Save. Spend. Splurge.

We Millennials can sometimes take it too far

Being in the M generation (for Millennial), sometimes I wonder what we’re thinking.

I know I preach a lot about asking for more money and being tougher in negotiating, but I only mean it if you actually deserve it.

Just read these quotes, and you’ll be shaking your head at my generation the way I am:

” Only at the agency a few months upon graduation, a young lady walked into my office and told me her dad thought that she was underpaid,” an anonymous agency exec told Digiday. “I replied that her dad should call me so that we could discuss the matter. He never called.”

Obviously we’re not ALL like that, but I wonder if we know the difference between simply asking for more money because people [read: your parents] keep telling you that you’re underpaid if you don’t make $100,000 a year, or asking for a raise to a fair salary because you actually did do an outstanding job compared to your peers, not just in your head.

Just because you’re asking for it, it doesn’t mean you should get it.

Do it when it is realistic and if you are genuinely being underpaid compared to fair market value for your skills, not just for the sake of trying to score a deal.

Maybe Helicopter Parents have told M-kids all of their lives how special they are, and say inane, meaningless words of encouragement to keep surviving like:

“Wow Billy!

You managed not to eat all the glue in the glue bottle this time. 



You’re SO special and smart. Mommy loves her little angel.”


All humans are inherently lazy to some extent

We like shortcuts. We like the easy way out to the big jackpot at the end of the rainbow. Saving isn’t fun! Buying the winning lottery ticket is, however.

Children (as they are tiny little humans) are inherently lazy too.

Yes, I am calling it out right here — even children do lousy jobs at things they know they can be better at.

“Good Job” is the automatic compliment that comes out of their mouth, even though they’ve done a lousy job.

My youngest nephew dumps beans on the floor that he’s playing with, makes a huge mess, and is told he is doing a “Good Job”. (For WHAT exactly!?)

My niece in Grade 3 can barely read a baby book, constantly misspells and takes easy shortcuts on words like “for” with the number “4”, or “too” with the number “2”, and she’s told she is doing a “Good Job”.

Literally: “I went 2 the 3 and find a coconut 4 U.

I guess it’s a better job than last year, when she couldn’t even really read to begin with.

They’ve basically outsmarted their parents into giving them cookies and money for putting in the slightest bit of effort.

Why the heck would they need to try harder?

Personal satisfaction? General desire to succeed and be competitive?

Are you kidding me?! They get cookies for being a special snowflake.


If those are their references for a standard of excellence, and whether they are my family or not, I am objective enough to say that I have no doubt that they will end up being sorely disappointed when reality starts to encroach into their perfect, “Good Job” world, and things are not as rosy as before.

“You do have to speak to them a little bit like a therapist on television might speak to a patient,” Marian Salzman. 

“You can’t be harsh. You cannot tell them you’re disappointed in them. You can’t really ask them to live and breathe the company. Because they’re living and breathing themselves and that keeps them very busy.”

(In case you’re wondering, I keep my mouth shut and stay out of trying to lecture anyone directly on their parenting skills. I am not going to get into a fight when they haven’t asked for advice, don’t really give a damn about my advice, and think I don’t know anything about kids because I’m a new parent.

As I agree with all of the above statements, all I can say is that I see all the warning signs for dark times ahead, having been in school and having grown up with these kinds of children.)

“Everyone’s a winner!”

Since we don’t seem to want to set any kind of standard because we think they don’t really understand what any of this means, they learn that they can put in a barely passing effort and come out a superstar.

So at the end of the day, we’re left with a whole generation in their 20s who can’t figure out why they aren’t being given $10,000 raises a year for doing jack squat.

With their parents, they were being praised for breathing.

See, employers not going to pat anyone on the back and encourage anyone to keep going even though they’re doing a lousy, half-assed job.

To put it into perspective, if you got a 60% on your math test because you decided to study a little this time, when in the past you scored only 50%, your Helicopter Parent(s) may have showered you with praise on your “achievement”. Maybe you got money out of it, or you finally got that bike you’ve been hounding your parents for.

All of that? Is utter crap.

In the real world, anything below a 90% (okay maybe 80%) is still a half-assed job, and you’re not going to get praised for your (frankly), lousy results.

I really hate it when parents lie to their kids and say: EVERYONE’S A WINNER!, because they’re just setting them up for a world of filled with failure and disappointment.

You actually have to do something worthwhile to deserve the money

I’m not saying my generation is the worst, I’m sure we have a whole bunch of different types of apples lying around in each generation, but my M generation has been shaped by their Helicopter Parents who have done everything but hand-feed us well into adulthood.

I have a friend who didn’t know how to do laundry until she moved out into her own apartment at 28, or how about the stories I have of people who have no idea how to make a basic meal, and think that frying an egg (in its shell) in a pan, is how you hard boil it.

If that didn’t make you cry out in disbelief, I have more for you to twist your head around.

How about people who think that because they didn’t use the home, wired telephone that month to make ANY calls, they shouldn’t have to pay the telephone company anything?


(By the way, that’s called a “payphone”, a real rarity these days, and I’ve been told it costs $0.50 a call now.)

Or how about asking for things that you think you’re entitled to, but aren’t?

…one of our new hires sent me an email requesting dual monitors and that one of them be a large one.

I simply forwarded the email to that girl’s manager suggesting that she come check out my dinky 15-inch monitor that I’m rocking.”

We don’t all have to act the same way, you know

I agree that the M generation is a bit more freestyle, less concerned about doing traditional things like getting married, buying a house, paying a mortgage for 30 years, buying a car, and having 2.5 kids with a white picket fence, but do we all have to pretend to be wanderers to fit in with the rest of the folks in our generation?

“Although he’s [Andrew Leavitt, 26] is happier at CreativeFeed, it appears as if he’s already planning his next move.  “I mean, what kind of millennial would work for the same company their whole life?”

Switching jobs is a good idea if you haven’t found what you love to do, but if you find something you enjoy doing, why would you leave?

Be traditional. Buck the grain. Stay at your job. Work your way up. Companies need leaders too, you know.

These are all things I think about when I encounter (some) of my own generation. It’s no wonder I always felt 10 – 15 years older, even as a kid.

No wait, I take it all back.

Everyone, keep doing what you’re doing.

You’re just going to make the ones who work hard, look a lot better in comparison.

Update: Why Lucy is Unhappy is the perfect article to describe all of the above.


  • Anonymous

    I just think every generation has whiners and stinkers. On a more serious note, I feel as if life in first world countries has gotten so easy that we don’t have any real problems anymore other than first world problems so sometimes I wonder if that makes some people in our society weak?

    Even poor people here aren’t poor compared to the poor in third world countries. I’m talking about poor people of sound mind and body. Not the mentally ill, homeless or disabled.

    Healthy poor people in the U.S. often live paycheck to paycheck and live in apartments or houses, have a fridge, washer, dryer, oven, microwave, and other basics. However I’ve seen healthy poor people rise out of poverty because it’s easier to do that in the U.S.

    My parents escaped a communist country to come to the U.S., within a few years of arriving here, my mom opened up a small business. I’ve seen other immigrants come to the U.S. and surpass U.S. born Americans. That’s how easy it is to make it in a first world country if you have your health.

    Life is easy enough here that it provides immigrants with a second chance. In my opinion it’s not hard to get ahead because a lot of U.S. born Americans are just lazy. They take what they have for granted. They do not know what they have until they travel.

    I’ve worked in retail and in a call center and many people would call out from those jobs so I would get their hours which actually was OT for me. I know those are considered dead end jobs for Americans so they hate them. I hated them too but I sucked it up until I went off to college.

    I’ve talked to friends that are ahead in their careers and most people aren’t willing to put in more than 40 hours to their jobs. Even many white-collar workers put in the minimum required. It almost seems as if its not hard to succeed because so few try.

    BTW, I consider the U.S. the richest country in the history of the world. American Imperialism has spread throughout the world and yet its own people complain about how “hard” life is.

    It’s like some weird cosmic joke but hey I’ll take it because if they don’t want to work for it then I will.

  • save. spend. splurge.

    Update: You’d all like this article Why Lucy is Unhappy

  • Corianne

    Oh – these are just too funny! 🙂 Painful though they may be true 🙁

    I knew someone, a fellow intern, when we (me, her and another friend) were finishing lunch, her colleague came by saying she had been looking for her because they needed leave like *now* for a meeting. My friend (love her though) said oh, but I just got coffee – I’ll finish that first. Her colleague: no, we have to leave now. She: but my coffee! It was pretty awkward… if you’re the intern and your higher-up says, we need to leave now – you leave (I am pretty sure she communicated the time they were supposed to leave beforehand).

  • Tre

    I had to laugh Because I had one demand dual monitors and a standing desk his first day. I felt like saying, “you haven’t even been here an hour. Let’s see if you’re going to work out before we start ordering stuff.”

  • Lily

    In recent years, I was lucky (unlucky??) to mentor a couple of paid interns on my engineering team. I was not impressed by the lack of hard work, terrible work ethic and inadequate technical learning skills. One declined to widen the project scope despite my suggestion — “that sounds like a lot of work”. Another repeatedly missed deadlines and one of her responses to management was “I did not realize how hard you have to work here!” — when asked regarding her experience during the internship. At least they were all good presenters and have the requisite social skills. I am seeing that pattern over and over though, all show and no substance.

  • Abigail @ipickuppennies

    Entitlement reaches beyond millennials. I had a graphic designer friend who worked for a newspaper. This was around 12 years ago. He was (and probably still is, but we don’t talk) an alcoholic. He sometimes came back from lunch drunk, apparently. Well, he probably said “tipsy.” I read between the lines.

    They gave him a 2% raise (the top was 3%) and he ranted to me about how insulting it was. I pointed out that a) he got a raise which was somewhat miraculous given his activities and b) the newspaper industry was dying, so any raise is great.

    But he was convinced he was being shafted and unappreciated. Sigh.

    And yeah, the coddling probably is a problem with generation M. Unless you want abstract art or are trying to make a mess, spilled beans aren’t worthy of praise.

    I think it may also be that some people just don’t know how to ask for a raise. Saying you want a raise — let alone that it’s your parent’s opinion — isn’t enough. You have to go in with concrete examples of how you have improved your work and/or helped the company in a noticeable way. And if you don’t have examples of that? Then you don’t deserve a raise.

  • Aleksie

    I hope that story is fiction, because it’s cringy that she’d ask for a raise because HER FATHER said she should. It’s like- use your brain! Even just requesting a raise for a whim would be slightly better.

  • Michelle

    I heard a funny story recently of a millennial that started working at a startup and left within 30 days. She apparently didn’t like the aesthetic of the office. She wanted to work at a startup that had wood beams in the rafters, cappuccino machines and her choice of paint color on the walls. There are those bad ones out there that make the whole generation look really bad. Gone are the days of lifelong employment, working hard and going above and beyond. Apparently it’s a cushy cocoon that some millennials want.

  • Kathy

    Excellent post. I remember being on a playground and hearing a parent tell their kid “good job” because the kid slid down the slide. Jeez. I’ve had employers tell me that they’ve had new college graduate employees ask after a week on the job for time off to go to the beach. And others say that the little darlings can’t go more than a few days with out asking for feedback on how good they are. I think they are in for a rude awakening in this real world. But ultimately, the parents of this generation are too blame turning their precious darlings into such divas.

  • Annie

    The last part of your post made me laugh out loud.

    As a Generation X-er I did many of the silly things I see the youth doing today when I was young so I’m not so sure if it is all due to how they are raised or if simple youth plays a part in it. I believe that after a few years of hard knocks they will either wise up or grow embittered that life isn’t how they thought it would be.

    One thing is for certain, life will definitely be interesting as this generation comes to power in politics.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I’ll be around for that.. 😉 In Canada, Justin Trudeau is running as the lead of the Liberal Party. He’s 43 but that is REALLY young compared to the others.

  • Michelle

    I used to manage college students. The majority of the students I managed were Millenials/almost GenXers. Overall I had a great experience BUT when it was bad-it was really bad. They were always nice people, but the bad ones were always shocked by how hard I would make them work and the constant feedback…that wasn’t always positive. I’m not going to pee on your leg and tell you it’s rain. In the end though I think each generation has triffling people LOL!

  • Revanche

    *laugh* Ok I praise LB for stupid things too, but it is COMPLETELY SARCASTIC. Ze doesn’t know the difference, but ze will 😉

    Seriously though, I never identified (age wise) with Gen M but boy was managing them fun. “My mom thought it was a good idea” was part of a work project proposal once. It’s a unique kind of hell that I think maybe was restricted more to Richy Rich in the past.

    • save. spend. splurge.


      I love that. “My mom thought it was a good idea”

      This is why I am trying very hard with Baby Bun to not over-encourage him (I still tell him when he’s smart and when he’s good), but I’m conscious now of not praising every silly thing he does.

  • Potato

    I was doing an informational interview for a younger person not too long ago. To be fair it was a long interview and most of what they said did not make me shudder for that generation, but then when talking about how to pitch previous experience on their resume, I asked if they had done anything at a previous low-level job to make things better, to improve workflow. The response floored me: they had identified lots of inefficiencies in the office, but weren’t going to suggest changes for any of them without getting a raise first to reflect the pay a business consultant should get — if they were going to pay this person as an admin to answer the phones, then answering the phone was all they would do.

    So what’s your take on that sort of thing? My feeling is that you work to the best of your abilities and argue for a raise/promotion after showing results rather than holding off on doing more challenging work until your job description and pay grade matches up. But maybe I’m crazy and that’s just how people like me get taken advantage of.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Results first.

      You always, ALWAYS work above your pay grade to prove that you can do it, and then say: But hey.. I saw this and did X, then I saw Y and did Z.

      If you can back up the work with facts, not “what ifs” or hypotheticals, it will be a slam dunk on the career + money side.

      Besides, that’s kind of stupid to stick to only your tasks and responsibilities. It means you refuse to grow beyond what you know and what you’ve learned/can apply and not only that, you’re not working for the company, you’re working for yourself and doing a terrible job to boot.

      Just working at your prescribed tasks & responsibilities means that you will forever be pegged as the person who can only do those tasks. You want more money and to do higher-level stuff?

      Do it & ask for the money later.

      Also, “what ifs” are just pie in the sky things. Actually implementing something and getting it to work / be done well, is something totally different. It may not be as easy as you think.

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