In agrarian times, people were more concerned about crops than money. Then again, crops were money. No wheat, no eat. Contrary to the popular narrative, there has always been credit. People have always needed to borrow goods or services against the promise of future payment with interest.
Generation Xers share many of the same concerns as the agrarian. But along the way, we have developed a few concerns our forefathers and mothers didn’t have. The U.S. is a society of plenty. But it is burdened with epidemic levels of financial stress.
Every generation is convinced that people from the previous generation could not possibly understand what they are going through. And to some degree, they are right. Times, technologies, and social policies change. And personal finance is a different proposition for each passing generation. These are some of the concerns of the current generation of under-forty-somethings:
One of the concerns shared by the younger generation is not just about making enough money, but about the system of money itself. In part, this generation is suffering from tracking fatigue. Gold was virtually untraceable. Then we moved to paper with serial numbers, checks, and now electronic transactions.
So reliant are we on electronic transactions that we don’t even carry money anymore, certainly not any money that is completely under our control. Cryptocurrency is a form of money that has the convenience of electronic transactions, but the privacy and control of gold.
Genesis Mining is just one of the many companies that provide the modern-day experience of mining it like gold, but without the picks and shovels. The method of how bitcoin is made is less important than what it enables. Besides enabling anonymous transactions all over the world, it offers a 0-exchange rate currency. One bitcoin is worth the same regardless of where it is mined and where it is spent.
Today, if you are even suspected of a crime, you can be traced by your money, it can be frozen by governments, and rendered indefinitely unavailable. And it is just one more way in which you don’t have the control over your life that you thought you did.
In the U.S., Social Security is a federal program that provides a financial safety net for seniors. It is based on the number of years one works, and the amount of money put into the system.
But it is not a one-to-one program. It pays out more than we put into it. And there lies the rub. At the beginning of the program, there were very few beneficiaries, and many workers contributing to the fund. Today, there are almost as many beneficiaries as there are contributors. We are below three workers to one beneficiary. It need not slip much further before the system is completely unsustainable.
People under forty have a right to wonder if social security will be there for them. Eventually, it won’t be, at least on the track it’s on now. And politicians do not have the will to address the issues before it completely crumbles. First, their families will be taken care of for life. Second, voters tend to be older. Messing with social security is political suicide.
Not everyone has the option of a side-hustle. But it is a very interesting idea nonetheless. It is just one of the many ways younger people are trying to manage the reality of pervasive debt.
That debt begins the moment we decide to go to college. $160,000 later, you will need to buy a house. That $200,000 mortgage plus a $25,000 car gets you ready for your $20,000 wedding.
In the 1950s, a person could buy a home and start a family without a college education as a working-class citizen. People from that era didn’t need to incur so much debt to live the American dream. That same dream requires us to be mortgaged to our eyeballs.
Money will always be a tool of governments. Safety nets from the 1930s will not last forever. And debt is a constant. The old dream is dead. It is time for new dreams that are bigger than America. It’s time we dream the dreams that encompass the world, and a brighter future for all.