“When I was your age…”
Just stop right there. The numbers show that Baby Boomers reached more milestones — college degree, wedding, first house — at younger ages than Millennials because those items were easier to get and cost far less.
According to a new study from the Job Application Center, many Millennials — defined here as people born between 1978 and 1990 — are putting off marriage, children and mortgages. That’s because they’re saddled with student loans and other forms of debt, effectively making them “the first generation in recent years to be poorer than their parents.”
“For better or for worse, life has certainly changed from the early 20th century to now,” the study said. “Costs of everything from houses to groceries have soared, and many people are making difficult decisions about their futures based on finances.”
Here are four key areas where Baby Boomers (folks born between 1946 and 1964) had it much better, financially, than today’s young people.
1. College tuition
Average cost for Baby Boomers: $2,354 a year (4-year public school)
Average cost for Millennials: $5,317 a year (4-year public school)
Fewer than 50 percent of Baby Boomers went to college, compared to roughly 61 percent of Millennials. But the cost of tuition more than doubled in that amount of time. And that’s not including the other elements of attending college, including room and board, books, and meal plans.
According to the Job Application Center, some recent grads are taking major steps, such as crowdfunding, to tackle their staggering university debts.
Average cost for Baby Boomers: $22,500 (in 1980)
Average cost for Millennials: $28,000 (in 2010)
Is it any wonder so many Millennial brides and grooms prefer cash gifts over china patterns? The cost of getting married is constantly going up.
Because of this, young people are waiting to wed. The average male Baby Boomer got married at 25, and female Baby Boomers married at 22. Millennials are more likely to wait until 28 (men) and 26 (women) to tie the knot.
Average cost for Baby Boomers: $72,400 (in 1980)
Average cost for Millennials: $284,000 (in 2010)
Baby Boomers paid about a quarter of what Millennials pay for homes. So it comes as no surprise that only 67 percent of Millennials live independently, while roughly 80 percent of Baby Boomers own their own houses.
The lack of Millennial home buyers could adversely affect the housing market, per the Job Application Center. However, “it’s possible Millennials are just late bloomers when it comes to home ownership.”
Average cost for Baby Boomers
- A dozen eggs: 84¢
- A half gallon of milk: $1.60
- A loaf of bread: 51¢
Average cost for Millennials:
- A dozen eggs: $1.47
- A half gallon of milk: $1.66
- A loaf of bread: $1.41
Food prices climbed for a number of reasons, namely drought and avian flu, which wiped out crops and egg production, respectively. Millennials are also more likely than older generations to spend money on pricey restaurant meals.
Despite their loan debts and the other obstacles standing in their way, Millennials remain optimistic about the future, according to the researchers — “and in a world that changes at a breakneck pace, a healthy dose of hope never hurts.”