Posted: 14 Aug. 2020 4 min. read

Impact of COVID-19 on a millennial: refresh, rethink, rebuild

By Arushi Doshi

Arushi Doshi is a cyber risk consultant at Deloitte, based in Dublin, Ireland and originally hails from India. An ambivert by nature, Arushi loves reading, practicing calligraphy and fiddling with code, besides learning a new language in her free time

180+ days into the year 2020, the charm of a bright new year with endless possibilities has worn off. With forest fires, locust swarms, and COVID-19, the year is turning out to be what nobody had hoped for. The pandemic has taken center stage and certainly has made it difficult to keep up with my new year’s resolution of travelling the world and hitting the gym every day.

Like many other millennials, my plan for 2020 was to travel the world on cheap flights, escape the mundane and go on an adventure. But the most exiting trip these days is heading to the grocery store with my chic black face mask and tons of hand sanitizer. Instead of bringing souvenirs from faraway lands, I am equally happy if I return with most of the items on my grocery list! 

As millennials, COVID-19 has been one of the most significant events on a global scale that has changed the course of our lives. While I am very grateful to be employed and able to work from home, many of my friends and family have been impacted through layoffs or pay cuts. Most of us are struggling with isolation, additional financial burdens, and mental stress. In times like these, I feel motivated by seeing how millennials who have lost their jobs are still supporting their communities through volunteer work. I have a newfound respect for all the essential workers and medical staff who are working on the front lines for us despite their own struggles. Within my team at Deloitte, I have come to appreciate that people are balancing more complicated issues – juggling work while caring for people in an at-risk group or home-schooling kids.

It is fair to say that the COVID-19 crisis has changed the economic landscape at least for this year and has put additional financial pressures on millennials who have been working for only a few years. Deloitte’s 2020 Millennial survey says that many of us are financially prudent and literate, but two out of three millennials worry about finances. While I have been saving where possible and ensuring that I have enough money to pay rent and student loans, I have never actively planned my finances. With a looming financial crisis, potential layoffs, and the threat of additional expenses to treat potential health conditions, financial stress has never been higher for millennials globally.

I only knew the bare minimum about managing finances, so asking for help and not getting overwhelmed has been my biggest takeaway in the past few months. There are many avenues to seek advice - family and friends, and employee assistance programs offered by employers, online finance gurus, or bestselling books. My starting point was setting a monthly budget for groceries and cooking meals at home, when possible. Due to the lockdown, I have already reduced spending on activities such as my daily commute, going out for food and drinks, daily *insert brand* coffee, shopping, and ordering takeaway. The lessons that I have learned in this short time are:

  • Track expenses - this can be done through most mobile banking apps to ensure that any impulse buying is balanced by cutting costs in other areas. Making small lifestyle changes may lead to significant savings!
  • Practice mindfulness - while mindfulness does not directly improve financial circumstances, it can ease the pressure felt due to money troubles and helps in making more prudent and long-term financial decisions. There is also the added mental health benefit.
  • Build for the future - create a financial plan (and stick to it!). Most of us tend to think about money only when there is a problem. Instead, if we regularly take the time – daily or weekly – to consider our finances, we may be able to practice better financial management as well as stress management.

The transition to working from home has also eased the pressure on my wallet. With the hyper-connected world that we live in, it is easy to leverage technology and work remotely – the key requirement is a high-speed internet connection (that works). The obvious benefits have been saving on commute time and money (including on public transport), preparing fresh food, and skipping the coffee-and-scone run every morning. The flexibility to work my own hours in a comfortable environment has boosted productivity and has allowed me to spend more time with friends and family.

However, this new setup has blurred the demarcation of our work and home lives and makes it difficult to switch off. With my family based in a different country, and many friends and relatives in at-risk groups, it has been difficult to focus. There are other ongoing distractions like watching the latest episode of a Netflix series, doing the laundry, or going for a grocery run to avoid the queue. For me, missing out on an environment filled with other people working and the general hustle-and-bustle of the Deloitte office has reduced my motivation at times. The biggest drawback has been the lack of social interaction – meeting colleagues for a quick coffee or a sit-down lunch in the cafeteria, running into people from across the business and chatting, or just going for a walk in the park with friends during lunchtime.

However, I am hoping that in a post-COVID-19 world, we go into traditional offices only to brainstorm and socially interact, that we could work from anywhere across the globe, like the beautiful Swiss Alps or a beach in Bali, without bothering with crowded buses/trains or traffic jams in the morning. The only requirement would be a reliable internet connection!

While 2020 will be an unforgettable year for many reasons, I believe it has helped us millennials to refresh our minds, rethink our priorities, and begin to rebuild our futures. It has given us the time to stop and think about our lives, support our communities, and make better decisions for the planet. We just need to power through this pandemic together and come out stronger on the other side.

In the words of a favorite author of mine, Ada Adams, “There is light at the end of every tunnel. Some tunnels just happen to be longer than others.”

Millennials and Gen Zs hold the key to creating a “better normal”. Explore more about the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020.