When my parents bought their first house in 1974, they paid less than $100,000 for it. When they decided to open a business, they bought computers, printers and other start up accessories for under $500. Today, I can’t think about buying baby formula and pampers without having at least $100 in my pocket. Times have changed so drastically and many young people are struggling to keep afloat, raise a family, keep their houses, and experience the adventures of life. We all yearned for independence and freedom from the time we were probably 15 years old, but did we really understand what that meant. Generation Y may not have been cushioned with enough experience to enter adulthood and were not fully prepared to handle the evolving dynamic economy and financial demands of a household, family and the workforce.
Becoming an adult has fundamental core elements traditionally coined by sociologists- leaving home, completing a degree, entering the workforce, getting married and starting a family. It seems these transitions have become an economical and financial burden for many and young people today are taking longer to attain a gratifying level of achievement.
For 21-year olds graduating from college and entering the job market- fear and hopelessness floods to the top. Some go into a dismal panic as they already have thousands in school loans, job prospects seems dim and they are competing with successful baby boomer generations who don’t want to give up their jobs that easily; and some really shouldn’t have to.
Those starting a family find themselves with a $300,000 mortgage, $50,000 in debt and late bills. When the first child is born, the strains are tightened and the emotional stress becomes a deterrent in attaining joy from starting a family.
Many thirty year old bachelors are enjoying life without attachments and commitments, and sometimes that means commitments to the bank. Some are frivolously spending money on cars, vacations, and other materialistic things forgetting to save for the long-run.
This raises a few concerns. Was this generation prepared with the appropriate skills and guidance to adapt to adulthood and make the shift to the next phase in life? Were we really ready for this complex pathway to adulthood where we must own up to our own mistakes and misfortunes? Sometimes, I think not.
Graduating with a business degree gives us the green line to become, a Vice President, CEO or entrepreneur, but I’m not sure it builds our mentality for a financial down spiral. While we thrived in our classrooms and honed in on broadening the horizons of climbing the corporate ladder, we may have taken for granted the unsolicited advice on making critical life-changing decisions that could impact our financial growth.
I don’t know if I myself had a true understanding of the power of a credit card and how toxic it could be, or how quickly debt really piles up. Joining the workforce is undeniably complicated on so many levels, but knowing how important investing in a retirement plan is was not something I was taught in college.
When my husband first talked to me about life insurance policies-It was new concept that never crossed my mind. Thinking about taking a second mortgage on our house now has me searching on Google to better understand how it could impact my life.
Yes, some of this seems so trivial, but yet, gen Y is finding we are covered 10 feet deep under a dark hole.
According to an article in the New York Times magazine entitled “What Is It About 20-Somethings,” One-third of people in their 20s move to a new residence every year. Forty percent move back home with their parents at least once. They go through an average of seven jobs in their 20s, more job changes than in any other stretch.
No group has felt the impact of the economic turmoil more than generation Y and I do agree it’s harder for this population to reach many of the basic financial goals our parents may have taken for granted. It’s harder now to save for the future, pay for college, or buy a home.
But I also think easy to blame this time period for our financial troubles and we should begin to look forward on how we can turn this around and help our own families prepare for what we may not have been prepared for.
The expectations of this generation were always highly optimistic, but youthful optimism does not always give insight to the crushing realities.
It’s our time to hold the reigns and leverage the tools we are given to trudge ahead. Attending financial seminars, learning how the stock market works, taking advice from elders who can often be a valuable resource, or networking with business professionals, can all help us get back on track and take control of our financial outlook. There are classes about budgeting, saving money, how and when to use credit cards.
One of my favorite presidents, Bill Clinton so eloquently said, ” As we have throughout this century, we will lead with power of our example, but be prepared, when necessary, to make an example of our power.”
We have the opportunity not to arm ourselves and our families with the power of knowledge- let’s take it and run!
I am an independent filmmaker and producer and freelance writer. I received my Bachelors degree in Journalism from Hofstra University, a Masters degree in Communications and Film Productions from the New York Institute of Technology and I am a former graduate of the New York Film Academy in New York City. I have experience as on-air TV reporter for NYIT’s LI News Tonight News Station. and have written opt editorials on various topics for Caribbean newspapers and magazines. I've also worked in the radio industry as a producer, board engineer, and newscaster at WRHU Hofstra University, 1240AM WGBB, and 930AM WPAT. I am currently the Vice President of Friends of New York’s West Indian Community, a non-profit organization aiming to uplift the Indo-Caribbean Community and work at St. Mary's Healthcare System for Children as the Manager of Marketing and Communications.