ELI5: The millennial generation appears to be so much poorer than those of their parents. For most, ever owning a house seems unlikely, and even car ownership is much less common. What exactly happened to cause this?

It is possible for millenials to bootstrap themselves now with self discipline. The trick is figuring out how. When I was 30 I had to reboot my life from absolute zero. I had no family to help me. I committed to never being poor again.

First I found a poor couple, and offered to help as much as I could in exchange for couch surfing privileges. I quit smoking and drinking. Then I found low paying work within walking distance, and worked my butt off spending not one dollar more than a small bit to help out my poor couple.

Later I rented a two bedroom apartment, rented out both rooms for more total than the rent and surfed my own (free) couch. I ate a lot of eggs and Ramen, since I didn't know the food banks here are ridiculously generous. There was nothing I didn't deny myself that cost money. I read books and watched DVDs from the library for entertainment any time I could not use the time to earn side money.

After two years I had more than two years' net (low) pay in the bank, a reliable car and a spare, and was on my way to securing my commitment to not be poor. I found better work because I had more resources to be responsible, earned more money and continued to keep as much of it as humanly possible until I felt the wolf had been pushed back from the door. The rest was easy.

There were troubles. I worked sick. I lost jobs and had to get new ones through no fault of my own - such is the tyranny of bosses at the low end. I got taken on wages, working for a company that was kiting checks. I got taken for a ride on a bad car. I had to change out subtenants several times until I found reliable ones. What little I had was sometimes stolen. The reliable subtenants would eventually move out on their own, having improved their own situations. But I kept keeping on, never risking more than absolutely necessary, never borrowing. Not accumulating "stuff" I would just lose if times turned on me again.

It has been many years. I am not wealthy now by any social standard. But it would take an awful lot to put me at risk of having to start over again. I am looking toward retirement confident of owning my own home free and clear, and having some savings also.

I believe that success can be as simple as self discipline, at least for young people in good health. The millennial generation can do what is necessary to secure their comfortable future. We just don't teach them how, or they won't believe it. Earn, and keep what you earn by organizing your life situation to your advantage. Deal tight but square. Don't get taken for a ride. Don't be a slave to your "stuff". My grandmother survived the Great Depression and I listened to her stories about it. Compared to that this is Easy Street.

/r/explainlikeimfive Thread