Growing up the stereotypical American dream was owning a home with a white picket fence, dog in the yard, and two children. This was always the picture I imagined when growing up and what I thought I wanted for my life. Then the economy started to shift and as I headed into adulthood a totally different picture started to emerge. Now, that I am married and in my early 30’s the American Dream has a totally different meaning. However, I am not alone. Millennials are redefining the American Dream in big ways.
As a millennial, I have listened to countless baby boomers and traditionalists shine a negative light on our generation as a whole. We think differently and have different expectations for how we see our future. We don’t necessarily want their American Dream and they can’t understand this as they worked so long and hard for it.
Why are Millennials redefining the American Dream?
Millennials were raised in a time of transition. Media and digital technologies were on the rise during our childhood. We were the first generation to grow up with computers and digital media in our homes.
Millennials are also highly educated but this comes with a price tag. According to Inc, 63% of millennials have more than $10,000 in student loan debt. Millennials have entered adulthood strapped with debt. Many millennials entered the workforce during the Great Recession which has had a big impact on their views of personal finance.
What exactly do millennials want?
How Some Millennials are Redefining the American Dream
“I think the American dream is to be your own boss and create your own future. To feel like you have the power to improve your own life and have a voice to help improve the lives of others.”
Jamie – Simple Living Mommy
“Security and independence. I want the house and car and to be able to pay my bills and guaranteed quality and accessible health care. My expectations are pretty basic I think.”
Carissa – Mom Needs Chocolate
“I think the American dream is to be financially stable, own your home, and have a job that you love so you can enjoy your life to its fullest.”
Jamie – Living Life As a Wife
“I think the American dream is that you can have the chance, through hard work and perseverance, to create a better life for yourself no matter your circumstances.”
Rebecca – Surviving Student Loans
“I think the American dream is having the freedom to go after the life you want and being able to achieve that through hard work in a land of limitless possibilities. ”
Mattie – Growing the Givens
“I think the American dream is working hard to find the job you love that provides well for your family. Not giving up until you reach that. Your family watches and admires all you went through to get there.”
Mandy – Mandy’s DIY Care
” I’ll tell you MY American Dream (but it may not be for others!) Financial freedom, where I’m debt-free. No more renting and being a homeowner. Pursuing whatever hobbies I may be interested in. Running my own business with the freedom to travel and work from anywhere should I so desire. Building up a healthy emergency savings, investment funds and retirement portfolio. Healthcare that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg just to stay healthy and I don’t have to worry about going bankrupt if I’m hospitalized.”
Brittany – A Restless Millennial
What exactly is the Millennial American Dream?
There is an overarching theme in the responses above and this theme goes along with what I have heard from other millennials.
Millennials want financial stability.
Entering the workforce with student loan debt during the Great Recession had a huge impact on us. We saw our parents struggle and we struggled. Unemployment was at an all-time high and if you could find a job it wasn’t paying very much. It was difficult to enter the workforce and a lot of Millennials took jobs outside of their chosen field.
Millennials want a family.
Millennials still want to have a family. However, many millennials are waiting until later in life to grow their family. They want the financial stability first and a career in place. Having both parents work is not uncommon and many women want to be established in their careers before having a family. This is vastly different than the baby boomers who had children young and the traditionalists who normally had a stay at home parent.
Millennials want to own a home.
Depending on the millennials you talk to many still dream about owning a home. Putting down roots is important to many millennials but buying a home is a huge expense. With the student loan crisis, it is taking longer for millennials to save a down payment and purchase a home. However, this dream has not been put on the back burner. Many millennials are still working toward this dream.
Millennials want work-life balance.
Climbing the corporate ladder is not necessarily a goal of the millennial generation. Millennials are striving for more of a work-life balance where they can spend more time with their families and travel. We have the world at our fingertips and two weeks vacation just isn’t cutting it for most millennials. You may have noticed corporations changing policies and becoming more lax to track millennials.
Millennials are hustling.
Have you met a millennial without a side hustle? From Uber to blogging there are so many side hustles to do. Millennials aren’t calling it quits after leaving work. Many are hustling as a way to increase their income to pay off debt or are working to replace their current salary to become their own boss.
The millennial generation still wants the house and kids but without the debt and more freedom to travel.
The millennials still dream of owning a home. Millennials still want a family. It is just taking us longer to get there. Millennials are striving for financial security before making one of the largest purchases of their life and welcoming children into the equation. They are hustling to pay off debt, save money, and travel the world. Millennials know they have the world at their fingertips with the internet and the ability to fly cross country in a day. The millennials just see the world a bit different. We are still hardworking and want many of the same things. We are just doing it at our own pace and with our own terms.
How do you define the American Dream? let me know in the comments below!