Is Poverty the New Black (What Are Millennials Seeing)

By Mark A. Leon

I was recently having a discussion with a friend who just had an offer accepted on a house where her and her boyfriend will be moving into and living together for the first time since they began their courtship 10 months ago.? We naturally led the conversation to marriage and she gave us a timeline for engagement, wedding and honeymoon based on their collective financial situation.? I asked where was the romance and spontaneity.? She turned and smiled and said, “that is all that is planned.? The how and exactly when is up to him.”

Last week I spoke to an HR manager in Malaysia about new graduate hiring and asked what the significant challenges were.? She said that offers are extended but candidates don’t accept for one or two months.? When I probed further, she explained that they want to travel and see the world before they start work.

Now I started to put the dots together and looked back at some recent publications around millennials.

Here is what I found out:

  • They are choosing to move to the big cities where they can barely afford to live and eat for the sheer excitement and challenge of urban city life.
  • Their primary motivators are not money, but challenge and making a difference
  • They are bound to a life without limits where new terrains, geographies and hobbies are a way of life.

More research needed.

Several years ago, I was a prominent local area host for couchsurfers.? For those that do not know, couchsurfing is a global community of travelers and hosts that offer temporary housing and assistance at no cost.? Often a gift or meal is shared.? It is a free-spirited approach to travel and engaging in new relationships.? I found my experiences rewarding and diverse.? I hosted couples, bands, mother and daughter teams, individual travelers, gays and lesbians looking for answers and people just looking for a new beginning.? From Sweden to Belgium, Spain to Brazil; they came from all over the world to share stories and experiences.

All my life, I was raised by my father’s generation to make money, save it and then make more.? It was always about the net worth.? I fought off that thinking after graduate school, but a part of me still understands and thus I have created a due thought process on money.? It is good to save, but also good to enjoy the virtues it offers.

Now, why is poverty the new black?? I don’t know the exact answer, but would like to offer some unsubstantiated theories and observations:

  • We could say that the new generation puts less emphasis on family and religion and focuses more on personal discovery
  • We could also conclude that opportunities are more limited and for the first time, their parents will make more than them and they have come to that realization
  • Perhaps, they are inspired by innovation and to change the world, they have to see it.? Really, see it.
  • Money is an inhibitor.? We work to make money.? Work limits our ability to explore civilizations and untapped cultures.
  • Technology has given opportunities to discover on limited means.? With the onslaught of Uber, AirBNB and GoFundMe, we can see things we never thought possible.
  • Maybe, it is cool to not be judged by the size of your wallet and your social status.
  • The idea of save and explore sounds so appealing.? I spent an amazing five days in New Orleans with a friend a few years back.? We left on one day notice and drove 23 hours just because.? Today, she travels around the world building homes and helping in villages in impoverished communities.

There are many explanations and research studies that will draw conclusion upon conclusion, but in a way, that is what makes this new generation so powerful.? They are not victims of statistics.? They are individuals struggling to find an identity.

In a world where you can meet new people, share stories, create moments and find identity, money isn’t the answer.? A great pair of shoes, a smartphone, a warm blanket and an endless sense of adventure is all you really need.