I’m a big fan of the “Your Money” section of the Business Insider. I especially enjoy reading articles from millionaires sharing the secrets of their success. I may not always agree with everything that the “one per cent” says, but at least it gets us to reconsider our spending habits. Some opinions are controversial, but this one takes the cake (or should I say the avocado?).
In the Australian version of the current affairs show “60 Minutes,” Tim Gurner, a 35 year old real estate mogul, suggested that millennials would be more likely to be able to afford a home if they cut their discretionary spending, using avocado toast as an example.
“When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each. We’re at a point now where the expectations of younger people are very, very high. They want to eat out every day; they want travel to Europe every year,” Gurner said. “I think until the generation realizes that the people that own homes today worked very, very hard for it, saved every dollar, did everything they could to get up the property ladder.”
To say Gurner’s words of wisdom (and I use that term loosely) weren’t well received by the younger generation would be the understatement of the century. His comments went viral online, drawing harsh criticism. Although I’m not a multimillionaire (at least not yet), this reminds me a lot of the online hate Kristy and Bryce of Millennial Revolution and I got when our stories first came out.
Millennials today face a lot of challenges – precarious employment, record high student debt and sky-high home prices, to name a few. Telling millennials that they can’t afford a home because enjoy the odd $4 latte at Starbucks is like rubbing salt in the wound. (And not every single millennial enjoys to travel to Europe. And for the ones that do, many travel on the cheap, staying at hostels to help cut down on their travel costs.)
When I wrote my book, Burn Your Mortgage, I could have easily said that everyone should give up daily lattes at Starbucks and their iPhone to own a home, but I didn’t think that would have been well received (you would’ve probably tossed my book in trash after reading the first 5 pages). Instead my book has a different message: you can still enjoy the finer things in life like a Starbucks coffee or an iPhone (within reason), you just have to be smart on the big purchases like a home or car. You don’t have to give up travelling, but you do need to take homeownership seriously and make it your top priority.
The biggest hurdle that keeps most renters from becoming homeowners is saving up the down payment. While cutting out your daily latte may help a little, there are far better ways. I’m a big fan of “creative living arrangements.” If you can’t afford a home alone, why not pool your money together and buy with family and friends? If your parents aren’t in the financial position to gift you your down payment, perhaps they’ll be nice enough to let you stay at home, charging you a minimal amount for room and board. If mom and dad aren’t too keen with the idea of living under one roof, there’s always the option of splitting rent at your place with a roommate. These are just some of the many examples of creative living arrangements that I discuss in my book.
Just because you enjoy avocado toast (or whatever your guilty pleasure is), doesn’t mean you have to give up on the dream of homeownership. You just have to be smart with your daily spending, especially on the big ticket items, and constantly be on the lookout for new ways to earn money on the side.