Today’s post is one I’ve been avoiding for months, I know I’m gonna get some resentment / angry comments from this, but that’s okay.
Past generations had it so easy, amiright? College was cheaper, jobs paid more, houses were cheaper, groceries were cheaper, and it just seems that a dollar went further.
“Baby boomers had it so easy” – Millennials.
While I do believe that the economy was more favorable for the baby boomers (I can’t deny the statistics), I think many of us, myself included, overlook how great us millennials have it.
6 Ways Millennials Can Have Easy Money like the Baby Boomers
What if we could make our money stretch further like theirs seemingly did so effortlessly? Here are 6 ways that millennials can have easy money like the Baby Boomers:
Number 1- Cut the Cable, Netflix, Hulu, and Radio Subscriptions
Baby boomers had 3-4 channels of TV, and it was free- so long as they had bunny ears for their box television. Millennials are believed to spend an average of $62.50 a month, or $750 annually, for TV subscription services. Also, just listen to the FM radio, it’s free. If you’re feeling picky, use Pandora. $10 to $20 a month ($120 to $240 annually) for radio just seems insane to me, especially if you’re not going to be using that service for the majority of your day. Truck drivers, you’re exempt from my judgement here. My one year of experience riding along showed me how irritating it is to *finally* find a decent station, only for it to go out of range.
Side note: I was fortunate enough to grow up with a frugal family, so even though I’m 21, I vividly remember holding the bunny ears ‘just right’ to watch the Kentucky Derby on one of our three channels. I’m so grateful that my parents ensured I had books, horses, and a creek to spend my childhood on. To this day, I only have one television in my house, and if I ever have children, I’ll never put a TV in their bedroom(s).
Number 2- Buy Smaller Homes
The price of housing has increased greatly, but so have today’s house sizes.
In 1950 (I know it’s a little premature of a date for the boomers, but it’s still relatively applicable) the median home price was $7,354, or $44,600, when you take inflation into account. Today, the median home price is $236,400.
But… there’s always a ‘but’, in the 1950s, the average home size was 1,000 square feet. Today, the average home size is nearly 2,500 square feet, and that’s despite the average household size decreasing from 3.37 members in 1950 to roughly 2.5 in 2018.
Basically, the price of a home increased by 430%, and the size of homes increased 150%. Yes, the price increase outweighs the size, but, we can reduce the pain of price increase by buying smaller homes.
The average price of a house per square foot in the US is $123, so consider that when home shopping.
Don’t fall into the mentality of upgrading homes too often. It’s best to stick to one house, one spouse, and one job, which is just a fancy way of saying stay above your instinct to inflate your lifestyle as you improve your finances.
Side Note: Buying a smaller home not only means a smaller price, but smaller upkeep costs, and less stuff that needs maintaining. It’ll make you happier too.
Number 3- Don’t Be so Quick to Attend College
In 1973, in-state college tuition cost about $2,175 for a year (this is the adjusted-for-inflation amount). In 2018, in-state college tuition is about $9,970 for the year. Thats a 358% increase. No doubt, degrees are much more expensive.
I am NOT against attending a University, however, it wasn’t fitting for me, and I don’t think the majority of Americans needs to attend to do well.
Bill Gates assumes that two thirds of all jobs in 2025 will require a college degree, but that cannot be correct. Check out this really insightful spreadsheet that proves otherwise.
College graduates do make an average of $17,500 more per year (about $1,000,000 more over the course of a lifetime) than those who did not obtain a degree.
But, (again BUT) don’t assume that a degree suddenly makes you a higher earner. 45% of people who graduated in 2009 to 2013 are currently working in a job / position that does NOT require a degree.
Correlation does not equal causation. People who attend and graduate from college have some degree (no pun intended) of one or more of the following privileges:
This is money, time, a way to get to school, etc. You need a way to afford the ability to attend university. You must either have a trust fund, affluent parents, savings, scholarships, or the willingness to take on debt. You must also be able to ‘afford’ the time that university will require. You also need transportation to get to and from school, as well as food and boarding to survive during your college attendance years. People who have these types of resources already have a ‘leg up’ on life, and will probably fair well regardless of their schooling path.
#2 Grit / Perseverance / Determination.
People who graduate from college have to be willing to dedicate a large sum of time and money to the cause. People with this type of grit and perseverance as character traits will do well in life, regardless of their education.
#3 Strong Mental (and at least some physical) Health.
To be able to keep up with assignments, remember class times/dates, pass the exams, and keep a relatively healthy and sustainable school / life balance, people must be mentally well. They must also have sufficient physical health as well. This is also a privilege that is largely beneficial to a person’s success.
Obvious, right? Universities don’t accept just anyone, some form of intelligence is a requirement to be admitted in the first place.
I don’t mean to shame graduates
I’m in no way trying to ‘shame’ graduates. You guys are brilliant, dedicated, and have lots of potential to be successful- so I mean it when I say ‘congratualtions’!!
To put it plainly, many graduates have some form (or forms) of privilege, and realistically, would do better than the majority of us. They’re the ‘top’ of the general population, and will do well regardless of formal education. I really just don’t want people to blindly assume that attending college will automatically increase the chances for success / improvement.
Today, only 25% of all jobs available in the US require a four year degree. Here’s a list of 50 high paying jobs that don’t require college degrees.
Side Note: If you do decide to attend a university, don’t overlook the most underrated benefit of college.
Number 4- Get Rid of your Phone
Like the TV, Movie and Radio Subscriptions, Baby Boomers didn’t have smart phones, nor wifi, until later in life. The average cost of a smartphone is $47 to $80 a month, and that doesn’t include the cost of the actual device. This guy actually estimates that he and his wife saved anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 over the course of 10 years by avoiding iPhones.
Not including the device price, you could save anywhere from $564 to $960 annually. Over the course of 10 years, this is a $5,640 to $9,600 savings per person. What could you do with that much cash?
Side Note: Although I’m not willing to give up my cell phone altogether, I have switched to a ‘dumb phone’ and I’m still really happy with that decision. Not only am I saving a good chunk of change, I’m also happier, more mindful, and more ‘in the moment’. Sometimes I have to break out paper maps, but that’s alright by me.
Number 5- Buy Healthier food.
Although microwaves and some instant food (my grandma loved the convenience of instant mashed potatoes) did exist then, most food wasn’t anything like today’s convenience foods. You know the kind, microwavable trays, bags, bowls, and those abominations known as pre-cooked bacon.
Number 6- Buy Less Stuff
It’s simple. Stuff costs money. The more stuff you have, the more money you have. Learn to live with less, and save more. We’re consuming twice as many material items today, as we did 50 years ago. Here are some more shocking, and upsetting, facts about our stuff problem.
- The average European 10 year old ‘owns’ £7,000 worth of toys, but plays with just £330 worth of them.
- The average American woman owns 30 outfits. That number used to be 9 outfits in 1930, which is a 233% increase.
- Americans have an embarrassing storage unit problem, there’s a half million storage units here. Every single person in the US would have to own 7.3 square feet to occupy it all. Plus, 25% of Americans who own a two car garage, don’t have enough room to park their cars.
- We have so much stuff in fact, that we spend an average of 153 days of our lives simply looking for stuff we misplaced.
- While the average American family sits at 2.5 people per household, the average American house is home to 2.73 television sets.
A Few Concepts I Wish Millennials Could Have from the Baby Boomer’s Era
- Cheaper fuel. I absolutely love getting to go for drives. Country cruising (I’m pretty sure this is predominantly a rural America thing) is so relaxing. Just turn on the radio, and drive down some backroads you haven’t taken before. Enjoy the farmland, the houses, the woods, mountains, and rivers’ edges.
- Horses. I’m upset that I missed out on the horse culture of the 60s-80s. Before smart phones, social media, and TV took over the world- people would ride and spend time with their horses for entertainment. It’s really difficult to find horse people who not only invest time in their horses, but also know how to ride outside of the round pen, bareback, without trainers. Seriously, I have know only one girl about my age who rides regularly, for pleasure and profit, who still rides in and out of the arena.
- Also pre-smart phone culture. I know people still had books and newspapers that they buried their noses into, but surely they didn’t whip those out while standing in short lines or driving. I enjoy my space and privacy as much as the next guy, but a culture that was a little less isolated IRL and made some small talk seems really pleasant. Do you have the time, sir?
- What are your thoughts in difference of mannerisms of Baby Boomers and Millennials?
- How do you think millennials can have easy money like the Baby Boomers?
- How do you feel about smaller houses, living healthier, subscriptions, smartphones, college degrees, and downsizing?
- How the heck is 2018 already 25% over?
- Baby boomers, what advice would you give to millennials?
- Millennials, what aspect of the “boomer era” do you wish you could have partaken in?
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