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Gen Y Comparison – Who Do You Look More Like?

12 January 2011 23 Comments

I’ve recently had a number of conversations about folks my age – the generation Y crowd.  The consensus view of many people older than me view my generation as sort of a joke.  They say we have a feeling of entitlement, an expectation that things should be given to us.  They say when we do something good, that it means we should be taken care of for years as a result rather than moving on to something else.  Generation Y is more interested in work/life balance rather than building a career.  They say we’re more interested in creative work than actual work.  It goes on and on.  I can’t say I disagree with them to a large degree.

Here are two fictional Gen-Y’ers that I’ve made up.  Take a look at each one and then decide who you look more like:

Person APerson B
Savings vs Debt$30,000 in savings$30,000 in credit card debt
How A Wednesday Night Is SpentWorking on a side business / income streamWatching Modern Family on TV
More Interested In…Finding a new investmentFinding out when the next iPad will come out
CarDrives a used, paid-for carDrives a new car with a $400 car payment
ReadingLots of books trying to learn new thingsMagazines on occasion
EmploymentViews current job as necessary until becoming entrepreneurWorks a job without any thought of the future
InvestingWants to find more ways to generate a return and invest moneyPassively has a 401k plan at best
SpendingStrongly considers options before spending a large amount of money, then pays cashBuys things because the store gives them no interest for 12 months

Three questions:

  1. Where will Person A be in ten years?  Where will Person B be in ten years?
  2. Are most Gen-Y people more like Person A or Person B?
  3. Are you more like Person A or Person B?


  • Kyle said:


  • Lovely Leverage said:

    1. Person A will become financially free, or close to it. Person B will be in a lot of debt.
    2. I believe Most Gen-Y are more like Person B.
    3. I am Person A.

    p.s. I'm 25 years old. Very interesting post.

  • Pete D said:

    Most of this country is like person B..not just Gen Y'rs.

  • Tom said:

    I think most, if not all, of the Boomer's criticisms of Gen Y are the same sorts of things that the Boomer's parents were saying about them. And I agree with Pete's statement most people are person B. Why should Gen Y be any different?

    I have one further observation, although I would say I am closer to A than B, A seems to be obsessed with nothing but success and money. I think looking back both A and B would have regrets. B will be in financial trouble later in life but A may look back realizing that he never really lived his life.

  • Mike said:

    Very wise words Tom. For my life it is about balance. Money is not the purpose of my life because it only has one end – consumption. Of course it is important to make wise decisions regarding money, but the end game shouldn't be to acquire more and more money. Money is a means to an end. The end for me is peace of mind and time spent with the people I love doing the things we love (one of which is watching Modern Family on Wednesday nights 😉 ) To each their own, but I work hard so that I can enjoy time doing the things I truly enjoy. This does not include having a lot of money.

    What's interesting is that once I started to care less about money it seems easier to pile up, because 'stuff' doesn't matter. Do I sound like a hippie yet? 🙂

  • Shannon said:

    Exactly. I think the problem with each of these examples is that they're both extremes. Person A doesn't seem to be living much of a life, always preparing for the future, and Person B isn't preparing for the future at all, which obviously presents its own problems.

    It's all about balance, and I think this example proves how out-of-balance Gen Y is. We go for the extremes in everything we do. I think that's the major problem with this generation. Just because you're planning for a fit financial future doesn't mean you can' "splurge" every so often on a night out with friends. If you living in one extreme or the other, you're not going to be living a whole life.

  • Anon said:

    I completely agree! Part of this is certainly influenced by me knowing a few people who are well off, work very hard but always put work ahead of their personal life and as a result are very unhappy. I think it is very important to save, invest and work hard, however having a life outside of work is important too. I think back to my grandpa who was very successful and still always made time for what was important. That is how I want to live my life, somewhere between A and B

  • 20smoney said:

    Balance… such a gen-Y concept 🙂

    I think that you could be Person A and still enjoy your life thoroughly and have a great lifestyle. Plus that lifestyle is sure going to be nice 10 years down the road when you have passive income coming out the wazoo.

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  • Ori said:

    In my last position, I worked with 8 Gen-Y individuals, half of whom were married. All but one had a car payment; only one was working on his next career on Wednesday night (but had 3 car payments); while only one was looking toward entrepreneurship, all were aggressively focused on career progression; Other than that, they were all type A. every one of them.

    *note – They're also all holding 4 year B.S. degrees in engineering

  • Tom said:

    Work-life balance is a Gen Y concept, not a Boomer concept because the Boomer's enjoyed legal protection that has since been eroded. As a Canadian IT worker I have seen lots of changes in the labor laws in the last decade. First the provincial government government extended the standard work week from 40 to 44 hours (meaning companies didn't have to pay over time until after 44 hours). More recently, the government exempted several industries (including IT) from paying overtime all together. Combine this with the rise of dual income households since the 1980s, you now have all adult members of a household work longer and longer hours.

  • Michael Cash said:

    Phew. Not to say too much about myself, but I'm a definite mix between A and B. I think that Person A is what people ideally strive to be, but Person B is what most of us naturally gravitate towards. As with myself, if you can find a good balance between work and pleasure, you'll live a far more fulfilling life.

  • Kelin said:

    I'm 23
    No savings really besides an automatic investment in a retirement pension out of my paycheck.
    I have less than 2000 in unsecured debt.
    Wednesday night I get home at about 11PM from work and drink a few beers, maybe work on some stuff around the house. I invested in and maintain an indoor hydroponic garden.
    I don't pay for cable, instead I have an antenna that suprisingly gets more than a few HD channels. Needless to say I watch very little TV.
    I have a $400/month car payment for a Nissan 350z which is not very practical at all and does not do good in the snow, but it's FUN.
    I don't have internet at home, but I regularly read up on over a dozen alternative news sources online at work.
    I work for a state agency and am protected by a union. I am very interested in finding alternative income sources and eventually being free from dependence on my paycheck.
    I don't trust the stock market and am not interested in investing in anything but real assets.
    I don't buy much more than I need, my mortage really takes a chunk out since I have no roommates and my live-in girlfriend is still trying to find work.

  • 20smoney said:

    Kelin, i'd say that you are doing alot of stuff right. That car payment hurts tho!

    I'd be curious to learn more about the hydroponic garden.

  • Brian Leigh said:

    Look into aquaponics which combines hydroponics (soiless gardening) with aquaculture (fish farming) in a recirculating system. There is less waste, everything grows quickly like hydroponics, and as an added bonus you can eat everything (including the fish!).

    Kelin, is getting a roommate an option? With a few extra hundred dollars a month you pay down your car faster, pay down your mortgage faster, take some business classes at the local college. Personally, I would look at investing in a rental property if the stocks turn you off.

  • Sam said:

    I don't see my situation represented in either of the profiles you've depicted. Clearly, person B is a financial wreck, running some very high risks with no contingency plan. Person A is no model of success either, though. Active investing is a terrible idea for most people. Beating the market is unlikely at best and incurs higher fees than investing passively. The default 401(k) portfolio is often just fine.

    My main concern with person A is the apparent obsession with side businesses. Entrepreneurialism sounds good as a financial plan, but its very risky and most new businesses fail. You should start your own business when you have a compelling plan, not because its a quick way to get rich. Often, focusing on your primary career is the best approach. One job where your work is valued is more rewarding financially and offers more security than any number of side hustles.

    So I don't invest in precious metals or tech ventures. And if I try to get ahead on Wednesday nights, I do it by working extra hours at the office. I see no reason why I should view my current job as transient; I take it very seriously (and the management takes me seriously as a result, as reflected in my bonus pay.)

  • Louise M said:

    I'm a person A but I do enjoy things like researching new toys and watching some tv shows. I don't read as much as I should but I do keep close tabs on my Google Reader with some fun and some educational feeds. I think most people fall in between and they exhibit characteristics of both A and B. I guess it comes down to your immediate reaction — if you found $20 what would you do? Person A might put it in their Emergency Fund or invest it, while Person B might buy something on sale or treat themselves to a more expensive lunch.

  • Patricia said:

    I think it would be simple to agree with those statements but the truth is every generation contains the responsible and the irresponsible. Although I’m not an economist I understand that people are likely to respond in greater numbers when they the value in something. When someone has an entrepreneur mindset it’s hard to break and vice versa. Btw you can be a little of both A B and be perfectly fine, finding balance in life is key, which I know you love. So before we take two extreme cases and say which one are you more, we should stress the incentives of being financially independent and why owning your own business gives you more time focus on the things that you love.

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  • drstevewalsh said:

    Lol, obviously I'm A.

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