Work Like Your Parents - Live Like Your Grandparents
"Our Grandparents lived simple because they had too...We should live simple because we can."
As a millennial (1982-2002), we have been raised in a unique generation. Our parents were raised with the idea of hope and prosperity while our grandparents were raised in the great depression. That leaves us in the middle. We have parents who built a lifestyle way greater than their parents could ever imagine. Our grandparents wanted nothing more than that for their kids after seeing how bad it could be from 1929-1939. Our parents were pioneers, building a lifestyle greater than any generation before them. Though it came with a catch. They leveraged their lifestyle, unlike anything that had been seen before in America. There were new levels of debt and interest being paid. When my parents were buying a home mortgage rates were 18.5%. Our grandparents, on the other hand, lived a much more frugal lifestyle and tried their best to never be in debt.
That is our background and history we have to follow. We were raised to believe that we can do anything. We can do even better than our parent's generation. Though this is true, we have to do it in a different way. We have to build wealth through investments more than any generation before us because the dollar is constantly losing value and we don't have the same safety nets. Health care costs are rising and social security is being reduced. We need to avoid consumer debt. Debt cripples our generation more than any other before us and we need to blend our parents level of earnings with our grandparents level of frugality and simplicity.
Live Like Our Grandparents:
Avoid Debt - Our grandparents didn’t take out huge loans. If they needed to borrow money, they borrowed as little as possible and paid it back as soon as they could. Neither of my grandparents were wealthy, they both worked blue collar jobs and made an average living. They worked in factories for most of their lives and they relied on their paycheck to cover their expenses. Though they didn't have much money they knew how to live within their means and live simple.
Maximize experiences - Our grandparents know how to live in the present. They know how to make people feel special and how to focus on the simple things in live. This is an invaluable lesson we should never forget. Make people feel as special as your grandparents made you feel. My grandparents couldn't afford much, and didn't have much, but they gave everything they had to me when we were together.
Work Hard - My grandpa got up at 4:30 am and got home at 8 pm commuting an hour and a half from northern Indiana to Chicago each day to get to this factory job at the Ford company. That's a long day.
Build a Community - Euchre nights, bridge club, and man cave outings. Our grandparents knew how to have fun without spending money. They build a network of friends and built a community around helping each other and building strong relationships.
Be Loyal - Our grandparents knew how to be loyal, they were married to the same partner. They stayed at the same job for most of their working career. Sometimes it's easier to leave when things are hard, but our grandparents didn't. They were loyal.
Work Like Our Parents:
Education - Our parents saw how hard it was to work in manufacturing jobs and blue collar jobs and so they pursued their education. They pursued education to advance their careers and with their education they made a lot more more money.
Make More Money - Our parents showed us how the middle class could get wealthy through education and branding yourself. They were pioneers in earning more.
Work Smarter - After seeing how hard manual labor can be, most of the baby boomers decided to work smarter not harder. They used their mind instead of their muscle to get ahead and pursue education. They invested in their education which was a great investment for their generation.
Give Back - As our parents made more money than the generation before them, they also gave back in many ways. They helped pay for their kids education, started numerous charities, and found ways to financially give back to a younger generation.
As Millennials, we are torn between these two lifestyles. We have to decide what we want to be and the footprint we want to leave. The good news is millennials are saving twice as much as baby boomers. So if we can learn to live like our grandparents and earn money like our parents, we'll be on the fast track to financial freedom.
Though we as millennials are ahead of our parents generation in savings, there is still room for improvement! According to an article from lendedu.com where they surveyed over 1,000 millennials, ‘65 percent of them spend more on groceries than they save for retirement’. Furthermore, ‘Only 6% of the generational respondents were not spending on dining out each month. Amongst those that were, the average amount spent per month was $163. While, 49% of millennials were spending more on restaurants and dining out than they were saving for retirement per month.‘ Though these numbers aren’t necessarily shocking, it does shed some light on the fact that we as millennials have a ways to go if we want to control when we can retire.
Our grandparents had pensions and other retirement options, most of our parents didn’t and they were responsible for saving on their own for retirement. Sadly, it is taking most of them well into their 60’s and 70’s to have saved enough to call themselves retired. But we can be different. By making improvements to our retirement savings rate today, we can pave our own path and retire much earlier!
It is up to us what lessons we pass to the next generation. How we manage our money will set the standard for the next generation's future. It will not be easy and it won't be perfect. Our parents did it, our grandparents did it, and we will do it too. If we can avoid debt and save the rest, it'll make all the difference.