Junior Magazine: Issues — Gen Y, Changing Priorities, September 2011

A feature story for Junior Magazine on the changing spending habits of Generation Y. The story was motivated by the failure of this year’s Splendour in the Grass music festival to exhaust its ticket allocation, and based upon figures found in a second quarter ING Wellbeing Index, which reported that Gen Y were leading most other Australian age brackets when it came to household savings. I asked eight Gen Y’ers to talk to me about their spending habits.  Click the scanned image for a closer look, or read the article excerpt underneath.

FOR ALL THE TALK LAST SUMMER OF AUSTRALIA REACHING CRITICAL MASS IN A CRAMMED LIVE ENTERTAINMENT SECTOR, NOBODY EXPECTED IT TO EXTEND TO THE COUNTRY’S PREMIER MUSIC FESTIVAL. AND YET IN 2011 SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS FAILED TO EXHAUST ITS TICKET ALLOCATION. IT WAS A MASSIVE TURNAROUND FROM LAST YEAR, WHEN 32,000 TICKETS SOLD OUT WITHIN HOURS OF RELEASE.

But there’s mounting evidence that Splendour is simply part of a larger economic picture. The media is overflowing with talk of a second global financial crisis, the two-speed economy, the record-high Australian dollar and a struggling retail sector. ING’s latest Wellbeing Index, released on the July 19, reported that Australians are now saving more, with Gen Y households proving particularly frugal in putting away on average $445 each month – a far cry from the spendthrifts they’re often portrayed to be.

So what’s driving these figures? Is it an increased focus on savings, rising incomes, or something else entirely? Junior spoke to eight Gen Yers who specifically chose not to go to Splendour in the Grass in 2011 and asked them what they planned to do with the money they saved. Are they splashing out on other events, hitting the shops, hitting the internet or building a nest egg to hedge against impending global financial doom? Read on to find out.

Jimmy, 24, PhD Student (Brisbane)

I’m saving my money from Splendour for an exchange year as part of my PhD. This is my first year where I have been earning more than a student wage, so I haven’t had to make a conscious effort to save money. I haven’t really been skipping other gigs and festivals – Splendour would be the first thing that I’ve had to give up – because I’m now earning more money than I have in the past.  I don’t think the economy has stopped my spending, just made me more careful. I’ve definitely moved towards more online shopping, and I’ve definitely purchased a lot more from overseas this year: ‘local’ can be hard to justify when you can get it so cheap overseas.

Korie, 20, Recruitment Consultant (Melbourne)

Well, I didn’t really have any money to go to Splendour in the first place. That’s why I didn’t go. Before the festival I was saving to move down to Melbourne, and now I guess I’m just trying to put away a bit of money to go overseas with my girlfriends in November. We’re going to Thailand. I’ve been skipping concerts and festivals because there hasn’t been anything that really grabs my attention, rather than it being a cost issue. I’d say news about the economy doesn’t really affect my spending habits at all – the way I approach retail is exactly the same: just buying too much stuff that I don’t need!

Haiku, 23, Student (Mullumbimby)

I guess the money that I’m saving I’m spending on going to Europe instead. It’s pretty significant having that extra $1000 to buy flights and go travelling. I’m trying to save more than I used to, but I think it’s more important the older you get, because things just get more expensive. It’s not a case of consciously skipping things, but in saying that I haven’t really been to any other festivals this year. The economy does concern me to a certain extent: I don’t understand it fully, but when you listen to the news and shit’s going down and America’s going under again, it does make you think.

Caitlin, 25, Freelance Writer (Sydney)

The money I saved from Splendour is going towards travel and paying off bills – I’m heading to the US for two months towards the end of the year. It’s a particularly good time to be going, as my savings will go that little bit further. I get to go to a lot of free things through my job so I can’t speak to whether I’d still be buying tickets and CDs if I weren’t saving, but I’m only going to free and very cheap events at the moment. On a day-to-day basis the economy is a pretty abstract thing for me; I can’t think of any way in which it’s changed my spending habits. I have made a conscious effort to support local and independent retailers, both online and off.

For the full story, visit Junior Magazine.

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