What Generation Took The Worst Of The Great Recession?

I was surprised the other day when my wife announced that she was a Millennial.  I originally disputed her on this, but then I looked it up and it turns out that she is right.  My error came in the fact that I had thought she was part of Generation Y, but I never got the memo that this really doesn’t exist anymore.  Apparently, they’re now part of the Millennials.

The Active Generations In the Workforce

The first thing to do is identify the different generations.  Surely, we’ve all heard about them by now but so we’re all on the same page, and for purposes of my discussion, I’m using the following:

  • Baby Boomers – Born between 1946 and 1964, so anybody between the ages of 52 and 70.Should I stay or should I go?
  • Generation X – Born between 1964 and 1982, so anybody between the ages of 34 and 52
  • Millennials – Born between 1982 and TBD – so anybody younger than 34 but probably not older than 18

Now, a couple of notes.  In relation to the Millennials, the end date is probably still up in the air.  If history holds true where the generational gaps are roughly 18-20 years, then it will probably end up around 2000 before they cut off, but that’ll probably take a few years to shake out.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are of course people older than Baby Boomers, but quite honestly, you don’t hear much about them and they have largely (but not completely) exited the workforce.  Of course that generation is called The Silent Generation, so perhaps they’re just living up to their name. *LOL*

The Perception Between Generations

As I was doing my digging, I started reading through various articles, blog posts, and commentaries that have outlined the differences between the generations.  There are some common themes that I’m sure many are familiar with:

  • People in younger generations tend to blame those in the older generations for the problems of the world
  • People in the older generations often see those in the younger generations as entitled and lazy

I’ve always actually found these generalizations more humorous than anything else, because I’m going to bet that when the Boomers were the younger generation, the older generations at the time probably thought many of the same things, and conversely, I’ll bet that, as an example, when the Great Depression hit, there was plenty of blame assigned to the generation that was running the show by those younger.

In other words, the generational gap is not anything new.  It’s just the way of the world.

So What About The Recession?

It got me thinking that the Great Recession is a few years in our rear view mirror (though you can certainly feel a lot of residual impact), and I started thinking about who might argue that they took it worse.  I decided to jot down a few different impacts that we saw out of the recession, and came up with likely arguments that each group might use to show how they had it worse.

The Housing Market Collapse

  • Baby Boomers –  While many Boomers had built a lot of equity in their homes, as a group they had the biggest and most expensive homes, so the total amount of value lost when the bubble crashed was probably greater than with the other generations.
  • Generation X – Many had come to the age where home ownership was new and had grown quite a bit in the recent year.  They had less equity in their homes when the bubble burst, and were therefore the group most likely to go underwater or lose their homes.
  • Millennials – As a whole, the group here was not largely invested in home ownership, so while the losses weren’t as substantial as with other groups, it probably scared many away from considering home ownership, and other factors that I’ll get into later have made it increasingly difficult to consider home ownership at ages where previous generations entered the market.

Stock Market Declines

  • Baby Boomers – Many Boomer’s were at or near retirement age, and while the safe strategy is to move further away from risky investments as you get close, the healthy markets had probably made it tempting to stay more invested.  Losses were in greater volume, and had a greater impact due to the fact that retirement savings were to be needed sooner.
  • Generation X – Many in this generation who had started saving for retirement saw a lot of the savings wiped out at a time where the savings should be counted on to build a foundation for further growth.  Many Gen X’ers had to essentially start over and found themselves behind the curve that they were once in front of.  In addition, Gen X is the first generation where the shift away from a defined pension plan can’t be counted on.
  • Millennials – While savings weren’t as high, what little the Millennials had built was largely wiped out, and due to staggering student loan debt, many have not even been able to save for retirement, so taking advantage of the stock market recovery has not involved them at all (to some degree, Gen X is impacted by this, but on a more muted level)

Job Losses and Stagnant Wage Growth

  • Baby Boomers – Those Boomers who were still working and did not make it through likely found it harder to find jobs, as senior level positions were often eliminated and not replaced.  Even if Boomers were willing to take a step backward into a more lower paying job, they were often overlooked because employers did not see them as staying long, so jobs largely dried up for this demographic.
  • Generation X – The Boomers that did keep their jobs basically made sure to stay in them.  That, coupled with the lack of new job creation, found many Gen X’ers stuck when they otherwise would have continued up the ladder.  This produced stagnant wages for people in their 30s and 40s, which is a time when expectations are that income grows significantly.  Even once wages started rising again, there was no catching up, so years of stagnant wages continue to impact earnings.
  • Millennials – Job losses meant that new jobs weren’t being created, so new graduates who would normally enter the workforce found themselves unable to do so.   Even when employers started hiring again, they were able to be more selective, and looked for people that already have experience.  This makes finding the ‘first job’ that everybody needs a huge obstacle, even today.

So Who Took It Worst?

When you look at the areas above, it kind of boils down to three distinct themes between the generations:

  • Baby Boomers lost a lot of what they already had
  • Generation X lost a lot of what they were building toward
  • Millennials lost the opportunity to get started

Honestly, I think that each generation will lean toward saying that they took it worst, but that goes back to the whole generational gap premise that I noted above that creates a natural and expected bias.  So, since I’m squarely in the middle of Generation X, I would likely put my vote in that group, though when I remove my bias I can see the case that each would make, which I’m sure is much more complex than I laid out above.

Readers, now that the Great Recession is a few years in the rear view mirror, what generation do you think suffered the most negative effects?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

9 Random Things On My Mind Or Going On – What’s New With You?

It’s a good thing that the days get longer in summer because you need every minute of light and then some.  It’s funny because I have found my ‘falling asleep before bedtime’ spot, which happens to be on one of the couches in the living room.  If you see me heading to that couch anytime in the evening, it’s a sure thing that I’m going to fall asleep.

Here are some things going on or just on my mind that I wanted to share.  Let me know what you think and what’s going on with you.

  1. The mad rush of special events is coming to a close – Starting with Mother’s Day, it’s one opportunity to celebrate after another, which doesn’t end until Father’s Day (which is often delayed from a celebration standpoint).  In between those two we have my wife’s birthday and both kid’s birthday, plus we also have a lot going on with the end of the school years, dance recitals, and everything else.  Don’t get me wrong, we love celebrating every single milestone, but when they come so fast and furious all at once, we have to remind
    ourselves to stop and take a breath so that we can really enjoy and make the most out of each special event.
  2. Orlando – What to say about the tragedy in Orlando that hasn’t already been said?  I think one thing that many people need to realize is that there’s not one thing to blame that we can grasp and use as a fix.  It’s not just an ISIS thing.  It’s not just a guns thing.  It’s not just a mental health thing.  Shutting down the borders or taking away the guns or re-opening the institutions are not individual solutions.  In our complex world, there are so many variables with seemingly new ones popping up all the time.  And, what’s scary is that the ever growing polarization is not going to get us closer to figuring out how to stop these events from happening.  I’m dreading the day when we have to try to explain this to our kids.  So far we’ve been able to keep them insulated, but at 7 and 5, we’re running on borrowed time.  This thought gives me sadness on so many levels.
  3. The Costco credit card switch is almost upon us – I have never seen so much publicity over a credit card, but the days are nearly here.  We’re pretty much prepared.  I think there are just a couple of small automated payments that my wife needs to redirect, and I’m also thinking of creating a laminated cheat sheet that we can carry in our wallets to direct us on what card we should use to maximize our rewards.  We have a few different cash back cards, now it’s just a matter of maximizing our value!
  4. A possible culprit in my battle against eczema – The other day I went to take a load of clothes out of the washer.  All would have been well except it never got ran.  When I reached in for the clothes my hands came in contact with Oxi Clean, which we use as a supplement for our clothes.  It wasn’t even five seconds in and I felt the familiar burn.  I’m thinking that maybe this is some pretty harsh stuff, and maybe even coming into contacts with clothes, sheets, and towels that have been washed in it have been aggravating my skin.  Perhaps it’s time for a ban?
  5. Amazon price matching policy – Here’s a tip, if you want Amazon to adjust a price, don’t use their online chat capability.  Technically, Amazon does not have to match a deal if you find a better price after you make a purchase, but they often will as a courtesy.  No such luck when I found an item, on their own site, $20 cheaper less than a week after I made the purchase.  I had two online agents refuse to help and one even ‘hung up on me’ or whatever the equivalent would be for an online chat.  Not to be deterred, I initiated a phone conversation, and this went much better.  They didn’t give a refund, but we have a $20 credit on our next purchase.  That’s good enough for me!
  6. Basketball dreams – Our son wanted a basketball hoop for his birthday.  These things are something else to put together.  I started, and am about 1.5 hours in.  I figure I have at least another 2-3 hours of work.  Then once we get it in place (it’s one of the portable models), we have to determine how to anchor it.  They want you to fill it either with sand or liquid (it’d be antifreeze in our case) but many people weigh it down by piling sand bags or something similar on top.  Filling it looks better, but piling stuff on it is easier, plus I’d think that emptying it would be a royal pain.  So, we’re not sure on the approach yet.  Any ideas?
  7. Homeowners association – I served on our board for the last two years but declined to run again.  There’s a very cliquey group of people (think high school) that love to ‘run the show’ from a social standpoint, yet they refuse to run for the board.  It bugs me that they make many requests of the board, yet never include the board members in the social events, so I decided to take a break for at least a term.  I am still working on updating content on the website, which nobody else really knows well.  Since it’s WordPress based (like my blog) this is pretty easy.
  8. Anyone else nervous about the stock market – The market had a pretty nice run after the beginning of the year crash.  It seems like the market really loves the low interest rates that are seemingly now just standard policy.  But I’m a bit nervous, as I can’t imagine that will last forever.  Plus, the debt that all of the Central Banks are creating are injecting money that is being used to push the markets higher,mb-2015-06-fire but it’s still debt and what happens when that needs to be paid back?  Or does it? Who knows?  But in any case, it’s a bit scary to me.  It seems like we’re in a situation where everything is hunky dory….until one day it’s not.  I’m not going ‘bearish’ but I’m definitely keeping a watchful eye.
  9. Camping season is upon us – One thing that we’ve settled into is our routine for camping.  This is our fifth year with our trailer, and we now have a pretty good routine going.  We did one trip for Memorial Day, and we have another trip coming up this weekend.  After that we have two weeklong trips and a few more weekend trips.  Summer is short in Michigan so we try to pack it in!

Readers, did you  hit the ground running for summer?  How are things looking for you?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

6 Ways to Eat More Healthily for Less Money

Eating healthy is all the rage, and as fads go, it is an especially beneficial one. From college kids to busy moms, people everywhere are thinking more carefully about putting healthy, balanced food into their bodies. So, what’s the problem?
 
Well, there is a widespread belief that it is too expensive to make healthy eating a lifestyle. Chain health food stores and boutique markets are partially to blame for this belief, as are heavily marketed, expensive diet programs. Whatever the source of the rumor is, it has got to stop. You can eat well just by using what is available in your regular supermarket. Here are a few ways to do just that.
 
Keep it Simple
 
You do not have to live off chia seeds and specialty grains to have a nutritious diet. Keeping your meals simple is a good way to get started. At each meal, about half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables, a quarter should consist of protein, and a quarter should consist of grains. Within these guidelines are endless delicious combinations of ingredients.
 
Make a Plan
 
Meal planning before you go grocery shopping is always a good idea, but it is especially helpful if you are attempting a shift in your dietary priorities. If you have not previously spent a lot of time in the produce aisle, it is easy to become overwhelmed by what you are doing, buy too much of certain items, and then curse yourself as you toss the rotting remains in the trash a week later.
Instead, plan exactly how much of each type of food you will need, either by numbers or by pounds. This will make it easier to stick to your list, and therefore your budget. Planning ahead also allows you to take note of which fruits and veggies are in season and incorporate them into your meals. This will make your produce purchases even smarter.
 
Incorporate Coupons
 
While you are planning your meals each week, remember to hunt down coupons for any special items you want to buy. You can check your weekly circular ad, search the Internet, or even make use of coupons that are attached to other food items. For example, Hampton Creek coupons are often available on the company’s cafeteria products. Next time you get one of their cookies with your lunch, save the coupon and enjoy reduced prices on healthier condiment and dessert options at regular stores like Target and Walmart.
 
Become a Member
 
If you are not yet a member at the grocery store that you frequent, becoming one is a great way to save money and eat well. Most grocery stores offer sales exclusively to their members, which can enable you to enjoy more variety in your menu. Some stores even use your shopping data to create personalized coupons, so you might be able to enjoy discounts on your favorite items simply because you purchase them often.
 
Rethink Meat
 
In a typical American meal, a large portion of meat is the centerpiece, accompanied by smaller sides of bread and vegetables or fruit. However, buying enough meat to give each family member a large portion at each meal can greatly increase your grocery bill. Furthermore, it is better for you to eat more fruits and veggies in proportion to meats. With this in mind, try using meat as a supporting player rather than the all-star in at least some of your meals. For example, you could make a stir-fry using two parts vegetables for one part meat.
 
Community Supported Agriculture
 
Participating in a community supported agriculture program is a great way to get access to fresh produce at a good price. For either a seasonal flat fee or a weekly payment, CSA members can get a portion of whatever produce is yielded by their local farms. For example, you might get a bushel of produce once a week for a twenty-week season, for an average of $30 a week. At that reasonable price, you can support your local farming community while enjoying optimal flavors and being introduced to foods you might not normally try.
 
Healthy Budget, Healthy Body
 
As you can see, eating healthily is not nearly as big of an expense as it is often made out to be. You may need to tweak some of your habits or perspectives in order to make it happen, but it is completely doable. All it takes is a little planning to have a balanced diet that works with your budget.
Content provided by a friend of Money Beagle.
Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

How Parents Can Teach Their Kids Not To Be Rapists When They Grow Up

I was out of the loop on a lot of news stories at the beginning of last week, so the first I heard of the frenzy regarding convicted rapist Brock Turner was a report where his father suggested that even the six month sentence, basically the minimum possible, was too harsh.

I read that story and went backwards, catching up on everything, and my opinion ended up seeming to match the majority, was that Turner got off way too lightly.  Way, WAY too lightly.

mb-2016-06-newspapersThe father argued that his son shouldn’t be punished that harshly for an act that took 20 minutes, completely setting aside that the victim, while maybe unable to remember those 20 minutes, has to live now with what happened every single day for the rest of her life.  Yeah, even six years, which I think was the maximum sentence, is too light.

The dad making his statement is what I couldn’t got over, and it got me to wondering if better parenting could have maybe prevented the whole thing from happening.  I started comparing it against the context of my own life, and three different events struck me that ended up giving me my answer.

I present these three events.  Note, they are given in reverse chronological order.

Event 1: A Drunken Frat Party, roughly 1995

I went to a pretty small college. One of the big things to do when people wanted to go out on the weekends was go to one of the fraternity parties.  I was never in a frat but I was close to a lot of members of one of the houses, so when they had a party, I decided I’d go.  I don’t remember the specifics of who I went with or what, but at a certain point of the night, as often happens, I found that I was feeling pretty good.

No, I’ll take that back.  I was drunk.  (But feeling good)

I ended up in a room with a few people, including a girl that I had seen around and said hi to on a few occasions but that I definitely wasn’t close with.  Somehow, we started flirting and it was going well.  At a certain point, probably by some unspoken rule, the other people in the room filtered out.  It was just us left.

We started kissing and making out a little.  I was always a pretty shy and nervous guy, and this type of thing just didn’t happen all that often.  So, I remember thinking that this was going well.  In fact, it seemed to be going REALLY well.  In fact, I probably could have gone over, engaged the lock on the door, and continued on.

But I didn’t.

Because as I had these thoughts, I also had a realization that, like me, this girl was not exactly sober.  She was probably less sober than I was, and I was, well, not sober at all.  So, it occurred to me that, as much fun as I was having and as much fun as she was exhibiting that she was having, there was just too much alcohol involved.  Anything that happened after that would be a bad idea.  I knew that I’d be taking advantage of her.

I stopped.  Yes, I, a guy, stopped things.  And I didn’t just stop things and walk out, because I think a part of me knew that it might absolve me of any personal guilt for that night, it wouldn’t necessarily stop her from being taken advantage of.  So, I not only stopped, but I insisted on walking her back to her room.  I did.  I got her to her room, got her out a bottle of water, and left, making sure that I heard the lock latch behind me.

Event 2: My First High School Date, circa 1991

I went to an all boy high school, and the school would put on dances on a Friday night every couple of months.  Girls from different areas were invited, and it was usually pretty fun.  I mentioned how I was pretty shy, so for me these events were largely standing around with my equally shy friends watching the activities, occasionally venturing out in hopes that some girl would fall into my path somehow and we’d end up dancing together.

That never happened, except for the one time that it actually did.  I found myself dancing with someone, and we danced more than a few songs and exchanged numbers and agreed to go out the following weekend.

We talked and set up plans, and as we did so, I kept my parents in the loop.

As I was getting ready to go, my step-mom pulled me aside for a conversation.  At the end of it a few points had been drilled home.  I’m pretty sure I had to even repeat them word for word:

  • I was going to the door to get her (no honking the horn)
  • I was going to meet her parents
  • I was going to compliment and thank her mother
  • I was going to open the car door for my date every time she got in or out
  • I was going to have her home at least 15 minutes before her curfew
  • I was going to treat her with respect
  • I was going to remember that I barely knew her
  • I was not going to expect anything to ‘happen’

And there may have been a few other things.

And I’m also pretty sure this happened on just about every date I went on through high school.

Event 3: Sixth grade detention, circa 1985

I had three awesome teachers in a row between 3rd-5th grade, where I connected with them, got along with them, and felt that they always had my back and understood me, even when I’d be a pain in the rear.

Not so much with my sixth grade teacher.  He didn’t put up with any nonsense, and now that I look back, I think he was more getting us ready for the eventual realities of junior high more than anything, but I found myself in trouble with him more than once.  Unfortunately, one time I got myself in so much trouble that I was issued detention, so that I had to stay 15 minutes past dismissal, and I had to be picked up by a parent when it was done.

I took the detention slip home and presented it to my parents.  As I knew would be the case, they were very displeased.  But I felt a little bit of hope when one of the things my dad got upset about was that he would have to come and pick me up.  This meant him having to leave work early.

I was hopeful and I thought that, if he couldn’t come and get me that maybe he could call and get me out of the whole thing.  (After all, I’m pretty sure that whatever it was I got in trouble for wasn’t my fault, right? *lol*)

Well, I made that suggestion to him and he looked at me as if I’d just suggested that we all wear wigs and go travel around pretending to be The Grateful Dead (yeah, they were kind of big around this time, if memory serves).

In other words, it wasn’t going to happen. In fact, I’m pretty sure that my dad said something along the lines that, if anything, I would be staying LONGER than the 15 minutes I’d been written up for.

Bringing The Three Events Together

When you look at the first story of what happened in college, it’s pretty obvious that things could have gone a different way.  One of the things, as I look back on, is that I probably could have continued things and gone all the way with that girl that night.  After that, I’m not really sure.  Would she have seen it as having been taken advantage of and done something or would she have just attributed it to a drunken decision and moved on?

I’m not really sure and I’m glad that I did not put her or myself in the position to find out.

I went down a better path and it was because of two things that tie back to the other stories:

  • Respect

  • Consequences

Here’s the thing.  Even with what was probably a blood alcohol level way over what was legal, I realized that I would be doing this girl wrong if I continued on.  Even though she never said the word ‘No’, I realized that I needed to stop anyway.  Why? Because the conversation as I headed out to my first real date was not just about that date.  It was about teaching me respect.  That’s why it wasn’t just a one time conversation. It was drilled into me, and though I dreaded the conversations each time they were going to happen, I also remember the feeling of surprise the first time I went out on a date and the conversation didn’t happen.  Looking back, I think that showed me that it worked.   The message had been received, and I only received it because my parents spent the time to teach me respect.

Now what if I had made a bad decision and had gotten in some sort of trouble for it?  What if I’d gotten her pregnant or what if she realized the next day that she wasn’t in the right state of mind to give consent?  Either one of these outcomes would have resulted in me having to tell my parents that I was in trouble.  What would they have said?  Well, I’m not going to speak for them on exactly what they would say, but I’m going to tell you exactly what they wouldn’t say.  Words I know I never would have heard would have included “We’ll get you out of this” or “We know it wasn’t your fault.”

Why do I know this?  Because I was taught that actions have consequences, and I think that my first big lesson in this was back in sixth grade when I learned that my parents were not going to get me out of things.  If I got myself in trouble, it was on me to stand up and take responsibility for it, and also to face whatever came my way.  I’ll tell you what, knowing these truths definitely guided me to different and better decisions both in the case of the drunken frat party, but also in many areas of my life.

What My Parents Got That Brock’s Still Don’t

My parents love me.  Brock’s parents love him.  I’m sure of these truths.  But where my parents and Brock’s went different is that Brock’s parents try to shield him from the world, including his own mistakes.  My parents didn’t do that.  My parents didn’t want me to make mistakes and tried to steer me down the right path, and I’m going to give Brock’s parents the benefit of the doubt and think that may be they tried to do this too.

But the difference is how they reacted when mistakes were made.  See, all kids make mistakes.  No matter how much you teach them, kids make mistakes.  I see it every day.  But, my parents never took my mistakes on as their own burden.  My mistakes were made by me and it was up to me to live with what happened.  You can tell by the statement made by Brock’s dad that they didn’t follow that.  They likely saw him make mistakes along the way but would step in and shield him from the consequences.   My dad made sure I served my detention, no questions asked.  Do you think Brock’s dad ever tried to get him out of detention?  I kind of so.

And now his kid is going to jail.

So, parents, take this as a lesson.

Teach your children respect.  Make them say their pleases and thank yous.  Make your sons understand the importance of showing respect to their dates and their dates moms and everybody else.  Repeat it until they roll their eyes at you and then repeat it a few more times.

Teach your kids consequenses.  If your kids get in trouble by their teacher, don’t go complain to the principal.  If they come home with a black eye, don’t call the parents of the other kid and blame them for how they raised their kid.  Here’s the thing, you can support your children while letting them handle the consequenses of their own actions.  Let your kids know that mistakes are OK, but that if they make them, whatever happens next is something that they have to be prepared to deal with.  If you teach them this at a young age and reinforce it, they won’t like it, but I tell you, they’ll have a much higher likelihood to grow up and not rape people.  And, probably will do much better than that.

Epilogue – Event 1

A few days after the frat party, the girl sought me out (one of the benefits of a very small campus).  She thanked me for having taken the high road and for having made sure that she got home safely and without having made a decision that she would later have regretted.   We actually got to be friends.  I found out she has a greater gift of sarcasm than I do, which I never would have otherwise learned.  Even though we’re in different parts of the country, we still keep up via social media to this day.  I cherish this and know that it turned out for the best.

Readers, what do think about the Stanford rape story?  Parents don’t likely actually say “Don’t rape people” as a way to teach their kids not to be rapists, but then how do we do our part to guide them down the right path?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.