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Comments of the week, baby boomer angst edition

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Baby boomer angst is understandable given many are worse off than millennials

We had a great week for comments, with lots of people weighing in on a post I wrote pushing back against boomers’ frequent public critiques of the millennial generation.

Some readers thought I was being too hard on the boomers, who have also suffered as a result of the financial crisis. Here’s one from Rose:

Place blame where it belongs. In 1995, when the Newt Gingrich gangstas shutdown the gov’t — we depended on “earmarked funds” so received no “back pay.” Unemployment stole our investments and 401(k)s to pay bills and, in retrospect, we should have declared bankruptcy, as it took nearly 2 years to find jobs that paid far below previous earnings. We never recovered! Again, the Feds help to steal monies from hardworking Americans. So, yes, many baby boomers only live on Social Security that was taken from every paycheck throughout our working years; now we are unemployable — unless you bag groceries. All age groups need jobs, so do not shift blame to boomers or millennials. We all have been ripped off. Historically, it is called feudalism. Today’s reality is not what we expected from our “democratic” gov’t. Congress has let money mongers steal our future 🙁

Rose makes a really good point here. Ultimately, we’re all in this together; we’ve all been affected by the aftermath of the financial crisis. Heck, adjusted for inflation, median income has actually declined since 1989 — that’s 24 years of economic stagnation for most American households. No wonder we’re seeing some baby boomer angst out there, too.

Kurt at the Money Counselor, though, thinks policies boomers supported may have played a role in creating our current mess:

Boomers (I am one) have pretty much left the world in a wreck for millennials to clean up. They’ve sucked up (and largely wasted) all the cheap energy resources (jamming the atmosphere full of carbon in the process); they’ve demanded government services they’re unwilling to pay for, thus running up the US national debt 60-fold in the past 60 years; they’ve built a totally car-dependent society and infrastructure instead of planning for long-term environmental and social sustainability; and they’ve repeatedly elected politicians with a proven record of failure. Fortunately, from what I’ve seen, I think the millennials will easily, even cheerfully, clean up the mess.

Kurt, I hope you’re right that Millennials can fix things up. Here’s another one from a boomer who chose to remain anonymous:

I never thought of it that way, but you’re right. We haven’t been the best financial advisers, have we? Makes sense when my daughter says, “Mom you really don’t need that, you have one.” My daughter, telling me I shouldn’t spend on stupid stuff. I’m glad they get it. Smart cookies those millennials.

Readers shared some opinions on our “Will it Flip” series about trying to make money reselling Xbox One and Playstation 4 consoles. SteveTodd shared this memory of his own flipping exploits:

Back when Hannah Montana was THE ticket to have, I dipped my toe into the world of reselling. It just so happened that tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. on a Saturday. Both my roommate and I were at our computers trying to get tickets but my order was the only one that went through. I then sold the tickets on eBay for a $1k profit. A large ticket reseller bought them and sold them again for another $1k in profit.

Another reader has faith we can make some money flipping:

If you are getting the xbox one day one edition, you will absolutely make a profit. After fees/shipping (if you don’t change the address via Amazon), you should clear $100 minimum. Day One editions are selling for over $700 on eBay.

I also had a couple really good comments on Miranda’s post about 401(k)s. This one raised a good point about how the fees can really mess up a 401(k) quickly:

After depositing to the match, I’d look very carefully at the fees. 1.5% is a 14% (yes, the math works that way) hit after 10 years. The gain for most folk is to shift from 25% at deposit to 10-15 percent at withdrawal, so this kind of extra expense is really a long term killer. Long term cap gains treatment is lost in a 401(k) as well so the disciplined investor should avoid an expense, in my opinion, that’s any higher than .75 percent or so.

What do you think? Anything our commenters said that had you nodding your head, or shaking your fist in volcanic rage? Weigh in below, with some entertainment from Community via Done by Forty:

(Photo: Flickr user Arnoooo)

{ 3 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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3 Responses to “Comments of the week, baby boomer angst edition”

  1. Kenny says:

    Boomers vs. Millennials is not a debate…..

    I really do NOT belong to either since I am who I am, and have been taking care of myself and the family.

    Boomers have it TOUGH, and Millennials have it TOUGH. Where US is going, I would think that Millennials will face more turbulence, but they are more apt to handling it, having grown up in a govt shutdown type of an environment, and an ever changing world. Hence, it will be met with equal angst/challenge by the millennials even though the boomers will say, glad we are not facing that.

    So, all in all, life is going to be as hard as 8 out of 10 for Boomers (for lots of them today), as it will be for the Millennials (8 out of 10) if NOT planned appropriately. For me and my family, and other boomers/millennials who are taking care of the situations around them, it will be 5 out of 10 (equal for both generations).

    So, the debate is almost not worth generalizing, although I am doing the same with my own personalization for myself and my kids.

    Hope this view helps.


  2. Claes Bell says:

    Kenny, thanks for weighing in. I had a lot of people express similar sentiments on the original blog, so I don’t think you’re alone there.

  3. Hollis says:

    Say what? Although Boomers have been pretty much shunted out of the way and “neutralized” in today’s job market, we leave behind an impressive array of accomplishments to show for our time in the limelight. Like the microcomputer and a vast “starter kit” of software tools and services. Treatments for gruesome ailments and crippling diseases. A more inclusive and open-minded society, especially for women, gays and racial minorities. Hopefully we contributed as much as our parent generation (the thrifty, conscientious Traditionalists) and the generations that came after. And we fought a war – like the other generations – but UNLIKE the others, our servicemen were abused and disrespected during the Vietnam War era.

    I feel neither angst nor guilt for myself or my generation. (Example: I take public transit, which is widely available where I live, but if I lived in, say Nebraska or Idaho??? Sweeping generalizations just don’t cut it.)

    We are going through a period of demographic shape-shifting, and there will be pain, but to blame it on Boomers is a head-fake which will only make it harder to work on real solutions.

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