Editor's note: We challenged all of our finalists to write a blog post. "From your own experience, what are the top 3 financial issues facing your generation?"
Let’s be honest with ourselves Generation Y, it’s crunch-time. We have an inherent responsibility to ourselves and the world as we begin to assume command. Admit it, how many times have you tossed and turned at night, waking up in a cold sweat only to realize that fiscal responsibility is very real and quickly creeping up behind us? Entering an economy currently licking its wounds post-recession can seem overwhelming, even for a generation with the largest advancements of technology and media at our fingertips. It is unfortunate to see even with such potential and power many do not understand the major financial concerns that plague our age group.
For those of you with the privilege of pursuing a higher education at a collegiate level, the double-edged sword of student loans can whittle down any student’s sanity. Four years watching tuition, meal plans, book vouchers, housing fees, graduation fees, breathing fees, thinking fees all add up and come crashing down once that diploma is placed into your innocent hands. The immediate burden of paying back these seemingly never-ending charges and costs makes drowning in quicksand sound enjoyable.
Even those individuals in our generation without a college education struggle to ever reach financial stability. Sure, the ominously looming student loan may never run this individual’s financial ship aground. However, they still battle with low income job opportunities. Entry level positions leave us in the lowest level of revenue; lower managerial professions are anything but professional. Obtaining a degree can leave one bankrupt, the absence of which can lead individuals to a minimum wage deemed unlivable in these current economic times. With no way out, many individuals turn desperately to credit cards to delay their financial shortcomings.
Advertisements in television and the media know our intimate connection to technology and our delight in the “convenient.” As novices to carrying the weight of financial responsibility, our age group becomes prime targets for the media to corrupt, consume, and control our bank accounts, and consequently, our futures. Ads alluringly offer magical plastic cards as colorful gambits that can alleviate (temporarily) the agony of bearing such financial afflictions. No way out? No Problem! Simply enter all of your most personal information and allow us access to your financial records and we can offer instant gratification in the form of a handy plastic “Get out of Jail Free” card. We are quickly shaken to our core as we are bombarded by hidden fees, overdraft charges, or life-threatening problems like identity theft. Frantically we sign up for more credit cards; this is a sorry excuse to ignorantly postpone previously accumulated debt until we can finish our time machines, return to the past, and punch ourselves in the face for ever considering a credit card in the first place. The little money we do have suddenly falls into perpetual circulation as we try to come out even, realizing that retrospectively these problems could have been avoided, but by now it’s far too late.
So Generation Y, I implore you to band together as brothers and sisters in arms against the horrors of debt and financial ruin. Now more than ever we are seen as sitting ducks on the battlefield of higher finance and investing. Stay alert and understand the deceivingly enticing pressures that we will face as we enter the real world. Together let’s do the research necessary to contribute to the effort. Through the insight and guidance of our friends and trusted financial institutions we can grow and develop, not just our characters but our wallets as well.