Why This Millennial Doesn’t Buy Stuff

Fast Company has some ideas about “Why Millennials Don’t Want to Buy Stuff.” Their ideas include: The cloud, new definitions of ownership, evolution of what we want from our purchases (connections, they say). Which: INTERESTING. But here’s why I don’t want to buy stuff:

1. Stuff costs money.
2. I don’t have money.
3. Okay, let’s say I did have money.
4. Theoretically that would be because I had a job.
5. But how long will I have that job?
6. Is my industry steady?
7. Do I feel comfortable enough in my job to sign up for four years of car payments?
8. Do I feel comfortable enough in my job to sign up for a 30-year-mortgage?
9. Do I feel comfortable enough in my job to sign up for year’s lease?
10. Do I feel comfortable enough in my job to pay rent month-to-month?
11. Do I feel comfortable enough that, if I start building a little home for myself in my month-to-month apartment, if I start collecting nicer pieces and buying lamps from places that are not Ikea, I won’t have to move in six months when the rent rises? Or in a year when my job is eliminated?
12. Do I feel comfortable enough with my ability to save that I know I’ll be able to pay to keep my things in a storage unit until I get back on my feet, or to rent a truck and drive a load down to my parents’ garage?
13. No, is the answer to all that.
14. I don’t know where I’ll be in six months, because I don’t know where I’ll have to be in six months. And that is why I don’t want to buy stuff.

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21 Comments / Post A Comment

Megano! (#124)

Yup.

Bill Fostex (#573)

Compared to @Logan I’m frickin’ rich, insofar as I have a steady job in a steady industry and no debt whatsoever (although being debt-free is a recent [6 months] development; hurray for me), but I still have a strong reluctance to purchase objects because (1) I hate my job and might quit in a rage at any moment, (2) I could be fired at any moment for spending too much time doing things like writing nonsense on The Billfold, (3) The best things to spend money on are transient (I’d rather spend $500 on ten $50 meals or one plane ticket than, say, a couch), (4) I’m a ramblin’ man and can’t nobody or no material object hold me down, and (5) serious commitment issues.

Bill Fostex (#573)

@Bill Fostex Mainly (5).

Balance Sheet Recession.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

Also: stuff sucks. The Makers of Stuff have been doing an awful job of motivating me to want to spend my hard-earned money on anything non-edible for the last 4 years or so. Make nicer stuff and we will talk.

@MuffyStJohn Word.

cherrispryte (#19)

Also, crippled by education loans. And a healthy anticipation of the apocalypse, be it zombie-related or not.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@cherrispryte THE MAYANS ARE COMING TO EAT OUR BRAINS.

mouthalmighty (#165)

@cherrispryte: PREACH.

cherrispryte (#19)

@cherrispryte and in retrospect, I shouldn’t've used the word “crippled.” Bad self.

ElBlynx (#499)

Student loans! Temporary jobs in temporary places! Attempt to be environmentally friendly by thrifting/repurposing/doing without! Fear of becoming a hoarder!

I’m confused about what cloud computing has to do with car ownership…I think people just can’t afford to throw away money on new cars when a used/family car will do just fine. Although I am totally down for cloud-based parking, should that impossibility ever become a reality.

ThatWench (#269)

@ElBlynx We (all of us) don’t have as many physical things, because all of our media has become digital. Therefore, the youngs are less into needing a physical object that is “mine”.

Which is an interesting enough bit of blue-sky speculating, and I think it does apply to at least me. (With some exceptions; my personal computer is NOT YOURS.) What I think it neglects is that there really are two different ways to view a car: from the inside and the outside.

From the outside, it is another physical object that occupies city-scarce space. But from the inside, it is a space itself. And I think that “space that is all mine” is a pretty important thing to human sanity (at least in the American psyche). People I know who insist on owning their own car in the city talk most often about this side of it; their stuff stays in the same place, their radio stations are where they left them, etc.

…and I’m just holding out hope for self-driving cars, which really can be sent off to find their own parking spaces, having looked up an available spot in the cloud. :P

Ugh, that linked article grinds my gears a little.

Articles in respected media outlets that I have read in the past few months have made the following claims:

“Millennials are ___ because they ____”
1. delaying adulthood / are lazy and probably spoiled
2. getting married later / selfish
3. having kids later / trying to “have it all”
4. trying to have it all / unaware that you can’t have it all
5. buying brand name items / using them as a form of self-expression
6. disconnected and friendless / are overly dependent on their facebooking smartphones
7. self-absorbed and flighty / have been coddled to narcissism by parents and technology
8. don’t understand the value of hard work / probably spoiled by their parents who gave them a trophy for everything
9. disillusioned with politics / put too much hope in Barack Obama
10. not owning cars or houses / don’t care about long-term investments
11. not moving far from home / don’t care about adventure
12. not buying things / don’t believe in ownership.

Of course, some of these are true once in a while–as they are FOR EVERYONE–but I am getting really tired of being the recipient, at age 29 (just on the cusp of Millennialhood!) of all this “kids these days!” condescension. Have any of the authors of these articles ever spoken to a person under 30?

@dj pomegranate “Kids these days!” condescension has been a thing for every generation ever. Your turn! :) from a slacker

Drea (#325)

1. Student loan payments that work out to >$500/mo.
2. Wages have been stagnant for the past 40 years.
3. Astronomical rents.
4. Entry level wages absolutely blow.
5. Inflation on required things like food. Also gas. Also any sort of entertainment.

Logan’s list looks a lot like my list, except I already live with my parents (34yo sister does too) and have nowhere to put stuff. And what the fuck would I buy? DVDs that are basically obsolete? CDs that are definitely? Books? (I buy books.) Having a life where I desire Stuff is very far away from any reality I can imagine myself having in the foreseeable future.

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

@beatricks@twitter I don’t even buy physical books all that often anymore! My bookshelf is about out of space, and I do 95% of my reading on my Kindle. The books are, to be honest, mostly just one of those “I am a literature person!” things. Instead of buying any kind of decorations, I have books, and if people are judging me based on my physical space, they get to judge my well-curated bookshelf. I buy Kindle books for my actual reading, or get Kindle editions from the library, and those books can be as trashy as I please because they aren’t on display.

sockhopbop (#764)

Dear Fast Company, is “Millennials don’t buy stuff because they are broke” not a catchy enough hook?

All excellent reasons.

I’d rather spend my money on travel.

But the biggest reason I don’t like stuff?

Thieves can steal it.

BURGLARS SUCK.

http://eemusings.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/third-time-unlucky-burglars-are-scum/

Last time I bought a Stuff, it turned out to be particleboard, and I paid for it not to be. Rage.

Also, word, all of the above, plus grad school, plus I could probably make a better one of whatever it is, anything it is, unless it’s music or a book, but… library. Or secondhand. Or why not pay for gas and go somewhere instead because it always has to be instead, now, you have to choose, and who wants to store it, anyway.

RocketSurgeon (#747)

The question I ask myself when it comes to buying new stuff is, “how much rent will it cost me to keep this in my apartment?” If I pay, say $60 per square foot per month, and the thing will take up space on the floor, in cabinets, etc. is it worth the cost of having it around long-term? It usually makes the decision pretty easy in the end.

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