Sunday’s New York Times Magazine story about boomerang kids – young people who have left their parents’ homes and returned – noted that one in five people in their 20s and early 30s is currently living with his or her parents. In addition, “60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from them. That’s a significant increase from a generation ago, when only one in 10 young adults moved back home and few received financial support. ”
The story goes into the reasons for this citing high apartment rates, massive student loans, insecurity, immaturity, an interest in saving money so they can move out and, of course, poor economic times. These are all true, and for some people, multiple reasons overlap.
(Disclaimer: If you like living with your parents, and they’re happy with it, who am I to say it isn’t a good situation?)
Based on my own observations, however, I’d like to offer some additional reasons and dispel some myths about our country. The article notes that for most of American history, each generation has done better financially than the previous one. Although that’s an intriguing thought, it’s not entirely true. Our economy has always had fits and starts, bad times and good times. Luck plays a role and nothing is promised.
In this same vein, too many young people believe it’s their right and entitlement to spend money on whatever they want like going out to bars and restaurants with their friends. Again, ‘in the old days’ when you didn’t have money, you didn’t go out. Many youngsters today don’t have the discipline to refrain.
Third, many youngsters don’t want to have roommates; they want to have their own apartment. Sorry, that’s not a reality and actually never was – not until you’re a little older and are making more money.
Which brings us to work. Some young folks have given up, decided not to take that low paying job because they think they’ll never be able to pay off their debt or get their own place. They get discouraged when they don’t get an offer for a high-paying job fresh out of school. The reality is that you have to start at the bottom. Get any job you can; work many hours and forgo some spending. Here’s a hint: temp agencies, especially those in metro areas pay upwards of $15 an hour for college graduates with strong skills like reading and writing. That’s 30 grand a year. Moreover, some jobs are temp – to- full time with a substantial bump in salary.
Take heart. It’s never been easy to make a living in the United States. It takes hard work and perseverance. You start low and work your way up. That’s how you do it. That’s how it’s always been done.
A former Washington correspondent for Business Week magazine, Larry Kahaner is the author of 15 books, including the best-selling Competitive Intelligence, a Book-of-the-Month selection that has been translated into six languages. He has also written Values Prosperity and the Talmud; Business Lessons from the Ancient Rabbis, The Quotations of Chairman Greenspan and AK-47; the Weapon that Changed the Face of War. Full bio.
His in-person, interactive, multimedia presentation titled Fiscal Fitness Boot Camp is available to colleges, universities and companies. You can email him directly at Larry Kahaner.
He is represented by Wolfman Productions, Inc.