Gen X got the "short end of the stick" when it came to economic cycles such as housing, student loans, jobs and retirement, some business writers argue.
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, people in my generation graduated from college with more college debt. They entered a job market in which baby boomers had already taken most of the coveted jobs.
While I agree I had to face many challenges and obstacles in the personal finance arena including job burnout, I didn't let any of it hold me back. Some of my Gen-X friends have even outsmarted the "system."
Buying a house at the right time
Some experts claim Gen X was hit hardest by the housing bubble. I beg to differ. I think the right time to buy a home is when you can personally afford it. It's obviously better to buy a home when interest rates are at historically low levels.
I purchased my first townhome when new home construction was cheap in Florida. I made a small profit that I "rolled" into the purchase of a single-family home. One of my Gen-X friends purchased a home after the housing market had crashed so she obviously got a better deal. Another Gen-X friend "flipped houses" for a profit and later turned them into rental properties, which has been to her financial advantage.
Although many of us are underwater on our mortgages, just as many are taking advantage of low home prices. Many of the baby boomers I know took out mortgages just before quitting and taking early retirement. Having a mortgage until death doesn't seem like a great deal to me, although the literal meaning of the word mortgage is "death contract."
Meanwhile, my husband and I plan to have our mortgage paid off before we turn 50.
Getting into the career groove
Some writers claim many Gen X'ers' careers got off to a slow start because of the high unemployment in the early 1990s. For me, the fact that baby boomers had all the staff writer jobs at the daily newspaper in my city gave me an incredible opportunity. I was able to work out of my home as a "correspondent" while raising my two babies. I ended up earning about twice as much as what a cub reporter would have earned on staff. And, I got to spend time with my children.
I read an article recently in the Huffington Post about Gen-Y women who are experiencing "Millennial Burnout syndrome." I can completely relate to the burnout syndrome affecting women before they hit 30 even though I'm nearly 40.
I have been working since I turned 16. Part of what helps me deal with the stress and pressure is having a more flexible work schedule. Still, I hope to wind down my career in another decade.
Embracing the new work culture
Many of my Gen-X colleagues kept their jobs during the Great Recession while baby boomers took company buyouts, retired early or were laid off. Since Gen-X took over the workplace, it seems to me that they encourage creativity and independent thinking. It's no longer a dictatorship in the workplace.
As far as my Gen-X retirement, I don't worry about not having a pension or social security. The fact that we are living through a financial crisis has taught me to stay out of debt and save early and often for retirement. My husband and I want to be comfortable and leave our children with inheritance so their children will have a better life.
Meanwhile, the baby boomers I know are living on credit cards and driving cars with bumper stickers that read, "I'm spending my children's inheritance."
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