Save. Spend. Splurge.

Are the Millennials screwed because the Baby Boomers are screwed?

Sort of in the same vein as my earlier post in August: Outsourcing and how it affects the job market, I came across an interesting article: Are the Millennials the Screwed Generation?

The average student, according to Forbes, already carries $12,700 in credit-card and other kinds of debt.

Student loans have grown consistently over the last few decades to an average of $27,000 each.

Nationwide in the U.S., tuition debt is close to $1 trillion.

As a Millennial, I did graduate with $60,000 in student loans, but I was able to pay them off in 18 months.

Partly by luck, circumstance and hard work, I am in a good position, but I know many of my fellow Millennials are not.

But is it really a direct result of the Boomer Generation (our parents) “screwing” our chances?

Or is it just that we were brought up to be unrealistic about what we’d earn and how our lives would turn out?

I see how some of my friends in college were in some sort of bubble where everything seemed to work out for them because their parents coddled them.

If they were stressed little brats and taking it out on people like me who were working full-time jobs, their parents swooped in and said: Oh she’s stressed. I’m taking her to NYC next week to shop to help her calm down before school starts.

The look I gave her mother…… you don’t even know.

Maybe we’re also horribly unrealistic about our job prospects and earning potential.

There can only be so many lawyers required in the world.

Once supply overtakes demand, salaries will drop. It’s basic Economics 101!

On the Baby Boomer side of things, if you take a look at Financial Uproar’s post earlier this month about incomes being a fantasy, you read this:

I’d like to gross $200,000/yr and work 30hr work weeks.

I’d probably like to work around 20 to 30 hours a week. Income would be tougher for me to determine at this point but ideally my minimum would probably end up at least 100,000.

My magic number at this point in my life is $150k…  I would like a 20 – 30 hour week.

My ideal income would be $300k combined… 20 hours a week would be ideal.

I think $200,000 sounds like a good number for me to shoot for, but I think I would like to work 4 hard (normal) hours (per day).

…and think: it’s hard to even earn $100,000 in active income, and the median salary for Americans is $50,000 a year.

Now they’re not necessarily ALL Baby Boomers, some might be Millennials, but… these people have a magical plan?

Have they crunched the reality of those kinds of numbers? Doubtful.

What do I have to back all of this up?

(One commenter brought this up as a great point that no one can’t say this definitively because people DO accomplish the above.

I don’t dispute that, but I am disputing that the majority of Americans could make it, no matter how hard they dream, and sadly, no matter how hard they work.)

Well here’s what I have:

Those are not shy percentages.

Sure, the ones thinking about making more money will retire eventually and have more than $10,000 in assets…. but will they achieve those numbers above?

I’d love to hear a foolproof, luck-free, connections-free method that can work for every American who will earn $200,000 a year working 4 hours a day, because I WILL THROW MONEY AT YOU to buy this plan!!!!

(Okay, not really. I’m going about my own goals, my own way.)

It’s nice to have dreams and goals, but it’s also nice to know that they’re realistic and achievable.

Perhaps TV and the media talking about those less-than-1-%-outliers (any millionaire under the age of 30, really), is warping our sense of reality and what is possible with the amount of work and sacrifice most people are willing to put in.

Not to mention luck and circumstance.

So, who’s getting screwed here?


  • Jessie

    As the mother of several millennials I could recognize the “I want to work 4 hours a day and earn $200,000 a year” wish. But really if you stop and think about it the millennials are right about that: To equal the buying power baby boomers had in 1972 it would take an income of $200,000 in today’s dollars. So the kids are right.
    The obvious solution would be to bring down deflation and housing-food costs, making minimum wage jobs = decent buying power. Oh dear millennials how I wish I could bring back the 1972 economy for you to enjoy. Makes me sad to think about what a messed up economy you’ve been plunked into. Be strong, keep going.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Good point. Inflation makes things look different in terms of a perspective, however reality forces me to say: “But who do you know who makes $200K a year, (let alone $100K!) not even working 4 hours a day, but more like 100 hours a week?”

      The housing cost is something that is definitely affecting our generation. I can see it crippling people my age who are desperate for a home but can’t afford $700K “normal” houses.

  • Simply Rich Life

    Something we hear from time to time is that as the largest generation stops working (if they can afford to), there won’t be enough people to replace them. So maybe we’re going into a time where it is easy to find a job that’s rewarding and fulfilling, and people are actively trying to reduce the number of jobs needed.

    By the way, your foolproof method for everyone to earn $200k is called inflation 🙂

  • Ariana

    It sounds like the only saving grace for us Millennials is to become workaholics. It is possible that the Baby Boomers parents may have some issues with how hard they had to work to get to a certain level of prosperity and then try to shield their Millenial kids from those issues. But that may have deprived them from the lessons learned from hardship and determination. That would be a way to bring a sense of reality to the Millenials and some closure to the Baby Boomer parents. Money is a universal barometer of an individual’s mental health.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      Interesting. I think the only thing that would stop us from reaching that workaholic status is we are not taught to do it.
      Our generation is into 4-day work weeks, quitting jobs that are getting too tough and abandoning that ladder to make it to the top where we work 100 hours a week.
      We will work the 40-50 but not more than that. Some of us don’t even want to do that, but to go part time instead.
      I think our parents had more of a workaholic mentality than we do these days. It would be hard to change but you’re right in stating that how much you end up making or saving is an indicator of that.

  • Bridget

    I vaguely remember this post and I feel like the first commenter with $200K and 30hrs per week was me because that is my ideal. I don’t think the original post was about your PLAN to do so I think it was just the IDEAL so you could indulge in the fantasy — and there’s nothing wrong with that, I have plenty of fantasies that will never come to fruition.

    Will I reach $200,000/yr? Not sure, but I’m pretty sure I’ll hit $100,000/yr within the next 5 years (even next year) so I don’t think it’s completely unreasonable to try to double that in my lifetime. After all, if I retire at 65 that means I have 39 more years of work = Hopefully I figure something out!

    As for doing it on 30 hour work weeks? Maybe not now, but eventually. I accept the reality that it will take 60-80hr work weeks (like it is now between my full-time job + freelance writing projects) in the beginning but hopefully in my late 40’s I can slow down because passive income will be a bigger portion of it.

    It’s a huge pain in the ass to get ahead and I think most people are just to lazy to do it. I spend an abnormal amount of hours plotting ways to get ahead professionally, it’s practically an obsession. I’ll either be ridiculously successful or burn out. Either way, it’ll be a good run.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      I think aiming to get there with a plan is fine, but a lot of what people wrote was very unrealistic given that not many people reach that. It is nice to aim high but not if it will make you feel like a failure because it was too ambitious.

  • tomatoketchup

    I think the situation we’re in right now is a complex one and assigning all the blame on a big group of people is probably over-simplistic. I do think that the baby boomers entered the work force in a time where it was much easier to live well as a regular middle class family with one breadwinner. No so today.

    Part of the problem, as you mentioned, is the cost of education that has way outpaced inflation. In addition to being relatively more expensive, requiring most students to take loans, the overall value of a college degree has been severely devalued over the last several decades. You just can’t come out of college today and expect to get a great job without either more education or a specialized skill set that makes you more valuable than every other guy or girl with a bachelor’s. College has become the new high school, and I think that is a huge problem: when anyone can get accepted into some college somewhere, it makes that piece of paper at the end worth a whole lot less. I knew people in my graduating high school class who could barely put together a coherent sentence, and these guys all got into college no problem. That really made me question the legitimacy of the higher education process.

    If you want to make those huge 6 figure numbers, you’ve either got to go to professional school (in my case I chose medical, but law and business are decent choices too) or have something very unique to offer where someone is willing to pay you well for your services (like our author Mochi and Macarons). I think people really underestimate how much work goes into making that kind of salary.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      The other part of it which I didn’t mention in my post, is the way that teachers are now being forced to pass students who don’t do well, or are told to raise their marks so their parents stop causing trouble.

      Any job that pays well, has some degree of difficulty or some barriers to getting into the profession.

      • tomatoketchup

        Such a difference even though I’m really not all that old. My calculus teacher in college would not have given the slightest f%@$ if he had to fail the entire class 🙂

        • Mochi & Macarons

          I am hearing these days that now they want to get rid of calculus (or was it algebra) to help kids stop from quitting school in the US!

  • financialuproar

    (slow clap)

    I agree with all of this, obviously. I still have no idea why people under 30 think they’re so damn special. Maybe it’s because every week I see an article about “How ‘x’ doesn’t get gen Y.” We’ve done this to ourselves by coddling an entire generation of kids.

    Like I pointed out in my post, we’ve become a generation that wants to make big money for doing nothing. Passive income, while looking easy on the surface, it’s only the result of a crap-ton of really, really, hard work. Along with saving your ass off and investing well.

    So are millennials screwed? Hardly. Hell, considering the quality of competition out there, I’d argue getting ahead is easier than ever.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      I think we’ve all been raised to basically wait for things to happen for, and to us rather. I can acknowledge that some of it may be circumstance (being born on the wrong side of the tracks for instance), but it can’t be so many of us that are screwed because of someone else.

      It’s never us.

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