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  • Writer's pictureJered Sturm

Not Too Late: A 20-Something’s Plea to Generation Yers for Financial Change

I have found that on BiggerPockets, many of the readers and participants are part of the “younger generation.” This shows me the generation I am a part of is looking for a change, a way out of the uphill financial battle that many fight all their life.

Individuals born roughly between 1980 and 2000 have been given the label of Generation Y. I missed the exact middle of that span by 10 days, so many of my peers share the Generation Y label. We are the largest living generation in America. At 80 million strong, we have the ability to shape American culture through our actions and beliefs.

With an age span of 15-35, in my opinion, generation Y is still very young. With youth comes opportunity. Opportunity to experience life with minimal responsibilities, opportunities to set your life on a good course. Opportunity to build the foundation for a life to come. This encompasses all aspects of life, from spiritual to financial. The years we find ourselves in now are filled with opportunity.

There is so much greatness in the world to be had, but it doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t come fast. It takes years and years. Our lives, our self worth, is compiled of millions if not billions of actions and decisions we make. Begin your life with the wrong choices, and things are likely to continue in that direction. Make the right ones, and you will find life much easier. It is a snowball effect. Our choices in our early teen and adult years can lead us on a downward spiral or a soaring pursuit of greatness.

Achieving Financial Greatness

Greatness comes in many shapes and forms. I believe one of them is financial wealth. Financial wealth can mean many different things to different people. It may mean making $50k a year to one; it may be $10 million a year to another. The point is, achieving one’s true definition of financial wealth is a mark of greatness.

So to my peers, my fellow Generation Ys, I ask you this: WHY? Why as a whole do we never reach financial greatness? Why do we live on the brink of financial collapse every day, not only as a country, but also as individuals? Why is financial responsibility not taught in school? Why do we keep piling on student debt to evade reality? Why, when we do get money, do we have no idea what do with it other than what advertisements have told us to? Why do we waste our youth digging a hole that we spend our entire life trying to climb out of?

So many of us treat money like there will not be a tomorrow. After all, we are the generation that coined YOLO (“you only live once”). Yes, this is true, but most people also live long after the YOLO mentality has worn off and we are given the many responsibilities of life. Our generation as whole fails to look beyond our youth, especially financially. We spend 7 years getting a 4-year degree while living on borrowed money and financing our new car. We load clothes, shoes and accessories up on our credit cards. We buy a house twice as big as we need and appear to have “made it.”

The only place this person has made it to is the bottom of the hole they will spend their life climbing out of. They will spend their life paying for the choices they made in their youth.

Realities like children, retirement, sick family members, parents in their final years, and unforeseen life changes will be quicksand added to the hole.

The Opportunity for Change

I will again ask my generation, WHY? Why at 80 million strong can we not change our culture to build a mountain instead of digging a hole? In our youth we are left with so much opportunity to make wise fiscal decisions that could forever direct us to greatness. The unseen reality of our YOLO lifestyle is “You only lose opportunity.”

Now, by no means am I saying have zero fun and save everything in order to plan for the bad things in life. Not in the slightest. Our generation does, however, need to begin asking WHY. Why as a whole are we setting ourselves up for a financial uphill battle?

So what’s the secret? How do we build a mountain rather than dig a hole? There is no secret; people have been screaming the keys to financial greatness for years — we just can’t seem to listen. I’ll sum up those keys in three well-known ideals:

  • Live below your means.

  • Buy assets, not liabilities.

  • Don’t fear failure, learn from it.

If the 80 million Generation Y-ers would just begin to ask these “why” questions, we could change our entire culture for the better.

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