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Kinsa

GenX'ers: We're pretty much screwed

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I was born in 1963 and Husband in 1956.  My parents were born in 1924 and 1930.  My father worked for the same corporation for forty years, getting the job shortly after finishing National Service.  He didn't have much cash, but all kinds of things were very cheap that would be much more expensive now.  I grew up in one of these buildings, which are million pound houses now but were white elephants then.  We used to spend a month in France camping in the summer and it cost very little.  He also ended up with a very good pension, retiring before he was sixty.

 

Husband has changed job often (not always by choice) and has experienced three major periods of unemployment.  He has to keep working (no solid pension option) but opportunities diminish enormously at his age.  We are very lucky that we were able to buy a rental property at one point when things were going well, as that is our continuing income into retirement.

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I think that my children's generation really needs to seriously contemplate NOT getting into home ownership. The way the job market has evolved, staying in one place for extended periods of time is just not likely to happen, and one has to own a house and pay it down considerably these days in order to reap the benefits due to closing costs, high property tax, and the burden of repairs. It's a lot of investment that is a huge gamble more than it was 40 years ago. I honestly think renting will be much better because breaking a lease is a lot less financial distress than trying to quickly sell a house when the inevitable job change occurs.

 

Actually, dh and I are contemplating the negativity of homeownership at this moment having had to replace the range and the dryer in the same month, and while the property market continues to stagnate if not drop here, our property taxes went up significantly on a house that is not even close to worth the state equalized value. We've talked it over at length and decided to build rent into our retirement plan, ditch this place for the pittance we will be able to get out of it, and remain more mobile. Part of this too is that his mom owns a lovely home that she won't sell, but in addition to maintaining our place, dh feels compelled to take care of hers which causes him a lot of stress. My parents home needs work they can't afford to have done, so when I go back into the workforce, I will probably be paying for that as well. We are determined not to leave an albatross of aging parent homeownership around our kids' necks.

 

Another thing we have told the kids is if they can get better jobs in foreign locales, they need to RUN. Don't worry about us. Save your own families!

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I think that my children's generation really needs to seriously contemplate NOT getting into home ownership. The way the job market has evolved, staying in one place for extended periods of time is just not likely to happen, and one has to own a house and pay it down considerably these days in order to reap the benefits due to closing costs, high property tax, and the burden of repairs. It's a lot of investment that is a huge gamble more than it was 40 years ago. I honestly think renting will be much better because breaking a lease is a lot less financial distress than trying to quickly sell a house when the inevitable job change occurs.

 

I disagree. When we purchased our house in '09, we were paying a similar amount in rent as what our mortgage was. Since then, our mortgage cost actually went DOWN (we were able to re-fi to a lower rate in 2012) but the market rent on our old condo is up a whopping $1300/mo.

 

My dad always said that owning a home is building wealth for yourself (via forced savings) but renting is building wealth for your landlord/lady. We would've bought sooner if we could've afforded to do so.

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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.

 

GenX here.

 

Shenanigans.

 

 

It was hard before my spouse lost his job.

It was hard before we were losing our house.

It will continue to be hard while we face homelessness, lack of job opportunities, loss of savings and more.

 

This seems to be a common scenario, we are far from alone in this situation. I do know individuals who are doing fine, but more and more they are the exception.

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I disagree. When we purchased our house in '09, we were paying a similar amount in rent as what our mortgage was. Since then, our mortgage cost actually went DOWN (we were able to re-fi to a lower rate in 2012) but the market rent on our old condo is up a whopping $1300/mo.

 

My dad always said that owning a home is building wealth for yourself (via forced savings) but renting is building wealth for your landlord/lady. We would've bought sooner if we could've afforded to do so.

Agreed. We couldn't afford more than a 1 or two bedroom apartment for what our mortgage is in the area we live. If we had to relocate due to my dh job, we could easily rent it out for almost double our mortgage payment.

 

I'm sure location plays a big part of the equation..

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Jane, on the subject of "slave" er I mean unpaid interns, guess what I just found out!

 

The place that my son in law did his college internship at is running an entire marketing and computer graphics department - we are talking BIG company here - exclusively on unpaid interns. No joke. They are laughing all the way to the bank. These kids are worked to death for not a pittance, and for all of their efforts no job offer will be forthcoming. Yes, they may have some experience which will help them land a job which is what happened to son in law, but the reality is it ought to be ILLEGAL!

 

On top of that, adjusted for inflation, he makes half what dh did in the same field with the same level of education and experience going into it as a college grad. UGH!

 

Welcome to the United Corporations of America. I think it's time we took Lady Liberty down from the harbor and put up some sort of "Welcome serf to the new feudalism" sign.

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I think what people consider successful has changed as well.  People were content with a lot less in the 50's or 60's than they are now.  Take the size of homes.   I found a census document to show the size of homes from 1973-2010. In 1973, the average size of the home was 1525 ( though it varied by region).  

 

The average new house in the UK is currently 818 square feet.

 

http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/how-big-is-a-house

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I think what people consider successful has changed as well. People were content with a lot less in the 50's or 60's than they are now. Take the size of homes. I found a census document to show the size of homes from 1973-2010. In 1973, the average size of the home was 1525 ( though it varied by region). In 2010 it is 2,169, though it actually peaked in 2006 at 2248. People thought they needed more space to be comfortable. Other generations made do.

 

https://www.census.gov/const/C25Ann/sftotalmedavgsqft.pdf

 

 

I found another article that talked about how in 1950 the average home was 983 square feet and had 3.37 people living in it.

http://www.100khouse.com/2008/10/20/so-many-square-feet-so-few-people/

 

I remember that my parents made do with one car. Now many Americans feel ( perhaps rightfully, perhaps not) that each spouse needs a car as well as at least one for the children to use.

 

Just food for thought.

That's average NEW single family homes. Most people do not live in brand new homes around here. Most people I know under age 40 are living in those older 900-1500 sf homes if they own a home at all.

 

Also, many more people are living in condos and townhouses than in the post war years as well. Our townhouse was 1450 SF including the garage.

 

Finally one car worked pretty well when there was one worker. Today, most 2 parent families have two wage earners and quite often both of them need a car to commute if they live in an area with insufficent transit. Offhand, I know no family within 15 years of my age that has more than 2 cars. People today also drive considerably older cars on average than they did in the 1950s-1960s. Most of the professionals I know are driving 5-10 year old vehicles as their newest car.

 

The Two Income Trap is illustrative on the spendthrift assumptions older people often have about younger people.

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Jane, on the subject of "slave" er I mean unpaid interns, guess what I just found out!

 

The place that my son in law did his college internship at is running an entire marketing and computer graphics department - we are talking BIG company here - exclusively on unpaid interns. No joke. They are laughing all the way to the bank. These kids are worked to death for not a pittance, and for all of their efforts no job offer will be forthcoming. Yes, they may have some experience which will help them land a job which is what happened to son in law, but the reality is it ought to be ILLEGAL!

 

On top of that, adjusted for inflation, he makes half what dh did in the same field with the same level of education and experience going into it as a college grad. UGH!

 

Welcome to the United Corporations of America. I think it's time we took Lady Liberty down from the harbor and put up some sort of "Welcome serf to the new feudalism" sign.

Just FYI--This is not supposed to be happening anymore and could get the employer in big trouble if reported (and higher wages for the 'interns'). This practice became entrenched when I was a undergrad and got out of control during the second Bush admin. when there was practically zero labor law enforcement. In the last 2-3 years, however, the DOL has come out with some pretty strict rules for internships that require the job to be PRIMARILY related to teaching/instruction and not a substitute for paid labor. In fact, the RNC recently had to pull an advertised "intern" position for the 2016 convention when people began questioning whether it was really an internship or just a full-time organizing job below the state's $8/hr. minimum wage.

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That isn't what I see around here. I see people (including some that work for my husband) buying nicer houses than we have and nicer cars. They move into a house with all new furniture. That isn't what we did/so. But I see it A LOT around here....

Read the Two Income Trap. I truly thought as you did but realized my assumptions were pretty wrong. On average, people are spending less per car (adjusted for inflation) and tend to have one car per worker. People are replacing cars less often (due to budget constraints and increasing quality of cars available). The median house is 35 years old now compared to 23 year old in 1985. People are more likely now than then to live in older homes. Housing is a larger percentage of people's double income than it was their single income before. School district is the biggest impact on home prices and with people unable to afford private school, can we really fault people for trying to buy into a good school for their child?

 

ETA- only 16% of homes purchased are new construction and the age bracket most likely to buy new construction are 59-67. 87% of buyers under 33 are buying resales. So I wish people would stop saying young couples only by new, luxury homes and don't do starters. News flash- House Hunters and similar are not true to real life people! Here's the data source: http://www.realtor.org/sites/default/files/reports/2014/2014-home-buyer-and-seller-generational-trends-report-full.pdf

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That isn't what I see around here.  I see people (including some that work for my husband) buying nicer houses than we have and nicer cars.  They move into a house with all new furniture.  That isn't what we did/so.  But I see it A LOT around here....  

 

I think that breaking things up generationally only tells a very partial story.  Country, region, what "side of the tracks" you are on makes a *huge* difference in what opportunities are available and what is considered a social norm (how large of a "starter" home, age/cost of car, etc).

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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.

Hey!  I have a landline.  I've had that number for 30 years. 

 

I will ditch it if we move though. 

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Hey! I have a landline. I've had that number for 30 years.

 

I will ditch it if we move though.

Landlines are very common here. Too many people live in dead zones.

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I think that breaking things up generationally only tells a very partial story.  Country, region, what "side of the tracks" you are on makes a *huge* difference in what opportunities are available and what is considered a social norm (how large of a "starter" home, age/cost of car, etc).

 

This is also true, especially in terms of the social capital you start off with and manage to build along the way. 

 

We would definitely be less screwed in a country where housing was affordable. 

 

OTOH, we'd be completely screwed if we lived in a country without socialised medicine. 

 

I certainly don't hate and resent the boomer generation ( well, resent, a bit ). I think though, its undeniable that there are generational patterns which can be observed. It's undeniable, where I live anyway, that boomers hold most of the wealth, influence, and still occupy many of the jobs.

 

I think Gen X also grew up on the cusp of pre and post digital worlds. So we've been negotiating that shift in a way later digital natives haven't had to. We're a bit sandwiched as a generation between the long lived boomers and the  generations coming up behind us. 

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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.

Yeah, I cringed when I wrote it because I didn't want it to come across as flippant. I was speaking to financial ease of those generations as compared to financial ease of generations that came afterwards. As I wrote it, I was also thinking of WWII and Korea and Viet Nam and being glad we didn't have to deal with that, though we do have to deal with shaky finances.

 

We have our middle eastern issues now, if we're going to talk war.

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I don't so much resent the boomers except when they start wondering why we're all too stupid to figure out how to handle our finances and give out outdated tips that will not work in today's world. "Work your way through college and pay it off as you go!" As if a 17 year old can get a $60,000 a year job.

 

I go round and round on these sorts of issues with my parents and in-laws. Well, for 5 minutes and then we all get frustrated and stop talking.

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Yes, the advice giving gets old. 

 

Especially - don't have such a big car and a big house and holidays to Europe and all the electronics and lattes every day! I'm all like - what ? You have me mixed up with a princess.

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Read the Two Income Trap. I truly thought as you did but realized my assumptions were pretty wrong. On average, people are spending less per car (adjusted for inflation) and tend to have one car per worker. People are replacing cars less often (due to budget constraints and increasing quality of cars available). The median house is 35 years old now compared to 23 year old in 1985. People are more likely now than then to live in older homes. Housing is a larger percentage of people's double income than it was their single income before. School district is the biggest impact on home prices and with people unable to afford private school, can we really fault people for trying to buy into a good school for their child?

 

It isn't necessarily even the school district but to avoid the crime that has skyrocketed in the 'burbs. Yes, I realize that the overall nationwide crime rate has decreased since the '80's but the nationwide rate is irrelevant. Crime is way higher in many areas so if you want to avoid the gangs and other criminal element, you need to pay $$$ for housing.

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It isn't necessarily even the school district but to avoid the crime that has skyrocketed in the 'burbs. Yes, I realize that the overall nationwide crime rate has decreased since the '80's but the nationwide rate is irrelevant. Crime is way higher in many areas so if you want to avoid the gangs and other criminal element, you need to pay $$$ for housing.

Yes, I was thinking about this too with regard to starter homes. Where I live, any home that is priced like a starter home is in a neighborhood that is profoundly unsafe. I know there are parts of the country where this isn't true, but I also know this isn't the only place that it is true.

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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.

 

This isn't true in my family.

 

My parents took drugs, slacked off, didn't go to college and then my mom went practically for free in California while we were kids, and now my dad gets benefits (that will be completely gone by the time we get to be that age, he gets a retirement pension for all of 15 years work that people my age can only dream of) and my mom saved up and never had to sell. The one thing she did more than me was drove 20 more minutes to and from work to buy a small house, but that was only after we were in middle school and high school, and at that time, we had to watch ourselves most of the time, so we sacrificed too. Never got driven to and from in middle school, never got to go to sports competitions.

 

I don't compare myself to my mom. I am very proud of what I have accomplished. But if she tells me one more time that saving worked for her, after I spent my entire childhood in poverty so she could save up for the damn house, never got to play club sports, never got to take art or music lessons, and paid for my own college and paid my own college debt, so that she could save, I think I will scream. I sacrificed, too. I couldn't have sleepovers. I couldn't have friends over!

 

 

 

We purchases our modest home at a time when the area in which we live was undervalued. 

 

What is funny is that boomers seem to think this is a coincidence, that this happened to them and it could happen to anyone. The boom, however, is artificial and was created by a rise in the number of people with a living wage and access to credit. It was not like, "wow, weren't we lucky to find this neighborhood!" No, public policy which no longer exists created that situation. Now local workers are disadvantaged compared to foreign buyers who buy the homes and rent them out. That wasn't luck. That was public policy! Can we have it back, please? (Hint: No, we cannot, because the people running the country would much rather rent out homes than sell them.)

 

My kids have much more than I have. I invest my money in my children. I invested my talent in my country. I saved and I didn't take benefits. I sacrificed and saved and if I tried pot, okay, but I did not waste years on drugs. I paid the full price of college because she had saved up but did not pay for college.

 

But she is telling ME how to save. I have had it up to here. I mean, I love my mom dearly and she did her best. But her financial advice just kills me. That said, she has really listened to me explain the mechanics of our debt and student loans and seen how little my ex-H made compared to her own dad who served the same # of years in wars... to be fair, she has listened and has tried to help now that she can.

 

Here is what I am going to do. I am going to take care of my kids FIRST. I am going to sacrifice everything, and have sacrificed, for their education FIRST. After that, I will try to buy land and it will be land I can bequeath to them, not land I'm going to sell to travel during retirement.

 

But I'm also not going to pretend that somehow... life is fair, don't try to get what others have.

 

That assumes that you are going to get the things you need, like an education, daycare, retirement handed to you on a silver platter. And that will not happen. Everything I need, I have to work for and fight for. Being at peace with what I have is a luxury I cannot afford. I still have to fight for my kids.

 

ETA--I do want to say that my grandparents sacrificed a lot and probably faced as much uncertainty as my generation, with about the same level of comfort, only more of the men went to war. My partner did not go to war, though ex-h did three times, twice during our marriage. I feel like we have much more in common with my grandparents, except the expectations of us are much higher. My dream is that people will look back on my generation as the generation who sacrificed to make the nation the socially just state, the fair playing ground, we said it was. But first we're going to have to stop the crap about how it is already fair, we just aren't working enough.

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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.

Discussing the economic trends and realities that different generations face is not hating or resenting anyone. It is looking at how public policy and economic factors have changed over time. Some for this better and some for the worse.

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Landlines are very common here. Too many people live in dead zones.

 

 

I thought I had a landline, but around here, one can't get  a true landline anymore.  If the power goes off, I lose my supposed landline, right along with my cell phone.   Everything is digital now.  

 

The phone thing really bugs me.  It makes me feel unsafe.  Back in our old house, about 25 miles away, I had a true landline and if the power went out, usually the phone would still work.   I was surprised when it didn't in my new neighborhood.

 

Now I mostly just keep my "landline" to give people a number when I don't want to give them a cell phone #.  Probably not worth the expense.  

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I thought I had a landline, but around here, one can't get a true landline anymore. If the power goes off, I lose my supposed landline, right along with my cell phone. Everything is digital now.

 

The phone thing really bugs me. It makes me feel unsafe. Back in our old house, about 25 miles away, I had a true landline and if the power went out, usually the phone would still work. I was surprised when it didn't in my new neighborhood.

 

Now I mostly just keep my "landline" to give people a number when I don't want to give them a cell phone #. Probably not worth the expense.

You can keep your landline number and port it over to Google voice and never pay for it again. There are some initial up-front charges, but then you have the number for life and never have to pay again. Google voice even transcribes voice mails and blocks many solicitation calls. You can also make free long distance calls with Google voice.

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This isn't true in my family.

 

My parents took drugs, slacked off, didn't go to college and then my mom went practically for free in California while we were kids, and now my dad gets benefits (that will be completely gone by the time we get to be that age, he gets a retirement pension for all of 15 years work that people my age can only dream of) and my mom saved up and never had to sell. The one thing she did more than me was drove 20 more minutes to and from work to buy a small house, but that was only after we were in middle school and high school, and at that time, we had to watch ourselves most of the time, so we sacrificed too. Never got driven to and from in middle school, never got to go to sports competitions.

 

I don't compare myself to my mom. I am very proud of what I have accomplished. But if she tells me one more time that saving worked for her, after I spent my entire childhood in poverty so she could save up for the damn house, never got to play club sports, never got to take art or music lessons, and paid for my own college and paid my own college debt, so that she could save, I think I will scream. I sacrificed, too. I couldn't have sleepovers. I couldn't have friends over!

 

 

What is funny is that boomers seem to think this is a coincidence, that this happened to them and it could happen to anyone. The boom, however, is artificial and was created by a rise in the number of people with a living wage and access to credit. It was not like, "wow, weren't we lucky to find this neighborhood!" No, public policy which no longer exists created that situation. Now local workers are disadvantaged compared to foreign buyers who buy the homes and rent them out. That wasn't luck. That was public policy! Can we have it back, please? (Hint: No, we cannot, because the people running the country would much rather rent out homes than sell them.)

 

My kids have much more than I have. I invest my money in my children. I invested my talent in my country. I saved and I didn't take benefits. I sacrificed and saved and if I tried pot, okay, but I did not waste years on drugs. I paid the full price of college because she had saved up but did not pay for college.

 

But she is telling ME how to save. I have had it up to here. I mean, I love my mom dearly and she did her best. But her financial advice just kills me. That said, she has really listened to me explain the mechanics of our debt and student loans and seen how little my ex-H made compared to her own dad who served the same # of years in wars... to be fair, she has listened and has tried to help now that she can.

 

Here is what I am going to do. I am going to take care of my kids FIRST. I am going to sacrifice everything, and have sacrificed, for their education FIRST. After that, I will try to buy land and it will be land I can bequeath to them, not land I'm going to sell to travel during retirement.

 

But I'm also not going to pretend that somehow... life is fair, don't try to get what others have.

 

That assumes that you are going to get the things you need, like an education, daycare, retirement handed to you on a silver platter. And that will not happen. Everything I need, I have to work for and fight for. Being at peace with what I have is a luxury I cannot afford. I still have to fight for my kids.

 

ETA--I do want to say that my grandparents sacrificed a lot and probably faced as much uncertainty as my generation, with about the same level of comfort, only more of the men went to war. My partner did not go to war, though ex-h did three times, twice during our marriage. I feel like we have much more in common with my grandparents, except the expectations of us are much higher. My dream is that people will look back on my generation as the generation who sacrificed to make the nation the socially just state, the fair playing ground, we said it was. But first we're going to have to stop the crap about how it is already fair, we just aren't working enough.

You're exactly right that foreign investment buyers are contributing to higher housing prices in many of the most desirable areas of the country. While there are positive effects of globalization, some of the negative economic effects have hit post-baby boomers very hard. When there is basically an unlimited supply of cheap labor throughout the world, companies don't have to compete for employees by using higher wages and better benefits. And when the housing market in an area is increasingly controlled by those who live elsewhere, local workers have to use a much higher percentage of their income on housing and transportation.

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Jane, on the subject of "slave" er I mean unpaid interns, guess what I just found out!

 

The place that my son in law did his college internship at is running an entire marketing and computer graphics department - we are talking BIG company here - exclusively on unpaid interns. No joke. They are laughing all the way to the bank. These kids are worked to death for not a pittance, and for all of their efforts no job offer will be forthcoming. Yes, they may have some experience which will help them land a job which is what happened to son in law, but the reality is it ought to be ILLEGAL!

 

On top of that, adjusted for inflation, he makes half what dh did in the same field with the same level of education and experience going into it as a college grad. UGH!

 

Welcome to the United Corporations of America. I think it's time we took Lady Liberty down from the harbor and put up some sort of "Welcome serf to the new feudalism" sign.

just a side issue, but I had to pay for my internship last year.

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Yes, I was thinking about this too with regard to starter homes. Where I live, any home that is priced like a starter home is in a neighborhood that is profoundly unsafe. I know there are parts of the country where this isn't true, but I also know this isn't the only place that it is true.

I've noticed this, too, particulary when we moved to another part of the city. I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood. The houses were very nice, but not super expensive. Everyone took pride in their houses and yards. It was a great community.

 

Now it seems like affordable houses like that come next door to a crack den (or meth now). Hard working low earners don't feel safe in their homes, don't let their children out to play (drive them to activities instead), and don't really feel like they are part of a community. We ended up with a bigger, more expensive home, not because we needed it, but because I wanted a safe neighborhood. Where I was looking, when I looked at police reports and crime statistics, affordable homes=unsafe neighborhoods.

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That isn't what I see around here.  I see people (including some that work for my husband) buying nicer houses than we have and nicer cars.  They move into a house with all new furniture.  That isn't what we did/so.  But I see it A LOT around here....  

 

I see a lot of it around here too.

 

I just found out that some new friends of ours live in a rather smallish home they purchased in 1999.  I don't know if it is paid off, but I assume so.  It is a home that costs less than what her husband currently makes per year.   

 

But they aren't moving.  They are staying in that small paid off house and saving money.

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just a side issue, but I had to pay for my internship last year.

Oh yes, here it is not uncommon since the internship is required in order to graduate to pay full tuition and fees for the opportunity to work for free. I am in favor of internships in order to help the student get real world experience and make some connections.

 

I just think it is immoral that they pay the college for the internship and then work for free for an entire semester and that this extended work for free situation has evolved into corporations filling so many positions with interns that they never actually offer paid work.

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You can keep your landline number and port it over to Google voice and never pay for it again. There are some initial up-front charges, but then you have the number for life and never have to pay again. Google voice even transcribes voice mails and blocks many solicitation calls. You can also make free long distance calls with Google voice.

 

This is a great tip!  Thank you.

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just a side issue, but I had to pay for my internship last year.

 

 

This doesn't surprise me, especially if it's required for graduation.

 

Unpaid or low-paid internships don't bother me too much, just as long as they are short-term.  When we regulate internships too much, companies choose, instead, not to offer them anymore, and that, I think, can hurt students in the long run.  

 

My husband is an engineer, and the companies he has worked for, including the one he works for now, used to have college interns.  Now they don't so much.  I think it is just too much bother for them. 

 

I do think it is a problem, though, when companies take advantage of interns and use them like slave labor.  The internship should be a win-win situation.

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On top of that, adjusted for inflation, he makes half what dh did in the same field with the same level of education and experience going into it as a college grad. UGH!

 

Yep. :P At least my generation did get unpaid but short internships. The older millennials are basically cannon fodder for capitalists.

 

I plan to continue to work my way up as far as possible so my own children will have some connections to get decent jobs. I hate that I would try to give my own kid an advantage, but what are we supposed to do, sit by and watch them literally live a life of debt?

 

just a side issue, but I had to pay for my internship last year.

 

Yep. It is getting worse. And I am sorry. :(

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This doesn't surprise me, especially if it's required for graduation.

 

Unpaid or low-paid internships don't bother me too much, just as long as they are short-term. When we regulate internships too much, companies choose, instead, not to offer them anymore, and that, I think, can hurt students in the long run.

 

My husband is an engineer, and the companies he has worked for, including the one he works for now, used to have college interns. Now they don't so much. I think it is just too much bother for them.

 

I do think it is a problem, though, when companies take advantage of interns and use them like slave labor. The internship should be a win-win situation.

My husband and nephew, both engineers, work for companies that pay their summer interns well in the hope of recruiting them down the road. The young people I know who have been in unpaid internships often don't have a chance of future employment since the intro positions are not filled with real employees but new unpaid interns. My husband often mentors interns, finding interesting projects for them so that they can build their resumes.

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My DH's company pays interns well, too.

 

My husband and nephew, both engineers, work for companies that pay their summer interns well in the hope of recruiting them down the road. The young people I know who have been in unpaid internships often don't have a chance of future employment since the intro positions are not filled with real employees but new unpaid interns. My husband often mentors interns, finding interesting projects for them so that they can build their resumes.

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I've noticed this, too, particulary when we moved to another part of the city. I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood. The houses were very nice, but not super expensive. Everyone took pride in their houses and yards. It was a great community.

 

Now it seems like affordable houses like that come next door to a crack den (or meth now). Hard working low earners don't feel safe in their homes, don't let their children out to play (drive them to activities instead), and don't really feel like they are part of a community. We ended up with a bigger, more expensive home, not because we needed it, but because I wanted a safe neighborhood. Where I was looking, when I looked at police reports and crime statistics, affordable homes=unsafe neighborhoods.

 

DH grew up in a neighborhood that was then a mix of working class and lower-middle-class. My IL's still live there but the only working class & lower-middle-class folks left are the folks who bought decades ago like them. All their younger neighbors are upper-middle-class because they're the only ones who can afford the housing prices.

 

The neighborhood I grew up in used to be called "Teachers' Row" because it had modest homes where most of the teachers in the district lived. Now nearly of those retired teachers have either passed on or moved. The neighborhood is all upper-middle-class and affluent now because the market rate for houses there are in the $500-$600k range. Today's teachers in the district couldn't afford them unless they were married to a highly-paid spouse.

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Life expectancy in 1920 was about 54 years, largely because so many children died. Today it's around 80. The average family had an outhouse, no electricity, and spent an entire day every week doing the backbreaking work of washing all the clothes by hand.

 

Few people had cars, most jobs involved either farm or factory work, and child labor was common in mines and other industry. Health care had just barely passed the point where doctors and hospitals saved more lives than they killed. There was no TV or radio, and people had a lot less living space per capita than they do now. Being poor today is a struggle, but being poor 100 years ago often meant literally starving. What's more, the people of 1920 had the Great Depression and WWII to look forward to.

 

The average GenXer is only poor in comparison with the Baby Boomers. Other than that, the generation itself is doing fine. Literally, the second richest cohort of people in the history of the world.

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I've seen the house that my great-grandparents (Irish immigrants with little formal education and who were regular middle class by income) owned because it stayed in the family until the mid-1990's. It's nicer than the house DH and I own. It had electricity and indoor plumbing in the '20's. At that time my great-grandparents could afford to employ several servants to help out and a laundry service. This was not something unusual at the time and not reserved for the wealthy. My great-grandpa was a garbage collector and my great-grandma worked at a small corner store that her family owned.

 

I started looking around on Zillow in their old neighborhood and the houses (built in the 1895-1905 era) are selling for $900k+ depending on when they were updated. Depressing...

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Just to be clear, unpaid internships that do not include a meaningful teaching component, that merely use someone's existing skills to do work that would ordinarily be performed by a worker for pay, are not legal in the U.S. Student teaching with oversight and mentoring=good. Handing unpaid interns a project and saying, 'knock yourselves out' (no teaching/mentoring) then implementing/adopting their plans with a few tweaks=no good. The benefit of an internship must accrue primarily to the intern, not the employer. That's the law.

 

Internships that are used this way hurt all workers in the long run as it devalues their experience and talent.

 

http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.pdf

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 My husband often mentors interns, finding interesting projects for them so that they can build their resumes.

 

It used to be like that where my husband works, but not any more.

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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.

 

I don't think it is inappropriate - why should we just passively accept cultural or other human driven changes that affect people negatively?  If we don't identify these things we cannot even begin to evaluate how we should react to them personally, or if we want to try and create a wider public question about them.

 

A couple people have mentioned for example that an important part of their financial comfort came from getting a university degree, and maybe establishing a career and real financial independence, before having kids.  I expect that is true, but is it really a good thing to have people waiting until their late 20's or early 30's, or beyond, before they are able to start a family?  For woman in particular we could make a strong argument that biologically it would be best to have their kids in their late teens and early 20's.  Why should economic forces that are shaped by our decisions - or our non-decisions - be what determines how people are constrained in this way?  If we don't recognize that there is a problem, how can we think about fixing it?  If we don't recognize that there is a trade-off, how can we evaluate whether it is worth the cost?  Cell phones are similar - it's because we have accepted them so readily that employers have been able to make them the norm -  and for the most part we accepted them passively.  Learned passivity seems to be a characteristic of modern westerners.

 

 

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That's average NEW single family homes. Most people do not live in brand new homes around here. Most people I know under age 40 are living in those older 900-1500 sf homes if they own a home at all.

 

Also, many more people are living in condos and townhouses than in the post war years as well. Our townhouse was 1450 SF including the garage.

 

Finally one car worked pretty well when there was one worker. Today, most 2 parent families have two wage earners and quite often both of them need a car to commute if they live in an area with insufficent transit. Offhand, I know no family within 15 years of my age that has more than 2 cars. People today also drive considerably older cars on average than they did in the 1950s-1960s. Most of the professionals I know are driving 5-10 year old vehicles as their newest car.

 

The Two Income Trap is illustrative on the spendthrift assumptions older people often have about younger people.

 

I don't think you are wrong about this, but i do think that people's expectations of what it means to have success will affect their perception of their own position, so it is worth thinking about.

 

I live in the same post-war suburb as my parents grew up in.  Houses are small by modern standards, the biggest were three bedrooms (one small), and  one bathroom upstairs, and living, kitchen, dining room downstairs.  Some have been enlarged or at least now have second bathrooms, but they are still pretty small houses.  The people living in them are in similar kinds of jobs - a lot of navy and civil service, tradesmen doing well, teachers.  Most now have two cars (though the buses are good,) and they have somewhat more consumer goods and spend more money on kids activities, but they also mostly have two full incomes as you said.  So not really getting ahead in any real way though perhaps they feel like they are. 

 

What is different though to some extent is people's attitudes - in my parent's generation these were the homes they bought to keep for life.  A few might go on to something more, but that was getting into really high end living that most didn't really realistically think they would ever have.  Today that isn't so much the case - people really feel that these are starter homes or places to retire if you didn't do all that well in your career because they don't have more bathrooms or built in garages.  Bringing up two kids with one bathroom seems awful to many people when my parents generation often had four or five kids in these same homes.

 

There really does seem to be something a little different in people's expectations for the middle class. 

 

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I thought I had a landline, but around here, one can't get  a true landline anymore.  If the power goes off, I lose my supposed landline, right along with my cell phone.   Everything is digital now.  

 

The phone thing really bugs me.  It makes me feel unsafe.  Back in our old house, about 25 miles away, I had a true landline and if the power went out, usually the phone would still work.   I was surprised when it didn't in my new neighborhood.

 

Now I mostly just keep my "landline" to give people a number when I don't want to give them a cell phone #.  Probably not worth the expense.  

 

This is true.  My husband works for government and they are changing all kinds of things over to digital as well, largely in the interests of saving money.  But what does this mean when those systems are compromised - he is in meteorological services so that is  - or should be - a real consideration. 

 

Last summer when we were on vacation we were in an almost hurricane and communications were largely lost.  My dh is a HAM radio operator and as we drove home he was getting all kinds of contacts asking for information about what was going on, where they could get fuel, what the weather was going to do.

 

It's crappy infrastructure management - what is crazy is our government is doing a big advertising campaign about how they are doing more alerts and emergency services and stuff - unless there is a disaster that affects communications i guess.  My advice is to get a radio operators license.

 

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Baby Boomers were born after WW2. They did deal with Vietnam, Korea and crazy inflation, gas shortages, and recession in the late seventies.

 

 

It's important to remember our world is small. The number of people we know is small. Plural of anecdotal evidence does not equal statistical significance.

 

I struggle to pay for the big three (housing, healthcare, and education) not a bunch of gadgets but I think we are doing alright. My parents did not pay for any college or activities. I left at 17 and didn't let the door hit me in the butt and never looked back and somehow I'm ok so I don't think you have to have connections.

 

We are not generations. We are individuals with different talents, ideas,luck, capital.

 

Yes, sometimes politically it feels like boomers are anti younger generations but I don't think they are individually.

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I think pretty much every generation is screwed.

 

I say "pretty much every" because there was one or two generations who had it sort of good. 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 we're getting back to the norm now. Life has pretty much always been really, really hard. A generation or two had it easy(er), but it wasn't sustainable for whatever reasons..

 

Yup.

 

As first generation immigrants, DH and I have a vastly higher standard of living than our parents did when they were our age. (Not to mention the lovely civil liberties this country grants us.)

 

As for the good old times: US Americans have enjoyed a bubble unlike most other countries in the world. My mother had to beg for food when she was a child in the famine years in post-war Germany. My grandmother was a homeless refugee who fled alone with her three children and what they could carry to escape the Russians and the bombings. My other grandma lost her husband in the war and had to raise her child alone. My great grandmother was married to her husband for two weeks before he had to go off and die in the 1st war. And somehow I doubt that life was rosy in the generations before that.

 

We have it absolutely golden.

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This is true.  My husband works for government and they are changing all kinds of things over to digital as well, largely in the interests of saving money.  But what does this mean when those systems are compromised - he is in meteorological services so that is  - or should be - a real consideration. 

 

Last summer when we were on vacation we were in an almost hurricane and communications were largely lost.  My dh is a HAM radio operator and as we drove home he was getting all kinds of contacts asking for information about what was going on, where they could get fuel, what the weather was going to do.

 

It's crappy infrastructure management - what is crazy is our government is doing a big advertising campaign about how they are doing more alerts and emergency services and stuff - unless there is a disaster that affects communications i guess.  My advice is to get a radio operators license.

 

 

 

I'm glad my DH is a HAM radio operator, too.  Although that doesn't do me a lot of good when he's not home.  He needs to start training my boys!  They are at good ages to learn.

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I don't think you are wrong about this, but i do think that people's expectations of what it means to have success will affect their perception of their own position, so it is worth thinking about.

 

I live in the same post-war suburb as my parents grew up in.  Houses are small by modern standards, the biggest were three bedrooms (one small), and  one bathroom upstairs, and living, kitchen, dining room downstairs.  Some have been enlarged or at least now have second bathrooms, but they are still pretty small houses.  The people living in them are in similar kinds of jobs - a lot of navy and civil service, tradesmen doing well, teachers.  Most now have two cars (though the buses are good,) and they have somewhat more consumer goods and spend more money on kids activities, but they also mostly have two full incomes as you said.  So not really getting ahead in any real way though perhaps they feel like they are. 

 

What is different though to some extent is people's attitudes - in my parent's generation these were the homes they bought to keep for life.  A few might go on to something more, but that was getting into really high end living that most didn't really realistically think they would ever have.  Today that isn't so much the case - people really feel that these are starter homes or places to retire if you didn't do all that well in your career because they don't have more bathrooms or built in garages.  Bringing up two kids with one bathroom seems awful to many people when my parents generation often had four or five kids in these same homes.

 

There really does seem to be something a little different in people's expectations for the middle class. 

 

This.

I grew up in one of these homes with one bath (and many siblings), in which my parents lived for life. 

 

That was it.  Today's starter home buyer wouldn't be satisfied with this, after all the HGTV "granite, stainless, and 4 baths" stuff. 

 

I've dealt with these buyers. 

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This.

I grew up in one of these homes with one bath (and many siblings), in which my parents lived for life.

 

That was it. Today's starter home buyer wouldn't be satisfied with this, after all the HGTV "granite, stainless, and 4 baths" stuff.

 

I've dealt with these buyers.

Perhaps for some it is dissatisfaction. But for the vast majority it is not possible to live in a single home for life. Jobs change rapidly and entire companies are bought and departments are dissolved. People have to go where there is work. The people on TV are for entertainment purposes only.

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Perhaps for some it is dissatisfaction. But for the vast majority it is not possible to live in a single home for life. Jobs change rapidly and entire companies are bought and departments are dissolved. People have to go where there is work. The people on TV are for entertainment purposes only.

Well, that's also true that the jobs went away in the crash and aren't coming back.  They can outsource now. 

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Perhaps for some it is dissatisfaction. But for the vast majority it is not possible to live in a single home for life. Jobs change rapidly and entire companies are bought and departments are dissolved. People have to go where there is work. The people on TV are for entertainment purposes only.

 

The need to move often I think is a serious problem in a lot of ways.  But in this instance it doesn't really address my point - when these people moved, they would have found homes of a very similar type and considered that they were doing pretty well.  There was not the sense that they ought to be able to live in a house where everyone can have a bathroom and they didn't feel that as some kind of loss or lack.

 

It should be that home shows are just for entertainment but it isn't true.  Any real estate agent will tell you it drives buyers.  The whole home staging industry is based on it.

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