Not a day passes that I don’t see yet another headline bemoaning that millennials have “killed” some product, industry, or tradition. Some of these headlines are laughable (Millennials Are Killing Light Yogurt), some are baffling (Millennials Are Killing Sex), and some make me kind of proud of my generation (Millennials Are Killing Hooters). But, as journalist Daniel Craig said in his PhillyVoice article, stop blaming millennials for killing things that suck!
Yes, certain products, industries, and traditions are finding it hard to connect with Generation Y, but I can assure you, there’s a good reason for each and every thing we carelessly “murder” by not supporting. Here are just a few things we’ve decided to stop doing, and why:
Eating at Chain Restaurants
Millennials are poor (get ready to hear this multiple times in this article), and thanks to student loans and the increased costs of living, it only makes sense that we save money wherever we can. Eating out is expensive — it can cost 5 to 10 times as much as cooking your own meals at home. And since we’re not going to leave our servers less than a 20 percent tip, that’s just another expense we have to deal with when we do decide to grab a meal from a restaurant.
Now, there are times when we pony up our hard earned cash to eat out — but we aren’t going to Applebee’s or Buffalo Wild Wings when we do. Why? Because the food is terrible (mostly consisting of pre-cooked meals heated up in a microwave) and ridiculously expensive when you consider what you’re getting. We prefer to eat at local restaurants where we can get healthy, unique dishes in a relaxed setting. And call us a bunch of hippies if you want, but we like to stimulate our local economy when at all possible.
Going to College
Despite being touted as the most educated generation in history, there are a startlingly large amount of millennials who never went to college. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by age 29, fewer than one-third of Americans have earned a bachelor’s degree. Let’s look at some of the reasons why so many Gen Yers are forgoing college.
Our parents had a fantastic education system. They could not only afford higher learning, but their employers actually offered higher-paying jobs to people who had degrees. That’s not the case anymore. Since 1995, the cost of tuition at public universities has risen by over 296 percent. As of 2017, the average student loan debt per borrower is $31,333.
The absolute mind-numbing pressure of starting our adult lives in massive debt is causing so much stress, anxiety, and depression in millennials that one-third of them say they would have been better off working instead of going to college. Furthermore, it’s become increasingly clear that a degree no longer guarantees success or even a good enough job to pay back student loans; experience often means more on resumes than a degree; and there’s a lot of money in the skilled trades.
We’ll start this off with a quick aside — many millennials are delaying marriage or forgoing it all together. That said, even those who are getting married simply don’t have enough cash on hand to drop three month’s worth of pay on a sparkly rock. Instead, many of us are looking for a sentimental piece of jewelry that’s unique and far less expensive.
A lot of young couples are choosing other stones, such as sapphires or opals, to signify their commitment. What’s more, we’re not into the standardized, mass-produced look of the traditional diamond rings offered by Jared and Kay — we want something that’s as singular and special as our relationship. We also prefer not to contribute to an industry rife with human rights abuses and heavy-handed, manipulative marketing tactics.
Recent research has shown that young adults aren’t buying homes in their 20s and 30s — most are waiting until they’re financially stable. Truth be told, I’m not sure if we’ll ever get there. Compared to previous generations, we’re making less money, have far more debt (due to student loans), are more likely to be underemployed, and are struggling harder to amass any sort of savings.
As a result of the great recession, most mortgage loan companies expect a down payment of 20 percent. Again, we barely have two pennies to rub together, so where we’re going to get that kind of money is anyone’s guess. Of course, there are mortgage affordability programs that offer lower down payments, but their interest rates are far higher. Finally, most mortgages require private mortgage insurance, making monthly payments even higher. To put it plainly, it’s not that we don’t want to own homes, it’s just that we can’t afford to.
Another thing millennials are either delaying or forgoing entirely is having children. Again, debt, lack of a healthy income, and general financial instability is partially at fault, with many Gen Y-ers knowing that the additional cost of caring for a child would send them right over the edge into stark poverty. But money isn’t the sole cause of our childless state.
We’re really worried about what kind of world our hypothetical children would be born into. Climate change, overpopulation, deforestation, pollution, lack of biodiversity — bringing children into this world is not only concerning based on the bleak future they may face, it only adds to these environmental concerns and puts further pressure on the planet.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, millennials are big on personal choice. What we do with our bodies, careers, and money is our business and no one else’s. We don’t owe anyone an explanation — whether we choose to have children or not.
So yes, millennials are slaying things left and right, but we have our reasons, and more often than not, they’re incredibly sound. We’re broke, we’re intelligent, we care about our fellow human beings and the planet, and we’re tired of being told to do something just because “that’s the way it’s always been done.”
Are you a millennial who has bucked major life trends?
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