But be careful that you don’t think it only takes cutting out pricey Starbucks coffee or avocado toast to get rich.
Millennial real estate mogul Tim Gurner in an interview with the Australian “60 Minutes” seemed to suggest that young adults aren’t able to buy homes or achieve financial success because they were buying pricey smashed avocado on toast.
“They want to eat out every day,” he said.
In my experience, I find that one of the biggest busters of people’s budget is eating out. But it’s not just avocado toast or $4 lattes holding young adults back financially. Starting out it’s hard to manage paying rent, servicing student loans and saving for a home or retirement.
The advice from Gurner didn’t sit well with a lot of people, including me. I can do my share of fussing about people’s spending, but even I’m getting fed up on the assault on young adults and criticism that they are a spendthrift generation.
Still the big savings are going to come from big moves.
“Financial experts say young people saving for a home need to think bigger if they really want to see their savings accumulate,” The Washington Post’s Jonnelle Marte wrote.
In fact, Marte mentioned an online calculator to help people figure out how long it would take to save for a down payment if they gave up lattes or avocado toast.
“A person hoping to buy a $1 million home in New York would have to give up 20,440 avocado toasts at $10 each to have enough for a 20 percent down payment,” Marte wrote. “In other words, it would take a very, very long time.”
I tried the calculator, inputting a different big city and lattes. If you wanted to buy a home in Boston for the reported local average price of $692,220 and put down 20 percent, it would take you until 2112 to save enough money by just cutting out a daily latte.
First on the list is reduce your rent, a much bigger expense that will produce larger savings than giving up a daily latte.
Writer Helaine Olen has been trying to shed light on the latte lie. In her book “Pound Foolish,” which was a Color of Money Book Club pick a few years ago, Olen argues that it’s not just small expenses that keep people from achieving financial greatness.
“We lost jobs at inopportune times, made ill-advised investments or suffered health crises that no amount of planning could predict,” she writes. “Bad things did happen to good savers and investors. No amount of personal initiative and savvy could guarantee anyone an exemption from broader negative economic and social trends.”
I have a millennial niece who is married with a young son, and she and her husband have more saved than many older adults I know earning two times what they make.
“Three decades ago, 18-to-34-year-olds spent 10.5 percent of their income on entertainment and eating out,” Kevin Drum writes. “Millennials spend 8.6 percent. In real dollars, that represents a small decline. In other words, millennials are more frugal about dining and entertainment than past generations.”
It’s important to cut back on your spending, but it takes more to become rich than just giving up rich food and good coffee.
Color Money question of the week
What do you think is keeping you from saving enough money? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “What’s keeping you from being rich?”
Live chat today
Join me at noon (Eastern) for a live discussion with Beth Kobliner, author “Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties.”
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Could Trump scandals end the high ride in the stock market?
Last week I asked: Are you afraid the controversies around President Trump will cause a slump in market?
Thom Link of the District wrote: “Yes, I expect Trump Chaos [not Scandals, per se] to prevent much upward movement and to exacerbate any downward movement in the stock market. But as I still have seven years before my likely retirement, I will return to a more aggressive asset mix in six to twenty-four months … after the coming correction/crash. Or after a Trump exit from office, whichever comes first.”
“One should be very careful is assigning causality to stock market price fluctuations,” wrote Thomas J. Druitt of Paducah, Ky. “It is the nature of markets to fluctuate in price. That is what they do. It is what they have always done. We might not be certain in which direction they will fluctuate in the future, but we can be sure that the U.S. stock indices will continue to fluctuate in price. Sometimes there is an identifiable reason. Other times there appears to be no reason at all. More often than not the reasons behind serious and sustained market price fluctuations like the 2007-09 bear market are only identifiable to us months after the fact and with the benefit of perfect 20/20 hindsight.”
Color of Money columns this week
Knowledge isn’t power. The right knowledge is power.
Stay informed about your money. Read and share my columns for this week.
Have a question about your finances? Michelle Singletary has a weekly live chat every Thursday at noon where she discusses financial dilemmas with readers. You can also write to Michelle directly by sending an email to email@example.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read more Color of Money columns, go here.