I’ve always found it frustrating to be called ‘entitled’ simply because of the year I was born.
I imagine the feeling is the same as when Baby Boomers are told they had it easy with free education and cheap housing, as well as a generous tax system which has made life very comfortable for them, especially in retirement.
But for me and my ‘entitled’ peers, the recent announcements on tertiary education debt are very worrying. We simply can’t afford another hit to our incomes. Being told to ‘suck it up’ or ‘save harder’ ignores the core problem in favour of cheap critique.
The smashed avocado jokes were funny, and in many ways I agree with the underlying argument: good things require sacrifice.
But here’s the thing. I’m employed full-time and I’d love to be able to afford to go out weekly for a breakfast of smashed avocado on sourdough. But that’s a rare luxury.
This ‘millennial’ that manifests in the criticism from older Australians is a person I’ve never met. They’re indulgent, convenience-obsessed and apparently never struggle between pay cheques. Most of the people my age I know are scrimping and saving for life’s necessities like rent and food, and they’re now worrying about how they’ll find the many hundreds of dollars a year in additional student loans payments.
The government’s changes to HECS-HELP debt means I will be paying more than an extra month’s rent a year.
Yet those who call us ‘entitled Gen Y’ are under the mistaken impression that our degrees get us swift entry into our industries. I wish they could have been with me when I attended interview after interview alongside tens of other millennials in the same situation. I wish they could have stood alongside me in the Centrelink queue when the last of my savings had trickled down to what was nearly a two-digit figure.
Thankfully, I now work full-time at The New Daily and I can afford to pay my rent and buy my own food and living supplies. I save wherever I can — only eating out occasionally, buying in bulk, taking public transport at all hours — but as a 24-year-old taking the first steps in my career, there are times when payday can’t come quickly enough.
It simply isn’t the high-cost life of constant parties and weekly trendy restaurants that I so often hear attributed to me and my peers.
We all save where we can, but all it takes is a month of high bills or a broken computer or appliance and things can be very tight. Millennials don’t think we will never be able to afford property because we’re spending recklessly. We think we will never be able to afford it because we can barely pay our rent today.
I am grateful for everything I learnt at university, and I have no qualms about paying for the opportunities it has provided me. But the income threshold for payback is now going to be so low, and the rate so high, I honestly have no idea how I will be able to afford the cost of living. More than $700 a year is a lot of money when you’re this entitled.