Thoughts on our saving timelines
Millennials saving habits are guided by different factors to previous generations. Many Millennials are still paying off student loans and feel they will never be able to achieve material goals like buying a property. When I was growing up, I used to think of finances as something only my parents would ever discuss. The only amount I had to worry about was the loose change my parents would tell me to keep when I’d run inside and pick up the fish and chips takeaway order, as well as the occasional fifty dollar notes I would be given on any special occasion – bless Greek families. But aside from that, loans, budgets, investments, were only words I’d overhear when my older siblings were studying for their high school exams and they almost always sparked a yawn. I didn’t have to worry about any of that, I had plenty of money – for an eleven-year-old with absolutely no expenses.
We’d look at our teacher’s at school and think they were the richest people in the world, not knowing that they probably had their own mortgage that they were desperately trying to pay off. We’d look at our parents consistently providing a dollar here and there, without knowing that those coins were a bonus from the long hours they would work while I was at school. We’d play with our chatterboxes at lunchtime and they would tell us we’d be rich, living in mansions and driving the most luxurious cars, but we never realised that those things take time, patience, and a lot of hard work. It’s a strange thing, I think, that most of us plan our wedding day, pick out the name of our future children or plan the places we want to see before we die, but very rarely do we actually sit down and start a plan for buying our first home.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, in December 2017 the average age of first-home buyers was at an all-time high of 31 years old. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but why is it that so many homeowners are that particular age when most adults graduate in their early to mid-twenties and are working full-time jobs by that point, with a high majority already living out of home and renting? So is it the issue of the housing market being too high? Or is it an issue of not cracking down on our finances early enough?
If we begin to think of our future at the age of sixteen or seventeen before we even have a chance to graduate from high school, would we be able to potentially pay a 20% deposit before the age of 31? Would we still be able to go out on the weekends or travel? Would we be no longer desperately searching for coupon codes to afford the latest trends because we’ve been putting less money aside for a longer period of time? It’s hard to tell for sure, but there’s one thing that’s certain: there is no harm in trying.
This takes a lot of pressure off ‘future you’ when it’s time to settle down and house-hunt. Do schools need to start planting the seed of a home into a teenager’s head as soon as they hit high school? Or is this something that parents should implement as their child starts their first job? Should a friendship group be more comfortable discussing these types of conversations without it seeming “too early” when we’re still studying? And how do we make that change?
I’m a 23-year-old graduate with a three-month holiday coming up in just four weeks. I am working endless hours just to save enough money to get me by while I’m away. But what happens when I come back? What happens when there’s no flight booked and my partner decides it’s time to take the next step? Would I have enough money right now to purchase my first home? Absolutely not.
So while I sit and figure this all out on my own, I ask you, young padawan, to start thinking about these things earlier than I did. While you’re having a look at beautiful homes on either Domain or Real Estate websites, maybe start considering the steps that need to be taken in order to purchase that beautiful home. Even just the thought itself will be enough to help you when the time actually comes.