I have seen this conversation played out many times. Both in the press and in real life.
The Baby Boomer generation often accuse the younger generations of being lazy, flippant with their money and devoid of the grit that is needed to succeed in life.
The Baby Boomers often argue that leading a happy, financially stable life is not all that hard. Just work at a job, work your way up the corporate ladder, put money aside for a rainy day, invest in a house and you’ll be set for life.
The Millenials on the other hand often talk about how things have changed compared to a few decades ago. Jobs are harder to come by, you require a degree for most things nowadays, people also accrue a lot more debt due to going to University, the cost of living has gone up as well as house prices etc.
The public discourse is interesting. The Baby Boomers are right to an extent. There are millenials who are fine (like myself). I worked a lot harder than most people of my age and I already feel financially stable. I also made sure that I did a degree which would definitely lead to a stable job (medicine). Others who I grew up with are in a much worse state and this could be partially explained by their laziness and extravagant expenditures even when being dirt poor.
However, I disagree with Baby Boomers on a lot of things. Advice such as “work hard, save money, don’t spend money on silly things” is obvious advice. Young people are aware of these sentiments and it doesn’t explain how a whole generation is financially so well off and another generation is doing so badly.
The Baby Boomers got used to a different world where wages increased year on year for doing the same work. They got used to a world where with a small amount of effort they could buy a house due to their increasing wages. But what Baby Boomers don’t seem to realise is that their increasing wages had very little to do with anything that they were actually doing. The reason that they became wealthy was actually due to technological advancements and massive economic growth during their working years.
As older generations don’t realise that this was actually the reason they became financially stable, they keep giving the same advice; “Do well at school, get a degree, get a job, work your way up the corporate ladder, save money, invest in a house…”.
The millennials that follow the classic advice are obviously not getting the same results as the older generations. But what no one ever talks about is where wealth comes from and how it is created.
This is what is missing from the argument that is always played out. Millennials (such as myself) should not be demanding house prices to be reduced, or more handouts from the government – because this is unrealistic and economically non-viable. Millennials should be concentrating on creating new wealth by creating value. This is the answer that they’ve been looking for.