I’m a Minimalist by Necessity
I was organizing my home the other day, and realized that I don’t have a lot of art on the walls. I have 1–2 pieces in some rooms, and none in others. And the art that I do have is tiny. No sprawling, huge canvases for me.
I’d love to have more decor, but art costs money. And while it looks pretty, it doesn’t quite provide the value that food or clothing can give me.
It goes without saying that not buying a lot of stuff can save you money. This becomes a priority when the price of housing and healthcare climb, but incomes seem to stagnate. Pretty soon, there becomes no money to spend.
With the seasons changing, penny-pinching has become harder for me. I’ve started pulling out last year’s jackets, wishing I could buy new ones, but knowing I will have to make do with what I have.
Last year I was able to afford relatively expensive holiday gifts. This year, with grad school costs mounting, I’ll have to pare down my list. I’m going to tell people to expect homemade baked goods, not gift cards.
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It’s not just my personal life that I’ve kept minimal, either. For months, I kept my office cubicle clean and free of a lot of personal items, because I was planning to quit. I ended up staying, but millennials like me switch jobs more frequently than past generations did.
For many people, switching jobs is the only way to get an increase in pay. In past generations, staying with an employer for decades meant being rewarded with bonuses, tuition reimbursement, and a pension. Now? My job gives you a certificate if you work there for 20 years. Not much of a motivator.
I’ve noticed that for people my age, career advancement, lifestyles, and flexibility seems to be a lot more important than income. Most of us don’t have much, so we’re trying to make the best of what we’ve got.
I still get frustrated when I see older generations complain about “young people” and how they’re lazy, wild, or poorly educated. But millennials just have a different outlook on our careers: we don’t want to work 60 hours a week, only to get laid off in an economic downturn and have nothing to show for it. And after all the stress we’re under, having some fun in a bar or at a concert is sometimes all we’ve got.
But one thing we’re not is poorly educated: about 36% of millennial Americans have a bachelor’s degree. That’s a lot higher than previous generations, and we have the staggering student loan debt to prove it. The average student graduates with about $37,000 of it.
That kind of debt makes purchases like a home, or lifestyle adjustments like having a baby, out of reach for a lot of people.
As for me? I’m just trying to get by. I’d love to buy more stuff, but the money just isn’t there. Decorating my home is going to have to wait.