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Generation Next Faces More Stress, More Costs of Education and Living

By Erik Folgate

There have been numerous newspaper and magazine articles lately about Generation Next and the things they face and will face as they enter college and the working environment.  I am intrigued by this generation because I am a part of the last half of it.  We are deemed as the technology generation, the ipod generation, the MTV generation, and there are many other names floating out there.  While this generation may be known for its technological prowess, it is undeniable that young people between the ages of 18 - 30 are hard working, motivated, and dedicated to replacing our baby-boomer parents in the working world.  However, Generation Next faces many challenges in the years to come with the cost of education rising, more pressure to succeed and follow in the footsteps of their over-achieving parents, and trying to keep up with the rising costs of living. 

I live in Gainesville, Florida and I am recently removed from the college life at the University of Florida.  Never have I seen before more stressed out students in my life.  The pressure to succeed and do well on standardized tests to be accepted into professional and graduate schools is overwhelming.  It is safe to say that a high school graduate with a 3.5 GPA and a 1250 on their SAT would have a hard time getting accepted to the University of Florida and other prominent state schools in the United States.  There is an increasing pressure for young people to perform well NOW.  Generation Next has a strong conviction to live up to their parent’s expectations.  They are more concerned with their image when it comes to picking a career.  There is a rapid decline in blue-collar type jobs, because we have it lodged into our heads that being a welder, electrician, or plumber is not a reputable career when many of these types of careers yield high income, high time flexibility, and much less schooling. 

The cost of higher education is rapidly rising, and not only is it expensive to pay for school, but it is even more expensive to finance higher learning than in past years.  The student loan interest rate hit about 6.75% in recent months, which is the highest it has been in about 7 or 8 years.  Not only is tuition getting more expensive, but the cost for textbooks and school materials is ludicrous.  I think it is a crime as to what the textbook industry charges for textbooks.  There needs to be something done to lower to cost for college textbooks, and I have been trying to brainstorm for a solution to the madness.  I recently read an article in the New York Times about the rising cost just to send off a college students.  You can drop anywhere from $2,000 – $5,000 per kid to pay for laptops, cell phones, dorm furniture/accessories, and other items to send a kid off for their first time on their own. 

Not only do young people have a lot of stress to succeed and large debt bills from college, they face an ever increasing cost of living once they get ouf of college with a lagging increase in job salaries.  The recent housing boom has made it unattainable for most young people to own a home in many areas of the country.  The average college student will come out making about $30,000 in their first job on average, and the average annual pay increase is 3.7% when inflation usually averages 3% per year.  Let’s be honest, it’s like $5.00 just to get a meal at Mcdonald’s nowadays.  Job salaries are not keeping up with the cost for eating, shelter, and transportation. 

So what is the point of all of this?  Readers may think that I am just whining about life, and our generation has the same challenges that others have faced in the past.  It may be true, but this is a generation that can and will make big things happen in this world.  More young entrepreeneurs are sprouting up each and every day, and more advances in medicine, science, and psychology are breaking through each day.  The point of this post is to make this generation aware that you need to make sure that you do not become the most financially disastrous generation to come.  Credit cards are issued by the billions each year.  More companies are finding creative ways to make you spend money.  Technology is expensive, and we crave and love it.  Think of it, could you do without high-speed internet?  If you own an HDTV, could you pass on subscribing to digital cable?  Do you have a powerful computer?  Do you own an ipod?  Exactly, most of us do, because we love the techy gadgets.  Educate yourself and your spouse about sound financial principles that your grandparents followed.  Don’t listen to the trendy financial advisors whom want to find the most creative way for you to leverage your money and assets.  Becoming wealthy is simple.  There is no magic formula.  Work hard, save a ton of money, and don’t live beyond your means.  You’ll find yourself having a great time in your 50′s and 60′s if you practice the principles that your grandparents followed. 

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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