The following is what I imagine all adults in my life have really been thinking, every time they congratulated me for some kind of achievement in my life.
High School Graduation
Congratulations! You’ve just graduated high school! Now you’re off to University right? That’s the only way to improve your income these days, gotta have a University degree. Now I know I told you that you could be anything you want to be all your life, and never really gave you any concrete life lessons about how the world actually works, but I’m sure you’ll be fine. Just choose a major you like, sign those loan papers, and everything will be fine. World needs lots of interpretive dancers right? Oh, you’re picking business? Good for you! That’ll be a sure fire way to start out life on the right track, before you know it, you’ll have a house, a family, and two cars.
Congratulations! I can’t believe four years have gone by! Listen, while you were in school, a little something called an economic slow down happened. I know that job prospects aren’t quite what you thought they were going to be, but because I haven’t saved enough for retirement, and took on too much debt, I’m going to be working a little longer than I planned, and spending less on consumer products. Since both of these things contribute to less jobs for you, all I can say is: whoops!
I know, I know, this means you won’t be able to get the job you were hoping for right out of school, but hey, you can always move back into the basement until you find something stable.
Student loans, you say? Oh yeah, well I suppose the government has cut some funding to the universities since I was there last, but I’m sure it’s nothing you can’t handle. $26,000? (Canadian average) Really? Why didn’t you work during school? oh you did? Well, just get a part time job working at a coffee shop until you can find full time employment, after all, you won’t have very high living expenses, I’ll cut you a good deal for the basement.
First Full Time Job
Congratulations! You’ve got your first full time job, it only took eight months of searching, that’s not bad. An assistant? Well that sounds like a great way to gain some real world experience. I bet that you’ll be running the company in no time. One thing though, don’t count on getting a pension, back when I was young companies used to give full pension, but that didn’t work out too well for them. You should probably start saving for retirement tomorrow.
Buying A House
Listen I know you were probably planning on trying to buy a house in the near future, after all you’re almost 24, your mother and I were already home owners by then. But with the housing market so massively inflated right now and all that debt you’re carrying, it’s probably better if you just rented for a little while. It’ll take a small fortune to both pay off your debt and put 5% down on a house.
Geeze, your mother and I are some lucky we got into the housing market when we did, our house has quadrupled in value! Mind you, we still haven’t saved enough for retirement, so we’re really counting on those high housing prices to pad our nest egg.
What I’m Thinking
I hear a lot about how my generation is lazy. How we don’t want to work for anything, how we expect to have good jobs and everything in life handed to us. How more and more kids are returning to their parents’ basements after University because they got a degree that had few job prospects but still cost thousands of dollars.
This really bothers me. First of all, the assessment of those kids is really not fair: Yes, those kids are out there, but how do you think they got that way? It might have had a teensy bit to do with how they were raised, what they were told, and how hard they were made to work?
Second of all, we’re not all that way. Lots of us worked really hard, and did exactly what we were told would get us the life we wanted. Yet here we are, having completed every task that older, knowledgeable adults told us to, and we remain denied those things. I’m very lucky to have a job right out of school, but I’m unlucky because instead of doing grown up things like buying a house and saving for retirement, I continue to live in University style squalor while I scrape every penny together to pay off my student loans.
I would love to buy a house in the city, but unless I go back to University for some form of additional education, there is absolutely no way I could afford even a postage stamp sized piece of property in any city of even moderate size. More school means more debt, which leads to an even greater retardation of my adult development. At the rate I’m going, I could likely be thirty before I had enough net worth to buy a home. And kids? Well that’s a whole other ball of wax involving maternity leave, loss of earnings or time at school, I just can’t see that working it’s way into the mix any time soon.
I don’t want much. I don’t want to million dollar apartment in the trendy part of the city. I don’t want to drive a BMW. I don’t want a pool, hot tub, and the latest electronics. I just want a little house, with a little green space for the dog, in a nice city, in a non-scary part of town. I want a car that won’t cost me $500 per month to fix. I want to be able to save for my own retirement.
What really depresses me is how much that sounds like a pipe dream most days.
How’s that for a cheery Tuesday morning post? Have you had to adjust your vision of your future because it might just not be attainable? I want to know!