It really bothers me that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers simply say, “Well, just stop buying that fancy coffee!” when I mention financial struggles. Here’s why: I like coffee and hate any judgement of my spending choices. Mentioning financial hardship isn’t an invitation for advice, just an FYI, Mom.
I started thinking about this absurd advice the other day while I sipped a decaf java chip frappuccino. What should have been a reward for hitting the gym turned into an emotional roller coaster. I felt excited, then guilty. I felt angry for feeling guilty because this little pick-me-up was a reward for caring for my body.
Seriously, I shouldn’t feel this way just for spending $4.
But older generations know best, right? If I spend $4 on coffee once per week, that’s a little over $200 by the end of the year. Spending $200 a year on coffee sounds absolutely ridiculous when you’re living with your in-laws.
As I continued thinking, I started wondering why all my friends spend this much on coffee. Even my friends who were in grad school or working unpaid internships loved to stop at Starbucks.
How do we all afford it, if money is always so tight?
Suddenly, the stupidly obvious answer hit me: It’s easier to buy a $4 coffee than the major needs you can’t possibly afford.
The truth is, prices for basic needs like housing, transportation, and healthcare increased exponentially over the past few decades, even after considering inflation. These necessities have become luxury items to many Millennials and Gen Zers.
And the second-rate substitutes only drain our resources further. Renting costs significantly more than owning a home long-term. Savings for a new car end up going towards patchwork repairs for the beater vehicle. Minimal health insurance doesn’t cover well visits, meaning more sick days and costly ER visits.
So we live in crappy apartments (or with our endlessly gracious in-laws), drive money-pit cars, and stay sick in the name of saving money. These things don’t just save $200, they save enough to live a life that’s at least a little bit shy of austere.
So, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, excuse us for buying nice shampoo and occasional nights out. Drinking less coffee won’t help us save nearly enough to buy the things that older generations took for granted at our age. Thank you, next.
Previously published on Megan Writes Everything