Menu
Jump to content

What's with the ads?

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Kinsa

GenX'ers: We're pretty much screwed

Recommended Posts

Maybe the difference is that we didn't really have career counseling!  My husband and I are both Math people so we knew that there would always be some sort of work for us.  I went the teaching route while my husband did computer based things. My husband is a professional engineer (a certification that comes from testing) with a specialty in software engineering.  I don't want to tempt fate by stating it but I do hope that he has guaranteed stability in his profession.

 

But I have never kidded myself by believing that life is stable. We knew petroleum engineers and programmers who could not find a job in this country after living the high life.  Back in the early '90's one of our friends took a temporary job in Saudi Arabia because he could not find anything in the States during the tech recession.  We had friends who took a major hit on a house in Oklahoma during an oil bust.

 

Population shifts have moved teaching jobs but I believe that they are still around.  Unfortunately they are not paying as well as they did formerly in states like mine--and they don't have some of the sweet perks formerly associated with the profession like healthcare in retirement.

 

Healthcare really is the elephant in this room.  Other countries can offer healthcare to all of their citizens for much less than what we pay in the US.  Unfortunately many Americans don't even want to have a civil conversation on the topic--which is depressing.

 

Dh is a math guy, too, but went into chemistry.  Unfortunately (or fortunately?) he decided he loved teaching.  However, colleges are moving towards adjuncts and his current college had a 20% teacher layoff-even of tenured positions. Adjunct pay is $374 a credit hour, so you can imagine the pay, plus no benefits.  It's such a shift being raised to think "We'll always need teachers!" especially with my family being in the teaching field, and now it's all up in the air.  You might find a teaching job, if you're lucky, but the pay is low even for tenured full time positions, adjunct pay is widely available but disgustingly low, and they're really just not respecting teachers at all with the climate in many places.  It's never been an upper class job, but I remember it at least being stable.  I have found many computer science and nursing teaching positions.  Neither always require a grad school degree, even at the college level, which says something about the high demand and how unnecessary expensive grad school is for many fields. 

 

Does that make sense?  So now we're looking for another teaching job and that requires a nationwide three year long search, and we're hoping this one lasts a couple years while we look to maybe establish a small farm for some supplemental food, if not income, and maybe I can go back to retake my expired healthcare classes.  Even then much of that field is oversaturated. It's frustrating. And we have no equity in this house because the market is stagnant, so we're hoping to just walk out of it without owing anything but knowing we won't make a dime of profit even after $10k+ of renovations we've put into it. :/  So basically I'm feeling this article extra hard right now. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dh is a math guy, too, but went into chemistry.  Unfortunately (or fortunately?) he decided he loved teaching.  However, colleges are moving towards adjuncts and his current college had a 20% teacher layoff-even of tenured positions. Adjunct pay is $374 a credit hour, so you can imagine the pay, plus no benefits.  It's such a shift being raised to think "We'll always need teachers!" especially with my family being in the teaching field, and now it's all up in the air.  You might find a teaching job, if you're lucky, but the pay is low even for tenured full time positions, adjunct pay is widely available but disgustingly low, and they're really just not respecting teachers at all with the climate in many places.  It's never been an upper class job, but I remember it at least being stable.  I have found many computer science and nursing teaching positions.  Neither always require a grad school degree, even at the college level, which says something about the high demand and how unnecessary expensive grad school is for many fields. 

 

Does that make sense?  So now we're looking for another teaching job and that requires a nationwide three year long search, and we're hoping this one lasts a couple years while we look to maybe establish a small farm for some supplemental food, if not income, and maybe I can go back to retake my expired healthcare classes.  Even then much of that field is oversaturated. It's frustrating. And we have no equity in this house because the market is stagnant, so we're hoping to just walk out of it without owing anything but knowing we won't make a dime of profit even after $10k+ of renovations we've put into it. :/  So basically I'm feeling this article extra hard right now. 

 

I hear you!  The NC CC system relies on underpaid adjuncts.  Bugs the heck out of me. I have known people who have pieced together an income stream by teaching at two colleges plus teaching online courses at others.  And then parents gripe if their kids don't have a counselor to help them negotiate through a program. The few full time faculty at CCs not only teach, they serve on committees, advise students, try to do their own research. 

 

I think I saw that your husband has interviewed somewhere in Eastern NC. If you want to share the location in a PM, I would be interested.  Maybe you'll end up in my neck of the woods.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I take issue with this:

 

"The dramatic rise in the price of college, coupled with parents' decreased willingness to pay those price increases, represents a price shock that has hit the middle class particularly hard."

 

Willingness....ouch. I grieve every day that I cannot pay for all my kids' college costs. It has nothing to do with willingness and everything to do with ableness. I believe that college costs are unreasonably high, but if I could, I would pay them. The economy in the last half dozen years has made life harder for *every* generation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...They were juuuust before us, so we were raised by people living in an unusually good time and they thought it was the norm and taught us it was the norm.

 

 

 

I think this is exactly it right here. And that I'm only mad because I actually bought into it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree w/Thomas Piketty that the post-war boom was an historic anomaly and we have only returned to normal levels of structural inequality. I think we are only screwed if we hang on to the idea of a singular model of success where every nuclear family fends for themselves. Multi-generational households used to be the norm and work very well to build/preserve financial health within families. I expect we'll see a return to that kind of family life, something that's never really gone out of style in other parts of the world.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

I haven't read to whole thread so feel free to ignore me.

 

I think home prices and buying trends are killing Gen X. People used to buy small "starter homes", live in the for 5 years and then use the profit from selling it as down payment on a family home. Almost everyone I know bought a 3-4 bedroom, 2.5 bath right after leaving the alter. Plus, you have to live in a home for 20 years now to make any kind of profit. Homes are expensive and they aren't really an investment anymore.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

I agree w/Thomas Piketty that the post-war boom was an historic anomaly and we have only returned to normal levels of structural inequality. I think we are only screwed if we hang on to the idea of a singular model of success where every nuclear family fends for themselves. Multi-generational households used to be the norm and work very well to build/preserve financial health within families. I expect we'll see a return to that kind of family life, something that's never really gone out of style in other parts of the world.

Noooooo!!! I can't live with my parents or in-laws!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a coworker from India who explained her family dynamic. It was fascinating. Her college-grad son lived at home and she and her husband were looking for his bride while he saved his earnings. She said when he married and moved out, and if they quickly had kids, they or her dil's parents would come to care for the baby so the new parents could work and/or continue to build their relationship. No daycare. It made me rethink everything that I thought I knew about how to get ahead. They invested in eachother, not just in external 'stuff'.

 

It was at that point that I started seriously thinking about and planning for my mom to live with us. She receives enough social security to allow us to buy a place with a separate apartment or living quarters for her when DH retires. Alone it would not be enough to maintain her standard of living but, together, we will do very well. It's not for everyone but it's not as though we have a monopoly on difficult family relationships either. Mostly, it has taken a huge mind shift for my mom, who has always defined success by the amount stuff she owns, including her home.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, a phone is pretty much a necessity (especially if you're trying to get a job), and a cheap cell plan doesn't cost more than a land line afaik.

 

Yes, and I do know people who have only a cell phone and I can understand that.  But a heck of a lot of them have a landline and a cell, and not necessarily a cheap plan either - they have fancy phones that they use a lot of time doing internet stuff on them, downloading content like music or movies for fees.  And it isn't like they get one phone and keep it - the gadget life cycle is just so incredibly short that people are constantly updating.  I keep seeing families at restaurants and activities where every kid in the family has a tablet that they use to keep them quiet. 

 

Electronics just seem to have quite a price tag associated with them once you add it up, and yet somehow many people consider them a basic cost rather than a luxery. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a coworker from India who explained her family dynamic. It was fascinating. Her college-grad son lived at home and she and her husband were looking for his bride while he saved his earnings. She said when he married and moved out, and if they quickly had kids, they or her dil's parents would come to care for the baby so the new parents could work and/or continue to build their relationship. No daycare. It made me rethink everything that I thought I knew about how to get ahead. They invested in eachother, not just in external 'stuff'.

 

It was at that point that I started seriously thinking about and planning for my mom to live with us. She receives enough social security to allow us to buy a place with a separate apartment or living quarters for her when DH retires. Alone it would not be enough to maintain her standard of living but, together, we will do very well. It's not for everyone but it's not as though we have a monopoly on difficult family relationships either. Mostly, it has taken a huge mind shift for my mom, who has always defined success by the amount stuff she owns, including her home.

 

The phrase I bolded in your comment really struck me.  Recently my aunts MIL died, and they are planning on selling the little house she had.  My cousin was a bit upset - she hoped they might give the house to her - its small but in a fairly nice location and she is single anyway.  She's just finishing of her degree in accounting now at the end of her 20's (she had some false starts) and so is in a place where she really has no resources behind her.

 

Her parents are nice people and helped her a lot financially when she was in school, but I don't think they really see passing on the house that way as something that they should have to do, even though they are very financially stable.  It just isn't part of the mindset.  And yet I think that sort of thing actually used to be quite common before people moved around so much - it seems like it is a clear way to keep the resources the family gains over generations for the use of the family.  What a great start that would be for someone just looking to start a career to have a place to live paid off and needing only to deal with taxes and maintenance. 

 

But it seems like we've really lost that sense of all being in it together over generations - people feel like they made money and so should spend it and once they retire do fun things they enjoy, and then their kids should similarly make money and spend it all starting from the beginning again.

 

But I think that has probably never actually been a sustainable way to live, it really was a sort of historical anomaly combined with some better policies, and those people who really think they made that money on their own are mistaken - that was supported by the larger community in all kinds of ways.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"But it seems like we've really lost that sense of all being in it together over generations - people feel like they made money and so should spend it and once they retire do fun things they enjoy, and then their kids should similarly make money and spend it all starting from the beginning again."

 

YESSSS! We have a home in our family now that my elderly aunt and uncle live in. I have told both my parents (who own it) that my intention is to keep it in the family when they pass, not sell. We may rent it out and split the proceeds, or some other family member may live there at a reduced rate, but we.will.not.sell. I would buy my sibs out first. My cousin did the same after my aunt's untimely death and that asset is still a source of financial strength for that branch of the family. Building wealth is a long-term proposition that, for most, requires a group effort. Whether it's watching grandkids or sharing a home, those contributions really make a difference.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know of a "together" time in my family's history.  There was no family house or assets to pass on.  Or if there was, it wasn't worth much. They don't really make houses to last for generations without a lot of effort to make sure it lasts.  Not everyone ends up having the money to do that.  Yet my husband's family in Germany had a bit of that passing along of assets in the family.  Of course now that DH has left and everyone is much more spread out, a lot of that has ended due to that.  His mother was bent out of shape we wouldn't take stuff (including property) after his dad passed away.  We just didn't see a reasonable way to do that. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think it is the pension thing entirely. My parents are young (19 and 21 years older then me), my mom is paying off student loan debt FOR HER because a job she had been doing with just a high school degree suddenly required a college degree. So she went to school at night, got the piece of paper, and suddenly got a $3 an hour raise. Pensions were the way of the do do bird by the time my parents figured out what they were doing in life. Neither thinks that they will ever retire, yet all of their siblings, 5 in total, are currently retired or will be in a couple of years.

 

My grandmother retired in 1989. I remember it. She is still alive, and very healthy. How do you plan for that long of living without a job?

 

The stock market did hit my in laws a bit. It pushed my FIL retirement back a few years. However they were savers and had as least one degree before they had children. FIL went on to get more degrees though. The stock market has been our friend though with our sons college savings accounts. Those have done really well.

 

We live modestly. My mil complains how small our house is, and I am the one that had the thread in April about living in a family compound with them... NO!! Our cars are 15 and 8 years old. My husband worked in an industry that is dying and had to change career paths. Funny thing is he was doing PhD level high tech. Not all of us expect huge houses and new cars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, and I do know people who have only a cell phone and I can understand that. But a heck of a lot of them have a landline and a cell, and not necessarily a cheap plan either - they have fancy phones that they use a lot of time doing internet stuff on them, downloading content like music or movies for fees. And it isn't like they get one phone and keep it - the gadget life cycle is just so incredibly short that people are constantly updating. I keep seeing families at restaurants and activities where every kid in the family has a tablet that they use to keep them quiet.

 

Electronics just seem to have quite a price tag associated with them once you add it up, and yet somehow many people consider them a basic cost rather than a luxery.

I know like two people under 60 with land lines. Go look at the store shelves where they sell the land lines phones. That will tell you how many people have them. There used to be a whole aisle or two of land line telephones in any electronics or even discount store. Now they have between 3-8 or so models geared to the home market, wedged in a sad dusty corner next to the headphones, well overshadowed by the accessories section for cells and tablets.

 

My cell phone was bought used/refurbished and I have had it for 4 years. Many people don't go for the latest and greatest in gadgets and even if they did, it's still a fairly small bit of the budget.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know like two people under 60 with land lines. Go look at the store shelves where they sell the land lines phones. That will tell you how many people have them. There used to be a whole aisle or two of land line telephones in any electronics or even discount store. Now they have between 3-8 or so models geared to the home market, wedged in a sad dusty corner next to the headphones, well overshadowed by the accessories section for cells and tablets.

 

My cell phone was bought used/refurbished and I have had it for 4 years. Many people don't go for the latest and greatest in gadgets and even if they did, it's still a fairly small bit of the budget.

Here even before cell phones, we paid a flat rate AND pay by the call and minute already, so it's cheaper just to have a cell phone in many ways.  And yes, it's very hard to even find a land line phone.  Walmart only has a couple. I know maybe 2 people total who have a landline nowadays and both of them work FOR the phone company. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gex Xers also own a lot more crap than their parents.

"We" tend to live in larger houses which we fill with crap that does not last and we feel we have to replace.

"We" drive cars that are more expensive and do not last.

"We" don't grow our own food and eat out more.

"We" don't want to see our kids suffer so they don't work and contribute to the household income.

More of us seem to be sick which requires more healthcare which is more expensive than ever.

All of this chips away at one's income and savings.

I think the article put too much emphasis on college expenses.

I Agree

 

Dh and I CHOSE to do without and live like our ancestors- this meant SAVE UP for things BEFORE buying.

 

 we lived in a pop up camper for 1 year while we saved  up enough to build by ourselves a small cottage.

 

 we lived without electricity for 2 years after that while we saved up to get connected.

 

 we saved and saved and extended our house into the palace it is now.

 

We grow about 80% of all our own food, and only eat what is in season

 

We got so much into the habit of saving a minimum of 1/3 of all income whatever the income that we managed to save up enough to buy this year a fixer upper with savings. We did this while having a combined income of less than 30k a year.

 

I feel that the current gen X,Y and whatever follows want everything that it took their parents a lifetime to accumulate- and they want it fancier and bigger. they also want to live what they perceive as a normal life but really is the life of the well off- basically they live BEYOND THEIR MEANS and feel hard done by when it leads to crippling debt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

She said when he married and moved out, and if they quickly had kids, they or her dil's parents would come to care for the baby so the new parents could work and/or continue to build their relationship. No daycare. It made me rethink everything that I thought I knew about how to get ahead. They invested in each other, not just in external 'stuff'.

 

 

This is what I observed in China.  Children were largely raised by grandparents while the parents both worked outside the home.  Retirement age for women was still low (50 or 55).  The grandmothers who made it that far (so not those crippled by working on the land) were spry enough to take full-time care of their grandchildren.

 

The government retirement age in the UK has risen (for me) to 67.  I hope I will be involved in the lives of any grandchildren, but it's impossible to know how fit I will be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gex Xers also own a lot more crap than their parents.

"We" tend to live in larger houses which we fill with crap that does not last and we feel we have to replace.

Do we? We don't own a house and my mom had 12 times more TVs per person (fewer people, more TVs) than us. We have never owned Xboxes or anything like that. We only have work laptops.

 

"We" drive cars that are more expensive and do not last.

Yes, but they are the minimal we can buy and not have them break down... what am I supposed to do, find the car which is magically more reliable and less expensive?

 

"We" don't grow our own food and eat out more.

This is just bull. Most of my friends growing up ate out all the time, and only we had a garden. We still have a garden.

 

"We" don't want to see our kids suffer so they don't work and contribute to the household income.

I don't know what world you are living in, but this is not the case in our neighborhood. Most of the teens I know are working or volunteering and do chores.

 

More of us seem to be sick which requires more healthcare which is more expensive than ever.

I'll grant you that, but I believe much of this has to do with the cheap, crappy food which most people eat because it was made available to them as children, and is available to them now. I and my partner were fed healthy food by our parents and we are in great health. Knock on wood, thanks to our good fortune with parents, we are healthy and don't have huge medical expenses.

 

All of this chips away at one's income and savings.

I think the article put too much emphasis on college expenses.

 

For real? We must be living in different universes. In my world, you need a Master's to be considered for a job; bachelor's and master's, even if you go to State Us and work in between and do CC, will leave you with at least the equivalent of a down payment in debt and that's if you started in the 1990s. How can that not be significant?

 

I'm Generation X, we saved, we paid for college, and the only thing we own is a 10 year old computer and a 10 year old car. Oh, and I worked a professional degree. I have bought all my clothes with credit card bonuses for the past 10 years, and that was only possibly by paying rent on the card and paying that off right away.

 

I would like to have all those things and kids who don't have to work and to not have to water the garden, please.

 

Where's my life of luxury? Where's my X-Box? Where's my fancy car?

 

We saved up a down payment, but unemployment during the recession ate it up as we tried not to take benefits and to continue working part-time as possible when there were no jobs. We did save. It's gone.

 

The baby boomers didn't have it easy but they had it easier. They could make a plan and basically follow it. Unemployment, minimum wage were higher compared to COL, and college tuition, rent and food were cheaper. Job qualifications were lower so college was a real choice. Now you can forget having a family without at least 8 years of education between the breadwinners, ideally 10 years at least (one bachelor's and one master's and it better be an MBA). My partner's dad, my dad, partner's stepdad worked in the same companies THEIR WHOLE LIVES. They climbed a corporate ladder! We have been shifted around and had to do consulting, anything to stay marketable. Nobody paid for our training. We paid for it.

 

You really cannot compare saving in those situations!

 

We are still saving up for land. We are going to build a house. But we have had to pay for much more up to now--daycare, pre-school, college. We pay for most of our education costs.

 

We have done way more than our parents in terms of saving, not going on vacation, growing our own food, but it's still not working. I don't get it. I want real advice that works now, not financial advice that worked 30 years ago.

 

As for the millennials, at least they will have empathetic parents who don't blame them for needing help with tuition or for not going to college. We won't give them crappy advice such as "college is an investment" or "find your passion". The older millennials are the most screwed.

 

I'm hoping people will start forgiving their loans so I can get in on that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am on the dividing line between boomer and gen x. What has affected me the most is the boomers...

Pensions with medical for them, including medical for the wives that never worked, and their retirement is far longer than their working years

 

Taxes...they are a voting bloc. They gave themselves a 50% property tax reduction here so they could age in place in their 3000 sq ft homes on 3 acres. That 5000 savings for each of them is distributed to the younger ones who have no exemptions and are living in 100 year old homes and gardening to save on gas and get the grocery run down to weekly. They also want to raid the 401ks and the many wives who work for the school district continually give themselves 4.x% annual raises, telling those who protest that they are millionaires (which they are if the invested conservatively since they lost their pensions and were forced into 401k) and can easily afford it....yep, if they give up thier retirement possibilities to thesegreedy ones. So, a million in 401k vs a pension with health care for life...my teacher friends that recently retired make 90k (not including health care benefits) in retirement at age 55. I would say 401ks are too limited in comparison and people should be allowed to chuck more in.

 

Housing. Boomers refuse to make infrastructure investments and zoning rules that would result in affordable housing for younger people. We look like Cali now...immigrants with multi or extended families in a 100 year old home, gen y parked on the lawn.

 

Employment. Boomers dont retire, nor do they do risky things like create companies and employ others...their sweet salaries hold them, or they have multiple pensions plus SS and are working part time so they can have even more . Must acquire muscle car, eat out, maintain vacation propery etc.

 

Its a different ball game for us. Work longer years, get bumped out at 50 something and start a business. High taxes and medical costs.

 

At 50, FIL had been retired for 5 years from his pension job, built his second home and was busy vacationing, waiting for SS to start. Throughout the recession, he received raises higher than rate of imflation while we experienced wage stagnation and were told how stupid we were to not have govt jobs.At 50, I am looking for a job while figuring out viable busines opportunities since the boomers only allowed a pittance for sposual iras and I dont want to starve as a senior or choose between bankruptcy and life when medical issues arise, as they most certainly will, before I am eligible for SS, which is several years later than FIL.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 The stock market is a gamble, not a plan.

 

The stock market is heavily manipulated, and except for the few and the lucky, it is really hard for your average Joe to make out well. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Homes are expensive and they aren't really an investment anymore.

 

 

I think they still can be but generally that requires that one live in them a long time, so that even if the house is sold without a profit, at least one has the benefit of having lived in the house for all those years.  The problem is that in today's job market, it can be hard to commit to living in one area for a long time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whenever we lump people into a group, label it, and then shower it with resentment and hate, it's unhealthy at best.

 

Gathering people into "generations" is divisive. I know people in every age bracket going back to the early 1900s. As near as I can tell, they have all worked very hard, put in some long hours at work, and tried to be diligent with their finances, and as parents. I don't see any reason to hate and resent any of them. Dh and I have done the best that we can with our own circumstances, and we'll try to guide and help our own children.

 

Like I've told my dc, in the U.S. someone will always have more than you, but someone will always have less, too. An attitude of thankfulness will give you a much better life vs. one of resentment and envy.

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Taxes...they are a voting bloc.

 

Housing. Boomers refuse to make infrastructure investments and zoning rules that would result in affordable housing for younger people. 

 

Employment. Boomers dont retire, nor do they do risky things like create companies and employ others...their sweet salaries hold them, or they have multiple pensions plus SS 

 

Its a different ball game for us. Work longer years, get bumped out at 50 something and start a business. High taxes and medical costs.

 

At 50, FIL had been retired for 5 years from his pension job, built his second home and was busy vacationing, waiting for SS to start. Throughout the recession, he received raises higher than rate of imflation while we experienced wage stagnation and were told how stupid we were to not have govt jobs.At 50, I am looking for a job while figuring out viable busines opportunities since the boomers only allowed a pittance for sposual iras and I dont want to starve as a senior or choose between bankruptcy and life when medical issues arise, as they most certainly will, before I am eligible for SS, which is several years later than FIL.

 

I think you're in the right direction about this.  The boomers with the most money have a lifestyle they want to protect, and have done so rather successfully.  To the detriment of others.  

 

My dad had two jobs basically - 20 years military, 20 years Southwestern Bell Telephone.  Military pension, Bell pension, SS, healthcare, etc.  My mom was a sahm.  Never happen in this day and age.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe this is a difference between the Boomers and Gen X. I was never told these things!  Home ownership was not guaranteed but certainly suggested as something that would be attainable.  My husband, a tail end Boomer, works for a major corporation that was no longer providing traditional pensions when he signed on, although he does have both a pension and a generously matched 401-K. 

 

I do think that our kids need to learn flexibility to move from job to job, field to field, as trends demand.  Which is why we really need to help our kids learn how to save and invest so that they have a cushion on which to fall.

 

 

That's close to our experience as well. Dh is barely a Boomer, I'm barely a Gen X. We knew from very early on that it was on us to save for retirement. From day one, when we had to scrimp for everything, we started saving in the 401k. We never stopped, even when it was hard & it meant not eating what we'd like. What we always heard was that social security wouldn't be there for us, so it was up to us to be ready for retirement.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We are in a better financial situation that our parents were. My parents had every opportunity in the world, but continually sabotaged their own economic security. My in laws lived very, very frugally.

 

I said in the thread about investing in your marriage that I attribute much of our happiness to good luck. I feel the same way about our financial successes. We have been extremely lucky.

 

Neither of us started with the advantage of having parents who could help us with college or cars, but we both put ourselves through school and graduated before getting married and paid off our student loans before having kids.

 

We graduated in a recession, but I was fortunate to have gotten a teaching degree in an area where teachers are always needed. Dh has an engineering degree but was competing right after college with executives who had been laid off. He was lucky to have finally gotten hired by a company that was owned by his high school debate partner's family. Knowing someone is the only way he got a job. There he gained new areas of expertise that were in demand.

 

When we bought our first house, we got a foreclosure that was in horrible shape and did the work ourselves to fix it up. The low selling price meant that we had a big house in a great neighborhood with a tiny mortgage. We made a lot of money on that house with allowed us to buy the acreage we have now. My plan is to sell this place for enough to put down a hefty downpayment on a house in California.

 

But it was only luck that Dh went into a field that he enjoys and has been lucrative for him. He chose his college major to spite a bragging neighbor.

 

It was luck that he had an "in" to get his first engineering job.

 

It was luck that we have all been unbelievably healthy and never had medical bills to speak of.

 

During the last stock market crash. Dh's company was in the middle of an merger. He was supposed to fill out a form to declare which company he wanted managing his 401K. He was so distracted with the merger that he never filled out the form, and his account was "frozen" and not affected by the stock market. I call that blind, stupid luck.

 

I do feel like the world my children is inheriting is more challenging. We have been able to get them cars and pay their tuition and even help them get jobs that wouldn't be available to them without our help.

 

We are at a turning point in our lives. It is scary, because if we play our cards right, it could pay off in steadily increasing salary and a secure retirement. If we make poor choices, it could cost us some of the advantages we have worked decades to get.

 

I'm just going to be thoughtful and careful and take a deep breath and hope that we continue to be lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DH and I are GenX, our parents were/are boomers....  Mine died at 49 and 50, were poor most of their lives, never had nice things....  DH:  FiL is a retired accountant who does volunteer work all week for the church at which my MiL is the pastor.  They help support two of their younger daughters.  They are frugal, are generous to a fault, etc. 

We as GenXers...  I got my first smart phone a month ago.  It cost $45.  We have a plan for all 4 of us that costs $100 a month, no land line.  We don't have cable or satellite....  We don't have new nice furniture or really a lot of 'stuff' at all....

Anyway - my point is....  all the stereotyping on this thread isn't doing anyone a whole lot of good, it isn't all that accurate, and is trying to shove the national issues into little "I blame the _____ generation for our problems" boxes. 

Kinda made me cringe when someone mentioned that we were preceded by just a little bit by the more fortunate generation.  Ummmm - they fought WWII.  Drastically cut the number of employable young men in a way I hope we never have to see again.  They still bought 1000 sq ft houses when they got back..... 

There are a lot of reasons we're in the poor shape we're in, but most of them haven't been mentioned in this thread. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I know a lot of Gen X workers who hit the start up lottery big time.

 

We knew a few Gen Xers who won the startup lottery during the first Dot Com boom (Marissa Mayer of Google now Yahoo was my DH's sophomore dorm RA and is the most famous of these). But there seem to be FAR more Millennials who are striking it rich this time around.

 

What bothers me most about now vs. the late '90's is that it's much more nepotistic and less based on pure talent. The people we knew who made it big during the Dot Com boom got their jobs through being smart & competent, not through their family connections. What you knew used to be a lot more important than whom you knew, and today it's the other way around :cursing:

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gex Xers also own a lot more crap than their parents.

"We" tend to live in larger houses which we fill with crap that does not last and we feel we have to replace.

"We" drive cars that are more expensive and do not last.

"We" don't grow our own food and eat out more.

"We" don't want to see our kids suffer so they don't work and contribute to the household income.

More of us seem to be sick which requires more healthcare which is more expensive than ever.

All of this chips away at one's income and savings.

I think the article put too much emphasis on college expenses.

 

B.S.

 

DH and I are both X'ers and both sets of our parents had a WAAAAAY nicer lifestyle than we've been able to afford.

 

My parents had a slightly (250 sq. ft.) smaller home until I was 16 but it had a significantly bigger lot (2 acres vs. 0.5 acre) and it was in a more affluent town. When I was in high school they bought a home that's 1000 sq. ft. larger than ours, with a pool and again a 2 acre lot. My IL's house is roughly the same size as ours, but it has a pool and a larger lot (1.5 acres).

 

My parents bought a new car every 3 years and never kept any past 100k. My IL's didn't buy new cars, but they bought low-mileage late model used cars every few years. We've got a '04 model with 220k and an '07 with 175k. Up until 2 years ago we only had the older car until my parents sold us the newer one for $1.

 

Both my family and DH's family went on nice vacations every year including Mexico and the Carribean. We've been on exactly 1 that we paid for ourselves in 16.5 years of marriage. My parents were nice enough to take us to Hawaii in 2007, Colorado in 2008 for my cousin's wedding, and San Diego this past spring because they feel sorry for us not being able to afford travel.

 

Growing up, my brothers' and my clothes were bought at the mall not consignment shops or clearance racks at discount stores. We kids each had a shoe rack full of shoes, not 1 pair of dress shoes, 1 pair of sneakers, and 1 pair of sandals like my kids have.

 

I could go on, but it's too depressing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 Boomers who bought houses in the early '80's were paying interest rates of 15%!

 

My parents' first house had a mortgage rate of 13% (yikes!) BUT it was on $55k, which is the equivalent of $218k today. That same house today costs more than quadruple. I'd gladly pay 13% interest if we could pay 1977 real estate prices.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We knew a few Gen Xers who won the startup lottery during the first Dot Com boom (Marissa Mayer of Google now Yahoo was my DH's sophomore dorm RA and is the most famous of these). But there seem to be FAR more Millennials who are striking it rich this time around.

 

What bothers me most about now vs. the late '90's is that it's much more nepotistic and less based on pure talent. The people we knew who made it big during the Dot Com boom got their jobs through being smart & competent, not through their family connections. What you knew used to be a lot more important than whom you knew, and today it's the other way around :cursing:

 

This isn't what the latest macroeconomic research is showing tho. Historically, it was absolutely about who you knew. Want to be a lawyer? Cozy up to one and become an apprentice to the best, or better yet, marry into the family. Want to be a tailor? Same thing. Families were dynastic and who you allowed/selected to join your family mattered a great deal. Yes, there were entrepreneurs, inventors, and industrialists but talent alone (see Tesla, Nikola) wasn't enough then and it's not now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The latest boomer thing here is to sell farm development rights to local govt aka nonboomer taxpayers. Its running 3/4 million per family farm. Meanwhile, the employees live in the barns and the original farmhouses, which have tax exemptions to the extent that the nonboomers pay 6% of their before tax income in property tax to pay for the schooling needs. The other families' children have been leaving for NC and FL at the rate of 5% a year so they can afford to live and eat. We are about to flip to become a mix of aging in place wealthy boomers, immigrants/people on visa as CNAs, construction, engineers, doctors, and farmhands and large groups of people with a religious exemption living communally.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think home prices and buying trends are killing Gen X. People used to buy small "starter homes", live in the for 5 years and then use the profit from selling it as down payment on a family home. Almost everyone I know bought a 3-4 bedroom, 2.5 bath right after leaving the alter. Plus, you have to live in a home for 20 years now to make any kind of profit. Homes are expensive and they aren't really an investment anymore.

 

"Starter homes" used to have affordable prices. By the time that we'd saved up enough for a 20% down payment, we'd been married 11 years and had 3 kids. The land is what drives the home values so a small home isn't that much cheaper than a medium one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My parents had a 30K mortgage in the 70s, on a 40s bungalow, in a bad neighborhood that's since rebounded. The home was half the size when my grandmother bought it on her pay as a domestic. The house was her pride and joy. Holding onto that asset, long-term, made a huge difference for my family. Many families sold these homes when things were bad and moved to the burbs. That wasn't an irrational choice but it was based on short-term, individual thinking. Now the neighborhood has gentrified and lots/homes of that size and quality are more valuable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This isn't what the latest macroeconomic research is showing tho. Historically, it was absolutely about who you knew. Want to be a lawyer? Cosy up to one and become an apprentice to the best, or better yet, marry into the family. Want to be a tailor? Same thing. Families were dynastic and who you allowed/selected to join your family mattered a great deal. Yes, there were entrepreneurs, inventors, and industrialists but talent alone (see Tesla, Nikola) wasn't enough then and it's not now.

 

That was true 100 years ago, but it wasn't true when my parents were getting out of college nor when I was.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Starter homes" used to have affordable prices. By the time that we'd saved up enough for a 20% down payment, we'd been married 11 years and had 3 kids. The land is what drives the home values so a small home isn't that much cheaper than a medium one.

Exactly.  And all of the new construction planned suburban communities they had?  The modern cookie cutter equivalent is way overpriced for most families.  So many first time homebuyers are buying old houses to rehab which for some ends up costing an arm and a leg more than they can afford.  The market is totally different than in the 50s-80s, so saying that Boomers did *this* 30-60 years ago doesn't do anyone any good.  

 

Probably not the best article, but some data about the differences with price and income: http://www.mybudget360.com/cost-of-living-2014-inflation-1950-vs-2014-data-housing-cars-college/

 

I know here it's nearly impossible to find a medium sized/cost house.  Almost everything is a 1-2 bedroom less than 1000 sq  ft house in very poor shape or over $300,000 in an area with a median income about $24,000.  If you get lucky you get a habitable house in the first class and rehab it, but it's competitive because the market is stagnant and there are few houses for sale.  And I can't imagine more than a handful of people in this super rural impoverished area can really afford a $300k house!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That was true 100 years ago, but it wasn't true when my parents were getting out of college nor when I was.

Yes, current research suggests that much of the economic mobility that occurred in the last 100 years was likely NOT the norm. The long-term, 200-1000 year trends offer a different perspective.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My dh and I are way better off than my parents. Same for many of my childhood friends. Not everyone was affluent in the early 70s to 80s. I'm surprised by the life styles described in these posts.

 

My IL's are not affluent but lower-middle-class. They had a much better lifestyle on a significantly lower income because the basic COL wasn't as high. They purchased their house in the mid-70's (DH was born in late '75 and I think they owned the house then) prior to the run-up in real estate prices.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Haven't read all of the replies yet.  While I agree that some of it is due to college loans, I also think that we just spend more money than our parents did.  Neither Dh's parents nor mine paid for cell phones or high speed internet, or all the extracurricular things that we pay for our kids to do.  My mom paid for child care when I was a baby and toddler, but by the time I was in K, I came home from school by myself until someone got home.  I can't imagine leaving my 5 yr old home alone for the afternoon every day now.  So, I think that I actually do spend a lot more than the previous generation.  Some of it is by choice, and some of it, I justify to myself, is just the world I am choosing to live in.  I am choosing to live in a world where having a smartphone makes sense, and where my kids benefit from and enjoy the activities that we pay for them to do, etc.  Sometimes it feels so black and white, like it's either live the way we live now or go live off the grid in the woods somewhere.  (Of course I know it's not all or nothing like that, but it just feels that way sometimes.)

 

I also tell myself that once the kids are grown, I will work full-time, and so we will have more income then.  Maybe I am deluding myself in that way though.  I hope not!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I want to reiterate how inappropriate it is to recommend options from 60 years ago for today.  Today many people need a dependable car for a long commute, modern conveniences like electricity if they don't want condemned or their children taken away, cell phones for work (actually required in some jobs for on call), college for even low paying jobs, nice clothes for work, internet for job searches and doing work from home, etc.  So before we start on the "I walked uphill both ways in the snow barefoot to get to my apprenticed job as a lawyer where I made enough to buy the town but just decided not to" diatribes, remember this is an entirely different time period and economic beast.  I really wish it weren't so in some ways.  Truly.  But it's wishful thinking for most people. If you can do it in today's world, more power to you.  But remember that most can't.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

I could go on, but it's too depressing.

 

My parents have a better lifestyle in retirement than I will ever have. My dad is traditionally all gloom and doom about everything. I reminded him recently that he lives better than many his age, financial wise. He held the same job for over 30 years, was frugal (it felt miserly when I was a kid), yet we still took two week vacations every year (tent-trailer camping), lived in a safe suburban neighborhood, and never worried about food on the table. My mom didn't work until I was in high school. She didn't need to financially either at that point. 

 

The job stability he had made a huge difference. He also started well and stayed that way. 

 

Some of the people I know, myself included, didn't start so well and had to start over at 30. Before they were forty we had the economic collapse. So we're on our third try in our forties. This is one reason I'm counseling ds to start well and start thinking long-term at 20. This was not advice I received. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My IL's are not affluent but lower-middle-class. They had a much better lifestyle on a significantly lower income because the basic COL wasn't as high. They purchased their house in the mid-70's (DH was born in late '75 and I think they owned the house then) prior to the run-up in real estate prices.

 

I agree.

 

I can think of a dozen or more working class parents of my friends who afforded a house on 1 or 2 very modest jobs. A friend's boomer parents were a bus driver and a cater waiter. They were able to raise their kids in a comfortable home on a nice neighborhood.

 

I have gen X friends where she is a lab tech and he's a grocery checker and they are sitting on a massive nest egg from selling their second house and buying a small apartment building.

 

These are but two examples in many.

 

What sort of houses are my same age friends buying? Tiny townhomes, postage stamp post war fixers for $280-325K in dicier areas, dilapidated 70s ranch houses. What jobs do these people have? Engineer, doctor, lawyer, business manager, teacher, journalist, IT. They did what they were "supposed to" and went to college, sometimes the first in their family to do so. These are what their parents would have called "starter homes" when they were 22-25 yo and the houses were in good condition. My same age peers have mostly been 30-35 when buying their first home, not 22-25. We were 27 but took a bath when the bubble burst and we needed to move for family health reasons.

 

What sort of houses are couples just younger than me buying? Most often none at all unless they have some family money or no kids. I can think of at least a dozen late 20s couples who have no prospects of obtaining the level of housing their parents had at the same age. It's not gadgets or spending either. It's that they paid more than anyone before them for their degrees, they have been underemployed for a while and there's nothing here to buy the costs 2-3 times their annual income. Not even a small condo. Even the ones who bucked the college advice and gone for trades have found that the boomers aren't retiring and they can't get the jobs because they lack seniority. A 25 year old cater waiter and a bus driver aren't buying a house in this county anymore. A 27 year old grocery checker isn't even able to afford the rent on a market rate 2 to 3 bdrm, much less think of buying.

 

Yes, every generation had its ups and downs but a there's a persistent pattern emerging for young couples trying to launch.

 

It's also a myth that it's spending that is holding these people down. If you look at averages from the postwar years, people spent a lot larger percentage of their budgets on food and clothing and less on housing and about the same between entertainment and appliances as compared to today.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

American GenXers are one of the richest groups of people in the history of the world. They have more wealth, opportunities, better health, more leisure, travel more, and enjoy more of almost anything imaginable that is associated with the good life than anyone except perhaps their parents' generation.

 

It's not really that rough out there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

American GenXers are one of the richest groups of people in the history of the world. They have more wealth, opportunities, better health, more leisure, travel more, and enjoy more of almost anything imaginable that is associated with the good life than anyone except perhaps their parents' generation.

 

It's not really that rough out there.

 

Except when it kinda is. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wont disagree at traveling more. In my parents' gen, the whole family went and the corp helped with housing. Now, the employee is expected get on a plane Monday morning rather than relocate. Employee isnt home for dinner with the fam, unless he is in a location where he can skype.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

American GenXers are one of the richest groups of people in the history of the world. They have more wealth, opportunities, better health, more leisure, travel more, and enjoy more of almost anything imaginable that is associated with the good life than anyone except perhaps their parents' generation.

 

It's not really that rough out there.

Family homelessness in the US is at an 80 year high though it's improved somewhat recently. Poverty rates for children in the US top almost all other first world, developed nations.

 

It is really great out there for some.

 

It is really hard out there for many more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×
×
  • Create New...