Monique's Challenge Blog: Talkin’ bout my Generation

Editor's note: We challenged all of our finalists to write a blog post. "From your own experience, what are the top 3 financial issues facing your generation?"

Talkin’ bout my Generation

(The title of this post, and also the lyrics to a really good song by The Who…) 

I’m proud to say that I’m a part of Generation Y. Who are we exactly? And what defines us? Well for one, we are creative - just take a look at all the creative voices that originally applied for the spokester position! We want to be able to express ourselves using the innovative abilities that we possess. Generally, we are very accepting of everyone - no matter who you are or what your background is. However, I find our most important characteristic is that we are adaptable and welcome change with an optimistic outlook. Why do I think this is our most important characteristic? Because there are a whole lot of challenges facing our generation-and tackling them with a perspective that says “the glass is half full” might be what we need to persevere. Here are THREE of what I feel are the toughest financial issues facing Generation Y.

I don’t want to sound like a broken record, BUT financial education is the key to financial freedom. This was the driving point in my video application and it’s something that resonates deep within me. It is also partly why I want to be your spokesperson!  So, issue number one that we face as a generation is our lack of financial education. Budgeting, taxes, interest rates, planning for the future…all things that used to make me want to cover my ears and go “blah blah blah, I’m not listening!!!” But reality has put a halt to that way of thinking and now I feel a huge rush to make sure my future is secure. The only thing is, I haven’t the slightest idea of where to start. I already blogged about getting financially organized, so I guess that’s a start? As far as taxes are concerned…I’ll tell you a secret (my Dad does them for me!) Two years ago I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what a “good” or “bad” interest rate was. And finally, budgeting; a struggle that I am just coming to grips with. I drool (metaphorically speaking!) at the thought of having my budget neatly typed on a spreadsheet but the only thing I’ve ever been taught about budgets was to “live within my means”. I’ve found that a step in the right direction concerning a budget is discovering the difference between want and need.

Not only are we Gen Y, but we are also a recession generation. We are heavily affected by what we’ve heard over and over again in the media as the “economic crisis”. Everything crashed just as we were entering the real world (Not a very good welcome into adulthood if you ask me!) The effects of the recession have trickled down and affected our very outlook on finances and how we plan on moving forward (kind of how the Great Depression affected our grandparents!). Job insecurity and the “unemployment rate” (Yet another term that is over-used by the media) is a threat that we face not only in college, but also upon graduation. Think of all the Gen Y’ers that have recently graduated and are having a hard time finding a job within their field…I bet you could at least name five. Finding a job that is meaningful to us is just as important as this pertinent question, “Will it pay me enough in order for me to afford repayment on my student loans?” This brings me to my third point.

Debt. I just don’t like that word! According to an article written by Emma Johnson for MSN Money, the average college debt for recent grads is over $20,000 and rising. On top of that, many also have credit card debt. We have HUGE amounts of debt with little to no savings. Our generation has adopted the dangerous mantra of “get it now, pay for it later”. This can be a dangerous way of thinking because it can easily spiral out of control but it’s an idea that we’ve adopted not only as a generation but also as a country.

Let’s put it all together in a grammatically incorrect run on sentence: We have a hard time managing our money because it’s something we were never really taught how to do AND we are educated but swimming in debt so now we all need good jobs to pay it off… J    

Despite what we are up against, there are people who believe in us. The Young and Free campaign in its entirety is a testament as to what people think we are capable of. Generations before us who are current members of credit unions are reaching out to us. They WANT us to succeed and they are willing to provide us with information based on the experience and knowledge they have. Not only do other others believe in our potential but I DO TOO!

Until next time…OWN being young and ALWAYS stay free! 

Monique

PS. Here is the article by Emma Johnson! Check it out!