Gen Ys `eternal financial optimists'

IT seems one day you are bouncing to work on a few hours' sleep after a weekend bender, and the next day you are 30, working in an office and excited by the prospect of television in bed.

While still young, you are jealous of youth who have seemed to work out life management quicker than you, unburdened by selfish guilt, mistakes, regret and debt.

Their optimism unfairly makes you mirthless.

You are torn between deciding to finally do all the grown-up things, or keeping up with the party - which seems increasingly difficult as the months go by, and the hangovers stretch from one day to two days.

When I say you, I really mean me, but I know I'm not the only one.

Like my predominantly left- leaning generational cohorts, one of my greatest worries is the future; be it economical, social, or financial.

Especially financial.

Generation Y is the Peter Brady of the world, squeezed between Baby Boomers shifting into often comfortable retirement, well- established Gen Xers, and a savvy and pampered Gen Z.

While Baby Boomers had the threat of nuclear warfare and Gen Xers had atrocious hair and fashion, Gen Y faces the prospect of dealing with a world ravaged by growing debt.

Add to this, its substantial share in the national university loan debt of more than $26 billion, and the nation's credit card debt of $50 billion, and it becomes apparent Generation Ys will go to the grave either broke or be buried with debt.

And it seems we might be the greatest part of the problem.

This generation, burdened by education and credit card debt, is obsessed with discretionary spending, with multiple research projects suggesting it cannot, and does not want to, save for the future.

Credit card approvals are as easy as rolling out of bed at noon, allowing this self-entitled generation to continue to be handed everything with ease.

Add to this, its substantial share in the national university loan debt of more than $26 billion, and the nation's credit card debt of $50 billion, and it becomes apparent Generation Ys will go to the grave either broke or be buried with debt.

Australian firm Impact Leaders last year reported that one-third of 18 to 34 year olds had no savings, or struggled with high amounts of debt.

It said one in two people within the group experience money stress on a daily basis.

Less than two years ago, analysts predicted Gen Y accounted for more than one-third of the nation's credit debt, but held less than 20 per cent of its credit cards.

American analysts Pew Research Centre last month released a comprehensive study on Generation Y's behaviour, which claimed the generation is the nation's "most stubborn economic optimists", despite their financial burdens.

"No other cohort of adults is nearly as confident," the report said.

"Some of this optimism ... may simply reflect the timeless confidence of youth."

There is some sober optimism, however.

Sickened by credit debt, many Gen Ys have opted to pay it off, cut up the card, and learn from their mistakes.

And while one-quarter of Gen Y continue to live at home, they do so to save for home deposits.

And while more than half of 18 to 30 year olds might not be able to fully explain what superannuation is, a recent survey by insurance firm MLC indicated they do care about the future, with 64 per cent in the age group concerned they may not have enough money at retirement age.

If this attitude change continues, perhaps the so-called narcissistic generation might save the world after all.

Either that, or it will start to gripe about the spendin' of them youngens.

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