A Cautionary Tale About Generation Gig

Nearly 80% of us would be interested in dropping out of the FT workforce to go freelance.

What Aren’t We Spending Money On?

At TIME, Jacob Davidson goes through some of the data and makes a list of 10 things that Millennials aren't buying. Are you not buying these things? Let's go through them one by one.

Millennials in Washington

With the zeal of a motivational speaker, Behnke tells her clients they can buy in the District at a cost comparable to the pricey rents here if they take in roommates to help make the mortgage. Twenty-five-to-34-year-olds in the District might earn a median salary of $44,680 (nationally, the median income for millennials in metropolitan areas is $27,025). But rents in neighborhoods such as Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan and Logan Circle average $2,000 per bedroom — far above the generally recommended income-to-expense ratio of 30 percent. Why not pay yourself rather than a landlord, Behnke reasons.

Yet after a day of showings, the 29-year-old will trek up 11th Street NW to a Columbia Heights rowhouse she shares with three friends. With the city’s median home price at $460,000, the agent who sells the Washington dream is a renter.

This weekend’s Washington Post Magazine is all about millennials and though I generally can’t bring myself to read pieces about the youngs these days, I just couldn’t help myself. It’s not terrible? I did find the story about the millennial real estate agent trying to convince her peers to buy houses and then rent out the rooms so they can actually afford to live in them a little batty. Also, Georgetown is apparently trying to be cool with the young crowd again (what, was it not cool when I worked in that neighborhood nine years ago and went to piano-sing-alongs at Mr. Smiths?).

Please Don’t Bring Your Parents to Your Job Interview

"The Millennial job interview prospect brings a resume, a crisp suit... and parents," read the caption at the top of this Wall Street Journal story. Sorry, but no. Yes, you can talk to your parents and get career advice from them. But you don't need them to accompany you for job interviews or smell out a place so that they can feel better about your career choice. Live your own life millennials! Or Joel Stein is going to come after you.

Do You Venmo?

Once upon a time a few days ago, some olds — people who were in their 30s — had (and then published) an inter-office online chat with some youngs — people who were in their 20s on the subject of Venmo, the app whose primary purpose is to facilitate bill paying among friends. It has a social component too, though, which is what shocked the olds.

The youngs tried to explain to the olds why Venmo was convenient and fun. The olds pointed out that if you rearrange the letters the app’s name becomes, appropriately, Venom. The young expressed polite skepticism that the app actually intended to poison them. The olds exploded.

heatherlandy 11:52 AM omg, it’s not bad enough that i have to know that the girl i used to sit next to in social studies just took her 4-year-old to the dentist, now i have to know that one of you paid your roommate for the phone bill??? people, you are just GIVING your privacy away! about sensitive things like money! we all need to have a big talk soon… 

Which side of Venmo divide do you fall on, dear readers? I’m in No Man’s Land: I have no philosophical problem with the app but I don’t use it, either. Do you find it entertaining or horrifying how blase certain people are about sharing financial info with their friends?

Note: I was tempted to title this “Venmo Venmo Venmo,” in homage to the Simpsons episode “Krusty Gets Cancelled” where there’s all this mysterious advertising for “GABBO GABBO GABBO” but that might be too esoteric. It would be, right? Yeah.

Cars, Houses, And other Millennial Milestones

Millennial milestones! We hit them, sometimes, just differently than our parents did. For example, Nicole of the Toast bought a car — over email:

Figure out exactly what car you want to buy. Do this online. Do not walk into a dealership. The internet is literally stuffed with rankings and reviews and Best Mid-Price Blue Sedans lists. “Shouldn’t I test drive some cars?” No. Can you drive a car? You’re set. … Say “Hi! I’ll be doing this over email. I would like to purchase a 2014 Model X with the extra-fire package. What is your best price on that?” At this point, I received a very rapid response from each of my two dealers. Dealer One said: “That model is retailing for Money, I can offer you a discount which will bring it down to Money – $1000.” Dealer Two said: “I would have to order that in for you special, so it would probably cost Money.” NOW THE DANCE BEGINS.

Her full account, festooned with pictures of American hero Kathy Bates in various cinematic guises, is charming, full of advice about how to both spend as little money as possible AND how to avoid having condescending car-selling dudes mansplain financing to you, in part by eschewing phone conversations altogether. Bonus: she bought this vehicle with money earned from being a misandrist ladyblogger. What’s more millennial than that?

Oh, I don’t know, how about buying your first house with your friends?

Millennials Now Earning a Median-Wage Income at Age 30

Through analyzing about three decades of census data—from 1980 to 2012—the study found that on average, young workers are now 30 years old when they first earn a median-wage income of about $42,000, a marker of financial independence, up from 26 years old in 1980.

About a third of adults in their early 20s work full time, a proportion that rises to about half of adults in their late 20s. The labor-force participation rate for young people last year declined to its lowest point in about 40 years, according to the report.

WSJ takes a look at a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, which shows how much more difficult it is for millennials to reach financial stability and find their footing in the workforce. One of the reasons it’s taking millennials longer to earn the median-wage income of $42,000 is that factory jobs, which used to pay decent salaries and didn’t require much more than a high school education have disappeared in the recession (not to mention, jobs in general). The factory jobs that are available require advanced skills, and those who can’t score full-time work are cobbling together part-time work in the service and retail industries while taking on internships to keep their resumes relevant. Every generation has had to hustle a little bit, but this one has a lot stacked up against them. [Report here.]

Photo: Vernon Chan

How to Be a Boss Boss

Hold onto your hats! Millennials are taking over, which means that people from other generations are going to have to stop bitching about the youngs for a second and figure out how to welcome their new corporate overlords. Time has some suggestions:

“Determine how your millennial boss prefers to communicate,” Dorsey says. For instance, maybe they hardly ever check voicemail, but they might be quick to respond via online chat or text message. Be prepared to hustle. “The day-to-day work at a Generation Y–led business is very intense and fast,” says Arvind Jay Dixit, CEO and founder of social-media platform Bubblews. Be flexible — you might be expected to jump into a variety of roles and do a wide variety of tasks, Dixit says. It might sound daunting, but it can pay real dividends for your career. “This keeps workers on their toes and motivated because they feel they have power to be able to influence decisions and strategy across the board,” he says. Sharpen your social (media) skills. “Millennials expect to build a brand on various social platforms and be ‘liked’ in volume,” says Michelle Dennedy, vice president and chief privacy officer at McAfee Inc. Since before they were teenagers, millennials have been expressing themselves online and are used to a constant flow of information and communication, she says. Don’t try to be their BFF. “What we see is that employees struggle more in a job as they become friends with a millennial boss outside of work,” Dorsey says. “Keeping it professional is the way to keep the job.” Keep your tech skills up to snuff. “Millennial small-business owners tend to be very technologically savvy and open to digital tools and innovation that will help their business succeed,” says Keri Gohman, head of small-business banking at Capital One.

Have you gotten to be a #GIRLBOSS? What are your tips for having non-millennials — who still expect to do things like, ugh, make phone calls — as employees? Or alternatively I guess how do you like dealing with millennials as your employers?

A Boomer Measures His Son’s Success

In the Times’s “Booming” section (about baby boomers) Jim Sollisch has a really sweet essay about his son Max, a 25-year-old singer/songwriter signed to an indie label, who although doesn’t make a ton of money, is living a life he seems to love. Sollisch says that we often measure success by how much money we make but, of course, there’s much more to it than that:

What my friends don’t know is how to measure any of this on the only scale most of us have. You know, the one the I.R.S. uses. And to be honest, I’m not sure how to answer the question either. How successful is Max’s music career? What is a tattoo on the forearm of a 20-something in a medium-size Midwestern state worth? The Eskimos have all those words for snow, and it seems the only language we have for expressing success is numeric. It may be a universal language, but it’s an impoverished one. Maybe we need a word for “never having to sit in a meeting where someone reads long power point slides out loud.” Maybe we should have an expression that captures the level of success you’ve achieved when you do exactly what you love every day.

Max gets up when he likes and does what he loves. He avoids most of the things that most of us numerically successful people complain about all the time: racing from one unreasonable deadline to the next, sitting in unproductive meetings and watching simple things made complicated by committees. And he doesn’t want for much, largely because he’s smart enough to know that the only way to be rich is to want little. He takes no money from his parents. If he doesn’t make enough from a particular tour to cover the next few months, he gets jobs substitute teaching. Somehow he manages to save a little money.

Sollisch still worries what his son will do if his music career doesn’t work out (because dads worry about their children), but when he looks at his son, he believes that Max’s success is “off the charts.”

Photo: AndreChinn

Millennials With Dollar$ to Spend

Goldman Sachs and Teen Vogue partnered to do a HOLISTIC STUDY of millennials’ favorite brands because “[millennials] have no mortgage, kids or families. That means more dollars to spend.” I’m not sure that’s QUITE how it works, but ok! Millenials like Forever 21, the study found.