The Avocado Toast Outrage: A Millennial Perspective

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In a recent Australian 60 Minutes Interview, real estate mogul Tim Gurner dropped the following line, which has since gone viral:

“When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each”, which he followed up with:

“We’re at a point now where the expectations of younger people are very, very high. They want to eat out every day, they want to travel to Europe every year. The people that own homes today worked very, very hard for it, saved every dollar, did everything they could to get up the property investment ladder.”

Tim’s words have received heavy criticism over the past week, with hoards of millennials outraged at his remarks. As a millennial myself, I want to offer up my own response to this whole avocado toast fiasco.

Tim has the right idea…

I can see the point Tim is trying to make: Millennials are inclined to expect more out of life with less effort, compared to previous generations. This means we’re more likely to spend ridiculous amounts of money on food and drinks without expecting our wallets to take a hit.

I largely agree with Tim on this point. Speaking from personal experience, the spending habits of most Millennials are out of control. We suck at tracking our finances and most of us have no idea what a 401(k) is or the difference between a stock and a bond. As a generation, we’re arguably the most addicted to instant gratification and consumerism to ever roam the earth. Combined with the atrocious amount of time we spend on the internet, social media, and watching television, it seems like our expectations for the future might be unreasonable given our pathetic work ethic.

However…

With all that said, there are several reasons why Millennials aren’t screwed despite having a natural affinity for $19 avocado toast.

The reason Millennials can spend obscene amounts of money on food and trips to Europe is because there are more ways to earn money now with less effort than ever before. The internet has completely changed the way people work. As an example, check out my post where I outlined how I made over $1,000 in one month just from online tutoring.

Think about the implications of this: I can be flat out broke, message 15 people on Facebook I find who may need help with tutoring, end up helping only one of them for $50 an hour, and have money to go to Chipotle that same evening and buy every single one of my friends a burrito. That’s a real thing that happens now

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of people out there making a full time living selling items on Ebay. There are people who make incredible money drop-shipping, without ever leaving the comfort of their own living room. Not to mention the masses who are giving themselves a 20% annual pay raise through Ubering, dog sitting, or freelancing on Fiverr. Or the sheer amount of teens making more money than their parents through their YouTube channels.

The landscape of the world is changing.

Thanks to the internet, the number of different ways to make money combined with the ease of making money is unfathomable to most older generations.

Yes, Millennials expect more with less effort but that’s only because it really is possible to do more with less effort now. And despite the fact that Millennials are awful at saving, there are more resources than ever before to learn the basics of finances, saving, budgeting, and investing. I personally learned about the basics of stocks and bonds through Khan Academy videos in a couple hours. This never would have been possible even ten years ago. 

The speed at which we can learn new skills and acquire knowledge now is incredible. And thanks to the internet, the speed at which we can grow our network of connections is phenomenal.

We no longer have to sit outside of our favorite CEO’s office for a week, waiting to for a chance to introduce ourselves. We can direct message them on Twitter. We don’t need permission or capital from anyone to start a business anymore. We can buy a domain name and start our own website in under an hour.

We live in an age that now rewards working smarter, not necessarily harder. The people who are willing to take initiative and try new ways of earning money are being rewarded immensely. And no generation is more acutely aware of these opportunities than Millennials.

Final Thoughts

I think Tim is preaching a great message: If you want something in life, you will have to work very hard for it. You can’t have high expectations without the work ethic to match it. 

And while this is true, we have to acknowledge that the way we work is changing dramatically. The opportunities that Millennials will have in their lifetimes to advance, make money, acquire knowledge, and travel will be unlike any other generation before. Because of the internet and the incredible leaps in technology, Millennials who take advantage of the new gig economy can experience double the fruits of their labor with half the struggle their parents faced. Of course it will still require effort and hard work, but the opportunities are there for the taking.

So yeah, Millennials might have awful spending habits and an inclination to buy expensive food, but I’d say our high expectations for the future are completely reasonable. March on, fellow Millennial avocado toast lovers. 


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8 Replies to “The Avocado Toast Outrage: A Millennial Perspective”

  1. I mean, I would also say that *any* generation has spent their money on stupid crap. The issue is that we all need to be able to have self-control over our spending when we have debt. I don’t like the judgmental tone his “advice” takes. IT’s assuming that Millennials are struggling because we buy $19 avocado toasts and blowing our money on hipster coffee joints. That’s a very inaccurate, unfair, and frankly, simplistic way of looking at the problem. We all need to stop spending money on stupid crap, but this isn’t a phenomenon that’s unique to Millennials.

    1. Great point! I also think it’s out of place to judge someone else’s spending habits simply because we don’t know how much value other people get out of spending money on certain things. You might think that avocado toast gives you $19 worth of value while I think it doesn’t. The point isn’t to stop spending money, it’s to stop spending money on stuff that doesn’t actually bring us any joy or happiness. I completely agree with you here 🙂

  2. I like your spin on this topic!

    I am pretty well tired of the millennial backlash about avocados that miss his point. It takes hard work to get anything in this life, but luckily with the internet you can work hard 24/7. It is awesome when I see blog visits while I was snoring.

    I also think a lot of millennials coming out of the financial crisis spend smarter. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case but I see a lot of people saving for big purchases or not using credit if they know they can’t handle it. If a $19 avocado toast is in the budget and not affecting your long-term goals, then eat away.

    Great post!

    1. I just think Millennials get a bad rap for being “lazy”, but as I mentioned in the post we are living in a time where working smarter is becoming more important than working harder. Sometimes working smarter looks lazy just because it gets the same results but with less effort. And I agree, people tend to be better with their money following a financial crisis. Too bad it takes a financial crisis to wake people up!

      Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. A lot of people in my family are millennials. They just seem carefree and happy to me, not bitter and complaining about the lack of money. They seem to have professional jobs (at an early age) go out, hang out, and travel quite often. The advancement in technology and access to free education via the internet, networking with sites like Linkedin has helped out a lot and thus they’re just enjoying the benefits these things yield. Finally people at a younger age are becoming home-owners as well.

    1. SMM, I agree with all your points. Millennials are truly blessed with far more access to educational resources than previous generations. In this day in age it really comes down to whether or not people are willing to go out and learn new skills and put them to work. To all the millennials who are willing to put in the hours, the opportunities are virtually endless.

  4. I think another point is that our (millennials) priorities have changed. We don’t necessarily see the American dream as the mcmansion with a picket fence, 2.5 kids and a dog (though I, personally, do NEED the dog). We saw our parents loose their a$$es with housing, be laid off from their “loyal” employer, rack up tons of cc debt….I’d much rather a $19 avocado toast and trip to Europe than $800k in debt and locked into a crappy job to pay for it all (even if our parents “loved” their job, they were still stuck with it).

    1. I think you’re right, Millennials in general don’t seem so obsessed with the homeownership dream like previous generations. Young people seem to be waiting even longer to purchase a house and many are throwing the idea out the window altogether. And great point about the danger of placing all your assets in one basket. Homeownership doesn’t always make sense financially and I think Millennials are becoming more accepting of that.

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