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.
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.
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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