I’d love to have my own home, but I just can’t give up my avocado toast. If that delightful green fruit hadn’t taken over my life, I might have more money for the important things. Alas, I suppose I’ll just have to give up the dream of homeownership in favor of an Instagrammable breakfast.
This is the world according to Australian property mogul Tim Gurner. During a recent interview with 60 Minutes, the multimillionaire slammed millennials in what may be one of the most ridiculous statements I’ve ever heard.
“When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each,” Gurner said. He went on to explain how wasteful spending is preventing Generation Y from becoming homeowners. “We’re at a point now where the expectations of younger people are very, very high. They want to eat out every day; they want travel to Europe every year. The people that own homes today worked very, very hard for it,” he said, adding further that they “saved every dollar, did everything they could to get up the property investment ladder.”
If this weren’t absurd enough, Gurner continued, implying millennials aren’t smart enough to separate fantasy from reality. "This generation is watching the Kardashians and thinking that's normal — thinking owning a Bentley is normal." Of course, this should be taken with a grain of salt as it’s coming from a man whose own Instagram account is chock full of near-nude models, helicopters, yachts, and champagne toasts.
Why Aren’t Millennials Buying Homes
We’ll start with the obvious: Generation Y has been saddled with an insane amount of student loan debt. According to Earnest, the average annual increase of tuition and fees for a public four-year university was 3.4 percent between 2005 and 2016 — higher than the rate of inflation. This happened while average median family income, declined 0.2 percent each year between 2005 and 2014. The average 2016 graduate had $37,172 in student loan debt, up 6 percent from the year before.
Furthermore, millennials are up against one of the toughest markets in decades. Although Generation Y is now the largest group of homebuyers, they’re dealing with stagnating wages and skyrocketing prices. A study from Nerd Wallet found that only 32 percent of homeowners were first-time buyers in 2016 — the lowest point since 1987.
Millennials Aren’t Financially Illiterate
Despite what the media may have you believe, Generation Y isn’t as impulsive with their money as you might think. According to a Facebook report, 86 percent of millennials are saving money each month. Furthermore, we’re not financially illiterate — quite the opposite, actually.
A recent survey by LendingTree found that millennials were far more likely than previous generations to have received financial training. Approximately 21 percent of millennials learned about personal finance in school, whereas only 11 percent of Generation X and 9 percent of baby boomers did the same. Family has also played an important role in financial education, with if only 30 percent of millennials having learned how to manage money from their parents, compared to 19 percent of Gen X and 10 percent of boomers.
When it comes down to it, it’s not extravagant meals, European vacations, or $4 lattes that are preventing us from settling down; it’s the pure greed of major organizations and a detrimental economy that have us stuck in a rut. I suggest Mr. Gurner do a little more research before his next interview. It’s bound to serve him well.
About the Author: Liz Greene is a makeup loving, dog hugging, anxiety-ridden realist from the gorgeous City of Trees, Boise, Idaho. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene or catch her latest misadventures on her blog, Instant Lo.