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Burton: Strange days for millennials

Bret Burton
Valley Voices

I’m a millennial. And as a millennial, I haven’t had to experience the hardship of an economic downturn yet in my adult life. I was fortunate enough to “grow up” in post-recession times. I graduated from college in 2008, moved to the mountains and lived an insulated life skiing and working in the service industry while America tanked.

We saw our parents and grandparents take the hit of the Great Recession from afar. Many of our parents lost their homes and businesses in foreclosure. Most of us millennials were maybe just out of college or younger and we didn’t have a home to lose, a 401(k) to have crushed, or a business to fall apart.

We’ve been lucky to “grow up” in an economy that has gone on a 10-year upward swing. We fearlessly bought homes out of foreclosure and made good investments because there was rarely a bad one. Unemployment was at an all-time low. So we never faced any serious adversity. Our businesses, investments and financial lives haven’t had a stress test yet. Small businesses started by millenials flourished and battled to take market share from the big guys. And we did pretty well for a while. 

We’ve traveled the world and spent a small fortune on avocado toast and mocha lattes, $120-a-month yoga memberships and essential oils. “Cease the day,” “YOLO” and the “time is now” has been our battle cry. Because we’ve always been alright. The world turns. We exist. The paycheck to maintain our lifestyle will always be there. 

Until now. We don’t know how long this will last and what the outcome will be. I hope for the sake of all us that this is a quick downturn and a quick upswing. I think millennials will expect this to happen because we’ve never faced any legitimate economic hardship.

Millenials expect to be bailed out because we haven’t faced anything serious on our own. It isn’t our fault! What a disservice! Someone will make it right.

And so far, we have the government bailout. If this shutdown lasts longer than a couple of months, this bailout won’t keep us afloat. The impact will be far-reaching — beyond what this bailout can cover.

Imagine a life without avocado toast where drip coffee replaces a mocha latte. Our generation will change. Our spending will change and our habits will change. We won’t take everything for granted anymore because we’ve tasted what it’s like to have nothing. To have no control, no freedom and no toilet paper.

One day our grandkids will wonder why we have a stockpile of toilet paper, safety masks and a pile of money under the mattress and we’ll tell them about the coronavirus of 2020. The panic, the chaos, the stay-at-home orders. How the economy came to a grinding halt in one week. Literally one week. No business. We’ll always know that a virus can shut everything down faster than a war or the banks collapsing. 

I’m having my second kid very soon. He’ll be part of a generation of kids that are about to grow up in a vastly different world. How different is yet to be seen, but just as 9/11 left a lasting mark on us, so will this. Our behavior is going to change forever. Our kids and grandkids will always think of us as crazy. Which we are — because we experienced the most bizarre time in modern history, and it left a lasting impact. 

Bret Burton has lived in Avon for 11 years and is an active Realtor, real estate investor and business owner. He Is a husband and a father of two. 


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