Boomer Perspective: Tale of Two Millennials Sons

Two eggs inside the nestThanks for reading the story of my younger Millennial son. While his journey has overall been positive, my older son (also a Millennial) has traveled a rockier road which has included low-paying jobs after college, unemployment, and a return home to re-group.

Eight years separate my Millennials: the older one entered the workforce during the economic down turn, and the younger during the economic recovery. In both cases, each needed guidance and financial support from my husband and me.

My older son graduated from a four-year school debt free, since my husband and I saved for his education since he was very young. I encouraged him to choose a computer science major, but he instead elected to pursue a degree in psychology. While, as his parent, I supported his decision, I advised him that he would need to pursue higher-level education to earn a decent living.

After graduating, he obtained an entry-level job, which afforded him the ability to live on his own and purchase a car. He was living check-to-check and, with the help of overtime and savings, was able to make ends meet – but, this meant neither additional savings for his emergency fund, nor investments for retirement.

Once the recession truly kicked in, my son found himself unemployed and running through his remaining savings quickly. My husband and I helped him as much as we could, but in the end, he had to move back home. While home, he paid off his car and other bills and proceeded to look for a new job. There were not many opportunities available in his field in our area, and the economy was still struggling to generate new jobs.

After many months of unemployment, he found another job working in a youth facility for troubled children, making less than his previous job. As life happens, he was injured on this job while protecting a co-worker from a student who expressed aggressive behavior. While out of work, he decided to return to school to learn the IT industry (hip hip hooray!)…but this came with the added cost of student loans (boo!).

While the following statistics are startling, my experience with my sons tells me that this is the ‘new normal’ for us Boomers:

  • 53% of Millennials live paycheck to paycheck;
  • 35% still receive regular financial support from their parents or relatives;
  • 75% still live at home and don’t pay rent or expenses.

I have tried to teach my sons to live within their means, use credit cards wisely, and save. Sadly, the economic downturn was too strong for my oldest son to overcome. I hope his future will be brighter with a new career, and that my younger son continues to live at home and practice the lessons we have tried to teach him, saving for his apartment and emergency fund.

Stay tuned to see how life happens and plans become derailed.

Yours truly,
Sabrina Anthony