Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What happened to Generation X?

What happened to Generation X?
First let me provide a full disclaimer.  I am part of Generation X.  You know that generation associated with "latch-key" kids and raised in the 80's. The era of indulgence, video games and big hair bands. Man it was great!  Wait I digress...  I remember hearing all about how Gen X wanted everything yesterday, had an all about us attitude, and would ruin the world. We were following the Baby Boomers and our values were all wrong.  You know what happened? Not much.  Most of us have followed the Boomers into the workforce and fallen into all of the consumer traps carefully placed before us.  Houses, cars, credit cards, careers, corporate ladder, etc.  There were some changes. Corporate America changed the 40 year career complete with the gold watch pension retirement and replaced them with layoffs, high deductible health plans, 401k's and mid-life career changes.

Now that I am getting into the FIRE (Financially Independent Retire Early) crowd I am seeing the Millennial movement.  Millennial's are embracing the FIRE concept and disowning what the Boomers have preached.  Kudos' to them.  Very inspiring to see so many of them with such a clear purpose and getting out of the rat race in their early 30's (notice the hints of awe and jealousy). Seriously though I hope more Millennials follow this lead and get on board.

Sadly though I feel Generation X got lost somewhere along the way.  We aren't quite young enough to shock people by retiring in our 30's but certainly are not on board with another 20+ years in the corporate trenches.  Most of us have children approaching college age and aging parents.  Most of us have mortgages and bills and are so much further along the consumer life-cycle that it is more difficult to downsize and get our act in gear to pursue the FIRE lifestyle.

Personally this affects me in a couple of ways.  First I could kick myself I didn't get on board with FIRE much earlier in my life.  I always had thoughts about this but never really got serious about this. Sure we saved and quite a bit, but honestly did not keep our expenses in check.  As a result we have to significantly downsize our lifestyle or build up about double what we would have needed before.  I am sure there is a happy medium and we'll work to find it.  Additionally this change in our lives would have been much easier with toddlers easy to relocate than children in middle and high school with strong opinions of their own.  Not insurmountable but certainly additional challenges.  This Gen X'er and the family have started our FIRE journey and hope to be free in the next 5-10 years.  While not as impressive as the Millennial's I think it is still a worthwhile cause.

How are other Gen X'ers balancing these issues?  I know there are some out there that have embraced FIRE and are doing great.  I hope others get on board.  I just don't want our generation to be forgotten.  After all for Gen X it's all about us isn't it:)

Photo credit:  Krasimira Nevenova

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