Thirty, good job, still living at home. Life's a breeze

Gen Y kids need to learn the value of money just as we babyboomers did.

Gen Y kids need to learn the value of money just as we babyboomers did.

Gen Y kids need to learn the value of money just as we babyboomers did.

IN THE good old days, children left home at an appropriate age. Likewise a Tattslotto ad targeting the 50-something generation would have shown dad whooping it up in his new powerboat while mum relaxed poolside with a bottle of Bolly. Not so now.

An advertisement screening before movies at the cinema has Geoff Morrell and his fictitious wife enjoying themselves at what appears to be a harmless barbecue at the home of pregnant daughter and partner.

Suddenly the music changes and the camera focus tightens on a dewy-eyed Geoff as he hands a cheque to his equally dewy-eyed ''little princess''. He then gestures towards the quarter-acre block and house and says: ''This is all yours now, not the bank's.''

Then you realise Geoff has won Tattslotto. The people behind this particular piece of genius are acutely aware that we are a bunch of guilt-ridden-oldies who would do anything to see our kids ''set for life''.

But hang on a minute, didn't we spend the past 10 years haranguing our live-for-the-now progeny to start thinking ahead and to save.

''What for?'' they cheerfully replied as they racked up credit card debts to pay for monthly mobile phone bills, annual international backpacking pilgrimages, eating out (including breakfasts), buying takeaway and god knows what on clothes, coffee, clubbing and cars.

Judging by the collective groan from the baby-boomer audience after the said commercial, I was not the only one feeling miffed, for an important part of the narrative was missing.

Where was the flashback to mum and dad in their early 20s who, like me, were struggling with a mortgage, having babies, completing a tertiary education, hanging out nappies, working, divorcing, re-marrying, having more babies all before we were 30 and not once travelling overseas, setting foot in a restaurant or turning to our parents for financial assistance?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. In fact I envy Gen Y. Part of me wishes I had done the same thing when I was younger.

But I didn't. I made choices that, at the time, were pretty boring, but like many of my generation, I am beginning to reap the rewards now that I am in my 50s.

I appreciate that, unlike us, this generation did not receive free tertiary education and that for some a HECS debt can be a barrier to financial independence. But many of my friends' kids who are well beyond their apprenticeships and now have a trade with a relatively high income still do not seem interested in saving, moving out and buying their own house.

I just don't feel inclined to work at a full-time job I am no longer interested in, put up with adult offspring living at home board free, or re-financing my own home to enable them to enter the housing market.

Tim Soutphommasane, in his book What Crisis? Wellbeing and the Australian Quality of Life, argues that, as distinct from those who are genuinely struggling, we all need to rein in our expectations and that big houses, expensive cars and travel are lifestyle aspirations not to be confused with a good quality of life.

Our kids may arrive at their goals a decade or more later than we did, but let's allow them the same autonomy and satisfaction we experienced in having worked hard for what we achieved.

We may or may not leave them a financial legacy, but they can rest assured we provided for retirement and the costs involved at the pointy end of ageing.

Avril Moore is a freelance writer.

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