Self-pity seems to be in vogue. And culture definitely isn’t discouraging self-pity. This trend seems to be focusing especially on millennials. The Elite Daily, for example, recently detailed what they see as the biggest problems for middle class millennials. This article happened to strike a chord with me. I’m a millennial and have experienced aspects of 5 problems. For a moment I was tempted to wallow. I was tempted to enjoy my misery’s company. But then I remembered how fortunate we’ve been. Millennials have a lot of things going for them. Although each one of the problems on Elite Daily’s list can indeed be a significant hurdle, none are insurmountable.
Paying for Healthcare
Elite Daily’s first complaint gets a little political. They point out that we are now required to pay for health insurance, but that health insurance is also too expensive, especially if health insurance is not available through your job. Sure, you can agree or disagree with the new mandate to be covered by health insurance. You may also agree or disagree with how much healthcare costs. But, love it or hate it, those are the facts on the ground (for now).
Elite daily suggests that millennials might be better off skipping on health insurance and paying the penalty. Even without the penalty, this would be absolutely foolish. Skipping on health insurance is simply too risky. True, I do recommend cutting back on your insurance coverage, and forgoing certain insurance coverage altogether. But you should only eliminate insurance if you are able to absorb the potential losses. Renters insurance and collision coverage on your car might fall in these categories. Health insurance does not. A single incident can rack up tens or thousands of dollars worth of bills and saddle you with life long debt.
Instead of griping about the health insurance mandate, take action and get covered. Yes, it can cost you a couple hundred/ month. Make some lifestyle sacrifices and appreciate the fact that you are protecting your finances from catastrophic debt. Since you’re a millennial, you aren’t high risk, you can likely get by with a higher deductible, which comes with a lower premium (and an HSA). And if you fall below certain income levels, the mandate comes with subsidies, making health insurance more affordable.
Affording a Place To Live
The second complaint from Elite Daily is that middle class millennials don’t make enough to afford their own place, but make too much to live in subsidized housing. Read on in the article, and it becomes clear that they want to live in nice apartments in the hip parts of the city. This is clearly an expectations issue. You can’t logically expect to live like a rich cat when you’re not a rich cat.
Where you decide to live comes with trade-offs. You need to be aware of and accept those trade-offs. If you decide to live in a big city where all the ‘happening’ is, you’ve got to accept that housing prices may be sky-high. Hopefully your pay will help make up for some of this, but there’s no guarantee. We live in a small mid-west town where we can own our own 4 bedroom house in a quiet neighborhood for less than a small apartment would cost in the big city. But if you really want to live in the city, perhaps you need to think small. Since I have no personal experience with city living, I’ll send you over to Distilled Dollar for more on this one.
Finding a Job
Elite Daily complains that full-time jobs are harder to find than ever. A college degree is no longer a guarantee of a cushy white-collar job either. The Atlantic backs this up by reporting that half of college graduates under 27 are underemployed. Having worked at a grocery store for 6 years after graduating college, I am very familiar with this fact. Bachelor’s degrees are in over-supply and simply don’t mean what they used to mean. Again, however, these are the facts- it’s up to you to move past those facts.
One choice that all too many people make is sitting at home (their parent’s home) watching job applications be rejected, refusing to accept that all the promises that were made about a liberal arts education were largely unfounded. You can do this for a little while and may land a job, but there comes a point when this becomes the wrong choice. As time goes on, depression and stagnation will set in. Your chances of landing a job will quickly diminish as your unemployed stint grows longer- employers don’t like hiring people who have been idle.
Your other options range from further self-development, entrepreneurship, or pursuing a career that doesn’t require a college degree, or some combination of the above. In my opinion, there’s no wrong answer here. There are pros and cons to all these options. Further self-development typically costs more money and doesn’t immediately address your income issue. Entrepreneurship is risky. Pursuing a career that doesn’t require a degree means killing some of your dreams and possibly means accepting lower pay (although some blue-collar work pays just as well if not better than white-collar work). Whatever option you choose is better than stagnation and wallowing.
Escaping the College Trap
Elite Daily continues on a tangent from their job rant by complaining that college is grossly expensive, largely useless, but still virtually required for many kinds of work. Again, completely true! Bachelor’s degrees are overvalued, expensive, and don’t really prepare you for the job market. This message needs to be communicated to graduating highschoolers. However, this doesn’t mean that everyone should skip out on college. What this means is that college needs to be an intentional choice rather than the default life-after-high school choice that schools and parents have made it. Hopefully millennials who have already learned this message the hard way can still find benefit from their college experience- and those benefits may not be career related.
Planning for Retirement
Elite Daily’s final gripe essentially is that today’s problems are so big and retirement (and death) is so far away that there’s no point planning for retirement. Nothing could be further from the truth! Again, this is an area that you may need to sacrifice a bit of current lifestyle for. When you’re 70, you’ll wish you had saved. The earlier you start planning and saving, the easier.
Millennials: The Entitled Generation
Are there problems facing millennials? Absolutely! There are huge shifts and changes in society that create unique challenges. But we also face huge opportunities and have had a lot handed to us on a silver platter. Rather than wallowing in the challenges, we need to show some resilience and figure out our own solutions. We also need to accept some realistic expectations. There’s no reason we need to live like kings- especially in our 20s and 30s.
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- While I do strive to only write accurate information and dispense valuable advice, I am not a licensed financial adviser. All information is based solely on my personal experience and personal research and should be treated as such. Find out more.