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Tag Archives: Millennials
As a kid, I used to think being an adult happened once you turned the age of majority, which in my case, was 19. Or when I reached my final height and stopped growing
Now, I’m thinking becoming an adult in a social context is much more complex than that, mostly because we have different rites of passage for adults these days than we did before.
All this talk about young people (my generation) and this new cultural, Western phenomenon of ‘arrested development’ where no one wants to grow up and become an adult has made me wonder WTF happened.
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE PAST?
Two generations ago, my grandparents became adults the day they got married, moved out of their parents’ homes, got jobs and worked to pay for their bills while raising a family. No college degrees.
One generation ago, my parents followed the same path, although before they moved out of their parents’ homes after they got married, my mother got a college degree (but my father went straight into the workforce with just a high school education).
Photograph I took while walking along New York City’s High Line Railroad Park
We Millennials don’t even get married until we’re in our late 20s, even mid-30s.. or perhaps, not at all, so being an adult doesn’t come after being married any more.
Plus, we are being herded and nagged to go to college, even if we don’t have a clue about what we want to do with that degree (if it’s worth anything..).
We each follow different paths to become adults (before or after college), but the most striking commonality among those whom I consider to be adults, are that they are all financially independent, even having lost their jobs.
I know at least 5 people who don’t have jobs right now, but they’re still living on their own with drastically slashed budgets, living off their emergency funds, searching hard for a new job, and NOT moving back in with Mommy and Daddy.
One girl even took on waitressing and catering jobs in the meantime (with an MBA!) because she had to make ends meet while job hunting.
They are all determined to find a new career and/or job, go back to school and do something else.
Sometimes you have a boomerang adult-child who ends up coming back to the nest right after being unemployed to mooch, but I only know of one person like that.
So when I come across newly minted college grads such as this one, who say things like:
“..it’s time for me to become an adult and start paying my bills“
…yet she has never moved out on her own, and her parents are letting her live rent-free, grocery-free, with goodness knows what else, you wonder if they even know what being a real adult, let alone being financially independent means.
(Curtsey to Money after Graduation for the link)
Being an adult to me, means being able to support yourself without help of others like your parents or siblings.
Then what you choose to do, is your own business.
Look, you can be an adult and still live with your parents or grandparents — here’s one case in point:
I have a friend who told us after college he would move in with his grandmother to live with her, mostly to take care of her but also to pay ‘rent’ to her which would cover the rest of her mortgage and household bills which would secure her needs.
When his grandmother passed away, he sold the house, split the amounts with his siblings, and bought his own condo.
THAT, is an adult, my friends.
Photograph I took of artwork in an NYC subway
SO YOU CAN’T FIND A JOB, HUH?
There seems to be a (sad) trend happening where no one wants to really take the leap into true adulthood — this is being mirrored on TV such as in HBO’s “Girls” where a heroine who has been supported by her parents for years after college is cut off by her parents because they were sick of her not fully becoming independent any time soon.
While I absolutely understand not being able to find a job you love especially in today’s economy, here are some ground rules to true adulthood if you have no choice but to be at home with your parents:
- get a full-time job, ANY job that you work at, for 40 hours a week
- cover your own personal bills (cellphone, gas, car, car insurance) without whining
- pay some form of rent to cover your shelter and household bills there
- help out around the house without grumbling
- continue to look for a job
And you know what? That’s exactly what I do with my parents.
I don’t see the point in signing a lease for a year when I may only be in their city for a few months (or traveling a lot), so when I am with my parents, I:
- pay rent and my share of the household bills
- pay my own bills (cellphone, gas, .. everything)
- buy my own groceries and theirs, and cook for them
- buy them things I think they need around the house
- …even pay for necessary repairs sometimes
- help out around the house — I set a weekly schedule to clean each part of the house
I do it because I should, especially since they’re letting me stay there and invade their lives from time to time.
I know my parents not-so-secretly love having me there (they get lonely), but that doesn’t mean I should take advantage of them, especially if I want to call myself an adult.
When are we ever going to grow up, if we aren’t doing it now?
The average student, according to Forbes, already carries $12,700 in credit-card and other kinds of debt.
Student loans have grown consistently over the last few decades to an average of $27,000 each.
Nationwide in the U.S., tuition debt is close to $1 trillion.
As a Millennial, I did graduate with $60,000 in student loans, but I was able to pay them off in 18 months.
Partly by luck, circumstance and hard work, I am in a good position, but I know many of my fellow Millennials are not.
But is it really a direct result of the Boomer Generation (our parents) “screwing” our chances?
Or is it just that we were brought up to be unrealistic about what we’d earn and how our lives would turn out?
I see how some of my friends in college were in some sort of bubble where everything seemed to work out for them because their parents coddled them.
If they were stressed little brats and taking it out on people like me who were working full-time jobs, their parents swooped in and said: Oh she’s stressed. I’m taking her to NYC next week to shop to help her calm down before school starts.
The look I gave her mother…… you don’t even know.
Maybe we’re also horribly unrealistic about our job prospects and earning potential.
There can only be so many lawyers required in the world.
Once supply overtakes demand, salaries will drop. It’s basic Economics 101!
On the Baby Boomer side of things, if you take a look at Financial Uproar’s post earlier this month about incomes being a fantasy, you read this:
I’d like to gross $200,000/yr and work 30hr work weeks.
I’d probably like to work around 20 to 30 hours a week. Income would be tougher for me to determine at this point but ideally my minimum would probably end up at least 100,000.
My magic number at this point in my life is $150k… I would like a 20 – 30 hour week.
My ideal income would be $300k combined… 20 hours a week would be ideal.
I think $200,000 sounds like a good number for me to shoot for, but I think I would like to work 4 hard (normal) hours (per day).
…and think: it’s hard to even earn $100,000 in active income, and the median salary for Americans is $50,000 a year.
Now they’re not necessarily ALL Baby Boomers, some might be Millennials, but…..do these people have a magical plan?
Have they crunched the reality of those kinds of numbers? Doubtful.
What do I have to back all of this up?
(One commenter brought this up as a great point that no one can’t say this definitively because people DO accomplish the above.
I don’t dispute that, but I am disputing that the majority of Americans could make it, no matter how hard they dream, and sadly, no matter how hard they work.)
Well here’s what I have:
- 50% of Baby Boomers feel like they can’t retire
- 46% of all Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets
Those are not shy percentages.
Sure, the ones thinking about making more money will retire eventually and have more than $10,000 in assets…. but will they achieve those numbers above?
I’d love to hear a foolproof, luck-free, connections-free method that can work for every American who will earn $200,000 a year working 4 hours a day, because I WILL THROW MONEY AT YOU to buy this plan!!!!
(Okay, not really. I’m going about my own goals, my own way.)
It’s nice to have dreams and goals, but it’s also nice to know that they’re realistic and achievable.
Perhaps TV and the media talking about those less-than-1-%-outliers (any millionaire under the age of 30, really), is warping our sense of reality and what is possible with the amount of work and sacrifice most people are willing to put in.
Not to mention luck and circumstance.
So, who’s getting screwed here?
This article: Why Millennials Don’t Want To Buy Stuff really gave me pause for thought.
Note: Millennials = Generation Y, or anyone born after 1982.
There are some good ideas in there:
Humanity is experiencing an evolution in consciousness. We are starting to think differently about what it means to “own” something….
To “own something” in the traditional sense is becoming less important, because what’s scarce has changed.
Ownership just isn’t hard anymore.
We can now find and own practically anything we want, at any time, through the unending flea market of the Internet. Because of this, the balance between supply and demand has been altered, and the value has moved elsewhere.
THE CAR IS A BAD EXAMPLE, I THINK
The example used was about owning a car, and why young people don’t seem to want a car any more.
I don’t think it’s a question of ownership at this point. Aside from the fact that not owning a car means a large chunk of your budget is freed up for other things, I know plenty of people who don’t own cars for these two main reasons:
- To be more eco-friendly and have a smaller carbon footprint
- It’s easier to take public transportation (big cities)
Neither of which has anything to do with ownership and wanting a car to own.
Personally, I only owned a car because I used it to get to remote places to work.
Now, I don’t own a car because I don’t need one.
It’s as simple as that. Nothing fancy.
I’m always either flying, taking a train or using public transportation.
If I REALLY needed a car to go buy some big monstrosity or carry a lot of things, I’ll use one of those car-sharing services that are so prevalent in big cities.
Or rent a car.
I use a car so rarely, that it doesn’t hold a value for me. If I used a car more often, let’s say to drive to work everyday, then I would most certainly purchase a vehicle.
WHERE IT DOES APPLY IN MY LIFE: MINIMALISM
Where I do think it’s relevant, is the idea of owning something and not seeing the value in the physical item versus having the virtual good.
I turned into a minimalist because it’s more practical for me; not because I have an agenda or an ideology to shove down people’s throats.
For instance if I buy an e-book, I know it’s an intangible, digital product, but I feel like I own it because I can access it at any time.
I feel the same difference between owning an e-book on my iPad versus borrowing it to read online, the same way I know buying a DVD of my favourite movie is not the same as renting it from a store.
However I do this not because I feel strange about ownership or that I want to live in this disconnected reality that is described, but because it is practical for my travel-heavy lifestyle:
- No extra weight to carry
- No extra space to take up in my bags
- I get to read what I want, when I want (library at your fingertips)
- Almost always cheaper than the physical thing (although I find it expensive!)
I want the ideas and the story.
I care less about how I obtain the words, especially if it means I don’t have to lug that box of books from one place to another.
I do wish on occasion that I had a permanent place for stuff, so I could buy art and hang it up, but the benefits of my lifestyle outweigh any nostalgic longings for a place to put my things or to hang artwork.
..OR MAYBE WE’RE JUST A ‘FIGHT CLUB’ GENERATION
Perhaps because we were more influenced by movies like “Fight Club” (1999) than we thought.
So, stuff. Do we really have an aversion to it just because of our age?
However if you have ever watched MTV’s Sweet Sixteen, you might think differently about Millennials not wanting stuff