How do you make poverty sound better? Rebrand it! | Arwa Mahdawi

Having to take several jobs and sending kids to work used to be a sign of living precariously – now it’s just a question of what your ‘side hustle’ is

Listen carefully. I am about to divulge the secret of financial success. I have deduced a failsafe way to amass a lot of money, even if you earn very little. It doesn’t involve cutting down on avocado toast, crocheting your own clothes or working eight jobs; it’s effort-free. Ready to have your mind blown? Well, if you want to buy a house at 22, retire at 32 or just not be poor at any age, make sure you have rich parents. Failing that, secure a generous inheritance from a grandparent. Like I said, super easy. I don’t know why more people don’t try it!

Please don’t think I am being glib. I point this out because it needs to be pointed out. There seems to be some sort of millennial morality tale published every day – a smug treatise with a headline such as: “I saved $100,000 on a salary of just $30,000 a year”; “Extreme frugality allowed me to retire at 32”; or “How we saved £30,000 in three years while paying a mortgage”. A few paragraphs into the article, the financial whizz sagely dispensing advice about hard work and thriftiness typically mentions an inheritance or notes that their parents let them live at home rent-free for years. This detail is glossed over, so said financial whizz can explain how, rather than benefiting from intergenerational wealth, it was switching to a cheaper brand of makeup that made all the difference to their bank account.

Related: ‘Sometimes you don’t feel human’ – how the gig economy chews up and spits out millennials

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