Previous: 7 Behaviors We Feel Guilty About, But Really Shouldn't
Next: Carmen of Make Real Cents On Being Sued For Student Loans, Working On Wall Street & Learning To Code



View count:204,871
Last sync:2024-06-25 13:45
The first 1000 people who click this link will get 2 free months of Skillshare Premium:

Visit to check out our upcoming events!

Based on an article by Meghan Koushik

Through weekly video essays, "Making It Work" showcases how *real* people have upgraded their personal or financial lives in some meaningful way. Making your life work for you doesn't mean getting rich just for the sake of it. It means making the most of what you have to build a life you love, both in your present and in your future. And while managing money is a crucial life skill for everyone, there's no one "right way" to go about it — you have to figure out what works best for *you,* full stop.

Video narration by Angela Hicks

Video by Grace Lee

The Financial Diet site:

Hello, everyone.

It's Chelsea. And before we get into this week's video, I wanted to let you guys know about an exciting new thing we're doing at TFD.

It's called The Studio at TFD. And it is a series of digital workshops around all sorts of topics, from money management to mental health to organization to entrepreneurship and everything in between. We've got several amazing events coming up.

And you can find out more about all of them at See you guys there. "Making It Work" is brought to you by Skillshare, an online learning community helping you move your creative journey forward without putting life on hold. I'm 27.

And most days, I feel like I'm still waiting for adulthood to start. I still live in a dorm room with roommates. My possessions mostly amount to cheap IKEA kitchenware and thrifted J.

Crew. And while my parents owned a home and had two kids at my age, I consider it an accomplishment I haven't yet killed my latest succulent. To be honest, as a child, 26 was my age of aspiration, the age I believed I'd finally be an adult.

The adult me I imagined had an enviable career, the ability to walk without tripping in heels, a tastefully furnished apartment I'd inhabit solo, at least until my similarly adult husband came along, all the stability and permanence I associated with people of a certain age. I'm now older than my aspirational age. And I'm light years away from where I thought I'd be.

I have never made more than $40,000 a year. So my adult life has been a series of cramped apartments and roommates to make ends meet. I've been with my partner since college.

But we're not married. We don't plan on having kids anytime soon. But when we do, we know we can't anticipate raising them without two salaries coming in.

I have six figures in student debt between undergrad and law school. And the six-figure income I'll be making at graduation will be going largely towards paying that off. In a lot of ways, my life isn't that different from what it looked like at 21.

And despite all the things I've accomplished and the ways I've grown, at the end of the day, it's so, so easy to feel like I'm still behind where I should be, particularly in the last year or two, when it feels like every day, another friend is purchasing property or having a baby with relevant, emoji-laden captions. There is a distinct mismatch between how old I am and how old I feel. Despite whatever social media says, I know I'm not alone.

Studies show that for the first time in American history, young adults are more likely to live with their parents rather than their partners. Millennials aren't just getting married later. Many are choosing to never get married at all.

And increasingly, the biggest determinant of whether millennials can afford to buy property isn't their own income. It's the degree to which they benefit from generational wealth. We're on track to be the first generation that's collectively poorer than our parents.

With all of this, it's not surprising that so many of us feel like we're not adults yet. Most of us can't truly afford to live like one. What we don't talk about enough is the fact that everything that's been traditionally shoved down our throats as markers of adulthood, whether that's owning a house or living alone or supporting a family, is increasingly becoming something that's only accessible to the smallest, richest, and often whitest silver of our demographic.

As a generation, millennials are more diverse and more educated than the generations before us. We're also suffering collectively from higher poverty rates, more student debt, and the increasingly inaccessibility of traditional gateways to prosperity, like homeownership. More significantly, the structures and institutions that enabled our parents to live far more comfortable lives at the same age from the financial accessibility of public universities to the social safety net to even guarantees about job security and pensions are eroding.

Our salaries and wages have stagnated. My father, a software engineer, made more money in his first entry-level job in the '80s than I made in mine in 2014. At the same time, the things we need for stability and security-- housing, health care, and education-- are skyrocketing in cost.

We're the generation stuck in the middle, still bearing the weight of societal expectations on what it should look like to be an adult in your 20s, unable to afford any of it, then blamed for our generational laziness and love of participation trophies and avocado toast. The reality is that much of the financial advice that worked for our parents' generation just doesn't work for many of us anymore. My first real job paid me a net income of $2,000 a month after taxes-- nonprofit, NYC.

I spent roughly $1,200 a month on rent and utilities for a pretty modest apartment and one I could only afford because I had a family member willing to be my guarantor and front me my security deposit and first month's rent until my paycheck came in. That's already more than 50% of my income I was told to spend on rent. And it still required the financial ability to have $2,500 on hand when signing a lease.

The bootstrap-esque financial advice that's geared towards millennials-- give up your lattes, stop majoring in English, save enough for a down payment by age 30-- is most likely being doled out by the boomers, who never had student debt to reckon with and whose bootstraps were always within easy reach. We don't just need better financial advice to deal with these structural issues. We also need more collective understanding that the world we're dealing with is a very different place from the world our parents entered in their 20s.

And maybe that means the markers we've collectively defined adulthood by need to change as well. I am 27. And I still don't feel like I've achieved the adulthood I always envisioned for myself.

But maybe part of that reason is that I've never been able to afford to live like an adult. Maybe we're all trying to be adults in a system that is no longer built for us to do so. Compared to my own parents, I have more debt, I pay far more in housing and transportation costs, and I make way less money.

That means I'll save less, marry and have kids later, and delay things like buying a house and aggressively saving for retirement. And as someone who's always been told that adulthood means a home of your own, a family, and career stability, that's a really hard pill to swallow. But it's OK to not feel like an adult in your 20s.

It's OK to move at a different pace than you'd imagined. It's OK to take a ton of pride in the things you've accomplished with the circumstances you've been given and to have faith that everything else is coming. I may not be an adult in terms of the expectations I and the rest of society loaded onto the term.

But I'm living a life I'm mostly happy with and one I've created for myself. And maybe that's the only definition of adulthood I need. One of the best things about growing up is realizing you never have to stop learning.

And with Skillshare, you can start growing your skill set from anywhere. Skillshare is an online community designed for real life so you can move your creative journey forward without putting your plans on hold. With thousands of classes in design, productivity, creative writing, and more, you can learn and grow with short lessons that fit your busy routine.

Skillshare's Premium membership gives you unlimited access to high-quality classes on must-know topics so you can improve your skills, unlock new opportunities, and do the work you love. Bonus-- it's super affordable with an annual subscription that costs less than $10 a month. Honing your creative skills is both a fulfilling and productive use of your free time.

In Skillshare's class "Digital Illustration for All-- Discover, Cultivate, and Share Your Unique Personal Style," multidisciplinary artist Laci Jordan will help you build your skills and competence as an artist. Perfect for beginners, Laci's course will teach you the basics of illustration and how to insert your own personality into your work. You'll walk away knowing so much more about creating cohesive color palettes, drawing with and beyond reference photos, and more.

Join the millions of students already learning on Skillshare today with a special offer just for TFD viewers. The first 1,000 of our subscribers to click the link in our description will get a two-month free trial of Skillshare's Premium membership. Explore your creativity on your own timeline and start learning today.