Recently we saw a chart that was put by CNBC on what the spending of a responsible twenty-five-year-old would look like. The fantasy of that post is exactly why a lot of young people shake their heads and move away from the media. Or why people laugh at the media. It is not just Gen Z or Millennials. When I saw the graphic I almost snorted my coffee. We have a very well connected Twenty Five-year-old, who makes $100,000 dollars. It was like you kid me? Most Americans will not make this much in their lifetimes. Remember, the median income is $61,937.
Then there were other elements of the graphic. Apparently our wiz found affordable housing. I mean, he or she is paying $825 dollars a month. You try that in my town. The median rent in my town is $2,287 dollars a month, which is slightly lower the monthly spending on that chart. I wonder where this whiz of a financial genius is living. But it is not New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or San Diego. For that matter this is. not Honolulu either, or a few more locations across the country. Which immediately raises the question, where did he or she find this six-figure job? Because the cities I mentioned is where you would find that income if you were very good and very well connected, but the rent is nowhere close to $800 and something. There were more fantasy sections of this personal budget. There is nowhere in it a section for savings. Now, perhaps this has changed since I was in my twenties, but we were always told to start saving for retirement as early as possible. And while it is incredibly generous from this young person to give away $615 a month, you would expect at least half of that to go to an emergency fund/ savings for retirement. Perhaps that is not somebody who is good with money after all.
There is more that is wrong with this budget, but the reality is that this fantasy is a reflection of present media. It is also a projection of the reality many believe to be, not actual life. This is why this graphic caught my eye. Most kids coming out of college do not go into six-figure jobs. Most end up in the precariat which is growing. Whether it is low paying jobs like Starbucks barista or the gig economy does not matter. The reality is that few graduates get a six-figure job from the get-go.
This is why we need to be realistic not just in how we present information, but also in what we present. And yes, this graphic bothered me at the most basic of levels. Then there is a possibility that this particular graphic is possible for that particular person. If you look carefully, you will notice there is no college debt. Meaning a few things. This young person had the social capital to get that $100,000 job out of the gate, because he, and sorry ladies it is likely he, is that well connected through parents and family. He has a lot of social capital that most graduates of a four-year college do not have.
There are a few other things that make sense if we are talking of a well connected, and already wealthy young person. The fact that there are no savings and quite a bit of money is going to charity is training. You may ask, for what? For the time this person is well known in the community. One thing that a lot of very wealthy individuals do is give to charity. Overall it is cheaper than taxes, and one argument for not raising their taxes. And let’s be honest, if this person is that well to do, there is a trust fund or other family wealth to rely on if things should get tough. Of course, the rent still makes no sense, unless he is paying rent to his parents in one of the family properties Because you know you know what? You can find a room that cheap in less than desirable locations. And I doubt our responsible adult is living in these locations making a six-figure income.
To the editor that authorized this graphic, shame on you. There is only one way this is even possible, and quite frankly, does not reflect the reality of most of the country. Even less now.