Young people in this country are stressed about their finances and there is really no reason why they shouldn’t be. For those of us who were lucky enough to land jobs after college in the midst of the Great Recession, our wages have stagnated or gone up paltry amounts.
And don’t feed me the tired tale and frankly fabricated scenario: Art History majors can’t expect to land a job right out of school because they whimsically decided on a major that satisfied their aesthetic cravings and ignored the pragmatism one needs to flourish in the ‘real world’. I am talking about CPAs, teachers, media professionals, salespeople, lawyers, and other practical professions in major urban areas throughout the country. I am talking about young people, fresh out of the military that languish on waiting lists for municipal fire or police positions. Yes, I think it is safe to say that we are stressed about our finances.
That is why I was not all shocked when I read the findings of a recent report sponsored by New York Life that found members of Generation X and Y (Millennials) are feeling higher levels of stress than Baby Boomers approaching retirement and members of the silent generation that are currently in retirement. One may posit that it is natural for younger people who are in or are entering their prime earning years to be more stressed than those who are nearing or in retirement, but I would counter that that is not a safe assumption. Take, for example, the swaths of Baby Boomers who, before the fall of 2008, thought they were going to slip right into to retirement only to see their retirement savings decimated by the crash and their golden years postponed indefinitely. Or, the retiree who is beginning to realize he is running out of money and his living situation will decline. Those sound like pretty stressful situations to me. Even more so when you take into account that time is not on the side of the individuals in those scenarios. But the young, according to the report, are also consumed by stress over their finances.
The “Keep the Good Going Report” surveyed more than 2,000 Americans, exploring their expectations and attitudes regarding how they cultivate goodness in their lives. As you can expect, one’s financial situation plays an essential part in the “goodness” of their lives. Setting aside the subjective nature of the word “good” let’s just say that if you are constantly worrying about money your life is probably not as “good” as it could be. The report found that more than half of Americans reported that in order to live life as a good person, it is extremely important to have enough money, to be financially self-sufficient in retirement and to protect one’s family against life’s uncertainties. I’m not saying that I think that is true, but half of Americans surveyed do.