True money stories from smart people: Whingeing for Britain – who does it best?

6 November 2017
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“Selfie camera on the wall, who is the whingiest of them all?”

This argument has been raging for a few years… mostly in the pages of the Daily Mail… over who are the most annoying, the most spoilt, the most deserving of a good smack: those born between roughly 1945 and 1965 (baby boomers) or between around 1981 and 1997 (millennials)?

Both can whinge for Britain and regularly do. Boomers, as I see on my site MoneyMagpie.com, still believe the government should pay for every aspect of their lives and are apoplectic that it isn’t happening.

Kayleigh W. says: “I think it’s absolutely horrendous [that they’re pushing back the state pension age]! Make the MPs take a pay cut and then they wouldn’t need to raise the pension age! They are leeches, claiming lots of cash for stupid expenses such as 12p in mileage and 67p for a chocolate bar.”

Meanwhile, the 20-somethings feel furiously helpless at the idea of ever owning anything. “Sure, millennials get impatient if their Amazon Prime delivery doesn’t arrive within hours of ordering,” says comedian and millennial Joe Lycett. “But that’s because most of our patience will be used up waiting approximately 700 years to buy our first flat.”

According to one survey by Pew Research Center’s American Trends, even millennials aren’t too keen on millennials. Many don’t want to be identified as such, with 60% not considering themselves to be part of the ‘millennial generation’. But, poor lambs, is it just that the rest of us don’t understand them?

Well, it could be because, according to the World Economic Forum, many companies now employ a ‘millennial generational expert’ to “understand the values and expectations of their youngest employees, and how to engage with them”.

It’s enough to make a boomer drop his bacon sandwich. An actual person dedicated to listening to the whining of the entitled generation to make sure they have their mashed avocado on bruschetta when they need it? Maybe the poor babies should also have their own mixologist who can create a healthy green juice every morning to stop them throwing a tantrum and refusing to work.

“If they stopped wasting their money on take-away coffees and holidays every couple of months, they could afford more,” complain the boomers who spent their youth enjoying free tertiary education, low house prices, payments into final salary schemes, the certainty of free healthcare and largely stable families.

Of course, the older generation has always seen it as their right to whinge. Really, they’re mainly angry at being old and are looking for someone to blame. But it’s harder to care when you know that the over 50s own 80% of the wealth in this country, a fact even more embittering to millennials when you consider that today’s youth are the largest cohort since the lump of baby boomers. So that 20% is spread even more thinly than it might otherwise be.

It’s true that medical and care costs have rocketed faster than that of the gadgets and avocados so beloved of the yoot (that, by the way, is the new down-with the- kids word for youth that I’m using just to prove that I am down with said kids, bro’). But had the young boomers been willing to put more of their money away for the future, instead of doggedly assuming the state would pay for their every need, past, present and future, they might have less reason to complain now.

So, on paper at least, in my view, the millennials have more cause to whinge than the boomers. So far, they have been done out of the things the boomers took for granted, such as property ownership, free university education and a government that didn’t make you want to throw things at the TV every day.

But ultimately, although they may not have much, what they do have trumps the boomers every time. They have technology, they have youth and, importantly, they have time – lots of it. Today’s millennials have a good 80 years ahead of them to build a life, a nest egg and who knows what else besides. Next to that, what can the boomers boast? Nothing but a more heartfelt whinge.

Jasmine Birtles is a financial journalist and founder of MoneyMagpie.com. Email her at columnists@moneywise.co.uk.

Read more of Jasmine's articles.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

A rider to your comment on low house prices. Sure they headline figure was a lot smaller 50 years ago but perhaps it should be balanced against the considerably lower wages paid then as well. My starting weekly pay as a 16 year old was less than the basic minimum wage rate per hour today. Inflation and hindsight are both wonderful things. Not!

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