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Gen Y spends up - ya think? - Suffering From Elation
A Survivor's Tale
Gen Y spends up - ya think?
I grabbed a coffee from the little cafe next door to work just now, and while I waited for my order, I read the Courier-Mail. I know it's a total rag and a waste of time, but it was the only paper they had, and I figured it'd be more interesting than studying the wall. A few pages in I ran into a fairly judgemental article about Gen Y's spending habits. Judgemental "damn kids" articles are typical of the Courier-Mail. That paper should bear the slogan: "Just The Opinions, Ma'am."

Gen Y, sometimes called "The Millennials", is the term for those born between the early 1980's to the early 1990's. We have a reputation for being ambitious, impatient, technologically-savvy, prone to job-hopping, and less subsceptible to advertising than most - ironically, because we're the generation advertising has targeted the hardest.

The article's thrust was that, despite the economic downturn in Australia, with a possible recession looming and people in general cutting back their spending like whoa, us naughty Millenials are still throwing our money around as much as ever; new mobile phones, iPods, eating out and impulse purchases. Apparently we're not feeling the pinch of the hiked-up interest rates.

To the writer of the article I say: no duh. Gen Y is spending big on overpriced trinkets because we don't own homes; aside from what we pay in rent - a low cost for the large number of us who still share-house - the rest of our income is disposable, where our parents at this age would already have locked that money into mortgage repayments. We can't afford to do the same... and that's not because we're buying trinkets. The gap between what it costs to rent, and what it costs to live frugally and pay a mortgage, is currently so massive here that even the most dedicated of us can't bridge it (unless we're on an exceptionally high wage). So if we're forced to rent or share, then heck, we've got loads of money left over. Not enough for a mortgage, but a lot. So what else is there to do with it? We buy expensive toys because that's all most of us believe we'll ever own. Apparently 4 out of 10 Millenials are certain that they will never own their own home.

Interestingly, I know a lot of smart, hardworking people my own age, but the very few I know who have mortgages were all helped there in some way by their parents. I'm not deriding that at all; I think it's fantastic that the earlier generations are helping the new in some cases. But it stands as an example of how difficult it is to Go It Alone now when it comes to home ownership.

On the other side of the generous-earlier-generations coin, many of the people I've seen 'tsk'ing over Millenial spending habits are baby boomer property investors, whose greed and purchasing power has limited the number of available properties, and consequently driven up the prices, both factors that make it harder yet for Millenials to break into the locked-up, overinflated market.

It's all rather interesting. I'm not one of the defeatist 40% mentioned above, though. As it stands now, no, I wouldn't be able to afford the repayments on even a low-priced home in the greater Brisbane area, even if I could convince a bank to lend me the money in the first place. But I know that markets, and fortunes, can change. Also, what a single can't do, a partnership potentially can. I refuse to rely on the "marriage = combined income = white picket fence" formula though, hence the block of land... if I have to creep my way into the property market literally from the ground (or "earthy block of land") up, that's how I'll do it.

In other news, and on the topic of changing fortunes, Joe and I were made a very generous offer from a friend the other day. It's a bit of a what-if at this point, but it could really give me a boost toward my goal of paying off the block of land in >3 years. No point in writing about it in any detail before we know more, though, and that won't be for a couple of months.

Last night Hammond and Adders popped around, and Joey and I had natural yoghurt and chopped strawberries for dinner. Then (speaking of expensive trinkets) I played way too much SSBB, catching up with Joe's Subspace Emissary game and unlocking a few new characters and trophies.

No time to read novels anymore? Check this out: http://rinkworks.com/bookaminute/sff.shtml
13 have fought ~ fight the power!
From: pariahsdream Date: August 19th, 2008 01:54 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't have a problem with people buying what they want- so long as they're not spending outside of their means. That irritated me the worst at my last job when the other girls would complain about never having enough money for power/water/rent/etc....but would have $400 phones (and/or the bill to match) or shoes or whatever else.

Maybe it's just my parents' opinions on money drilled into me, but I have little respect for those kinds of people. I buy what I want...but I take care of my bills first.

I think it's probably a little different here in America anyways. Lots of Gen Y kids (I didn't even know we had a name yet) still sponge off their parents. I'm in the process of trying not to but it's hard considering I'm still having trouble finding a job.
tania From: tania Date: August 19th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC) (Link)
True, that. Whenever I read about Gen-Y'ers, two of the points raised are that a lot of them sponge off their parents well into their twenties, and a lot of them are deeply into debt too. I think that Australia and the US are similar in that regard, actually.

Sounds like at least you've got the money management skills to make a good go of it on your own when you find a job. Is the job market tough in the US? I know you guys have devestatingly low minimum wages, that must make things hard. :\

From: pariahsdream Date: August 19th, 2008 07:07 am (UTC) (Link)
The job market SUCKS donkey balls right now. I've been out of work for...7 and some change months. Not fun. If I hadn't squirreled away money 'just in case' I'd be shit outta luck. As it is...well, whatever.

I'm not the only one with problems. A lot of people my age are having issues finding jobs. I don't know if other age brackets are but yeah.
stokerbramwell From: stokerbramwell Date: August 19th, 2008 02:23 am (UTC) (Link)
raphstar From: raphstar Date: August 19th, 2008 02:27 am (UTC) (Link)
*Disclaimer - speaking in general terms/stereotypical instances*

I LOATHE the whole Gen Y vs Gen X vs Baby Boomers stuff for this exact reason. Boomers in particular are notoriously egocentric and don't bother to look at the common sense reasons why Y's do the things that we do. It just makes me so MAD sometimes. Thier views on how we handle our finances are actually my second bug bear to their views on our "irratic job hopping'. Listen to a Boomer talk about a Y's arrogance because we think we can do it all better and faster. Truth of the matter is, we have been raised with our parents telling us "we can be anything we want to be" and we believe it...

And rightly so!!

We are more experienced/educated in todays technology most of the time and we have been raised in an educational and social environment that wants/needs everything RIGHT NOW!!! So of COURSE we are faster, better, more efficient and we KNOW we are, but it also means that with that innate sense of urgency, we also want everything RIGHT NOW so if another company can recognise our talents before our current one can, then we go with it. If their Boomer companies want to keep us - THEY NEED TO WORK HARDER!!! We are out to better ourselves and our lifestyles as fast as we can, whether it be through new toys, nice restaurants, good cars or choosing to scrimp and save to one day have the house we want.

Boomers like those in the Courier Mail just need to pull their heads and realise that what X's and Y's do isn't WRONG!! It's just DIFFERENT due to different social environment/financial environment and opportunity levels.

*ends rant*
tania From: tania Date: August 19th, 2008 04:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm fortunate to be working for a company where they seem aware of what Gen Y'ers want (even though management aren't Gen Y'ers themselves) and are offering it to us. The other day they offered us the chance to do ACE TAFE courses (time management, general management, self-improvement stuff) paid for by the company. It's enough to make me suspect, at times, that some smart cookie in management is reading the literature and actually incorporating it into their strategies for dealing with us, rather than trying to force their us into the standard mold.

I'm a true Gen Y'er in the job-hopping respect: I will unflaggingly go where the best deal is, without guilt nor shame.
raphstar From: raphstar Date: August 19th, 2008 06:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I am a hands down Gen Y job hopper myself and find that that seems to be frowned upon in most of the interviews I have been to (X's or boomers). Luckily where I am now, job hopping within the company, or anywhere else in the government seems to be classed as "professional development" but the previous commercial interviews have certainly heightened the "bug bear" status on this front.

It is good to know that there are companies out there like yours who actually do their research and listen instead of trying to resist the changing dynamics tooth and nail. Ryan's work is doing something similar to yours only with technical courses. They are also doing things like flexible leave, paternal as well as maternal leave and the option to work from home.

Seems that the Courier Mail could do with a talking to by your manager!
spotweld From: spotweld Date: August 19th, 2008 02:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Property is longer seen as a sign of "adulthood"... it's now seen as an investment commodity.

Investment commodities have no social status.
Rather the message is to risk risk risk for the big reward.


Personally I am in the weird position of being a little to young to be a gen X-er, and too old to be a gen Y-er.

It should be pointed out that Between the X- and Y- generations I am seeing this really amazing revival of the DIY mentality. It seems to be a backlash against the "beige box" and overall uniformity of mass market consumer products. Inspired by the iPod, IKEA and similar there are a LOT of people who want to go the next step and mod everything since they see no reason they cannot have exactly want they want. (I think the Steampunk movement is part of that attitude.)

But then again, I'm weird.
tania From: tania Date: August 19th, 2008 02:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Joe's right there with you on the modding thing - he'll mod ANYTHING, he loves it. :)
spotweld From: spotweld Date: August 19th, 2008 03:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Make is the new Popular Mechanics.
tabbiewolf From: tabbiewolf Date: August 19th, 2008 02:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I personally find it rather amazing that things in Australia are VERY similar to the way things are in the States -- I was kind of hoping that it was a localized thing, but I'm sort of comforted in knowing that folks my age are dealing with it worldwide.

I'm fortunate; I have a bit of help from my parents (not quite mooching; I couldn't get by without it, more or less, and it's going to rent and bills and such) but we get by mostly on our own and I owe very little. And I'm still hopeful that we'll own a house someday.

Eh, hopeful optimism. By the time I'm 30 I'm sure it will go away.
joeypoey From: joeypoey Date: August 19th, 2008 03:19 am (UTC) (Link)
It's definitely an odd time to be a Gen Y. We've all grown up and the next gen (what are the ones after us called anyway?) is starting to become the target (over here anyway). I know for myself, I started a couple years ago slipping into the "eh, I don't care what's the latest and greatest anymore." I go to the skatepark and have NO idea about half of the stuff kids are all over now. I'd rather play my Super Nintendo than a PS3, ironically.
emperor_boy From: emperor_boy Date: August 19th, 2008 03:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh god, I am a Millenial. I just bought an iPhone and advertising is one of the great amusements of our time. D:;
13 have fought ~ fight the power!