Another week, another off kilter comment on why millennials will never afford their own house. But are smashed avo, $4 coffees and our generation really such a sensitive combination?
Above is the Avo-Latte. You may have seen this one doing the rounds in the past week. A cafe in Melbourne initially launched this idea, and it has been getting quite a bit of traction among different cafes. The move comes as, once again, there have been comments made about the millennial generation who wants to buy smashed avo, $4 coffees, and travel the world, and then complain they can’t buy a house. Tim Gurner, technically a millennial himself at the age of 35, repeated a sentiment that was recently hammered by Joe Hockey, the Treasurer, that the generation born between 1982 and 2004 clearly has several issues and unrealistic expectations in the world of finances.
Being a millennial and a home owner myself, the comments have caused me to take some real interest. Not for the comments themselves, but for the reaction of those in my generation who have cried foul in response.
For me, it has highlighted a few things that are being made crystal clear about the response to the comments. Here are 3 things my generation clearly don’t want to hear.
#1: We don’t like our spending habits challenged
Whether it’s smashed avo, $4 coffees, the backpacking trip from Geneva to Prague, the new car, the old car, the TV, the gaming stations, the mancaves, the shoe collection or the European furniture in our rentals, we don’t like anyone touching on the notion that we’re spending too much money on things that “don’t matter”. Or things that may be considered “bad investments”. Or things that consume our net income.
Who are they to judge? There are thousands of articles that have been written in retort to these comments to this effect, and several thousand more posts across social media claiming the comments are naive, aggressive, and unfounded.
But to me I think, really, is this really an unfair comment to make? That if you spend more than you earn, or you don’t have savings, or that you don’t have any room for investments on the side, that you won’t have a big amount left lying around to purchase something like a house? Or, more importantly, because there are things like inheritances, guarantors, first home grants and all the rest of it, the means to continually pay off a home? Banks don’t just look at your initial deposit – they look at whether or not you have the continued means to live an extended period of your life in major debt. It seems kinda common sense to me that there has to be sufficient surplus to allow for such room.
But clearly, our generation doesn’t want to hear it.
Am I against nice food or novelty items? No, not at all. I have many such purchases in my transaction history myself, with my latest semi-expensive habit being Remedy Kombucha over the last year or so (which is $4> a bottle). But if it consumed my whole income and left me no room for anything else, I would say that I would be doing exactly what Ted was saying.
Maybe we should allow ourselves to challenge how much is really in that bank history that is taking us away from larger purchases further down the road.
#2: We don’t want our level of income challenged
Many of the comments arising from the statements made by Ted Gurner and Joe Hockey are around the current level of income that we have. “Well, it’s unfair, I earn $52000 a year, and the Australian tax rate is so high, how can I ever afford a house?”. “Well, Ted can say that because he could afford all his side investments that helped contribute to his bottom line”. And so on and so forth.
It makes me wonder, hey wait a minute, do you plan to be on $52000 for the rest of your life?
I think this highlights the second thing we don’t want to hear. We don’t want to hear that where we currently are is going to lead us to the things we want. I do know people who were actually able to purchase their first house on less than $52000 a year – one friend who comes to mind was a McDonald’s supervisor and just a really good saver – and they were able to purchase their house. But with these extra transactions we like along the way – smashed avo, $4 coffees, the yearly travel we have to do because your life is poor if you don’t have travel and how dumb to just have a life of stuff and not travel because travel is omni-important and your life value is attached to how many experiences you’ve had overseas and how dare you say I can’t travel – these things we’re unwilling to compromise on, the next thing that we should compromise on is our level of income.
And it’s not even a compromise. It’s an increase in our own skillset and income stream. Why are we millennials so unwilling to be told that if we get better jobs and climb the ranks, that we may have more spending power for things like homes? I think one reason is that we often have subconscious patterns and habits from previous generations or friends or colleagues who are empowering us to maintain the current status quo, and that’s all we can do in our lives. That, and we haven’t learnt how to invest what money we do have into alternative forms of income. As they rightly say, you only get rich by investing.
I think if you challenged yourself and went for those higher positions, you’d be living the life you want to live much sooner. Makes sense to me. More money in + less money out (or the same amount of money out) = more money to buy a house or the big holiday or the yacht or the orphanage in Africa or the expensive guitar with.
Find the balance that works for you.
#3: We don’t want our life direction challenged
I think through these things there is a thread of feeling like the life choices you are making are being challenged. How dare people say I shouldn’t be travelling so much, how dare they say I can’t enjoy breakfast with my friends, how dare they say I can’t purchase drinks that help me stay awake.
On the notion of travel, I’m not against travel at all. I have traveled a little, not extravagantly, and the experiences were quite rewarding, including a month where I went literally anywhere and everywhere I wanted across Japan. Great experience. Expensive experience too. Because I haven’t traveled so much though (only Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China in addition to the above thus far), I am one who has been a victim of the comments that if you don’t travel, you’re poor, because why would you want a house full of stuff when you could have a life full of experiences? You know, because a life that isn’t abroad is a life devoid of experiences.
It can be a touchy subject. I would say on it something I have written quite a bit about before – that not all who wander are lost, but maybe some are. And the same could be said about those who remain in the same job with the same position and the same skillset for over 5 years, and the same could be said about the one who never challenges their own spending habits, and the same could be said about the millennial racking up 6 figure debt trying to pick a combination of courses that will somehow tell you how you’re supposed to be living your life…
…That many of us still aren’t really sure what we’re doing or why we’re doing it. Who am I, and what is my purpose in this world? And you might think that’s a bit of an extreme thing to draw from the debate about avocado on toast and caffeine obsessions, but I think this is exactly the reason why we flare up so much. It’s because you’re trying to address the way I’m living my life, when I may not even be really sure how I’m living my life, or maybe I am actually perfectly content with the way I’m living my life.
I would say though that if you aren’t content with the comments, then you probably have a deeper contentment issue. And this is why life direction is the most important thing, whether you’re in Gen X, millennial, whatever they’re calling the noughties generation – what you’re doing with your life matters.
Perhaps if anything we should allow these comments to make us better. If I’m annoyed about the idea, why? If I’m wasting all my income on things that don’t matter, why? If I’m content to stay the same until I’m 65, why? It doesn’t have to be such a big deal – if we want to learn and grow into mature and influential members of society, we have to take comments like this on the chin and adapt accordingly.
Or just keep buying our smashed avo, $4 coffees, and trinkets and treasures we enjoy.
Over to you guys – how did you take these comments from Ted and Joe? Have you had an Avo-Latte?