I was born in the early 1950s. My parents were not wealthy and even with both working, we never had many possessions. Our vacations were spent driving in our station wagon sightseeing. Christmas was often limited to just a few gifts. My parents did keep us clothed and fed and spent as much time as possible with us kids. When dad had managed to save a few dollars, he would treat the three of us boys by taking us to St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. We always sat in cheaper seats in the outfield, but we didn’t care as this was a luxury for us and we enjoyed every minute of it. We didn’t have money for hotdogs or popcorn or souvenirs, but we still enjoyed the game, especially the game in 1958 when my dad caught a homerun ball hit by Hall-of-Famer Stan Musial, a moment I’ll never forget, especially as I have that ball today with Musial’s autograph on it.
Most of the other families in our neighborhood were about the same, financially as we were – not rich but not poor.
I started working when I was in junior high – cutting lawns and collecting scorpions and selling them to a professor at the state university. I’ve worked nearly my entire life and I do not consider myself to be wealthy by any means, although I guess I’m better off then some. I’ve never been able to afford many things like fancy cars or trucks, a fancy house or taking lavish vacations. I’m 67-years-old and the only countries I’ve ever visited are Mexico (when we lived in Arizona), one trip to Canada to visit friends and family and one trip to Barbados to visit my wife’s family, and that trip took all of our savings at the time.
Yet, if you read any of the recent reports, you would think that my generation was better off financially than today’s millennials as indicated in this one report:
“While millennials — those ages 21 to 37 in 2018 — are often blamed for ‘killing’ industries like housing, soap, diamonds and automobiles, a new study from the Federal Reserve finds that their money is actually going to the same things that their parents bought at their age; millennials are just less financially well-off.”
“Researchers analyzed spending, income, debt, net worth and demographic factors among different generations and found that millennials have simply fallen behind on making money, seeing as how as many grew up during the Great Recession in 2008 and faced a scarce job market once they graduated.”
“So this difference in average income is one of the big reasons that there is a ‘consumption wedge between millennials and other cohorts,’ the researchers concluded. Millennials earn 20% less than Baby Boomers (ages 52 to 70) did at the same stage in their lives, with an average household income of $40,581, a separate analysis from the Federal Reserve and advocacy group Young Invincibles reported last year. And because millennials entered the job market during one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression, their entry-level salaries were much lower, a 2017 report by the Swiss bank Credit Suisse explained. What’s more, millennials face lower income mobility and harsher borrowing rules than did older cohorts, as well as rising home prices.”
I’m no financial expert, but I disagree with some of the reasons given by the report above.
Sure, you can blame it on rising home prices, but compare the overall cost of living and wages earned by us Baby Boomers compared to today. When I got my first regular paying job with a paycheck, I earned $1/hr. When I started driving, I paid an average of about 32ȼ a gallon for gasoline. I could nearly fill my old used car with less then $5.
The first house my wife and bought cost us $29,000 and we were barely able to afford that at the time because with both of working, we still barely able to make that much money.
There is one other MAIN reason I have for disagreeing with the experts. I’ve been in the workplace my entire life and I can tell you first hand that many millennials do not have the same work ethic that Baby Boomers were raised with. I’ve heard the same from many other employers.
In my generation, you were grateful to have a job and did whatever you could to keep that job, largely because of the values and ethics we were taught. In today’s world, millennials regularly walk away from one job to another for the slightest reason. Even during the recession when jobs were hard to find, a number of millennials would just quit a job for the slightest of reason.
My other employers and from my own experience, younger people these days believe they are entitled to more than they really are and consequently, don’t want to work as hard at job, at least not the way that us Baby Boomers did.
Think about it! If millennials don’t have the same work ethic, aren’t willing to work as hard or be as dedicated to a job, then it seems only to reason that they are not going to be as financially well-off as their parents.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.