Generation Y, Let the Recession Humble Thee

Lindsey Gerdes of Business Week asks: Is the Recession Putting Generation Y in it’s Place? Sarah Horne of The New York Post recently penned an op-ed column entitled “A Slice of Humble Gen Y,” noting that the economic downturn might be a helpful wake-up call for a coddled generation that formerly “felt secure enough to brashly knock on their bosses’ doors and demand better assignments, better titles, better salaries.”

Apparently the recession is a much needed wake-up call for us youngin’s.

“The fact that many of this generation’s boomer parents are suffering financially as well could be a positive thing for the youngsters’ sense of self, Twenge adds. “The cutting of the apron strings is in some ways a good development. If a parent is looking at their retirement and saying, ‘I can’t prop up my child’s lifestyle forever,’ it’s a lesson. To have to stand on your own two feet is a good thing,” says Jean Twenge, author the book “Generation Me: Why Today’s Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled And More Miserable Than Ever Before.”

I suppose that’s true. Had I not fallen into personal finance blogging I’d still be on my merry way to financial failure. The recession puts a new, even crueler lense on the situation. Just because my parents seemed to live their upper middle class life without much stress, with years of savings lost at the verge of retirement – it has me thinking, and worrying, and freaking out about saving.

Then there are my friends who aren’t thinking about saving at all. And I do think maybe this wakeup call is a good thing. But it’s not quite bad enough for the people I know to cause any major lifestyle changes.

I don’t know what it was like for generations before, but given my upbringing and education I do have a sense of entitlement that I’ll easily admit I don’t deserve. That sense of entitlement has also led me to my own wakeup calls – too many failures to name. I’m doing ok now, but it’s still hard. I didn’t grow up in generation “Hard Work.” I grew up in generation “ADD.”

Regardless, I’m glad for this wakeup call. It’s better to have a recession in my 20s then later. I wouldn’t want to be in my 40s with all my life’s savings in stocks, watching it all go down the drain. I now know nothing is secure and even if I work my ass off, a job could be gone tomorrow. So save today, save tomorrow, enjoy the cheap/free things in life, and maybe enjoy the finer things much, much later.

What do you think?

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2 thoughts on “Generation Y, Let the Recession Humble Thee”

  1. I agree. If I had to choose, I would definitely prefer to have a recession in my 20's than in my 40's when I have a family and assets. I also think that as a 20-something, working professional that I am learning a lot and even if Gen Y translates a bit to Gen ADD it can push us and prepare us as the economy hopefully alleviates.

  2. I can only hope that after all our hard work now, through this recession, we actually get to enjoy the fruits of our labor later. Though it's frankly sort of terrifying now, I imagine it'd be more so later if and when I have kids to worry about on top of retirement/parents/etc.

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