Gratitude and a busted microwave

When I was a teenager, my parents’ microwave broke. It seems odd to me now, but I distinctly remember feeling surprised when my dad went out that weekend and bought a new one.

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I imagine I’d reached the age where I realized that things cost money, and perhaps begun to have my eyes opened to the fact that there were lots of things that some people couldn’t afford.

A microwave seemed like a big expense, and when dad came home with a new one, I realized, probably for the first time, that my parents were rich. Not filthy rich, perhaps, but comfortable rich. I remember saying to dad, ‘Wow, it’s pretty amazing that you can just go out and buy a new microwave. Some people couldn’t do that.’

I’ve been reminded of this many times over the years when I face unexpected expenses. Last Friday my car wouldn’t start. Within an hour the RAA had come and I had a new battery. The $170 was an expense that was very inconvenient and I felt like getting annoyed, but then I remembered to be grateful.

I will still eat this week. I will still pay my mortgage and I still bought the shoes I needed. Many people can’t do that. I have to remember that any time I receive a bill I can afford to pay, it is a time to be grateful.

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The Smashed Avocado Debate – My take, in 250 words

avocade-toast-web-42-1080x675A recent article in The Australian, by Bernard Salt, has set the internet on fire in what is becoming an increasingly tiresome war between the generations.

He took a stab at ‘millennials’ saying that if they forewent hipster foods like ‘Avocado on Toast’ at $22 a pop, then maybe they’d be able to afford a house.

The millenials, naturally, have erupted with the damning eloquence of post-hipster university students, doing the math and claiming they’d have to save their avocado toast money for a decade to afford a deposit.

Clearly, both are missing the point.

Salt’s patronising tone offers little to a1408021947_8_1 generation struggling to afford even a tiny piece of the Australian dream. Housing prices have risen astronomically since my parents bought their first 3 bedroom house for two-and-a-half years’ salary back in 1984. When I bought my two-bedroom unit on a postage stamp of land, it cost me five years salary.

Many millenials, however, have also missed Salt’s main point; that things that are common place now, were luxuries 40 years ago, and that just because your parents can afford it now, doesn’t mean you deserve it. Millennials need to learn that IKEA isn’t cheap and that new or matching furniture is an earned luxury. Smashed avocado brunches or cocktail nights at that copper-lantern-bar cost money that people didn’t used to spend.

The small things do add up… maybe not to a house deposit, but to other forms of investment that will get you there in the end.