Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A letter to Generation Y

I wanted to talk for a minute about some differences between what my generation (20 and 30ish year olds) deal with that is different from our parents and grandparents generations. I feel that very little empathy is given to my generation (known as Generation Y-mid 1970's to 2000) for all of our hard to work to try and achieve even 1/4 what our parents did by their 30's. Here's my current beef- HOUSING! From talking to several people from Generation X or the Baby Boomers,, it seems that this is a relatively fair example of what they would earn and what they would pay for a small house in Poulsbo in 1980:
Earn: $11 an hour (plus bonuses)= $1906.66 Gross per month (this was a woman without a college degree)
Paid for 1500ish sq ft house on acreage in Poulsbo= $30,000 @ around 12% interest (current mortgage rate for 1980 was roughly 12%- makes a $308 monthly payment.

So, that being said, for this particular person their mortgage payment was not even 1/6th of their monthly pay. Gen Y, can you imagine that scenario? Hardly! For me personally our mortgage payment is nearly 50% of our income and our house is 763 sq ft in East Bremerton on less than a 1/4 acre. Go figure.

I guess I'm frustrated because I just feel like our generation has to work twice as hard for the things our parents were able to have. I even heard one gentlemen say he was making almost $30 an hour in the 80's (and he was about 30 years old at the time with no college degree).......and could buy a great waterfront home for $80k. That would never happen now. At least not in Seattle or Kitsap County and definitely not for those of you living in mid to southern California. Why have home prices gone up so much yet our pay is basically the same? It's completely unfair. Part of what bothers me the most is that there's no empathy for our hard work. I would love to hear someone from a generation above me say, "I'm really proud of you. I can't even imagine trying to buy a house now and support a family on a single income. You are working so much harder than earlier generations had to and I really respect your effort. " In fact, to hear that refrain might even make me tear up! It appears (correct me if I'm wrong) that very few people back then had to spend 50% of their income for a tiny little house. It was just understood that you get a decent job, you buy a decent house, you buy a decent car, and you take a family vacation if you can. Craig and I both have cars that are over 8 years old. We haven't taken a vacation in 4 years. We have an old tube television bought at Walmart several years ago. We don't have laptops or satellite radio or even a home phone.

Maybe the rain is making me moody and I know I'm ranting, but I hope you get what I'm trying to say. I don't for a second believe that earlier generations had it made in the shade and never struggled; I am not that naive! But I also think they will never know what it's like to be a young 'middle' class family in today's world. We make too much money to get any goverment support, yet we don't make enough to even have dental or vision insurance.....let alone take a vaca. Also, for those of you like us who have to pay child support it's a backwards system. We pay tax on money we never get to see (or govern how it's spent), we don't get to write it off, and we can't subract it from our income to qualify for things like state health care and dental. We are considered a family of 3 when in reality after all we spend on child support and tax for that money, we should be allowed to qualify as a family of 4. If nothing else just so we can get dental and vision for Eliana. Instead we're left in the cold.

I've gotten advice from 2 generations above me to 1) buy commercial real estate and make money off that and to 2) never sell a home but keep them as rentals. Well, here's the reality, how the heck can I afford to buy commercial real estate if I can't even afford a bigger home for my family? And how can I keep my home as a rental when what I can charge for rental income isn't even half of my mortgage payment? Riddle me that Batman! Gone are the days when you can buy a home and 2 years later sell it and walk away with a $60k profit. Also gone are the days when you can rent out a home for $700 a month with a mortgage of only $400. I realize that might be how it looked 30 years ago, but that's definitely not how it is now. So, rather than aged advice that doesn't ring true about a simple, "Good job kiddo!" How about, "I'm proud of you for choosing your family and being financially disciplined."

Craig and I have chosen to stay in Kitsap County for one reason; family. We've looked at Georgia and the Carolina's and even Wyoming. All three places offer a less expensive standard of living and family friendly towns. It's hard to know that we could move to another state and buy a 3000 sq ft home for what we paid for ours here (Just this week a friend sent me a posting for a 1300 sq ft adorable home for 100k in a nice neighborhood and it looks totally remodeled). So, we are sacrificing so that we can be near our families, of which there are a lot. In exchange for our sacrifice I wish the older generations would realize how much young families struggle nowadays. Are there families on welfare abusing the system? Yes. But there's also families like mine that work very hard for everything we have- with no handout.

I've also been told that anyone in my generation can get medical insurance for free and anyone can go to college (kinda like, "stop whining" or something).....really? Where's all that being offered at? I'd like to go there! Ok, time for facts. Can anyone go to the ER and receive care in the State of Washington? Yes, it's a law. However, after you do you will receive a bill and should you choose not to pay that bill it will go to collections and eventually your credit will be torn to poo and you won't be able to buy a home, get a credit card, etc. So, if that's the free 'medical insurance or care' you're talking about, count me out! Doesn't sound free to me. And free college? Where's that! My husband and I both did the minimum college we could, not because we didn't want an education but because we couldn't imagine spending $18k plus a year for schooling plus pay for housing, a car to get to a job, car insurance, gas, groceries, etc. Neither one of us come from privileged families and when the rubber met the road we had to work. We both did our 2 years at a local school and worked full time while we were in school. There were few scholarships available for us and no one offered to pay for us to reach our dreams. I wanted to go to nursing school, Craig wanted to do engineering. So again, where's this free college???

Bottom line, since no one else is willing to say it, I will:

Dear Generation Y:
You are kicking butt! I'm so proud of you for all that you put up with and how hard you work to feed, clothe, and take care of your families. I'm proud of you for paying "The Man" even though we've been told that by the time we retire there may not be anything left. I'm proud of you for voting and paying attention and caring about politics even though previous generations and presidents have left insurmountable debt and problems for us. I'm proud of you for envisioning what you want for your families and working tirelessly to get there. May you hold your head high and know that although you haven't achieved all you dreamed of as a child or all the things your parents had by their 30's....keep trucking on.
I wish greatness for all of you and if you dream of a farmhouse with a white picket fence and a little garden out back......I pray you get that.

1 comment:

  1. here here! I don't think earlier generations had to worry about drowning in student loan debt! they could work and expect to make enough to pay for school (at least my parents could).