“Ok Boomer” is the only appropriate response to tone-deaf financial advice from a generation that enjoyed the easiest wealth accumulation in history.
Boomers enjoyed unprecedented gains in residential real estate and the stock market, coupled with affordable post-secondary education that led to good-paying jobs with pensions and full benefits. Boomers had it easy. Which is why their financial advice sounds so remarkably out-of-touch.
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Mom and Dad want what’s best for you, but that doesn’t mean they’re always right. In fact, plenty of their financial advice is downright wrong and should only be answered with “ok Boomer”.
What is “Ok Boomer”?
“Ok Boomer” is GenZ’s viral response to out-of-touch Boomers who fail to recognize how much the world has changed but continue to offer advice as if it’s still 1980.
The phrase initially appeared on TikTok, but quickly went viral across all social media platforms. You’ll see “Ok Boomer” as a response to the wild things Boomers say across the web. It’s all over Facebook, peppering the comment section of articles online, and the hashtag #okboomer is trending on Twitter.
Instead of responding to their long-winded rants about entitled young people with facts and reason, Millennials and GenZ are dismissing the older crowd with “ok Boomer”.
Should you offer old people more than just “ok Boomer”?
Whether or not you want to engage with a ’50s baby about Climate Change is up to you, but it’s probably not worth the effort. If Boomers think climate change is a hoax and can’t be convinced with actual science, what makes you think they’ll be swayed by math?
There’s no point in engaging with a populace that thinks Facebook Memes are a legitimate news source. It’s better to save your energy to focus on all the extra income you need to earn to merely eke out the living Boomers were entitled too even if they dropped out of high school. When they try to give you financial advice, nod politely and then ignore it.
What your parents are getting wrong about money (and everything else)
Why is Boomer’s financial advice so bad? Because it’s completely useless in the current economic environment. Boomers have been blissfully unaware of how much things have changed over the past 30 years.
Here’s some ok boomer financial advice your parents are probably saying that you shouldn’t listen to:
You need a degree to get a job
In the ’70s and ’80s, a college degree was the ticket to a solid upper-middle-class life. Back then, less than 15% of people pursued post-secondary education. Now that figure is closer to 30%. This means stiffer job competition as the pool of competitive applicants grows, making it harder than ever to get a good job. While a university degree might have been a golden ticket in the past, it’s nothing special now.
To add insult to injury, the cost of university has increased by more than 500% in the past 25 years. When Boomers tell you to get a degree to get a good job, they’re remembering the good old days when they could pay their tuition, books, room & board with what they earned every summer.
Your parents didn’t go heavily in debt for their educations. Today, the average graduate is carrying nearly $30,000 in student loan debt. Boomers never struggled with this burden, which is why they can’t comprehend how impossible it is to get ahead financially with a big student loan payment.
In short, pursuing university has gone from a sure-thing in the job market to a very expensive gamble. If you can get a career that doesn’t involve drowning yourself in debt until your 40’s, do it. If you don’t need to go to university, DON’T GO. The world has changed, kids. Play the game or get the hell off the field.
Houses always go up in value
For most Boomers, residential real estate has become their largest asset. Without even trying, most have seen a 10x return on their initial investment, giving them a cushy nest egg to retire on even if they were irresponsible in everything else.
As a result, Boomers can’t stop telling their children that homeownership is the path to wealth. Even if current numbers don’t add up.
The Canadian housing market is 60% overvalued. House prices have surged so far ahead of Canadian incomes homeownership isn’t even a possibility for some adults. The numbers clearly and plainly show renting keeps more money in your pocket than buying. But Boomers will still tell you to buy a property.
Saving is easy
Mom and Dad remember savings accounts of the early 90’s with double-digit interest rates. I know, it seems so unbelievable to us who find even the highest interest savings accounts return less than 2.5%. Nevertheless, legend says there was a time when people scoffed at 5% interest because they could get 12% elsewhere.
This is not the world we live in. Frankly, it’s not the world mom and dad live in either so they really need to get with the times and rebalance their retirement portfolios before they’re eating cat food and hoping you’ll take them in and let them live in that the garage of the grossly overpriced house they told you to buy.
Saving is hard, and it will take a long time to accumulate anything substantial. Even when you do it right, it might not be enough for what you want or need. Mom & Dad won’t understand this and will just give you a disappointed face. If you were a smarter child you would have found a way to beat out a market downturn. This is just like the time you got a B in grade 11 math! Why can’t you be more like your sister??
Having kids is affordable
One of the biggest financial challenges facing young adults now is starting a family. In Boomer times, one working adult earned enough to support a family, but now it often takes two adult incomes to maintain a household. But to earn two incomes, a household with children needs access to childcare.
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- Wealth inequality created the culture of helicopter parenting
North America is in crisis when it comes to affordable, accessible childcare. Most accredited daycare centres in major cities across Canada and the USA will cost $1,500 to $2,000 per month. Even more affordable options, like dayhomes, cost $1,000. Childcare costs have more than doubled in the past two decades.
Maybe Boomer parents should offer some free babysitting courtesy of grandma and grandpa?
Finally, don’t let your Boomer parents manage your money
Another problem with Boomers is they can be helicopter parents. They can’t keep their hands out of their children’s lives, and that includes out of their children’s bank accounts. For reasons that don’t make any sense to me whatsoever, plenty of adults let their parents choose their investments, have access to their bank accounts, and offer up criticisms (or even limits) on how and where they spend their cash.
If you’re an adult, there’s no reason your parents should have access to your bank accounts. They should not be able to withdraw money, check your balances, and they should not be managing your investments.
Parents may offer advice or suggestions, but your money is yours and it should be managed by you. If your parents are managing your money, they’re robbing you of the opportunity to learn how to take care of your own finances.
What should Millennials and GenZ do to build wealth?
Keep going. You can still achieve financial security even if you don’t have the privilege of being born before 1965. However, understanding why things are more difficult for you than they were for mom & dad will help you navigate it better.
Continue to focus on increasing your income, paying down your debt, and saving and investing what you can. It will be harder and take longer than it did for previous generations, but it’s not impossible. Ignore the noise and keep pushing yourself.
Ok Boomer parents mean well, but they’re not always right!
*This post was first published on September 16, 2014, under the title “Why You Shouldn’t Take Advice From Your Parents”