Washington Post Reveals Millennials with Entitlement Issues
Written by Ben Carter
On June 16, the Washington Post published a story by Robert Samuels called “Millennials consider leaving Washington as the city becomes more costly”. A friend of mine texted myself and our group of friends the story, which profiles a 30-plus-year-old couple expecting their first child and the struggles they face as the costs of living in Washington, DC rise.
The piece uses the couple as well as stats about the flow of millennials in and out of the city to offer a snapshot of how the cost of rent may be forcing millennials (those aged between 18 and 35) out of the city. It’s an interesting story and accurately estimates the high cost of living in the city and the probable effect it's having on DC’s younger and poorer populations.
But what our group text conversation moved towards wasn’t the unreasonable rent trends of the area we live in. It was the financial foolishness of the couple profiled in Mr. Samuels story.
On MYDM, our goal is to uplift and inspire people to get a hold of their finances. But sometimes it’s necessary to call people "idiots" or at the very least, financially inept. Any shorthand insult works when the financial idiocy is so apparent that it rings as pure absurdity.
We will call the couple profiled in the story “Fool Couple No. 9”. Fool Couple No. 9 earns just under $100,000 a year. The wife is 31-years-old and the husband is 35. They are pregnant, expecting their first child and live in a heavily developed area of Washington, DC that commands unreasonable amounts of rent for unreasonably small spaces. It’s an area fast becoming a lot like the trendier neighborhoods of New York City, both in terms of costs and convenience. Chipotle, Target and an In & Out knock-off called Z-Burger are all within walking distance. The couple pays $1790 in rent each month for a one-bedroom apartment. #Criminal
Mr. Samuels uses our couple in such a way that suggests that even with a sound household income, they are still unable to keep up with the cost of living in a city. But when reading for the second time, I realized a more problematic picture of what Fool Couple No. 9 was experiencing.
When I read the story I came away with three distinct ideas about this couple. The first idea was that their living situation was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. At age 31, 35 and pregnant, a small one-bedroom probably will start to feel uncomfortable. The second was that moving into a larger space in the same area was prohibitively expensive, but that they needed to do so before their baby arrives. The third idea I came away with was that the couple was not ready to give up their city-central lifestyle.
What was apparent in some of their quotes was a willingness to rationalize the feasibility of their current living situation. Statements like “We’ll figure something out,” left me with this impression.
One can disagree, but the problem seemed to be Fool Couple No. 9’s feeling entitled to living close to bars, grocery stores and restaurants that are within blocks of a subway metro stop… while also feeling entitled to their new family at the same time. It seemed they’d carried their youthful entitlement of their single-twenties into their now married-with-children-thirties. They want both their new family and the convenience they’ve always known despite their inability to comfortably afford the added space they want and need for a new child.
I imagine their perspective will change upon the arrival of the baby, but what’s incredibly troubling is this couple’s avoidance of the facts. They are pregnant, living in a one-bedroom apartment in the middle of the city and apparently struggling so much the husband picked up a second job as a waiter. Despite this, Fool Couple No. 9 seems unready to exchange their living location for lower rent and a bit of a commute to work.
What’s unfortunate about our attitudes of entitlement is that they often go against what’s going on in our bank accounts. “I don’t get paid for another two weeks, but I have to buy a ticket to that party today”. “I haven’t saved a dime, but I think I'm going to go to Miami anyway and put the entire trip on my credit card”. These are statements that express a desire to have something despite our inability to pay for it, or refusal to plan for the expense.
This couple could have relocated to one of the less expensive areas surrounding Washington, DC, where rent is certainly not $1790 each month. But they (to this point) have decided to stay essentially because they want to. Fool Couple No. 9 (who I’m sure aren’t really fools, but just mourning the end of their lives as non-parents) are wonderful examples of how feelings of entitlement end up delaying the arrival of financial stability. We rationalize what we “want” and put simple math aside. We tell ourselves we can “make it work” when our income suggests otherwise. We tell ourselves “I deserve it” when our bank account says we don’t.
I hope this couple will forgive me for making an example of them, and I'm sure they'll be quick to consider what their new-born baby will need when he or she arrives into this world. After all, 31 and 35 is the perfect time to start moving into making financially sound decisions to ensure the stability of a brand new family.