One Millennial’s expectations

Here’s a great article about expectations

I think that expectations might be really high, but on the other hand, most people I know are struggling to pay the bills. Its deceptive because I will never starve–we were on WIC in seminary–

so I don’t look that bad off, but on the other hand my debt is more and more a problem, and it feels like I’m barely staying afloat (nevermind paying stuff off)……….Its hard, because I guess I could have made different choices (ie not have 3 children and a grad degree, maybe one or both of these things should not have happened) but I’m not sure that I had UNrealistic expectations (that my husband would be able to work fulltime somewhere?) ….and the ONLY thing we spend money on for fun is eating out (and with kids sometimes thats a survival technique)…….

In a completely informal survey among friends, it appears there was this change between the babies born before the 80s and after…..apparently those born before the 80s got the “work hard and you will succeed” line and those after got the “Work hard and you will succeed and be happy.” But my observation is we aren’t succeeding, we aren’t happy and in reality we aren’t even making it……so I disagree about the exceptional expectations thing…..

The “whole you guys think your TOO special line” is a little annoying—“you guys are delusional” is angering……(and your solution to this situation is to change us? Is there a way other things can change too?). Adults who have careers, children and houses and are talking about retirement, those who get to refinance houses they actually own and that their kids are in a hard place that they don’t understand….. (those who tell me about how they worked part time to make it thru  college where I worked 2 or 3 part time jobs seeming to make almost no difference, and I had WONDERFUL HELP paying for college)………

Then there’s the whole you need two parents working fulltime now to pay for kids–which is a socio-econmic problem.

But seriously other adults talk about refinancing and retirement, and meanwhile my ONLY capital (my car) got totalled by another driver which means no I have absolutely no capital, and lots and lots of debt…….

Here are my expectations

I expect my children to choose college based on their own finances and debt decisions, because we have no means to save to for them….

I expect Social Security to be gone by the time I am older, and I should not count on it

I expect to have nothing saved for retirement

I expect to be 100K in debt at least until my youngest starts school

I then expect that if my husband needs to live somewhere else to work fulltime, that we will be able to somehow manage it after my youngest starts school…….so that we can actually start paying down our debts….

I expect my two cars to last at least 5 more years as I am currently making payments on both

I expect my husband and I to continue tutoring, to trade off babysitting as much as possible to save money. I expect to rent out our car, trade favors and otherwise barter as much as possible to save money.

I expect to continue to never buy movies, books or clothes for myself or my husband unless we have an interview, or the shoes are leaking profusely

I expect to garner clothing for my children through wonderful grandparents and extended family for as long as possible, the same being true for extracurriculars, and the majority of toys received during birthdays and Christmas (because we can’t afford much more), and am SO lucky this is the case

I expect to continue to miss out on movies, shows and adult activities due to lack of funds/babysitting and to continue to do introverted/at home activities because they are cheaper and require less coordination

I expect if I ever am out of work to have to move the entire family back with our families because we are barely making it as is…

I expect that all the people my age will continue to look for second and third jobs to help finances–making our chances of being able to socially hang out all the less…(everyone I know my age is looking for fulltime/second/more work)

I expect to be unhappy whenever I think about money, but happy because I am in a steady career that I like and that I got to have a family

I expect never to own a house, ever.

I expect the library will continue to be our best friend.

I expect my kids will play outside a lot, because its free and because its good for them.

I expect Netflix, free arts and crafts and recycling, I expect a lot of creativity as we figure out how not to buy things (ex: I jimmied together a Spiderman Costume today, because my son wanted one)

The snarky part of me wants to ask “Do you think I’m setting expectations too high” Read: I am SO not a GYPSY

The realistic part of me wants to say “What do you make of my expectations?”

When your in debt…

Maybe this is really obvious to other people, but apparently its not really helpful to go to a big stewardship conference when you are about $100,000 in debt. (at least it not if your me….)

There I’ve gone and said it. My family and I are over $100,000 in debt, and the end seems nowhere is sight. We live paycheck to paycheck, my husband works three part time jobs, I work one fulltime job. I try to tutor (although I’ve let that fizzle recently). We rent out our extra car, and we have wonderful people who we pay (not very much) to help us to take care of our 3 boy-boys. We try to stay off the credit cards, but when bills come they come. And maybe we could have put off having children, but every time we’ve had a child someone has been home (first two were during our summers at grad school and the third was when my husband was looking for a job by my new church) so we know we are saving a TON on childcare. We are done with that (we think) and I guess we could have not had kids, but honestly that so does not work for us. So we can’t really see what else to do……

Here is the part that gets me…We’re not alone. Most people my age are struggling with debt. I’m lucky that I have a job with benefits (which frankly is why we have 3 kids) but really, we aren’t really “making it” so to speak.

So when I went to the kaleidoscope stewardship conference, I really wanted to hear about the United States’ problem with debt, in the context that we pray and promise the forgiveness of debt. I wanted intellectual conversation, theological discussion. I probably would have settled for the fact if someone (besides me and my big mouth) had raised the issue…

What the conference was: A great bag of tricks and tools, and a new set of language to think about stewardship–a training for stewardship teams or world-weary pastors, a way to address money in (primarily) big churches or churches with undergivers.

A nice way to think about these situations are like this (your planting the seeds of stewardship)

328 × 272 – colsdioc.org

What it discussed: Healthy financial practices–including giving, personal relationships, thankyous, ongoing stewardship (instead of a once a year thing), and some reflection about where people do put their money and why it isn’t church (instead). For thoughts about wealth and how it effects judgement read this fascinating article..

575 × 300 – staparish.net

What it didn’t include:

ways to leverage Time and Talent as well as money, (much) theological discuss, what to do if you were in financial distress (or are already in debt), and the fact that we are moving on from institutional religion to something else in Christianity….

The story was pay your debts and then you can get on with your life…..apparently I will never be able to get on in my life.

I guess I pictured the conference to be more about this…

and less about this

367 × 224 – salempresbytery.org

If your interested in my theology of debt read my brilliant post about Ruth here!

But here is the long and short of it.

American’s Don’t God to Church (this report notes that “overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.”)…ok so again an indication our “stewardship” approach should probably be more about sharing what we’ve got rather than raising money for the instituion….

All Americans have to deal with debt (sequester anyone??), ESPECIALLY those Millennial/Nones we (us religious people) are so desperate to connect with….

We pray for, Christ promises and we attest to the forgiveness of debts.

Anyone else notice that Christianity is dropping the ball here?

I vote we find a way to REALLY address debts and the feeling of worthlessness it induces (again read my Ruth post for more on this)

And since I’m one of those in deep debt. I pray we do it soon!

 

Graph from the fascinating article linked above

Money=Symbol

I still remember when the stock market was falling. I had just decided (luckily) to stay another year in school, and the market was doing horribly, and everyone was running around like chickens with their heads cut off saying “the sky is falling, the sky is falling” no wait…that’s chicken little. ImageThey were actually saying “The market is falling, the market is falling” which of course just made the panic and therefore the downturn of the market worse…

2 things get me about this

1. If someone with authority had just said, Stop, calm down, let’s take the time to think about this–instead of throwing money at the situation as quickly as possible things might have gone better (and I am totally bipartisan in my blame here)

2. Money is not what we think it is…

Anyone remember when gas was under a dollar a gallon? When I was 10 (that would be 19yrs ago–yes you may do the math of how old I am 🙂 ) I remember gas sometimes being as cheap as $.89

And when I asked my congregation if they can remember one cent candy, most of them could (alas that was before my time) ImageThe point being that a dollar is not really a dollar, and that money is just a symbol.

To us it means status (yes)Image but its more than that, we trust the value of the dollar, to us it means security something we can depend on. But you know what? Money is not security. People like to think about money in the bank, or land ownership as guarentees. People like to talk about job security (is there such a thing). Heck, we even have a system of money that is named Social Security.

Do you know that our dollars aren’t backed by silver anymore? It used to be money was the symbol of the silver that backed it up in the treasury–now its backed up by nothing.

So what I have a question, what makes money an effective symbol? Probably its quantifiable and tangible nature. We have put a piece of paper out to symbolize commerce, and so we are able to better conceptualize it.

This is why tithing is so important, it isn’t just about giving money to the church–its about your relationship with God. If you give money to God regularly, then you are going think about God whenever you deal with money, hence changing the very way we deal with money in the day to day–it changes the symbol. (Maybe this is why research shows the only way money makes you happy is if you give it away see amazing TED Talk http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_norton_how_to_buy_happiness.html for more)

Now…what if God was our security? What if we depended not on pieces of paper but on God to bring us through. What if we, in essence bank of God.Image

How much God do you have on you?

Do you have enough to get you through the week?

Can you share some God with me today?

Need more God, better go back to the bank (Church) where theres enough God to go around..

As the church, are we “generating interest” in God? Are we growing our funds? Are we accruing more God through our actions?

Image

Because after all, God doesn’t grow on trees…

PS Scripture Matthew 19, note 2 things 1. When the man is foolish, Jesus loves him first before he responds in ANY other way, Jesus loves him & 2. Jesus promises to increase everything a hundredfold–which is great because it clues us in to the fact that this love isn’t really quantifiable…hundredfold is a better interpretation than a hundred, because it isn’t exact, it is more a SYMBOL of what is going happen (besides who can handle a hundred spouses, speaking as a married woman who finds polygamy BIblical yet crazy, I couldn’t even handle two 😉

Anyway, the point being, Possessions are just symbols

17As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” 20He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

23Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

28Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Shannon A Thompson

Author. Speaker. Librarian.

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