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Published March 05, 2014, 04:17 PM

Commentary: Millennials’ poor spending habits not new, just better advertised

I was a movie producer once. I made $90,000 a year, had a house, a husband and a nice car all at age 15.

By: Brandi Jewett, Forum News Service, INFORUM

I was a movie producer once. I made $90,000 a year, had a house, a husband and a nice car all at age 15.

I couldn’t tell you what my husband at the time did. Maybe he was an auto mechanic? It’s been so long since I’ve sat in a ninth-grade classroom.

Like our history lessons and literature readings at the time, the purpose of my Home Economics marriage was to bestow me with knowledge I would use as an adult.

I’m assuming the point was to get us to create and manage budgets and not spend all of our earnings on imaginary swimming pools instead of groceries.

In a nutshell, I learned there is no such thing as a magical money tree.

From what some studies and surveys have found and everyone older than me seems to be saying, we millennials – basically anyone born from the early 1980s to about 2000 – should really take the class again.

Apparently, about 30 percent of us are shacking up with our parents because we can’t afford to live on our own. Another survey says 40 percent of millennial women rely on family members for money to cover their budget.

We’re painted as a generation unconcerned with the consequences of our spending habits.

Our relationship with money echoes our motto: YOLO (You Only Live Once, for those of you not uploading selfies at the moment).

Our parents and grandparents can only shake their head and remember a time when kids did real chores, talked to people face to face and valued a dollar.

They’ll probably continue to shake their heads when I say this, but I really don’t think we’re all that different from the generations preceding us.

The difference may be that millennials share their worst moments and spending habits with the world in real time while older generations kept theirs to themselves and prefer to reminisce about the silliness of their youth over coffee.

Lazy, spoiled and downright stupid people aren’t a new trend in our society. There were rich brats long before “The Simple Life” aired or “Jackass” inspired people to punch each other in the family jewels.

Lost in the mix of all of this are the driven, hardworking millennials who keep their heads down and push forward toward a career and being financially responsible.

My parents and I didn’t sit down and have an in-depth economics lesson about supply, demand and sunk costs. Their logic is simple: Don’t spend all your money.

Some parents prefer to do things for their children instead of having them learn financial lessons the hard way.

Others think they’re magicians and act as their child’s personal money tree, which makes it clear my generation isn’t the only one that may need a Home Economics refresher.


Jewett writes for the Grand Forks Herald

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