From the Forums: Why Generation Y is Broke

credit card

In addition to everything green in the forums, we also discuss a lot of other topics ranging from politics to economics. One of our best forum contributors, ed, is wondering why America can't seem to get a grip on financial matters.

Is it because we're dumb, arrogant or simply uneducated?

As a group, we have failed to get a grip on fiscal reality:

The median credit-card debt of low- and middle-income people aged 18 to 34 is $8,200.

The average college debt for recent grads is more than $20,000 and rising.

People between the ages of 25 and 34 make up 22.7% of all U.S. bankruptcies (but just 14% of the population at large), according to a recent report.

I was born between the Depression and WWII. Everything was rationed, hand-me-down, clothes were washed with a scrub board and tub, the ice box contained real ice, horses and buggies were common sights on cobble stone streets, food was cooked on a kerosine stove, everyone had a "Victory garden," there was no TV or computers or . . . credit.

The current generation scares me. Anything and every thing they "want," they consider to be a "need." They spend "Cash," "Credit," "Loans," "Equity" and save Nothing!

They don't know "Hard Time's" . . . Yet!

Wow, well said Ed! Personally...It took me 20 years to finally get what my grandfather said to me when I was interviewing him for a school report when I was a teenager. We were discussing the Great Depression and at some point he said:

The problem with today's generation is that you want everything now and aren't willing to save for it. In my day, if we wanted a new radio we would save a year for it. Today you just use a credit card or waste your money instead of saving it.

This is coming from a man with zero debt, who owned his house and everything in it, 80 acres of land, his two cars, and along with my grandmother was able to survive on Social Security and the rent paid on his land because they had no debt.

They drove their cars until they died, and bought their next car used (never new) with cash. They grew most of their food and canned it for winter. They cut and burned wood for heat. They got their water from a well.

My generation, the one behind me, and the one behind that is all about instant gratification. We don't know anything about sacrifice and we learned this behavior from our parents, who lived through the 60's and came out to become the spenders of the 80's.

And when it comes to sacrifice, our government tells us to go shopping.

It seems like most of us care enough about the environment enough to get organized and make sacrifices, but when it comes to our money, most of us don't seem to be willing to pay the same attention to detail.

What good is being green if we aren't being "green?" It seems to me there is a direct link to being fiscally responsible and being ecologically responsible.

What do you think?