Father Ken and daughter Sarah Hamik talk about how generations view personal finance. (Contribution)
Ken: Sarah, I remember when you were growing up in Berkeley, you and your younger friends would occasionally have lunch, and I’d always ask, “How angry are you at my Baby Boomer generation?” As you’ve all gotten older, these conversations have become more careful and even angry about your economic prospects, student loans, and the fate of the environment. As a futurist, I felt that my generation lacked the foresight and regenerative thinking. I don’t think we have a great report card on how we’ve turned the world over to Millennials, Gen Z, Y and Xers.
Sarah: I remember those conversations well. For example, the median cost of a typical 20% down payment was about 85% of last year’s median Millennial household salary. This is significantly higher than the 75% for Gen X and 64% for Baby Boomers of the same age. From 1973 to 1977, Boomers paid about $39,780 in today’s dollars for a 4-year public college. That’s just over half the cost for Millennials who attended public college from 2006 to 2010: $70,000. And that’s more than double the $90,875 the Generation Z pays today.
As a Millennial, after realizing that I will never be able to afford a home, I find that we begin to strive for simplicity.
Ken: Glad you brought us to Humboldt as a student at Humboldt State! You are one of the most connected generations in history. When I was working on the first smartphone in the 1990s, I was worried about the impact of the 24-7 media world you would all grow up with.
Sarah: To be honest, that’s partly why we experience a mental health crisis – the feeling that something inside us is broken. Like many, I had issues with my mental health, but as I changed, I discovered that these “oddities” were actually my superpowers. On my bad days, I feel better if I make someone else’s day with a kind deed or word. I can’t fix the world, but I can help this person, animal or piece of nature in front of me. We can start with ourselves.
Social media can also be a tool for engagement and collaboration through young tribes. You should listen to us!
Ken: In the 1990s, I asked what would be the most important factor for moving into the 21st century, when change would be the only constant. Conclusion: Women should take more leadership roles.
Sara: As our roles in society change, speaking as a Millennial woman in 2023, it gives me hope. After years of marginalizing women, we realize the benefit of one of our greatest talents: building community.
Ken: Agreed! I find that the LGBTQ and BIPOC communities are also cultivating very innovative solutions and cultural wisdom. I remember being asked on TikTok, “What would you do if you had a million dollars?” I remember you asking the question. Almost all the younger generations gave the same answer: you would give to people in need.
Sarah: I think the inescapable conclusion that the younger generations have come to is: We want to work hard for happiness, for people who want to work hard for us, and we want a solid retirement. With these things in mind, we need a revolution. With passion, drive and knowing technology as a first language, I feel we can create a new future, leaving it better for the generations after we are gone.
Ken: I think you’ve given us a blueprint for solving any global problem by both building community and continuing this generational conversation. I hope we have more!
Ken Hamik is president of the board of the Humboldt County Visitors Bureau, partner at Ganjery and co-founder of Community Pride & Peace. Sarah Hamik is DJ S(Hero) with the “HyperKinetic Chronicles” shows on HumboldtHotAir.org radio, chef and co-founder of Patsy’s Humboldt Place.