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BRANDI JEWETT: Millennials’ poor spending habits normal, just better advertised

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I was a movie producer once. I made $90,000 a year, had a house, a husband and a nice car all at age 15.

I couldn’t tell you what my husband at the time did. Maybe he was an auto mechanic? It’s been so long since I’ve sat in a ninth-grade classroom.

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Like our history lessons and literature readings at the time, the purpose of my Home Economics marriage was to bestow me with knowledge I would use as an adult.

I’m assuming the point was to get us to create and manage budgets and not spend all of our earnings on imaginary swimming pools instead of groceries.

In a nutshell, I learned there is no such thing as a magical money tree.

From what some studies and surveys have found and everyone older than me seems to be saying, we millennials — basically anyone born from the early 1980s to about 2000 — should really take the class again.

Apparently, about 30 percent of us are shacking up with our parents because we can’t afford to live on our own. Another survey says 40 percent of millennial women rely on family members for money to cover their budget.

We’re painted as a generation unconcerned with the consequences of our spending habits.

Our relationship with money echoes our motto: YOLO (You Only Live Once, for those of you not uploading selfies at the moment).

Our parents and grandparents can only shake their head and remember a time when kids did real chores, talked to people face to face and valued a dollar.

They’ll probably continue to shake their heads when I say this, but I really don’t think we’re all that different from the generations preceding us.

The difference may be that millennials share their worst moments and spending habits with the world in real time while older generations kept theirs to themselves and prefer to reminisce about the silliness of their youth over coffee.

Lazy, spoiled and downright stupid people aren’t a new trend in our society. There were rich brats long before “The Simple Life” aired or “Jackass” inspired people to punch each other in the family jewels.

This new generation of idiots just has avenues such as YouTube and reality TV that allow them to share their “gifts” with the world at a rate faster than the traditional grapevine.

Lost in the mix of all of this are the driven, hardworking millennials who keep their heads down and push forward toward a career and being financially responsible.

I guess you could say this group is YOLOing responsibly, a way of life that should have started before we were ejected from school into the real world.

Back in my Home-Ec. marriage, I managed the money because, even though it was fake, I didn’t want my husband blowing it on imaginary boats and dirt bikes or whatever 16-year-olds think is cool.

I’ve kept that fiscally responsible — sometimes even cheapskate — mindset since then because, according to my mom, I was raised to stand on my own two feet.

My parents and I didn’t sit down and have an in-depth economics lesson about supply, demand and sunk costs. Their logic is simple: Don’t spend all your money.

That lesson is something I treasure because those surveys and studies revealing millennials to be financial duds also indicate their parents would rather talk about the birds and the bees than about money with them.

Some parents prefer to do things for their children instead of having them learn financial lessons the hard way.

Others think they’re magicians and act as their child’s personal money tree, which makes it clear my generation isn’t the only one that may need a Home Economics refresher.

 
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Brandi Jewett
Brandi Jewett is an enterprise reporter for the Grand Forks Herald and reports on a variety of topics. Other positions she has held at the Herald include city government reporter, general assigment reporter and news intern. While attending the University of North Dakota, she worked as a news reporter and editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, The Dakota Student. She now serves as one of its alumni advisers. A native of Valley City, N.D., 23 years worth of winters hasn't scared her out of the state yet. You can follow Jewett and her reporting projects on her blog www.diggingdeeper.areavoices.com
(701) 780-1108
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