It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Technology was supposed to make things easier and among other things aid in making twenty-something’s (i.e. Gen Y denizens) achieve more, make more money and contribute faster to society. It could be argued that in some cases that has happened – think Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew Mason, and the two principals of Instagram Dennis Skyros and Mike Krieger who just last week became multimillionaires. But the way I see it, far too many Gen Y’ers have become slaves to technology and devices and actually unknowingly spend a disproportionate amount of their income paying for their technology habits. I believe the need for technology and its expense is a significant contributor to college graduates returning home to live with their parents.
In order to function in today’s society people need to have access to the web, a mobile phone (preferably a smartphone), devices such as a computer or tablet to produce and consume content. When those costs are included in monthly expenses the average Gen Y’er might be surprised at the percentage of his/her monthly income that goes to feeding their technology needs. Surely some will point out how inexpensive technology can be. However can is theoretical and in practice the average Gen Y’er spends more than $100/month on technology.
For example – a new smartphone costs anywhere from $300-$500. Since people tend to replace smartphones about every two years the cost of phone purchase amortized over the two years is about $20 monthly. Mobile service costs are $ 50 or more monthly. Add in the costs of buying a tablet, or computer, any software and subscriptions, home internet service and it’s easy to see how the monthly technology costs can easily exceed $100 or more. And I’m leaving out things like cable television service since the Gen Y’ers I know have little interest in watching broadcast or cable television.
For many Americans in their twenties scrounging up $500 a month for rent is not easy. Moving to a big city doubles or triples that number. Transportation costs (subway, bus, taking care of a car with parking and insurance, rail etc.) are a factor as well. It all adds up to a number that makes subsisting on anything near the minimum wage – impossible. Even at $15/hour which is nearly double the minimum wage, thirty-five hours per week equals $2,200 before taxes.
So it is conceivable that the sum of one’s technology bills at over $100 approaches 10% of take-home pay. That’s an expense that did not exist in the 1980’s when college graduates and young people would shudder at the thought of living with their parents.
There really is not an option to live in today’s society without technology. Surely there will be those that will point out technology does not have to cost as much as I am advancing, but in my experience most people just pony up and pay the costs without really thinking too much about the long term ramifications.
It is sometimes said that city dwellers can spend one-fourth to one-third of their income on housing. Add 10% for technology to that and the total can approach 40% of income before doing anything but paying for housing and technology. It’s no wonder things are tough for Generation Y.