Look, I don’t like criticizing another writer’s work. We’re all out here banging away at the keyboard trying to create something that people hopefully find interesting.
But every so often there’s something that comes across your radar that drives you to repeatedly slam your head into your desk until you black out.
And once you awake from your stupidity-induced coma, you just have to share the ridiculousness with the rest of the world.
Such an article came across my radar earlier this week, brought to my attention by Gawker. The Gawker post has a headline that I don’t really think I can quote in full because, you know, NSFW, but here you go if you want to take a look.
The Gawker article sheds an unflattering light on a post on something called Elite Daily, where a twenty-something unleashes the dumbest, most shortsighted, wrong-headed, idiotic, silly, and stereotypically Millennial piece of “advice” that I’ve ever seen.
And I put “advice” in ironic quotes there, because as you’ll see, this article is so stupid that I’m not even sure it’s real. I mean, it’s so bad that it could very easily be a parody, and if it is, good on Elite Daily for getting me (and Gawker) to take the bait.
The article on Elite Daily is called “If You Have Savings In Your 20s, You’re Doing Something Wrong,” and it’s every bad thing you think about Millennials wrapped into one nice, neat little package.
The writer, Lauren Martin, proceeds to share her life philosophy with the world, and the TL;DR version is that she doesn’t need or want to save money because she’s living her life and you can’t truly live your life like an "elite" rainbow starfish unicorn if you’re shackled by boring things like a savings account.... or any other basic responsibilty.
Here’s how Martin, a senior lifestyle writer at Elite Daily, opens her Millennial manifesto:
I don’t have any savings, but I also don’t have any wants.
I don’t know about you, but I like to enjoy my life. I like to go out to eat, buy clothes I don’t “need” and spend money with friends on memorable nights out.
This goes back to a piece of advice a very successful friend gave me: “Don’t save money. Make more money,” he nonchalantly stated, pushing me into a taxi.
And from there, it just gets worse and dumber and worse and dumber.
Before this piece of advice, I was frantic. I was always doubting and always feeling guilty. I lived in the most exciting city in the world (also the most expensive) and had yet to experience it.
I was trying to save, which meant trying not to eat. I wasn’t going out with friends, had yet to go to a club and had never seen the inside of a taxi.
I couldn’t enjoy my life because I was too busy worrying about my bank statement. I was too busy watching my savings instead of savoring my youth.
Why did I feel so guilty about spending money on myself and my life?
When did our 20s start to feel like our 40s? When did we get weighed down with the same pressure and stresses as a woman with four kids and a second mortgage?
Okay, first of all…a second mortgage? Is that even a thing anymore? I mean, that really tells you all you need to know about whether Martin knows anything about, you know, the real world.
Honest question. Does her knowledge of “mortgages” come from this clip from Ghostbusters?
And second of all, the “stresses” of having four kids are not the same as the “stresses” of a twenty-something living in New York (I assume) trying to both live and save.
BECAUSE YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY LIVE LIFE AND SAVE MONEY!
Apparently, in Martin’s mind, money is there to be spent and to be spent right now. Who cares about the future because #YOLO. That’s youngpeoplespeak for “You Only Live Once,” in case you didn’t know.
In Martin’s mind, this external pressure was placed on her by her parents. In her words, her parents downloaded a never-ending impending sense of doom about money.
Here’s Martin on why this is all Mommy and Daddy’s fault.
But like most things our parents have ingrained in us, we must consciously work to push it out. Because while they may have the best intentions, they don’t always have the best insight.
They want us to save because it provides us with a safety net, but that’s exactly why we shouldn’t. Their need for us to have a safety net is just a giant metaphor for the difference between our parent’s generation and ours.
They were getting married at 20 while we’re just getting our first apartments. They were saving for kids while we still want to be kids. We’re on different schedules, different paths and totally different savings plans.
We’re taking our time growing up, refusing to be shackled by mortgages and diapers. We’re not trying to live with safety nets; we’re trying to live on the edge.
Okay, seriously...is this a joke? This has to be a joke. No one really says things like “We’re not trying to live with safety nets; we’re trying to live on the edge.” That’s fake right. That can’t possibly be real life.
And you don’t get shackled by a mortgage any more than you get shackled by rent.
Unless you want to just sleep wherever the universe takes you on that particular evening, you’re gonna need a place to sleep every night.
That's not how people live. That's how people get stabbed.
And that means having some kind of obligation to pay someone to sleep there, whether it’s a landlord or a bank.
And here’s the thing about living without a safety net. It’s insane.
Look, I lived paycheck to paycheck for a lot of years. Not having any money saved up doesn’t give you freedom. It makes you one paycheck away from basically being homeless.
And that’s not freedom. You can’t be free without the means to live your life. And in this country, those means are money.
Having a safety net gives you exactly that, safety.
You can withstand a job loss or a big change in your life. It allows you take a step back, reevaluate your life and go in a different direction if you want to (and I know this firsthand).
If you don’t want to save for a down payment on a house, fine, that’s your prerogative. Owning a home isn’t for everyone.
But arguing for not having any money saved because you need to be spending all your money on “experiences” is the most myopic and stereotypical “young person” viewpoint ever.
I don’t mean to be the mean old man telling Martin to get off my lawn, but seriously, get off my lawn.
With age comes wisdom, obviously. I know that I’m smarter about all things in my life now than I was in my twenties. There were plenty of times in my life when I didn’t have money saved up, and let me tell you, having money is way better than not having money.
Saving money actually allows you to spend money, because you’re not worried about when your next paycheck comes in or if it will be your last. You can do things and live life without fear.
But in Martin’s worldview, if you’re too worried about your bank statement, you can’t make your mark on the world. Because people with money never did anything to change the world.
When you live your life around your retirement fund, you may as well retire now. You can’t make a mark on the world if you’re too cheap to live in it.
Refusing to give yourself the luxury of enjoying your money negates the whole point of making it.
Guess what? You won’t ever to be able to retire unless you save. You’ll be working until the day you die. And maybe that’s what she wants. Not me though. Retirement sounds pretty sweet to me. Personally, I can’t wait for the day when I can wear a jumpsuit ever day.
Martin also writes that when you’re saving for yourself, “you’re refusing to bet on yourself.”
People who are saving in their 20s are people who don’t set their sights high. They’ve already dropped out of the game and settled for the minor leagues.
Your 20s are not the time to save; they’re the time to gamble. $200 a month isn’t going to make the dent that a $60,000 pay raise will after spending all those nights out networking.
Okay, first of all, you don’t drop out of the game and settle for the minor leagues. That is a sports metaphor that literally makes no sense. Good lord, this article makes me insane.
And I’m all for gambling on yourself, but any smart gambler will tell you that you never put all your chips in. You make smart plays and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. You don’t go all in just for funsies. That’s why Las Vegas casinos are as big as they are, because dumb people went all in when they should have held back.
And I get it if you can’t save $200 a month. That’s a lot of money to some people. I’m one of those people. But you can be both smart about money and spend nights out networking, if that’s really how you think you’re going to get a $60,000 raise one day.
Also, I’m pretty sure that anyone that’s going to give you a $60,000 raise is not going to do it because you’re so good at networking and you’re such a good drinking buddy. They’re going to give it to you because you bust your butt and do a good job. And most people can’t be good at their jobs if they’re out “networking” every night.
And this thing just keeps getting worse. He’s my favorite passage of all:
When you live your life by numbers, you strip yourself of poetry
What memorable experience does money in the bank give you? How well-rounded can people become sitting at home, watching their limited funds gain interest?
Life is to be lived, not watched from the inside of your rent-controlled apartment.
Hang on, I can’t type when I’m laughcrying. Give me a minute. Can’t type through these tears.
Okay, I’m back.
Does she honestly not realize that memorable experiences usually, you know, cost money? Why does having money in the bank mean you can’t also be a well-rounded person?
Those things are not mutually exclusive. You can have money and be a well-rounded person. I mean, seriously?
She finishes off her mission statement by saying that while it’s good to plan for unexpected events, it’s also good to learn to “release and distress.”
In her world, everything will work out. “If you’re smart, able and had a job once, you’ll have one again,” she writes. “Don’t waste your youth worrying about expenses when you should be worrying about experiences.”
Let me tell you what kind of people who can say things like that, people who have never had to actually worry about money in their life.
See, this is the kind of stuff that makes people dislike the Millennial generation.
I’ve gone out of my way to call out the mainstream media on their treatment of Millennials.
Heck, last year, I wrote a blog called “Hey CNBC, shut up about millennials already.”
And I meant it. I don’t like the way Millennials are treated by the media. It seems that most of society (the non-Millennials) view Millennials as an entitled, lazy generation populated by dreamers who’ll never move out of their parents’ house.
I hate generalizations like this. I think they’re simplistic and cheap. It’s much easier to generalize a population and blame them for all your problems than it is to really figure out what makes an entire generation tick.
But stuff like this just feeds Miracle Grow to that Millennial stereotype.
When you’re 40, you’re not going to look back on your 20s and be grateful for the few thousand you saved. You’re going to be full of regret.
You’ll regret the experiences you didn’t take, the people you didn’t meet and the fun you didn’t have because you were too worried about a future that came and went.
Seriously, get over yourself!
I may not be 40, but I look back at my 20’s and I have regret that I wasn’t smarter about money and a lot of other things. I was hardly a rainbow starfish unicorn, but I lived my life and didn’t save. And that was dumb.
I’ve lived life with money and without it. And having money is way better than not having it.
I know that now, and in a few years, Lauren Martin will know it too.