Like many of my fellow Canadians, I watched the CBC documentary Generation Boomerang on whichever night it aired last week. I think it was Thursday, and we both know I’m too lazy to verify this information. So let’s go with Thursday. For those of you who are either American or have lives, let me give you the skinny. The show profiled several Canadian 20 somethings who either decided to move back in with their parents after graduating college, or just decided not to leave in the first place. Some of these young adults were gainfully employed, they were just using the move home as a stepping stone to distant goals such as grad school or home ownership. Others were unemployed, which clearly means there’s something wrong with them. They probably all smell funny. You’ve probably heard of this happening, it’s kind of a big deal these days.
Considering the title of the post, you can probably figure out what direction I’m going to go with this one. Economic times are bad, even the least bright of you have figured that out. For some reason, young people keep going to college and keep getting (pretty much) useless degrees in things like philosophy and history, thereby reducing their chances of finding gainful employment not serving coffee. Even the ones that take more useful degrees are even having trouble finding jobs, since many fields have a surplus of workers. I get it, it kind of sucks to be a young person these days.
The big issue here is as follows: how is coming of age during tough economic times going to affect young people? If what I’ve been seeing lately is any indication, there are a bunch of young adults that are pretty close to wetting their pants. They’re scared of the stock market. Job security is their number 1 concern, a sharp reversal from just a few years ago, meaning the bluest of blue chip companies are swamped with applications. Even though the financial markets have recovered from their 2008-09 crap kicking, young people are flocking to gold and real estate (at least in Canada) because those investments are perceived as safer than a well diversified portfolio of the biggest companies in the world.
This brings me to Shannyn’s comment on my post a little over a week ago about the limits of frugality. Remember that post? It’s where I begged you to take initiative and work on earning more income, preferably passively, rather than depending on frugality to get you there. Anyway, take it away Shannyn:
Risk is a great tactic to build wealth (or to not make any income 2 months after you take one as I’m finding out, hahah) but it’s really not for everyone, unless, they first get from an equitable starting point and have the drive to learn and be honest with themselves about dumb habits that hold them back.
Now, I don’t want to pick on Shannyn, except for the weird ass spelling of her name. She’s super nice, tolerates me on Twitter, and is definitely attractive enough to be out of my league. (Here’s hoping for a pity… something) Her blog doesn’t suck, you should go read it.
Now I’m going to rip her comment to shreds.
No, I’m not. I feature it because it so perfectly personifies the attitude of young people who have come to age during a time of economic uncertainty. They’re scared, possibly because if you believed the news media at the time, the world was about to come to an end. It’s tough enough being a young adult coming to grips with the fact the real world isn’t quite what you anticipated, especially during tough economic times. I understand the attitude, and I get the aversion to risk.
Anyone who’s younger than me, gather round, because this is the good part. Go ahead, call all your friends over. It’s okay, I’ll wait. Everyone’s here? Good. My years of wisdom are about to be bestowed upon you. Are you ready? I’m gonna bold it, that’s how important this advice is.
Stop being a f#%*ing pussy. Just stop it.
Risk is made for young people. If you’re 22 and you lose a couple thousand bucks because of a risky investment gone wrong, you have 50 YEARS to make that money back. You don’t have kids to feed, you will be able to handle it. I know compounding is all good and everything, but sometimes you gotta learn lessons the hard way. If you have a roommate from hell, who takes you for some cash, just chalk that up to good experience. How much fun is life if you just play it safe all the time?
I know a guy. He’s 28, gainfully employed, generally pretty pleasant, and he still lives at home. His reason? He can’t afford to move out. I just about strangled him when he told me that. YOU’RE 28 MAN! GROW A SET AND MOVE AWAY FROM MOMMY!
Yes, I realize this is somewhat hypocritical advice coming from the guy who lived at home until he was 25. If you’re like me and are using the opportunity to pay next to nothing in rent as means to a greater goal, I applaud your forward thinking. If you’re just doing it because the real world scares you and you’d rather have your mommy make your dinner? Then you need to learn to take a risk or two.
As mentioned, risk isn’t just purely financial. Risk can mean anything from moving to a new place to starting up a sideline hustle. Taking a risk can lead to a great reward, or it can lead to some sort of suffering. Young people, please don’t be scared of it. This is the time of your life where a well played risk can work in spades. Or, if it doesn’t work out, you’ve got all sorts of time to get back on track. Follow your dreams. Youth is no time for holding back.