I have mentioned The Atlantic’s “Cheapest Generation” article in a few other blogs, but let’s get it out in the open: Apparently my generation has a new title and it isn’t too nice.
Some businesses are struggling to figure out what we want, while we are walking away from the “traditional” things people of our age usually buy: a car and a house. As a generation, we are moving to cities where a car isn’t necessary or figuring out ways to make other modes of transportation work. I started riding my bike to work a few days a week, as I live about four miles away and have a relatively safe ride.
As far as houses, our generation is stuck with higher college debt than any of the previous, so the thought of taking out a mortgage anywhere from $10,000 to $200,000 is scary, even if it is good for our credit. I really don’t want to add another six figures to my already-almost-six-figures debt.
And let’s talk about jobs.
I got lucky and landed one my senior year right before the economy tanked. It wasn’t the highest paying job, and I had to drop my Internet service (also didn’t have cable) just to pay the bills. My current job enticed me with better pay, but the frugal mindset never went away. Some of my friends weren’t and still aren’t so lucky, and can’t enjoy trips to Baltimore or dinners out as frequently as I might (and I try to keep that to a minimum.)
And I mean, is any of this really our fault? No. Here is my favorite part of the article:
Needless to say, the Great Recession is responsible for some of the decline. But it’s highly possible that a perfect storm of economic and demographic factors — from high gas prices, to re-urbanization, to stagnating wages, to new technologies enabling a different kind of consumption—has fundamentally changed the game for Millennials. The largest generation in American history might never spend as lavishly as its parents did — nor on the same things. Since the end of World War II, new cars and suburban houses have powered the world’s largest economy and propelled our most impressive recoveries. Millennials may have lost interest in both.
As I write in a recent Smart magazine blog post, the idea of being “green,” frugal and a minimalist has gained a huge amount of popularity. There are the 100-things challenge and a guy who ditched technology for 90 days. Just Google any of these words, and you will get a plethora of information, tips, and disaster and success stories. But make sure you are prepared for change: I destroyed my apartment last night after a simple search.
I think this green mindset is a bonus for our “cheapest” generation distinction — maybe we will be the game-changers that will save the Earth (though it makes me think of Captain Planet and this spoof movie trailer.)