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Millennial Life: That and a Venti Will Not Buy Your Status in the World

Cassie McClure on

Because my car is precious, it only takes the best gas. If it had its druthers, it would like to make the fill-up organic with a side of acai, but it knows that it lives in my stable, and I'm itching to convert from a sporty single-person sedan to a trusty Mom wagon, so it keeps the peace. However, after I finish pumping, I'll mutter to my kids about the 60 bucks I just dropped for a full tank and recently felt my ye olde oats when I told them, "When I started driving at 15, gas was hovering around a dollar a gallon."

It didn't impress them in any way, but it did make me think of my dad's phrase when he'd hear something from me that he thought was pointless. "That and a buck 50 will get you a cup of coffee," he would say. The original was that and a nickel. He accounted for inflation.

But the inflation of the price of a coffee seems to have gone faster in my lifetime, especially since we are now all in line for that $8 venti mocha with five pumps of the monk-grown vanilla bean syrup.

A fun article from Bloomberg was the comparison of baby boomers at 40 to millennials at 40 -- the olds of our generation that Twitter rumination coined as the "geriatric millennials." Now, I still have a couple of years before I'll have to mash all my social media into a blend before I consume it, but it is interesting to hear that we are only 80% as wealthy as our parents were at our age.

That feels rich, on a few levels. But especially after this line: "Millennials are paying 50% more for homes now than Boomers were in 1989." Well, maybe, if we find homes and someone from another area -- or a corporation -- doesn't offer $20k in cash over the asking on the first day the property hits the market.

It's true though, when I look back, I am at the age now that my parents were when they decided to buy their very first new car. They even made it a vacation on just my dad's salary, flying to Sweden and watching their car actually roll off the production line. Did I hope that I might get to do that someday? Maybe.

 

However, it's the unforeseen that keeps dampening the millennials' dreams. Beyond the recession, the pandemic and the rapid return to '90s fashion, I don't think anyone anticipated a chip shortage for cars. For me, a new car might not be in stock for reasons outside my control. I might have to scout a five-year-old minivan with 120k miles that smells of cheese instead of the status-signaling smell of off-gassing chemicals.

The conversations I see lean more toward the idea of what makes wealth -- beyond the financial. Sure, I could save and invest the $8 I spend on that venti pumpkin spice, but what if I'm sipping it slowly with friends at a park? What if I'm downing it while catching up on trash novels in the school pickup line? Is that $8 going to build wealth that's foundational to a better future? Maybe not; but showing up to enjoy a moment in time or investing in my mental health may offer different dividends.

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Cassie McClure is a writer, millennial, and unapologetic fan of the Oxford comma. She can be contacted at cassie@mcclurepublications.com. To find out more about Cassie McClure and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate Inc.
 

 

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