A recent NYT article proclaimed:
It’s Official: The Boomerang Kids Won’t Leave
At the top, they showed 14 slides of kids living with their parents. Kids with massive student loan debt. Art degrees, biology degrees, film degrees.
Millennials’ parents could be forgiven for underestimating the consequences of these trends. For most of American history, it was natural for each generation to become richer than the previous one. Now that’s no longer true. These changes created a new, far less predictable dynamic — some people would do much better than their parents could have ever dreamed; others would fall permanently behind. Given the volatility of the changes, the idea of an “average” worker was becoming obsolete. And while much of the discussion about economic inequality has centered on the top 1 percent, it’s the gap between the top 20 percent and the rest that’s more salient to young people. “That is a dividing point,” says Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis. People in the top 20 percent of income — roughly $100,000 in 2013 — have taken nearly all the economic gains of the past 40 years. (Of course, the top 1 percent and, even more so, the top 0.01 percent, has taken a far more disproportionate share).
This article is another sad example of mistaking statistics for reality. I don’t care if you’re in the top 20% or the bottom 80%. If you think strategically and work really hard, you can dig yourself out. The problem is, most people’s expectations of how hard they need to work are too low. They need to reset their expectations.
I’ll give myself as an example. I wake up at 6AM. I get to work by 8AM. I work until lunch. I spend 15 minutes at lunch and 45 min. walking afterward. After that, I work until 6. I get home at 6:20. Walk again from about 6:30-7:30PM. So on a typical week day, I’m walking 2 hours and working at a desk for 9 hours.
When I get home at 7:30PM, I’m doing other things. I’m writing a simulation for a friend’s research paper. I’m writing a blog post. I’m running different investment scenarios and playing with spreadsheets. It’s not all work, but before you know, it’s 10PM and time for bed again.
Then the weekend comes. Not time for rest. I get up at 6AM and start working hard on this blog post. I know because of the spreadsheets that I need to start selling my stuff because early money will accelerate my long term wealth building tremendously.
Do I want to spend my weekend looking at San Jose housing affordability statistics and thinking about how to construct a light box so I can get rid of things I love? Not really. But I’ve done the planning, and the planning says that’s the way forward. I don’t really have a choice unless I want to get stuck. Fuck that, I’m not getting stuck.
Yes, the student loans are bad. But as far as I can tell, most of the kids in this article are suffering from job entitlement. They think they’re entitled to a job in the field of their choice, and they think their entitled to a salary that will pay back their loans.
When I left college, I had no debt. I worked in college, but it didn’t pay nearly enough per hour to touch tuition. I was lucky, and my mom paid it. But I didn’t know that until the end of college. I knew while I was there that I had a big financial burden coming, and I’d have to figure out how to get rid of it. That was the primary motivator: getting rid of the debt.
After there was no debt, the primary motivator was not burdening my mom — *not* working my dream job. My dream job was creative writing, and that didn’t pay anything. The writers at my 2nd job made about $35k, which is about 30% of what I made working for the same company. Is it because what I did required so much more intelligence? No. It’s because what I did was way more boring. I made what I made because I was willing to sacrifice my wants for money.
I wanted to write some fictional bullshit that would make people laugh. Instead, I spent hours reading stuff like this:
A model contains
NSEntityDescription objects that represent the model’s entities. Two important features of an entity are its name, and the name of the class used to represent the entity at runtime. You should be careful to keep clear the differences between an entity, the class used to represent the entity, and the managed objects that are instances of that entity.
So when I see an art major who is unemployed or underemployed living with their parents, I think they are acting stupid. I didn’t major in computer science – I learned it all from reading stuff online. Put away your paint brushes and start reading about nursing programs, or IT, because medicine and technology are where the market is, and you need money to pay back your debt.
I’m not against people living with their parents. It would drive me crazy, but financially it can be an excellent move, but only if you are aggressively saving/investing or aggressively paying off debt. If you’re doing neither, it’s just a way to decrease pressure. If you’re young and not making any money — you need some pressure.
There’s an idea in America – I had it earlier in my life – that, as the land of opportunity, a person should be able to make any amount of money in any field. That a person should be able to have a house, a nice car, and a nice vacation if they only work diligently at whatever profession they’ve chosen.
That ain’t true.
If you want those things, you have to calculate how much they cost. Then you have to look at what jobs and what job markets are paying those salaries. Then you have to look at the resumes of people who have those jobs. And after all that, you have to start talking to your friends and figuring out how you’re going to land that first foot-in-the-door position. Then, you’ll probably have to work for at least a year or two in a much less pleasant position. You’ll have to work that job 12 hours a day so you can do the crappy parts *and* do the learning parts.
So, if you’re living at home. And if you think, “Oh, my situation is different, the economy has screwed me over, whoa as me.” I’ll leave you with some Charles Dickens.
The world is becoming a hard and cruel place. One must steel oneself to survive it and not be crushed with the weak and infirm.