MONEY Food & Drink

Whole Foods to Open Cheaper Stores for Millennials

Whole Foods says it will open a new, lower-priced brand of stores aimed at attracting millennials.

TIME Sex

Exclusive: Millennials More Tolerant of Premarital Sex, But Have Fewer Partners

Your parents probably had more sex than you're having

Sorry, Millennials, but despite your hookup apps, your parents were probably having more sex than you’re having. Millennials are much more tolerant of premarital sex than earlier generations, but they tend to have slightly fewer partners than their parents did, according to a new study released Tuesday.

Over the last eight years, acceptance of premarital sex has moved from a minority position to a majority position, with 58% of respondents in 2012 saying they thought there was nothing wrong with sex before marriage (compared to 44% in 2004,) according to a new study of over 33,000 people published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. Over the 35 years before that, acceptance has gradually increased: 28% thought premarital sex was okay in 1972, then 38% in 1978, then 41% in 1982. As acceptance for premarital sex has increased, so has tolerance for homosexuality—in 1973, 11% of people believed gay sex was “not wrong,” but by 2012 that number had quadrupled to 44%.

Yet despite increasingly laissez-faire attitudes to sex and marriage, millennials are sleeping with fewer partners than their parents did. Boomers and early Gen X’ers born in the 1950s and 60s had the most sex of all—an average of 11 sexual partners as adults—followed by those born in the 1940s or 1970s, who averaged at about 10 partners. Millennials, born in the 1980s and 1990s, only have an average of eight sexual partners. Still, they’re doing better than their grandparents in the “Greatest Generation,” who slept with an average of about two partners each.

“Although millennials are more tolerant of these behaviors, they’re not taking that is license to sleep around,” said report author Jean Twenge, who also wrote Generation Me, about millennials. She noted that the decrease in the number of partners could be related to growing awareness about HIV and other STDs (since millennials are much more safety-conscious than earlier generations) and probably doesn’t have much to do with the morality of premarital sex. “Millennials have never known a world where premarital sex was a taboo,” she said.

Twenge said this change seems to be over generations, not over time. In other words, it’s not that the entire population that changes its attitudes all at once, but instead that a younger, more accepting generation replaces an older one. So while the culture as a whole may have become more accepting of premarital sex, people who grew up when it was still a taboo may not have necessarily changed their minds.

Still, despite the growing acceptance of sex before marriage, the data suggests that there might still be a different kind of awkwardness in the cross-generational sex talks. “What you might see when millennials are discussing these issues with their boomer parents is that millennials are more permissive of sexuality,” Twenge said, “but boomers might have to shut their mouths about how many partners they’ve had.”.

Read next: 5 Things You Need To Know About Kissing

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TIME

This Is Millennials’ Most Embarrassing Secret

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Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

We lose billions a year because of this

Today’s young adults are establishing their careers, but their lack of technological prowess is costing their employers big-time. Yes, you read that right. In spite of growing up having the Internet in the palms of their hands, these so-called “digital natives” have a yawning knowledge gap that’s not apparent until they get into the office.

“Most Gen Ys grew up accustomed to using social media and texting for communicating and collaborating and haven’t had to use email or spreadsheets extensively,” explains Chris Pope, senior director of strategy at technology services company ServiceNow.

And unfortunately for them, programs like Outlook and Excel are the technologies most companies in America still rely on to get stuff done. Being able to summon a car, book a table or send a birthday gift with the tap of a finger is great, but this kind of streamlined experience isn’t the norm in most workplaces, and young workers just can’t deal. “Many are only introduced to those tools when they enter the workforce and have to change their natural way of engaging to better match the way everyone else in the enterprise is working,” Pope says. “In many ways, Gen Y have to go backwards to use less efficient technology in the office than they use in their personal lives.”

And millennials’ technology problem isn’t limited to functions like emailing and creating spreadsheets. Researchers have found that a lot of young adults can’t even use Google correctly. One study of college students found that only seven out of 30 knew how to conduct a “well-executed” Google search.

“When it comes to finding and evaluating sources in the Internet age, students are downright lousy,” an article in Inside Higher Ed says about the study. “They were basically clueless about the logic underlying how the search engine organizes and displays its results. Consequently, the students did not know how to build a search that would return good sources.”

Not knowing how to use the most common tools for basic business and administrative tasks is staggeringly expensive for companies. A survey from ServiceNow of more than 900 managers finds that ServiceNow finds that American companies spend a collective $575 billion a year on administrative overhead.

“Busywork is pervasive,” Pope says.

Managers spend an average of 15 hours a week on administrative busywork — everything from making and following up on requests for technical support to submitting purchase orders. Completing these mundane tasks is often a drawn-out affair, requiring five to nine different contacts in 40% of cases. What’s more, less-adept younger workers are likelier to have more of these tasks assigned to them just by virtue of the fact that they’re the “low man on the totem pole,” Pope says. Millennials spend 43% of their time on administrative work, far more than baby boomers. “They may have to pay their dues with a greater number of administrative tasks than more senior managers have,” Pope says.

Pope says the best way for young workers to handle this is to look for tasks they can automate, since manual data-entry, follow-up and the like is both time-consuming and prone to errors. “The more you can bypass the manual aspects of work, the more productive you can be,” he says.

Read next: Are Millennials Really Lazy at Work?

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TIME streaming

Hey, Millennials: Here’s Where You Can Stream Your Favorite Movies

Superbad
NBC NewsWire—NBC NewsWire via Getty Images TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Actors Jonah Hill, Michael Ceraz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse of "Superbad" stop by the Plaza on NBC News' TODAY on August 8, 2007

From Superbad to Mean Girls

Millennials love their streaming services — but this list of 15 favorite Millennial flicks might be an eye opener, because less than half are available through subscription streaming services (in this case, HBO Go and Netflix). For the rest, you’ll have to buy them individually.

From Amazon to Vudu, with peeks at Hulu and even Crackle in between, all the popular sources for watching movies online were scoured in amassing this list. Though all the movies were available in several different places, one thing was consistent: None of them were free, so get ready to open your wallets.

American Pie: This 1999 classic might seem stale by today’s standards, but it was groundbreaking at the time. And after some straight-to-video sequels, it’s taught us an important lesson: when to say goodbye.

Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu

Easy A: A fresh take on The Scarlet Letter, this 2010 Emma Stone flick is a great refresher on modern day high school social issues, particularly “slut shaming,” a practice has been attacked in the years since this movie was released.

Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu

Bring It On: Sure, it spawned an unholy amount of sequels, but this 2000 rom-com is pure Gen Y youth. From the choreography to the cast, “it’s been broughten.”

Amazon, HBO Go, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu

Can’t Hardly Wait: When this was released in 1998, everyone in the movie and in the theaters had a crush on Amanda Becket, played by Jennifer Love Hewitt. Watching it 17 years later, you get to look back at bad boy Mike Dexter and see that he wasn’t so cool after all. (Seriously… what happened to that guy? Oh wait. He was in Twilight.)

Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu

Clueless: This 1995 sleeper introduced Paul Rudd to the world. Beyond that, it’s like comfort food — something Cher would never eat — packed full of one-liners and dated references to the 90s.

Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Netflix, and Vudu

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: When millennials want to reminisce about life as a kid, only the original Harry Potter will do. Packed full of wizards and witches, this 2001 movie is as much about getting acquainted at a new school as it is about magic.

Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu

Mean Girls: Has it only been 11 years since this classic teen comedy hit the screen? In that time, Lindsay Lohan has dropped off the marquees and writer Tina Fey gotten all “bossypants” on us. Also, “fetch” still hasn’t happened.

Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Netflix, and Vudu

Superbad: An American Pie without a boatload of crappy sequels, this 2007 laugh-fest showed off the comedic chops of Jonah Hill, introduced Emma Stone, and made Michael Cera into a star. If there’s a more millennial movie than that, I’d like to see it.

Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu

The Devil Wears Prada: Though it was derived from a book that wasn’t geared towards Generation Y, this 2006 movie is a favorite of that age group because it covers transitioning into a workplace filled with older people and outdated attitudes. In fact, the Christian Science Monitor makes the case that it might be the most Millennial movie of them all. (But my money is still on Superbad.)

Amazon, HBO Go, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu

The Hangover: Debatably the highest-grossing comedy of all time, this remake of Three Men and a Baby (think about it) was crazy fun when it came out. And if they didn’t repeat the same jokes in Hangover II and Hangover III, it would be even better.

Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu

The Hunger Games: It started with the books, then the film franchise captured the imagination of the generation. The first film in the series, this 2012 epic had all the teens wanting to do archery in gym class. Now it makes them want to hang out with Jennifer Lawrence.

Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu

The Notebook: Hey girl, you know you love this Ryan Gosling love story.

Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu

The Social Network: From a plot line ripped from the real-world problems of the world’s most successful millennial, to an inspired script (the pub scene between Jesse Eisenberg and Rooney Mara was spot-on), this 2010 Oscar-winner drips with Gen Y. The funny thing is, millennials reportedly want nothing to do with Facebook. Or do they?

Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu

Twilight: Love it or hate it, this 2008 coming-of-age love story drove vampire fans crazy in its day. For everyone else, there is the ridiculous vampire baseball scene that gets funnier every time you see it.

Netflix, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu

Wet Hot American Summer: A 2001 cult classic packed with everyone from Amy Poehler to Judah Friedlander, this campy summer camp flick oozes with nostalgia for a time that millennials never experienced (something that generation specializes in, incidentally). But while this comedy is infinitely re-watchable, Netflix has announced it is creating a series based on the movie.

Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, HBO Go, and Vudu

Note to the reader: All of the Amazon movies listed above were available for rental or purchase, not through Amazon Prime Video.

MONEY 401(k)s

Terrible Advice I Hope Young People Ignore

incorrect road signs
Sarina Finkelstein (photo illustration)—John W. Banagan/Getty Images (1)

Please, invest in a 401(k).

I like James Altucher. He’s a sharp writer and a smart thinker. It’s just those kinds of people — people who know what they’re talking about — who deserve to be called out when they say something silly.

Altucher did a video with Business Insider this week pleading with young workers not to save in a 401(k).

It is — and I’m being gracious here — one of the most misguided attempts at financial advice I’ve ever witnessed. It deserves a rebuttal.

Altucher begins the video:

“I’m going to be totally blunt. Are you guys in 401(k)s? OK, you’re in 401(k)s. I honestly think you should take your money out of 401(k)s.”

Why? His rant begins:

“This is what is actually happening in a 401(k): You have no idea what’s happening to your money.”

Everyone who has a 401(k) can see exactly what’s happening with their money. You can see exactly what funds you’re investing in, and what individual securities those funds invest in. These disclosure requirements are legal obligations of the fund sponsor and the managers investing the money.

You might choose not to look, but the information is there. An investor’s ignorance shouldn’t be confused with an advisor’s scam.

Altucher lobs another complaint:

“And, by the way, if you want that money back before age 65, which is 45 years from now, you have to pay a huge penalty.”

You can take money out of a 401(k) without penalty starting at age 59-and-a-half. You can also roll 401(k) money into an IRA and use it for a down payment on a first home or for tuitionwithout penalty.

A lot of companies also offer Roth 401(k) options, where you may be able to withdraw principal at any time without taxes or penalty.

According to the Census Bureau, 91.2% of Americans currently of working-age will turn 65 in less than 45 years.

Another gripe:

“They’re doing whatever they want with your money. They’re investing wherever they want.”

There are no 401(k)s where someone does “whatever they want with your money.”

All 401(k)s are heavily regulated by the Department of Labor and have to abide by strict investment standards under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.

Part of those rules require that you, the worker, have control over how your money is invested. Here’s how the Department of Labor puts it (emphasis mine):

There must be at least three different investment options so that employees can diversify investments within an investment category, such as through a mutual fund,and diversify among the investment alternatives offered. In addition, participants must be given sufficient information to make informed decisions about the options offered under the plan. Participants also must be allowed to give investment instructions at least once a quarter, and perhaps more often if the investment option is volatile.

A lot of companies still offer subpar investment choices, but check out this article on how to lobby your employer for a better 401(k). Someone at your company has a legal duty to provide choices that are in your best interest.

“They’re paying themselves salaries.”

It’s true: Mutual fund managers earn a salary.

You know who else takes a salary from the stuff you buy?

Plumbers, accountants, electricians, doctors, nurses, construction workers, shoe salesman, car mechanics, pilots, dentists, receptionists, gas station attendants, TV anchors, the guy behind the counter at the coffee shop, the lady who scans your groceries, me, and — at some point in his life — probably James Altucher.

Look, a lot of fund managers are overpaid. It’s an injustice. But skipping a 401(k), the employer match, and decades of tax-deferred returns because they draw a salary is madness. The employer match, in many cases, offers a risk-free and immediate 100% return on any money contributed to a 401(k). A mutual fund manager’s salary likely eats up a fraction of 1% annually.

Plus, fees have come way down in recent years. Here’s a report by the Investment Company Institute:

The expense ratios that 401(k) plan participants incur for investing in mutual funds have declined substantially since 2000. In 2000, 401(k) plan participants incurred an average expense ratio of 0.77 percent for investing in equity funds. By 2013, that figure had fallen to 0.58 percent, a 25 percent decline.

What does Altucher say to do with your money instead of saving in a 401(k)?

“Hold on to your money. Put your money in your bank account.”

Haha, OK. I shouldn’t invest in a 401(k) because mutual fund managers take a salary. I’m sure the bankers where I have my checking account work for free?

His biggest beef is that people just don’t make money in 401(k)s:

“The average 401(k) — they won’t really tell you this — probably returns, like, one-half percent per year.”

There’s a reason they “won’t really tell you” that: It’s nonsense.

According to a study of 401(k) investors by Vanguard, “Five-year [2008-2013] participant total returns averaged 12.7% per year.”

The average return from 2002 to 2007 was 9.5% per year.

Even from 2004 to 2009, which is one of the worst five-year periods the market has ever produced, the average 401(k) investor in Vanguard’s study earned 2.8% annually.

This is Vanguard, the low-cost provider. But even if you subtract another percentage point from these returns to account for higher-fee providers, you won’t get anywhere close to half a percent per year.

There’s actually a good reason to think investors will do better in a 401(k) than in other investments.

The rules designed to make it difficult for people to take money out of a 401(k) until they’re retired create good behavior, where investors leave their investments alone without jumping in and out of the market at the worst possible times. Automatic payroll deductions also help keep long-term investing on track.

Take this stat from Vanguard:

Despite the ongoing market volatility of 2009, only 13% of participants made one or more portfolio trades or exchanges during the year, down from 16% in 2008. As in prior years, most participants did not trade.

The majority of 401(k) investors dollar-cost average every month and never touch their investments again. That is fantastic. If you could recreate this behavior across the entire investment world, everyone would be rich.

Altucher has another problem with tax deferment:

“You don’t really make money in a 401(k). It’s just tax-deferred. When you’re in your 20s, what does tax-deferred really mean?”

What does it really mean? About a million freakin’ dollars.

Save $10,000 a year in a 401(k) — half from you and half from your employer — and in 45 years (Altucher’s preferred timeframe, here), the difference between taxable and tax-deferred at an 8% annual return is massive:

You can play around with the assumptions as you’d like with this calculator.

Here’s his final takeaway:

“What you should do in your 20s and 30s is invest in yourself. Building out multiple sources of income, investing in getting greater skills, and so on.”

Great advice! But you can do all of that and still invest in a 401(k). And virtually everyone should.

** James, are you reading this? Let’s do a video together and duke this out in person! My email is mhousel@fool.com **

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TIME

These Are America’s Secret Money Habits

Pile of new series American money twenty on top.
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You'll be surprised at how we really see ourselves

Young adults spend less on groceries, but eat out more. New Yorkers are suckers for a fancy brand name, Bostonians love giving gifts and Floridians want to get money advice from Warren Buffett.

These are some of the finds in the new TD Bank Saving and Spending Survey, which uncovers some good news as well as some red flags about how Americans manage their money today.

Respondents under the age of 35 have the most financial confidence of any age bracket. They’re less likely to use the words “conservative” or “cautious” to describe their approach to saving, and they’re a full 10 percentage points more likely when compared to the overall pool of respondents to say they’re “very confident” that they’ll be able to save enough for retirement.

This apparent contradiction is because young adults are at very different points in their lives, says Nandita Bakhshi, TD Banks’ head of consumer bank. “Some are just graduating from college while others are married and starting a family. This mixed group lends itself to mixed answers.”

Bakhshi adds that because many of them are landing their first “real” post-college jobs, they’re seeing their financial circumstances shift rapidly. “Many of them… finally have extra income they can use to splurge on items they want,” she says, and they also have the ability to save a meaningful amount for the first time in their adult lives. “Seeing their savings grow, even if it is a small amount, is a big accomplishment and gives them a sense of pride and confidence,” she says.

Other recent research yields similar findings. The Bank of America/USA Today Better Money Habits Millennial Report finds that more than two-thirds of young adults have savings or save regularly each month; more than three-quarters of those who have savings goals say they meet them.

But when people were asked where they tend to overspend, millennial respondents to the TD Bank survey are most likely to say they spend too much in all categories, and more likely to say they wish they could save more.

In particular, they stand out for splurging on restaurants, even though they spend less on groceries than other age groups.

Bakhshi says this is a combination of millennials being unable to resist an option that offers greater convenience, and this demographic’s preference for doing things in groups. “Dining out is also considered to be a social event that many millennials look forward to [even if] it may stretch their budget a bit,” she says.

Both surveys find that parents and friends are a big influence on how young people manage their money. The Bank of America/USA Today survey finds that almost two-thirds of young adults say they get financial guidance from their parents, and nearly 30% get financial information from their friends.

The TD Bank survey found that a little more than half of young adults get financial advice from their parents, just over the average for respondents of all ages, but 14% say they turn to their friends — a considerably higher figure than the 8% of all respondents who say the same.

There are other differences that break down by geography rather than age. TD Bank finds that Florida residents, for instance, are much more likely to say that their ideal person to talk about financial strategy with is famous investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett.

“Florida has a high population of retirees [who]may no longer have that support system” of friends and family for financial advice, Bakhshi says.

Bostonians are the only group of respondents who say they overspend on gifts for other people, but that generosity has limits: This is also the category more Bostonians say they’d cut back on if they hit a financial tight spot.

New York City residents report higher spending on purchases like restaurant meals and tickets to sporting events, and overspending on more categories like high-end brands and coffee, than people who live in other places do.

“In many urban areas, such as New York, consumers have easy access to many things such as dining out, entertainment and clothing,” Bakhshi says. “It is hard to walk down the street without passing any of these places.”

MONEY financial literacy

Most 20-Somethings Can’t Answer These 3 Financial Questions. Can You?

people taking quiz
Getty Images—Getty Images

A new study finds that young Americans could use some help when it comes to managing their money.

Just in time for financial literacy month, a new San Diego State University study of young Americans has found that they are lacking when it comes to financial knowledge and behavior.

Out of these three questions measuring basic financial knowledge, the average respondent could answer only 1.8 correctly—and only a quarter got all three right. (Answers are at the bottom of this story.)

(1) Do you think that the following statement is true or false? Buying a single company stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund.

(2) Suppose you had $100 in a savings account and the interest rate was 2% per year. After 5 years, how much do you think you would have in the account if you left the money to grow: More than $102, exactly $102, or less than $102?

(3) Imagine that the interest rate on your savings account was 1% per year and inflation was 2% per year. After 1 year, would you be able to buy more than, exactly the same as, or less than today with the money in this account?

Perhaps most troubling was what the research showed about how respondents have actually been managing their money. The average young person surveyed showed responsible behavior in only one of three categories: Paying off debts on time, budgeting and living within one’s means, and having any retirement savings at all. Only 2% of all respondents showed responsible behavior in all three categories.

Furthermore, the study—led by SDSU professors Ning Tang, Andrew Baker, and Paula Peter—found that there was little to no effect of financial knowledge on financial behavior. That is, young people manage money poorly, even when they know better.

But there is hope for America’s youth, says Tang.

“Our findings suggest that if you want to improve your own financial behavior, the best thing you can do is be open to the influences of others,” says Tang.

Though the study did not examine the influence of peers, its results suggest both family and financial professionals could play an important role in improving young people’s financial habits. The researchers found that being close with parents was correlated with better money management among women—and that higher self-reported levels of being “thorough” and “careful” was correlated with better financial behavior among men. Among both sexes, higher self-reported levels of being “self-disciplined” was correlated with better money habits.

That suggests educators and financial planners should focus on getting young people to be more self-aware in general and more motivated to improve their organizational habits across the board—not just when it comes to finances, says Tang.

“It can be helpful just to be more aware of your own psychological barriers,” she says.

One thing the study did not explore much is the cause of gender differences in the results. For example, the authors did not control for whether parents tend to treat daughters differently than sons.

And the answers to the questions above? They are: (1) false; (2) more than $102; and (3) less than today.

Read Next: This One Question Can Show If You’re Smarter Than Most U.S. Millennials

MONEY Food & Drink

Why You Should Blame Millennials for Spicy Fast Food

flame made out of still life of jalopeno peppers
Gallery Stock

If you want to know why fast food menus are being overloaded with hot flavors and extra spicy sauces, look no further than millennials and their "adventurous" tastes.

Walk into almost any chain restaurant in America and you’re sure to encounter spicy new menu items that’ll put a little sweat on your brow. A few examples:

• This week, Wendy’s rolled out two hot-hot-hot limited-time menu items: the Jalapeno Fresco Spicy Chicken Sandwich and Ghost Pepper Fries.

Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. introduced El Diablo, a burger featuring not one but “four sources of fiery flavor”: sliced jalapenos, crunchy Jalapeno Poppers, spicy habanero bacon sauce, and pepper-Jack cheese. The company has described the El Diablo—which translates to “like a fighting chicken,” according to Ricky Bobbie in Talladega Nights—as both “fast food’s hottest burger” and a “lava bomb.”

• New chicken-and-rice bowls from KFC offer the magic combo of spicy flavors for millennials—Sweet ‘n Spicy BBQ and Zesty Tex-Mex—and a cheap price point of just $5, including a medium drink and a cookie.

Burger King introduced both a Spicy Big Fish Sandwich and a Spicy BLT Whopper in 2015, as well as an April Fool prank burger-scented perfume called “Spicy.”

• The menu at Popeye’s had Ghost Pepper Wings for a limited time earlier this year, featuring the intense spice of one of the world’s hottest peppers.

Denny’s, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut are among the outlets that have mixed Sriracha sauce into the menu of late.

What’s behind the up-spice, so to speak? Surely the most extreme flavors will only appeal to a small subset of customers, won’t they?

“I think ghost peppers and other really spicy ingredients are gimmicks,” Nation’s Restaurant News senior food editor Bret Thorn said in a recent discussion about fast food trends. Still, reasonably spicy food is rapidly becoming more mainstream: “We actually are seeing a seismic shift in how Americans respond to spicy food. In fact, now the majority of Americans say they like spicy food.”

“When it comes to spicy food, a lot of the consumer research being done on the topic today clearly shows that the public’s desire for heat just keeps growing and growing every year,” Brad Haley, chief marketing officer of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, said in a press release announcing the El Diablo burger. “We’ve witnessed that phenomenon in our own restaurants, where potential menu items that used to be rated as ‘too spicy’ in our market tests just a few years ago are now just right.”

According to a 2013 Technomic survey, 54% of consumers said they preferred spicy foods and sauces, and high percentages indicated they’re driven to try new flavors (37%) and that new flavors can push them into visiting restaurants (41%). With that in mind, it’s easy to see why more and more restaurants are periodically adding hot new flavors to their menus.

For that matter, this is hardly a new trend. Red Robin first offered a Ghost Pepper burger in 2012, while McDonald’s, Sonic, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Subway have added menu items dashed with habanero, jalapeno, chipotle, and of course Sriracha in recent years.

Yet lately hotness on fast food menus seems to have picked up, well, heat. And, as with so many consumer categories nowadays, appealing to the tastes of millennials is a big motivating force behind the shift. Nearly 75% of millennials say they want to experience more flavors at restaurants, according to Mintel data, while 62% describe themselves as “adventurous eaters” (compared with 54% of all U.S. adults). Sriracha has been declared the “go-to condiment” for millennials as well.

By adding spicier options, restaurants can draw in more adventurous—and younger—customers, and they don’t seem nearly as concerned about alienating their core clientele as they used to be. In the NRN discussion, Thorn recalled that a decade or so ago, in order for a new item to be approved to go national, “it had to score high among the vast majority of their customers, and that meant that they never offered really spicy food because it was considered polarizing.” Tastes have changed for many consumers, and so has the thinking about what’s a good addition to restaurant menus. “Now,” says Thorn, “the food even at mass-market chains has gotten a lot spicier.”

MONEY Financial Planning

Online Financial Planning Is More Popular Than You Think

piggy bank connected to computer mouse
Jan Stromme—Getty Images

Who needs to meet a financial adviser face-to-face? Not millennials and Gen Xers, who are often happier Skyping.

Hi, my name is Katie, and I’m a virtual financial planner.

If this sounds like a support group meeting, sometimes I feel like it should be. When I tell other financial planners that I work with clients across the country, they say, “But clients always value the face-to-face meetings that my firms provides.” So I ask them, “What is the average age of those clients?” The answer is usually in the 60s.

I started my own financial planning firm last year because I wanted to focus on clients under 50, in a way that lets me deliver advice without selling financial products. That doesn’t sound too complicated, does it? One of the ways I do this is by offering my services to people not in my immediate location. We either have a phone call while using screen-sharing software like JoinMe, or we use Skype or Google Hangouts to conduct meetings.

Since I’ve been in the industry for 10 years and always previously met with clients in person, I was a little apprehensive about the idea of not meeting clients face-to-face.

You know what? They don’t care. At all.

The clients I work with are well-educated, busy Gen X and Gen Y professionals. They use technology on a daily basis for work and personal reasons. The married couples I work with are usually both working in high-intensity jobs while juggling the demands of a family. Taking time out of their day to drive to a financial planner’s office, have an hour-long meeting, and drive back to their own workspace would easily eat up two to three hours of valuable time.

When we have a call or virtual meeting, we have a set agenda, the appointment is on their work calendar, and we are able to accomplish everything in 30 to 45 minutes. When we do this, my clients don’t need to spend a bunch of time away from the office, get a babysitter, or drive around town.

Another advantage to my clients (and me!) is that I am able to keep my financial planning prices down. Because I don’t keep an office in an expensive part of town, my overhead costs are lower. I can pass that savings along to my clients. I also have a lot of flexibility to conduct business even when I’m out of town for a conference.

What does a planner need in order to work with clients virtually?

  • A phone, and preferably a phone number that isn’t tied to a particular office space.
  • Comfort with screen-sharing tools.
  • Enough organizational skills to have the topic decided on beforehand — and enough flexibility to be able to answer other questions as they arise.
  • Financial planning software that clients can access online, or a secure client vault for sharing documents back and forth.

That’s it!

Clients that fit best in a virtual relationship are those that are comfortable with technology, somewhat self-sufficient, and aware of why this setup benefits them.

I’ve found that members of Gen X and Gen Y actually like working with a financial planner virtually because they are already comfortable with technology, they’re used to communicating this way, and they like the time-saving convenience. As an added benefit, those clients get to choose an adviser because the adviser specializes in their specific situation, not because the adviser happens to live near them.

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Katie Brewer, CFP, is the president of Your Richest Life, where she works virtually with Gen X and Gen Y professionals, helping them create and stick to a financial roadmap to live their richest life. Katie is a fee-only planner, a founding member of the XY Planning Network, and a member of the Financial Planning Association. She is also proud to be a Fightin’ Texas Aggie.

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