This article is written by a 27 year old female (borderline Generation X / Y) called Rachel. Rachel spent six years at university, has no outstanding debts with the exception of government student loans. Rachel also has no pension plan, no life insurance, savings or property investment. Despite reports of average starting salaries for graduates beginning at ?18,000, some even at ?25,000, Rachel started on ?14,000 three years ago, despite gaining a First Class Honours and offering extensive work experience.
This isn't therapy through Microsoft Word, but it's not uncommon to read reports of "apathetic youth" in the media. For driven young graduates who didn't quite land where they expected ? it is a little frustrating to be branded "ignorant", when it is already difficult working off university debts and fighting your way onto the career ladder in a very competitive market.
What is the point of having independence in old age, if you cannot experience it in youth? That is not to say young people should be encouraged or supported in their debateable extravagance, only that we remain unconvinced by old age. We may have seen our parents lose money in shares or private pension funds, or get divorced and lose money through property. We may be worried about global warming and in an age of suicide bombers, we may not even be confident about how much control we have on our lives anyway. With so much choice on what we can do, but so few people empowering us with confidence, we may well rebel for years to come ? chopping and changing until we find something that fits or until we get tired.
It's too easy to brand young people as apathetic just because they haven't got pensions or life insurance. Smug thirty-somethings who received full grants, graduated in a less competitive market and bought property when the house market was low are quite happy to "tut tut" at their twenty-something shadows in their lack of financially savvy experience, but today's twenty somethings are being squeezed from all angles:
* Student loans replace university grants
* Commercialisation of university life, with banks and credit card companies actively courting student customers
* High property prices
* Very competitive job market
What we need are comprehensive financial research sites that provide information which directly relates to our circumstances. Websites such as moneynet ( http://www.moneynet.co.uk ) with their product price comparisons and finance guides (especially the student finance guide) ?do go most of the way, but we want something that also takes into account our aspirations, situations and will go the distance. We're not adverse to pensions, life insurance and mortgages, but if we're going to splash out lots of dough, it has to be a reasonably reliable investment and we remain unconvinced from we've seen so far in provocative, panic-stirring media.
It's true that products such as life insurance would at least protect our families from our debts and that's important, but with regard to pension, who's to say that in our old age, we may not revert back to student lifestyles ? living in communities and on budgets.
Google and the search command "define: generation X" or define: generation y" for age reference
http://www.abi.org.uk/Display/File/Child/237/June_2004.pdf (The source of inspiration for this article!)
As well as the information in the article, Rachel writes for the personal finance blog Cashzilla. Please feel welcome to comment on any of the article, Cashzilla may bite, but Rachel doesn't!