From Saving for a Vacation to Buying Health Insurance: How Covid-19 is Making Millennials Financially Literate

Features

From Saving for a Vacation to Buying Health Insurance: How Covid-19 is Making Millennials Financially Literate

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Crises have a habit of bringing about behaviour changes in a manner that regular life cannot enforce. The Recession of ’08 brought about banking reform. The World Wars forced cooperation among countries tired of all the squabbling. The Black Death changed labour laws. Heck, it took the crisis of piracy for the music industry to embrace digital technology.

But nothing is likely to have the wide-ranging impact that the coronavirus is going to have – already predicted to change everything from the global economy to how metalheads behave at gigs. Many erstwhile impossible things seem suddenly likely – formalised alcohol delivery, increased work from home… And millennials learning to save. For this famously profligate group, this involves not only smart management of their income, but also planning for the future, which includes choosing a responsible medical insurance plan.

Now, I don’t want to come across as a hater of this much maligned generation, coming from the outer limit of it myself. Those in the West, for example, are still reeling from the effects of the recession of 2009. That being said, millennials from the “middle class”, which is really the upper class in India, have had it relatively good for a while. Despite the gloom-and-doom of global news like Brexit and the US-China trade war, and domestic issues like demonetisation, our economy’s chugged along.

Even if it was all a carefully constructed house of cards, thanks to some smart choices, our economy wasn’t as affected by the Great Recession as much as the US, and recovered quicker. There was, somehow, a sense of insulation, perhaps invincibility – buoyed by upward-pointing graphs and joyous headlines over the next decade, which saw the Sensex jump from less than 5,000 to over 40,000.

Due to the pandemic, millennials are forced to reckon with an unsure future and it’s hitting uncomfortably close home.

India’s youth was among the primary beneficiaries of the largesse of venture capital firms keen on achieving impressive targets on the back of questionable business models. We weren’t complaining. Our salaries kept rising and disposable income had been high. We got AC cab rides and home delivered food at rates well below what a standard economics textbook would advise. Foreign travel became par for the course, impulse buying and bespoke tailoring and personalised fitness classes and keto-only restaurants and alternate-day drinking and dancing… This became the reality for so many from our class and generation. Just try taking a walk down one of Bandra or Khan Market lanes on a Friday night.

Seen as the next big market for pretty much everything, we were pampered with everything from new mobile phones to quality web content to concerts by international rock stars. Which is not to say any of these things were bad! Our ministers might grumble that it was our profligate ways that destroyed the auto industry, but in many ways, millennials kept the economy moving – doing all sorts of jobs. A career in comedy became viable. The number of IIMs shot up. We were still the offshore capital of the world, but now we were doing cooler things than just coding.

Many of us didn’t have to deal with the pressures that our parents and grandparents had contended with. Armed with the safety of a reasonable bank balance or a moderate inheritance like a house, we could dream of pursuing satisfying careers and passion projects, leaving the responsibility of planning savings and choosing the best health insurance company to their more informed parents.

Alas, along came a small gust of wind in the form of a global pandemic threatening to upend that house of cards. For the first time in a very long time, millennials are forced to reckon with an unsure future and it’s hitting uncomfortably close home. Stories of salary cuts or getting laid off are no longer foreign news, but things happening on our WhatsApp groups. Not a day goes by on social media without me coming across at least one “struggling to pay rent”, “clients have dried up” or just plain anxiety over job security (the latter being the most discussed topic from a webinar I conducted with a mental health counsellor recently).

In addition to smart investments, millennials will also have to consider their health insurance, if they even have one.

And of course, at a time when something as simple as not standing six feet away from someone at an ATM queue can infect you with Covid-19, most people are looking at their savings and not planning their next vacation, but instead calculating possible hospital expenses. In addition to smart investments, millennials will also have to consider their health insurance, if they even have one. Comprehensive plans like Max Bupa’s Health Premia Health Plan insures policy holders against unforeseen medical bills, which is a valuable financial safety net to have in these times.

It’s a plan that feels tailor-made for the globetrotting, millennial who wouldn’t settle for anything less than the best. Not only does it have the option to insure your health even when travelling abroad, it also features an in-built travel insurance that covers you against unpredicted trip cancellation, and loss of checked-in luggage. For the millennial who are at the age where they starting a family, it has maternity coverage and can cover hospitalisation bills for them and their insured family members. And of course, the big one, it has a cover for Covid-19 hospitalisation as well.

Financial literacy is something millennial might have spent the past decade neglecting, but now they’ve got no choice but to come to grips with it, and fast. As always, the data doesn’t lie. Searches for “how to invest” from India have shot up since February.

Get Quote for Max Bupa’s Health Premia Plans, click here.

Comments