Millennials have had a bad wrap for years. I’m a Millennial, are you? If we believe everything we read, then we’re entitled, spoiled, and lazy. Right? I sure don’t think so. First of all, it seems like no one even knows exactly who’s who when it comes to these generation generalizations. As far as I can tell, Millennials were born somewhere between 1980-1996 (though some sources say as late as 2000). That’s a heck of a span. And, I’m right in the middle (’88, holler!). Lately, we’ve been finding ourselves grouped in with the kids in college right now (you know, the ones who went to Spring Break last month?). But, Millennials aren’t just the ‘youngest adults,’ we’re our own group sandwiched between Gen X (’65-’79) and Gen Z (’97-2012).
Here’s what I know about my life experience, and what the Millennial generation has faced (though again, it’s a wide range so YMMV). We were here for 9/11, it stole whatever innocence we had about the world, and we clearly remember the fear, the panic. Most of us were young adults when the 2008 economic recession hit. And in most cases, it defined our education, career, and financial lives. I, for one, completely shifted my educational and career path from teaching (because they were all losing their jobs), to the wedding industry (which is an interesting place to be right now). We are a generation stuck with renting homes instead of buying, and the first generation stuck with truly staggering student loan debt, and smaller savings accounts than ever before. We have jobs instead of careers—because careers have been really hard to come by, and we are known for seeking fulfillment from our work. And because of all this, we’ve put off big life events like marriage and children. I can’t count the number of times I’ve broken down crying because I’m just not sure I’ll ever be able to afford (let alone justify) owning a home, throwing a big wedding, or bringing another human into the world and my family. (Note: I partnered into a kiddo, and that kiddo is awesome. But money is the key reason we likely won’t have more.) And that was all before I lived through (*fingers crossed*) a global pandemic. This crisis will be the most recent in a string of life-altering defining moments of our ‘entitled Millennial lives,’ and could make us the new lost generation. One of you lovely readers shared this article, about Millennials and the ‘next’ Recession from 2019, last week—it sent me into a bit of a mental spiral about how damn screwed up this all is.
Full transparency: it was only in the last three-ish years that I started really getting my financial life in order. Between the aforementioned 2008 Recession, taking on student loan debt at 18, multiple credit cards, and a ‘retail therapy’ habit… it wasn’t a good scene. That’s not to mention the fact that I’ve spent 8+ years of my life deeply involved in supporting and caring for my (Boomer) parents. My mom died suddenly in 2013, I lived at home to help out my dad, who was then diagnosed with cancer in 2016 and died in 2019. Taking weird part-time jobs and piecing my life together in the meantime meant even groceries and gas went on credit cards. I feel lucky(ish) as we come upon what feels certain to be another Recession (at best), that I’m down to one credit card and one student loan. Plus I’ve got a supportive partner, and we’ve cut back our expenses a ton in the last year to be living as minimal and as lean as we can (Oh, I forgot to mention I was unemployed for six months last year, as well). So I’m here, safe, housed, okay. But also panicking and frustrated about all that life has thrown our way, and how quickly we are labeled and made out to be the lazy ones.
Being handed a crappy economy that seems to only hit more speed bumps, is such a letdown. I read this article on Forbes that said that all of the generations will be changed by this experience and that as Millennials, we will be seeking more stability. I tend to agree. For me and my partner, that means we want to find land and a home where we can have a huge garden and chickens and be way more self-sustaining. Like homesteading, but not just in a ‘do it for Instagram’ way—more in a eat food from the garden, sell things I can make with my hands sort of way. And I’d love if we could pull that off before the next seismic economic explosion of our lives. Here’s hoping.
Are you a millennial? Are you tired of being made out to be the bad guy, the lazy one, the entitled generation? What are your fears and worries right now? How have these huge economic events affected your life? And what are you doing to take it into your own hands? What daydreams and plans are getting you through this time?