The economy has changed (and so should you)
Our beliefs about what holds value come from past generations and our measurement of success is no longer grounded in economic reality. Here are 15 charts that will convince you it’s time to update your mindset about money.
Picture the American dream. Does a house in suburbia, a manicured lawn, a car, and 2.5 children come to mind? Before WWII, just 13% of the population lived outside of urban areas. The great migration happened as people sought more personal space and distance from dense nuclear targets. But not only is this "dream" hurting the environment (and culture), it's harder than ever to attain. New generations are struggling to become "successful" in this dream, and are feeling inadequate for not being able to fulfill a dream that should be accessible.
1. Productivity and hourly wage growth aren’t correlated anymore
2. That’s translating to increased GDP but not household income
3. Recessions aren’t followed by catch-up growth anymore
4. Meanwhile student debt is getting higher
5. And retirement savings risk has shifted from employers to employees
6. So it’s no wonder older millennials who should have savings, don’t
But is it really just the economy’s fault?
7. Housing prices are higher, but construction costs are flat
8. We keep buying bigger houses even though we live with fewer people
9. The price per sq ft (which accounts for location) is basically flat
10. On top of that, self-storage construction has exploded...
11. ...because we keep spending more money during the holidays.
12. Money (and time) we don’t have
Three things you can do that will make a big impact on your wealth
13. Understand and overcome irrational purchasing
14. Cut spending in largest categories first (housing, transportation, food)
15. Move to urban areas with higher employment growth
BUT What's the deal with THE garden gnome?
Personally, I've always found them tacky. Turns out, they are a perfect metaphor for the changing landscape of prosperity. Originating in Germany and once a fixture of wealth, rich people placed them in their gardens. Over time they became conflated with traditional stories and superstitions. Soon the middle class latched onto these figurines as a status symbol.
Garden gnomes saw a resurgence in the 1970s, but this time with humorous styles. A popular prank was to steal someone's gnome and then send postcards of it traveling to far off places (as seen in the French romantic comedy Amelie). And just like everything else, millennials have imposed their irreverence on these once innocent garden statues, featuring them in the posh Instagram feed of the CitizenM hotel.