I'm on a train back from a dash to London so forgive me for this ill thought out ramble but I often find my open ended rambles lead to interesting discussions in the comments. This was something I got to discussing with an older gentleman friend of mine (shall we call him G?) on the walk from our meeting to the tube. He is a guy in his late fifties, all settled down with a wife, paid off mortgage and 3 children all grown up and living away from home. He called our generation (I'm 30 if that helps) the 'now generation' which I found very interesting. He wasn't giving our generation a hard time, he wasn't being mean he was just sharing his observations.
We started off on the topic because I said Mr Thrifty and I are saving for a house and I also have a six month plan to save up for a new sofa. He looked a bit shocked by my talk of saving up for something and called it unusual. Unusual for my age group at least. We got to talking about how, as newlyweds he moved into a one bed flat with his wife and had between them a set of saucepans, a wedding gift of cutlery, a bed and a small fridge - no more, no less. Over time and many, many years they've slowly filled their house with everything a home needs and a little more but it has been a life's work, 35 years of marriage.
G points to a takeaway chicken shop as we pass it 'we had 3 takeaways in our town until 15 years ago and I counted the number on my road home from work last week and there were 24 on a 3 mile stretch....who is eating it all? Why does it have to be now, now, now?'
G has observed his children and their friends (in their late twenties and early thirties) going through some pretty special stages of life - of getting married, of buying houses and having children - and how that generation does it so much differently to his. In his words do 'young people want everything now'?
Have we become a generation of instant gratification? I know so many people who moved in with their partner and within a week (and without any savings) they had a brand new kitchen, new carpets and fully decorated walls, whereas I could count on one hand the couples who still have the same wallpaper as the past occupant and a second hand sofa 6 months after moving in. Does this instant gratification take away from the thrill of saving for something, of working for something? Does it make the items in your home less valued and meaningful? It's not only consumables and homes where G sees our generation as the now generation he sees it in relationships and life experiences.
G started to tell me about a heart to heart he had with his son's best friend (let's call him A). A was 29, had been married for a year and had just bought a house. G and A sat together one evening after a wedding and A started crying, he wanted to divorce his wife. Marriage wasn't what he expected, owning a home wasn't what he expected. He loved his wife, he loved his house but it wasn't what he expected. G asked why and A replied 'I want what you've got, I want what my mum and dad have.' It took a lot of mopping up tears and talk into the wee, small hours for G to explain a good, strong marriage and a cosy home don't appear overnight, they're not things which happen in the blink of an eye without determination and work. In my view at least and with only 6 years of marriage to my name, you can have a wedding but unless you work at it, you don't have a marriage.
With G's idea of the 'now generation' popped in my head, I've being sitting here on a very bumpy train journey thinking about it non stop. I've been in London with friends and although we've been standing next to the tube station and we already have travelcards and Oyster Cards supplied by work they'll stop a taxi in the street because 'oh it's only a tenner and we'll have to wait for a tube', like £10 is a throw away amount of money and four minutes is a long time to wait. The same friends sneer at packed lunches and spend £5+ per day, which of course is their choice but it's the instant choice, the more expensive choice. Why does the sensible, thrifty, cheaper choice meet with derision and laughter? Why are sensible choices funny to our generation? Is it because it takes time and planning?
Are we a generation working really hard but without any idea of where the future will take us, so we're grabbing everything now whilst we can? Have we been led down a path of want, want, want (more on the experience side than products) by advertisers, politicians, parents, teachers, ourselves? Or is G's theory way off the mark? Some elements in our change in times are fantastic, we wouldn't get anywhere if we stood still in the time of our grandparents but does that mean we should disregard some of the lessons they have for us, along with taking some of them with historical pinches of salt.
IS OUR GENERATION THE NOW GENERATION?
I could go into a whole ramble about post-war generations and how each generation since the war has stitched each other up but I think we have to move away from blame....and it's nearly my stop. Also I typed and uploaded this whole thing using paid for train wifi rather than waiting until I got home, by golly - I think G's right!
P.S. What do you think? I know a lot of the people who read a thrifty blog will perhaps deviate from the idea of the 'now generation' but is this our generation as a whole?
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