many they don’t deserve them either. But it is in fact these outrageous requests that are worth taking a closer look at. Gen y’s have no problem at all in asking for what they want, usually it is in the form of a raise, but it might also be extra time off, flexible work hours, or other work related benefits. The power of asking isn’t restricted to the workplace however, it can be applied in almost any situation, you just have to know how to use it.
Ask and You Shall Receive
As a gen y myself I’m not immune to the desire for more, but I like to think I’ve got a reasonable handle on my finances. While that part is pleasing, I’ve also recognised that I’m not as good as others when it comes to asking for things (so it is something I’ve been trying to practice). Asking for something is actually a pretty tough skill to master and most people are so bad at it that they just don’t bother. The problem with not asking however is that you loose all power in most situations. Employees that are afraid to ask allow their employer to dictate wages, leave and other entitlements and customers that don’t konw how to ask allow stores and other services (like banks) to have their way with their hard earned cash.
Gen y’s do know how to ask, many aren’t even the smallest bit shy about doing so either. You have to admire the audacity of someone that starts making demands in a situation where traditionally there has been no flexibility. These days people don’t just wait for a performance review, they demand one, then request a pay rise as well. The savvy shopper doesn’t just accept the price on a ticketed item in a store, they ask for a better price instead. And banks, well how much fun would it be dictating terms to them for a change?
How to Get What You Want
The concept of asking is completely foreign to some people and many consider it scary or simply rude. Unfortunately for these people it is likely that they are going to miss out on a bunch of stuff they could have had if they had decided to take a risk and ask. The power of asking extends to pretty much anything you can think of these days, but if you are a little shy about asking a big question, try a small one instead.
Learn how to ask for a better price in a store. Many people are bad at this, or assume that the price is fixed just because the ticket says so. If you get knocked back on the price of an item, try asking for something to be included instead. Obviously this isn’t going to work for a pack of gum, but it can work in a lot of places you might not have considered. Electrical goods are easy pickings, but the challenge (and fun part) is to try it anywhere you can.
Asking for stuff from a bank is even more fun. Don’t sit back and take what they give you, ask what they can do for you instead. Ask for an interest rate discount, or no fees on a credit card, in fact dispute any fees they try to charge you and threaten to take your business elsewhere. This works surprisingly well and also has the added bonus of making you feel good. If you really struggle with asking, try call your bank or even better, your phone company and see how much better you get at it the longer you sit waiting on hold. If you want to stack the odds in your favour even further, you might like to head over to I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Ramit has a whole section on how to negotiate and is a black belt in the power of asking.
Once you get comfortable at asking for things in a store and from a bank, it’s time to take it up a notch and start asking at work. Start small by asking for a half day off for whatever reason you come up with or an extended lunch break, anything it takes to get you into a position where you have to ask. The next time you have a review, ask some questions of your own about the job, the company and where they see you in the future. If you are feeling drunk with asking power, ask for a raise or for flexible hours or to work from home for a day a week or anything else you can think of for that matter. The key here is not to see how much you can get, but to think about what you want and what is going to improve your personal wealth. There is always a chance you won’t get what you want, but there is a good chance you will too if you simply ask for it.
So what do you want?