I read a great post this morning by Monica O’Brien of TwentySet about Generation Y bloggers and generational stereotypes. It got me pondering stereotypes I’ve encountered about how twentysomethings handle money. What are these stereotypes? Are you validating these stereotypes with your financial behavior, or smashing through them?
Common Stereotypes About Generation Y and Money
Most of the stereotypes Monica touched on were about Generation Y in the workplace and, more specifically, about Generation Y bloggers. Still, two of them apply to money, too:
- Generation Y isn’t interested in marriage. After the expense of a wedding, marriage is a plus for your finances. Two people can live together for less than they can alone (and with two incomes to boot). Plus, marriage creates stability which will positively influence financial decisions. Yet twentysomethings aren’t interested. Is it a fear of commitment? Of growing up?
- Generation Y thinks it’s OK to live with parents longer. Living at home while you look for a job or save up a couple month’s expenses makes sense. Living there until you’re 28 or 30 may not. Sure, you can save up a 50% down payment on a first home, but I think adulthood is about more than owning a home and/or having a big bank account. A lot more.
Some of the other stereotypes about Generation Y and money that I’ve heard include:
- Generation Y isn’t interested in money. Perhaps we’re not uninterested in money, but we do value our time and interests more than cash. That could be healthy, unless we’re so uninterested in money we simply ignore it.
- Generation Y feels the American dream is not for us. This came up in my NPR interview a few weeks ago: So many of us are struggling with debt and earning so little that we find it impossible to dream about owning a home or meeting other life goals.
- Generation Y doesn’t save. Yes, as a generation we score low on saving for retirement and for emergencies. We need to work on that. Although I wonder: At any point in recent history, have young Americans been big savers? After all, we earn the least of any generation, and we’re busy spending on things like first cars, weddings, and first homes. It is, after all, easier to save once those big items are out of the way, no?
Although there is some data to indicate today’s twentysomethings’ high debt and low savings rates, most of the these are clearly stereotypes propagated by older generations looking down on us with an older-and-wiser mentality. But are there truths in any of them? All of them? What do you think?