May 02, 2008


Why Generation Y is broke

Let me guess...they're retarded?

The 28-year-old New York resident has a master's degree from a prestigious university, a successful career in photography, stamps in her passport from around the globe and, until recently, personal finances that were out of control.
"[Her accountant] wrote me a letter that said, 'You've got to get your life together! Most of these bills aren't even open.' It was a really humbling thing," Wallace says. "But the next time, all my receipts were on a spreadsheet. No one had ever taught me to make a budget or balance a checkbook."

You're kidding me with this, right? No one ever taught me this either. Actually, that's not true: I think I remember having to balance a fake checkbook sometime around middle school for a math class assignment.

But for real, you have a Masters degree and it never occurred to you that you should keep track of your money? Like maybe use Excel or something, the easiest thing in the world. It does the math for you! I'm sure you're also, like, a total math-ophobe. Like numbers and stuff, ick. Who can do that?

"We're in a generation that was kind of shielded from a lot of financial responsibilities," says Wong. "Twenty years ago, when you were in college you didn't have a credit card, and (now) all of a sudden we had to take on debt to go to college. Then we get out of college and we have to have that handbag and an iPod," she says. "It is so easy to take on debt."

OMG, you did not just say that.

Many of these attitudes are evident in our relationships with our parents. Not for nothing have we been labeled the "boomerang generation": We may not all be living in our parents' wood-paneled basements, but a recent Pew survey found that 68% of baby boomers with kids are supporting an adult child financially.

Yep, I know several of them. And on the other end of the spectrum, you have people like me and my husband who, three years after we got married, sent our parents money for all the things we owed them for over the years. The laptop that I swore to my dad I would help pay for when I was in college, yep, never did. So I paid him back three years after I had passed the laptop on to my brother. Because he's my father and not some money tree. Once I realized the true value of money, I realized how much I'd asked of my parents over the years. And I paid them back.

Because I'm a grown-up, and grown-ups don't whine if they can't afford an iPod and they don't take advantage of other grown-ups, even if they happen to be mommy and daddy.

Why do we seem to get article after article these days about why 20 and 30 year olds can't seem to get their shit together? Quit making excuses for them like they weren't taught this in school or it's predatory lenders' fault. No one made her buy the handbag. When I was in college, I had a credit card with a $10,000 limit. I never put a dime on it. It was for emergencies only, and I knew the freaking definition of an emergency. It sure isn't Needing An iPod.

And no one had to teach me that! My parents didn't have to sit down and tell me what I could or could not put on a credit card. It's common freaking sense to not spend money you don't have.


Posted by Sarah at May 2, 2008 07:44 AM | TrackBack

Yet another fine example of book smarts equals dumb ass. Did she need a class to know how to use her iPod? Pathetic excuses.

Posted by: tim at May 2, 2008 09:08 AM

Ah, the sweet smell of entitlement in the morning. Soon Apple will be accused of greed and not making their iPods more accessible to the financially "less fortunate". One day accessories might be considered a basic human right in the US (the rest of the world still mocks us)...don't laugh, we're getting there...

Posted by: CaliValleyGirl at May 2, 2008 09:26 AM

You're making me get up on my soapbox again!! Can we relate a good part of the current mortgage crisis to people who are just starting out thinking they need 3 -4 bedroom houses with a "man room", a large yard for the dog, and at least 2400 sq ft? Or have I just been watching too much HGTV?
Seriously, for a long time it has seemed to me that many young couples, married and unmarried, do not realize that "starting out" means just that. Starting out with less than they expect to accumulate in say 10- 50 years. People seem to think they should start with what their parents currently have. Do they have no inkling of how long it took to get there?
Okay, I'm climbing down now.

Posted by: Ruth H at May 2, 2008 10:08 AM

Christ on a crutch! These people make me so mad. I worked 2 jobs in college and I still had to take loans.

I don't believe in credit cards, don't have any, and frankly - don't really miss them.

I know they say children are the future, but with kids like this I'm scared.

Posted by: Mare at May 2, 2008 10:25 AM

Good Lord.

Good. LORD.

Okay, so this is what happens when we try to make everything "just right" for our kids and "give them everything they need" when what they REALLY need is to work for something and have some sense of accomplishment and understanding of what it took to earn that money.

And don't even get me started on 4 bedroom "starter houses".

Posted by: airforcewife at May 2, 2008 11:56 AM

That is such crap. I'm almost 31 and our personal finances are FINE. I think the only time I was ever 'taught' anything about my checking accounts or anything was in bootcamp--and I went there when I was 24 and had already been living on my own for the past 3 years. So it was pointless. The only debt I had until I got married were my student loans (now we have the car, too), and I've had my own credit card since I was 18. All the bills get paid on time and we never charge more than we can pay off in a single month. To me, that's just common sense.

I don't understand how people can just play ignorant when it comes to this stuff.

Posted by: Ann M. at May 2, 2008 01:51 PM

Yeah, don't get me rolling on this my age I watched the credit card companies throw preapproved cards in the mail to me at age 19, 4 at a time and I'm snapping the cards with my name on them already in half as fast as they were coming. But I watched my friends run up debt so fast it made your head spin.....I had a friend in basic training who almost lost her clearance because of it....I just did not understand how she thought that the government would not consider her a kids, they will get a checking account with a debit card....until they understand the ramifications of credit.

Posted by: A Soldier's Wife at May 2, 2008 03:00 PM

The idea that one can't do anything unless you've been *specifically taught* how to do it seems to be proliferating, and is probably related to the worship of "education."

Posted by: david foster at May 2, 2008 09:43 PM

Rock on.

Posted by: Will at May 3, 2008 11:02 PM