Generation Y is in a tricky spot:
- One in four members of this generation -- loosely defined as those born between the mid-1970s to the late 1980s -- is living at home with Mom and Dad, according to the Pew Research Center. It's an extension of a trend: Even before the economy took a dive, the number of them returning to their parents' house doubled between 1980 and 2008.
- As a group, many of them are postponing both marriage and having children (despite academic studies that equate a spouse and kids with higher wealth).
- Unemployment sits at 8.3%, so even many college graduates can't land a job. But add to that the fact that, according to The New York Times, Gen Y'ers are not as likely to get driver's licenses as generations prior, so they're also less likely to relocate -- even for a high-paying job.
It's not hard to muster at least a little sympathy for Gen Y's situation... until you hear this alarming tidbit: The Times found that Generation Y believes that success comes through -- get this -- luck. Yes, luck, not hard work. It's an attitude that compelled that Times columnist to label them "Generation Why Bother."
Who's to Blame?
A recent Esquire feature places blame on the baby boomers.
After all, while the average net worth of those 65 or older rose 42% over the past 25 years, younger Americans have seen a 68% drop in their respective net worth. What else has grown during that time? The national debt -- a debt Generation Y will have to figure out how to pay back.
The author acknowledges that this may not have been an intentional play by the boomers to set up their kids for failure. They were merely just trying to do "what other generations before them would not -- sell their children's birthright for a mess of their own pottage."
However, as the article says, many believe this of Gen Y: "They're entitled ... They don't know what they want ... They don't know how good they have it."
But all this talk is useless and loses sight of the big picture. Sure, things may be tough. But Generation Y has it made. If they would only open their eyes to see the opportunities right in front of them.
The world is your oyster – pearl included!
Finger-pointing and complaining won't improve Generation Y's lot. What's sorely lacking is the work ethic that made America a successful, thriving nation at the center of the capitalist world.
Although it seems Generation Y has lost touch with the nation's history, this doesn't mean they can't change.
The reality is that it's easier than ever to save -- and make money -- thanks to the Internet:
- You can quickly compare prices, and save money, getting the best deals on sites like Amazon.com.
- You can easily locate old friends and colleagues to help you find a job through social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
- You can easily open an online brokerage account and invest in publicly traded stocks with low commissions -- an option that used to be affordable only for the wealthy.
- You can easily set up an online business selling virtually anything, investing in little more than a domain name and hosting provider.
You see, with a little hustle, Generation Y has a better shot than their parents, grandparents, or any ancestors ever had of making money, saving money, and investing their money. That's the secret to building wealth – not luck.
Stop Whining Already
Generation Y: It's time to stop feeling sorry for yourself. Financial security is within reach.
Get out there and hustle as a contractor or a freelancer. Start an online business. Start a small business in your hometown, working long hours if necessary. Grow and raise your own food. Pinch pennies and save wherever you can.
Most important, invest the money this hustle and frugality will bring you. Even factoring in the market's drops, investing in stocks is the single most effective way to grow your money over time.
If you stick to this simple advice, this will be a generation to go down in history. Who knows, Generation Y might even be a generation that won't need to rely on Social Security to survive in retirement, as so many baby boomers will have to do. Which is a much more frightening future than what awaits Generation Y.
This article was written by Motley Fool analyst Adam J. Wiederman. Click here to read Adam's free report on how to ensure a wealthy retirement -- including one loophole to use to boost your Social Security checks by as much as 76%. The Motley Fool owns shares of LinkedIn and Amazon.com. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Amazon.com and LinkedIn.