Gen Y, you know what your problem is? Toast.
Avocado toast, actually.
It’s so simple, when you really think about it. Forget the economy, the job market, the cost of post-secondary education and the crazy-inflated housing market. THOSE THINGS DO NOT MATTER. This is about avocado toast, and how the struggles of a generation can all be boiled down to one pricey fruit.
As you’ve probably heard, a 35 year old Australian millionaire named Tim Gurner recently made waves by suggesting that millennials can’t afford to buy homes because they waste their money on things like lattes and avocado toast. Yes, that’s right – your brunch habit is the reason you’re working two jobs and renting an apartment. Oh, and also because you think reality TV is real life and feel entitled to living like the Kardashians. (You can read more about that here.)
If this sounds a little off, it’s because it is. We know that millennials are actually very financially literate; smart spenders and high-low budgeters who know how to shop for a deal. They track their expenses more than previous generations have, and when they have the means to do so, they prioritize home ownership and retirement savings, among other things. They’re more likely to stick to a budget than the Baby Boomer generation, and value saving over spending. (Source: Forbes)
It’s true that a significant number of millennial homeowners received a financial gift or loan from their parents, but with good reason. Houses cost a lot more than they did when our parents were entering the market (we’re talking comparatively, of course – inflation included). And, while Gen Y is incredibly well-educated, skilled and tech-savvy, professional jobs can be hard to come by in a market that’s still dominated by boomers.
As this article notes, a depression-era mentality can be seen in many millennials, as they experienced professional and economic volatility very early in their careers, during the financial crisis of 2008. This makes them extremely conscious of their financial decisions, and generally risk-adverse. When they do spend, they’re usually investing in something they place a high value on (ie healthy food, technology, travel). They think about their money, and are very deliberate in their use of it.
So yes, you may come across a millennial eating avocado toast while sipping a latte, but let’s get serious: we all eat out occasionally, or indulge in a treat. Our parents did it, we do it, and our children will do the same thing someday. A frugal person can buy avocados, or indulge in a $4 coffee – it’s the big picture that truly matters.
A splurge at Starbucks or an affinity for brunch is not the reason traditional home ownership is unattainable for so many millennials. It’s a complex, still-evolving issue that is about much more than a single spending habit. It’s a reflection of today’s socio-economic conditions and the universal challenges faced by Gen Y. It’s about needing more education, fighting harder for jobs, and having fewer affordable housing solutions to choose from. In short: millennials aren’t idiots. There are legitimate reasons they won’t all own homes by 25 (hats off to those who do), and those reasons have nothing to do with toast.
Financial expert Rob Carrick of The Globe and Mail probably summed it up best: ‘Some will see avocado toast as a metaphor for millennial self-indulgence. But the fascination with this storyline says a lot more about society’s trivial understanding of millennials than it does about these young adults themselves.’
It’s not about the toast – it never has been. And as a side note, avocados are delicious – totally undeserving of this slander, if you ask us.