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Interesting Article about Generation X in the Workplace

November 29th, 2013 at 04:01 pm

Just read this on the bbc website:
http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20130710-the-forgotten-generation

As a member of Generation X (although not sure I'd identify myself this way, I know that I'm not a baby boomer - I was born in 1966), I found it relevant. I am one of those people who worked in smaller firms, and then opted out to form my own firm (it's a corporation, but I'm the only employee).

I lost a ton of wealth during the last recession (watched the value of our houses plummet and our IRAs lost about 30% of their value). And my salary has just never gone very high (I've topped out at about $45k and so has my husband). It makes it hard to save, but we've done the best we could and been frugal.

The label that most consistently gets applied to me is not "slacker" (no one mistakes me for a slacker!) but "you're still young; you have a lot of time to make money." I am making far less than most of my clients (firefighters, city or county employees) and they kid me on the sly about making a ton of money. And 47 isn't that young when you have to think about retirement. (There may be some gender bias here, or maybe a misunderstanding of how my fee is divided up between salary, overhead and paying my engineering consultants who normally get a third or more).

Anyway the article was interesting to me; what do think about it? Are you in one of those groups: boomer or gen x or a millenial?

6 Responses to “Interesting Article about Generation X in the Workplace”

  1. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    I agree 47 is not so young when it comes to preparing for retirement. But you might not be giving yourself as much credit as you deserve in the income category. Your household income is well above not only the median but the mean household income for the US. The partnerships we make with our mates are certainly a part of our economic prospects. If it were not, I would be floundering in the deep end. =Embarrassment

  2. ThriftoRama Says:

    I'm gen X, and it's in many ways a harder and more complicated world than for our parents. They often don't understand why we feel strapped. Well, jobs don't pay that well, we have to save for far more on our own than they did (my mom has pension, SS etc., and never saved for college for us. Health insurance was much less expensive and jobs more secure in her working life).

    Between saving for the kids' college, paying taxes and insurance, and just overall living, there isn't much left! And, never mind that every penny we've saved in our working life has been wiped out 1. by the dot com boom 2. the great recession, and voila. It makes you a bit skeptical and cautious.

    I am self-employed as well, and I feel lucky to be. The real economy is seeing much more of that. There just aren't full-time living wage paying jobs for everyone. Most of us are piecing it together as we go.

  3. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    Those are excellent points about how personal finances have changed, Thrifto. Huge differences, I'd say.

  4. SavingBucks Says:

    I am a late bloomer (hah --- actually true in more ways than one!) and was fortunate to stumble into a job with a local government 32 years ago. If I had gone into the private sector for an employer I would be making more money. Self-employed -- probably not for the reasons you described. I went through a nasty divorce in the early 90's and financially it took a few years to recover. DH is also a late bloomer who works in the transportation/shipping industry in the private sector. We lived extremely frugally for the first ten years of our marriage but were able to pay off the mortgage. Co-workers thought we were nuts because we were "depriving" ourselves by not going out, etc. We had the last laugh. Mindset and goal setting makes a difference. I have a 25 year old DS who is again a full time student after working and "goofing" for a few years. He may be classified as a millennial (I think). He is on financial aid and has no car (in Los Angeles of all places). He is starting to think about goals in life and what he needs to do to achieve them. I am hoping his days of overdrawing his account to buy popcorn at the movies ($25 overdraft fee for $4 popcorn!) are over.

  5. Buendia Says:

    Your coworker is smart, though - 25 is still young to start thinking about goals and financial stability. You could be a great mentor for him! I was saving for retirement (and watched all of that savings disappear with high fees that I didn't understand) and had roommates to help with the mortgage (even paid little bits off early) but I wasn't very financially savvy, and I really could have used a mentor. My daughter will understand much more than I did, because we are (and will continue) to discuss finances at whatever level she's at. But when I was young, my dad discussed these things with my brother, not his daughters. And looking back, his philosophy wasn't that sound. He is lucky to have been a high earner (attorney) but my parents still have a mortgage! (They are 74 and 80).

  6. baselle Says:

    I got a lot out of the article. I'm a boomer, but very late about 2 years from the end. (1962 vs 1964 cutoff). In several ways, I feel for the gen xers because I'm not far from it. I came out of college in 1984 just 1 year off the 1983 recession, so I had it a hair easier. A hair easier, but I had my struggles. I have a mighty sharp tongue when someone who had a clear advantage pretends (or ignores) that what they have is a result of their hard work.

    I don't know whether this will make you feel better or worse. Personally, I think that the 50s - early 70s were freakishly good economic times for the United States, while mixed economic times like these are more the norm. Independence is a celebrated American trait, not a weird generational tic.

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