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Kinsa

GenX'ers: We're pretty much screwed

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By some accounting's that cheaper recent 22 year old grad will still be a Millennial (2004 + 22 yrs = 2026). Each generation encompasses a wide range of years after all.

Definitely, though I think being born at the turn of the millennium is a touch different than coming of age at the turn of the millennium. Obviously there's a lot of blending at either end of an identified cultural shift.

 

It's a bit soon to say where the end year will land but some peg it as early as 1997 births.

 

Either way, fresh college grads are often hired before those (in X and Y/Millennials or any generation) who have been underemployed. That's all I am saying.

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An example is not saying no one does. Nor was my post directed at Gen X. I am 35 this month. I am not Gen X. My slightly younger friends are not Gen X.

 

Young people I know seem to wait because they don't want to have a family to care for and need help from their own parents or charity. They know how much childcare costs and they can't cover that, a mortgage and their student loans because they are underemployed. They want to have their ducks in a row. I live in a HCOL area so that skews what I see, I am sure.

 

I married young. We married young. We were 21 and 22. My husband and I are just a year apart in age. We certainly aren't opposed to early marriage. That said, within our class of college educated types, we were definitely outliers for our generation. A lot of older people, boomers and X gave us crap for it. The only ones who didn't were our grandparents age (silent and "greatest" generation). Why did they give us crap? For being too young. For not being able to afford a house before we had a baby. College educated people in my age group just weren't supposed to marry young. We've been married coming up on 14 years (and together for 16 years). It's safe to say disaster hasn't struck our marriage because we were all but kids when we married. Generally speaking the people we know who have waited have waited because there's a lot of social pressure to wait and a lot of economic barriers to being able to settle down.

 

As an older mom yourself I would think you would see why people would want to hold off until they can take care of themselves beyond the barest of minimums.

 

I would have gotten married and had kids as young as possible if I had found "the right person."  From my mom's example I would have been confident of making it work.

 

 

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I agree with Lucy. I think the recent college grads will get the new jobs. That is what I see happening here anyway.

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Its threads like this that make me wonder why the US cannot reconcile itself with the idea of free, universal healthcare and free tertiary education*, and why my country, Australia, is so bloody desperate to follow the US's lead and give these things up.

 

*please don't point out that these are not free, but funded by the tax payer. I know this. They are free at point of use and that's what makes the difference between poverty and opportunity.

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Its threads like this that make me wonder why the US cannot reconcile itself with the idea of free, universal healthcare and free tertiary education*, and why my country, Australia, is so bloody desperate to follow the US's lead and give these things up.

 

*please don't point out that these are not free, but funded by the tax payer. I know this. They are free at point of use and that's what makes the difference between poverty and opportunity.

 

The US doesn't make them free because certain influential individuals are raking in huge amounts of money. They then donate heavily to our politicians in roundabout ways to *persuade* them to pass legislation that favors what they want. Media outlets are also influenced by these individuals. It's a cynical view but it's largely true. (My husband works on legislation at times and he's seen how it works firsthand.)

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Definitely, though I think being born at the turn of the millennium is a touch different than coming of age at the turn of the millennium. Obviously there's a lot of blending at either end of an identified cultural shift.

 

It's a bit soon to say where the end year will land but some peg it as early as 1997 births.

 

Either way, fresh college grads are often hired before those (in X and Y/Millennials or any generation) who have been underemployed. That's all I am saying.

Of course it's true that middle millennials will have it different than edge millennials -- but that is the whole reason it doesn't work to say all whatever generation have it so much better or so much worse.   Because the end of boom boomers really did struggle trying to buy their first house at 16% interest regardless of how cheap those houses seem now (in general salaries were equally lower after all!).  Plus the whole culture changes as well -- I know my parents didn't buy their first house until they were well into their 30's -- not because house prices were so high but because you had to save up the 20% down payment before you bought.  No financing 100% of the house value.

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I just make the 1965 start date to claim to be a GenXer. Our experience is much as is described in the article except for the student loans. While making more than both our parents, we have less dosh in the bank. In our case, returns on investmensts no where near equal what my parents made. And, the housing bubble burst left us stuck with a home we can't sell without continuing to make payments on a home we no longer own.

 

What really is hurting us though is the societal shift in regards to childhood. When I was a kid, we went outside and played. My brother did well in baseball, but high level traveling teams were not the norm, were reserved for the VERY talented not just the good at the game, and low level teams didn't cost an arm and a leg.

 

Today that is all different. Organized activities rule the roost. Kids don't go out and play and if they do they've no one to play with because all the other kids are in organized activities. Nearly all teams, clubs, etc, are of that high level/high dollar variety. My son is a gymnast. We never thought that it would cost so darned much as he progressed!  My parents never a) paid that much for our activities, b) spent even 1/3 of the time we do shuttling our kids around (gas + milage + time = $$$), and c) certainly never traveled to 2 - 3 day events/competitons requiring hotel stays. From parents I've talked to, it isn't just gymnastics. Football, baseball, cheer, hockey, soccer, swimming, band, theater (my daughter), on and on, the story seems to be the same.  The price to participate has exploded! The alternative? Couch potatoes!

 

My dad, who did amazingly well financially and knew banking, stocks, markets, and investments inside and out once told me if he was just starting out as I was at the time there simply is no way he could ever be as successful. It is difficult to compare real purchasing power. True, the power of the dollar has dropped but we are also earning more dollars, so that's a bit of a wash. The real kicker is, as prices for some necessities fell, food and clothing for example, they increased for others, housing, transportation, kids (see rant above), and especially health care. The increases far out outstrip any potential gains from those reductions.

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Its threads like this that make me wonder why the US cannot reconcile itself with the idea of free, universal healthcare and free tertiary education*, and why my country, Australia, is so bloody desperate to follow the US's lead and give these things up.

 

*please don't point out that these are not free, but funded by the tax payer. I know this. They are free at point of use and that's what makes the difference between poverty and opportunity.

 

If the momentum in Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign is any indication, I would wager that disgruntled Gen Xers and Millennials are so fed up, that they are ready to do precisely that.

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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?

 

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

 

Exactly.  

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.

So don't complain because someone somewhere has it worse?  So can we not feel happy because someone somewhere has it better?  Should I tell my kid with a profound autoimmune disorder to suck it up every time she's in pain or can't move because she would have died a hundred years ago?  Telling people to suck it up really doesn't help this conversation. Tell you what, if my comrades in poverty or near-poverty would like to discuss these things in a supportive and understanding environment, we can create a group to brainstorm and commiserate.  Complain to me, I'll be there for you.  I'm so so so sick of people harassing those who dare not be positive in every single thought or word they speak.  This is reality, folks, and it ain't pretty for a lot of us. 

 

 

 

I am sick and tired of being told of "all the things" we have. We only own one car and we don't have air conditioning and neither do our GenX neighbors. I know you probably know wealthy complainers, but that doesn't mean that most people who complain are actually wealthy.

 

Are we as poor off as people in the middle ages? No, BUT I know for sure one thing:

 

I would not have paid for my college education if I had thought for one minute it wouldn't do me any good. And I think you will find many Millennials and Gen Xers who paid a huge price in debt for their education will say the same. You promised me what you had, that I could get a "better life" if I studied hard and went to college and I have it worse than you and I owe between $15,000 and $150,000 for this. That is a huge factor in people's discontent. It would not be so bitter if we had not been promised a better future and told to take out loans for it when we were just 18, 19, 20 years old!

 

So people need to stop telling young people to go to college for a better life. We need some truth in advertising here. "Go to college or you will be condemned to a life of indentured servitude. Actually that is the most likely scenario regardless, LOL. This doesn't apply if your parents can pay cash for college. Oh, did we say this was a country where you could work hard and get ahead? HAH! Sucker!"

 

This would all feel a lot better if they weren't lying to children about their futures on a daily basis, you know?

 

This.  I've driven 5,000 miles in 3 weeks with no air conditioning and highs in the 80s-100s.  It sucks BAD.  I have no central air at home and only a couple very poorly functioning window units that are louder than orcs in a frenzy.  I cried I was so happy a few weeks ago because I had fresh fruit for the first time in ages.  Sure, we have some stuff.  Mostly from when we could afford it.  The few things worth more than pennies that we have gotten since then are rare splurges and all of them combined a couple times over couldn't even fix my van's a/c compressor. Sure it's more than the rusted plow and one dress my great grandmother surely had way back in the days, but that doesn't mean it doesn't suck for those of us recession and post-recession trying to figure this all out. 

 

 

I have a couple questions for those in this thread that have college degrees and a lot of debt that they think wasn't worth it.  What were your majors and which school(s) did you attend?

School doesn't matter.  Dh has a MS in Chemistry.  I do not recommend that.  A BS if you want to be a lower level lab worker or get REALLY lucky and get the very rare government job or a PhD if you want to take the risk of finding a post-doc and college position.  Good luck.  You'll need it.  

 

I worked in healthcare.  The credentials and college do not matter as they expired-it was cheaper and better for me to stay home at the time and there aren't jobs in my field at any of the locations we've had to move for dh's job, anyway.

 

 

 

People I know who do not regret their degrees:

 

Lawyers

Nurses (not super high pay but no debt since it's an associate's degree)

 

 

Well, I know several lawyers IRL and from my college and high school days who deeply regret their law degrees.  It seems the market is oversaturated. 

 

And nurses often require a BS or MS in today's market.  Sooooo many people went back for RN degrees during the recession because they felt it was a safe field that the market is oversaturated, burn out is high (especially for people who didn't think through the realities of what the job entails), and many hospitals are upping requirements.  It can be very competitive.  Great field, but just something to think about.

 

Where are these ps teachers so poorly paid? Our district starts at 34,000 and goes to 72,000 (with admin making double that). That's considerably more than I'm living on. You can't really average those numbers as the average teacher has been there for so many years that they're are closer to the 72,000 figure. Doctorate adds in more. I keep hearing about poorly paid teachers--they aren't here. 

They used to be here.  Now they make quite a bit. *However* many states have required retirement contribution systems that don't give a lot of control over where and how much of your money goes. That's 8-10% gone off the top, like it or not, and hope your state doesn't screw up and your investment is there when you retire.  And many places do not allow moonlighting if you need to make more money, and so no overtime, either, unless you're really lucky and you're a sports coach.  But it's a darn hard job and I thank the people who do it well.  I will say that public school pays much better than tech and community college teaching in many areas, but requires less education.  That will vary geographically but sucks for some of us. ;)

 

ETA: Teacher layoffs are a reality in some areas, too, right now.  Dh's college had a 20% lay off and the public school system here-one of the few top ones in the state-had to cut even worse including much of the special education department.  Teaching is no longer what I consider a "safe" job against the economy and we have learned this the very hard way.

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Well, look at the bright side - over the next 10 years or so, the boomers will be handing down an awful lot of job opportunities to GenX.

 

 

No need to wait 10 years.  What's happening right now is that Boomers are effectively being forced out of jobs because they're "too expensive" to keep.  They're being thrown over for 20-somethings who, desperate to pay sudden and huge student debt -- will work for 2/3rds or less of the former Boomers' salaries and no or few benefits. 

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This is not what I see happening in my peer group or those a touch younger than me at all. Very few have had big expensive weddings. Very few want wealth before marriage. But they would like a reasonable shake at a decent job and decent housing.

 

I just saw a stat on this a few days ago - not everyone has expensive weddings of course but the average price has gone way, way, way up, and the expectation for that kind of thing seems to be much different from, say, two generations ago.  It's something around $30,000 IIRC.  You can see it too in the price of wedding dresses - they continue to climb.

 

It's become a major consumer area of course, so there is a lot of pressure applied to create high expectations - wedding magazines are full of lists of the things you "need" to have for a wedding, just as basics.  It's almost hard to imagine that it used to be very common for people to marry without a wedding dress at all.

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Hmm now that I have thought about this some, I think some has to do with location and opportunities. Dh and I are doing better than my mom and are about on par with his parents (though this may change). My mom and one brother live on an island with very limited opportunities so of course we are doing better than them. His parents are doing ok though a streak of health problems with dfil has set them back a lot and it's looking like dfil will need to go on SSI for a few years before he can have regular SS.

We have taken a responsible route after our bankruptcy. We have 1 credit card that we try to keep to a minimum, we bought our house on land contract and will have that paid off in 5 years or less, my car in less than 6 years. Dh's truck is paid off and we certainly don't have the latest and greatest of technology (think old box style tvs that we refuse to replace because they still work). I think a lot of issues stem from people thinking they need the newest things out there even if what they have works just fine.

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I agree that it is probably regional.  Areas that experience a big boom eventually get flooded with more people than jobs.  I live in an un-exciting part of the world, so that is probably why things are more stable here.

 

One thing I did that everyone insisted was stupid at the time:  I kept all my savings in money market funds instead of stocks.  I lost zero principal when Enron and 9/11 happened.  (I did get hit by lower interest rates, but I can't really complain about that since most people are debtors and benefit from that.)  Paper is paper and it doesn't increase in value that fast.  Companies don't increase in value that fast unless they have unexpectedly discovered a gold mine or massive oil well on their property.  (And when that happens, the uptick is so quick that by the time I would have known it, it would have been too late to cash in.)  Yes, sometimes intuition tells us something is going to grow faster than the market expects, but you have to have something more than a stock index or investment advisor to give you that intuition.

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DH and I are Generation Xers and we are fortunate that this article doesn't hold true for us.  We are very financially comfortable.  DH never had any student loans.  He worked for a company that paid for most of his degree.  I had some loans, but a relatively small amount and we paid them off within the first two years of our marriage.  

 

I do worry about our children's future though.  Things don't look so optimistic for them.  I am glad that we'll be able to put them through college, so that they won't have any student loans.  I do think that will be a huge benefit for them.  I suspect that we'll also try to help them in other ways as well, such as helping them buy houses.  I don't want to "over-help" them, but I do want to give them a leg up in this environment.

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