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Financial Wellness and The Evolving 'American Dream.' 3 Mindset Shifts I've Noticed.

As an immigrant, my initial idea of the American Dream was something like this: everyone owned their home, plenty of available stable jobs, opportunities to improve financially, accessible healthcare, and a comfortable retirement. I pretty much pictured financial wellness for all.

Statue of Liberty
A Symbol of The American Dream

More than 20 years later, my ideas of financial wellness, and the American Dream, have evolved. For most Gen Xers and Millennials, the traditional view of the American Dream is rapidly changing and taking on new meaning.

Here are the three biggest shifts in the American Dream that I've noticed, and the implications for financial wellness:

Shift #1: Flexibility Now Trumps Job Security

In the past, a lifelong career with a single employer meant a reliable income and a comfortable retirement. However, in today's environment where pensions have disappeared and workers have to navigate retirement on their own, the emphasis is shifting from job security toward career flexibility and diversified skill development. Many workers are embracing the gig economy to supplement their income; they are turning their talents and interests into side hustles or starting their own businesses.

Financial Wellness Implication:

Career flexibility opens the door to possibilities, but it also comes with financial uncertainties. The safety net of pensions are gone and even social security is questionable, so financial basics such as emergency funds and appropriately funded retirement accounts are crucial now more than ever for financial wellness.

Shift #2: Homeownership Isn't The Ultimate Goal

Becoming a homeowner was the ultimate dream for many families. It symbolized success and was an obvious symbol of the American Dream. I remember my excitement when I purchased my first home only months after starting my first stable job. It seemed like the logical next step, and I didn't hesitate. In hindsight, although I could afford the mortgage, there were better ways I could have deployed my early income. Today, skyrocketing housing prices, student loan debt, and the preference for flexibility are reducing the desire to be tied down by a mortgage. People still want to own their home, but they are increasingly prioritizing experiences, minimalism, personal growth, and fulfillment.

Financial Wellness Implication: The shift to experiences aligns with a more enriched life, but it also requires a shift in mindset. It's okay not to own a home. Renting can be a smart, strategic choice that allows you to explore opportunities, diversify your portfolio, allocate resources to hobbies and interests that bring you joy, and remain agile in a fast-paced job environment.

Shift #3: The Gig Economy Is A Great Equalizer

A phenomenon of the evolving American Dream is the rise of the gig economy and the availability of side hustles, rideshares, house hacking, self-publishing, and more. I always dreamed of becoming an author, and thanks to self-publishing businesses like Kindle Direct Publishing, I am the author of four books so far!

The gig economy has lowered the barrier to entry in many industries. It is helping people discover the power of multiple income streams, instead of relying solely on a 9-to-5 job. In the gig economy, anyone with an internet connection, a car, a phone, and elbow grease has a shot at generating income.

Financial Wellness Implications

Embracing this trend has obvious benefits of boosting income and positively impacting your financial wellness. You can accelerate debt repayment, maximize retirement savings, and better prepare for emergencies. Best of all, you have the opportunity to pursue your passions and explore entrepreneurial dreams.

The American Dream as I once imagined it is fast becoming a thing of the past. The evolving American Dream is reshaping our priorities and redefining traditional milestones in ways that are both exciting and uncertain. It requires shifting mindsets, letting go of previous expectations, and fully embracing the more flexible but uncertain environment. The possibilities are potentially endless!"



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