The other week I got into a conversation with a co-worker during our lunch break about a recent Maclean’s article calling millennials the screwed generation. The article went on to discuss how it’s not only harder to find a job as a young adult today, but when they do find a job they’ll be making a lower salary than earlier generations did at their age. This sure is a different point of view from all of those articles claiming millennials are lazy and entitled, but I’m not a hundred percent convinced that Generation Y has all that much to complain about still.
Sure, housing, post-secondary education, and all around cost of living is way higher than it used to be, and most of us Gen Yers aren’t earning as much as we deserve, but I believe our overall quality of life is better than 20 or 30 years ago. We can easily communicate to anyone, from anywhere, for free (or almost free). We can find free or cheap entertainment with just a few key strokes. We can educate ourselves and find almost any bit of information we want for free by just typing a few keywords into Google.
We also aren’t going through a World War, have made huge advancements in medicine, and in the near future will be able to have drones deliver our Amazon purchases for heaven’s sake!
If anything, I feel like this new economic situation us millennials have found ourselves in is a blessing, not a curse. Using myself as an example, the fear that I wouldn’t be able to find a job after graduation or afford to leave my parents’ house before 30 was the main reason why I became so interested in personal finance and taking control of my financial future. It’s why I started reading a number of books about retirement at the age of 23 and why I started this blog.
I thoroughly believe that we can’t depend on anyone besides ourselves to live the lives we want. We need to educate ourselves about money, we need to monitor our spending and income, we need to invest wisely, and most importantly we need to take full responsibility for our actions.
Another important thing we need to do is alter our perception of what the American (or Canadian) Dream really means. It meant one thing to our parents, and I think it should mean something completely different to us. Living a comfortable life shouldn’t mean owning a huge house, two cars, and going on vacation to Mexico every year.
I’ll probably never own a house in my lifetime, and you know what, I’m totally fine with that! I live in a one-bedroom apartment right now with my HB and it’s more than enough room. And when we decide to have kids we’ll look into getting a bigger apartment or condo (or maybe even a townhouse, though that still seems a bit out of reach).
I also may never own a car like I did when I was a teenager. Good! I hate driving and I much prefer taking public transportation that’s better for the environment and let’s me write off my monthly transit passes as a tax deduction. What living a comfortable life means to me is having zero debt, having savings in the bank, having a retirement fund and plan for the future, and being able to pay for those unexpected expenses without my credit card.
As the great Rolling Stones’ song goes, “You can’t always get what you want…, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.” I always remind myself of this lyric when I’m feeling down about my where I’m at with my finances or career. I may not get all the nice, flashy things I sometimes wish I had, but I know that if I continue to work hard and educate myself, I’ll get what I need. And that’s just fine by me.
Do you think millennials are screwed?