It was the sternly worded lecture heard ‘round the Millennial world — give up avocado toast if you want to buy a house.
And almost as soon as Australian real estate developer Tim Gurner’s words trilled over the airwaves, the debate began: Was it really a matter of just not being frugal and smart, or was Gurner being dismissive of a larger problem because, well, he’s rich and out of touch?
Many felt insulted, and some skewered the claim in humorous fashion (just check Twitter, where people are still clapping back). An article fact-checking the claim also revealed that no, it’s not as easy as just not buying coffee and avocados, too.
“In fact, research suggests that people from 18-to-34, a group often referred to as Millennials, are no more freewheeling with their spending on travel and dining than other generations,” the article on CNBC.com revealed. “And it would take a lot of skipped avocados to put a dent in the heavy costs of homeownership, which is not always a prudent financial goal.”
The same article found that Millennials spend about $305 more than Baby Boomers per year on eating out. “The truth is, even if Millennials assumed the eating-out habits of Baby Boomers, it would take around 113 years before they could afford a down payment on a home,” the article added.
“If you gave up every healthy smashed avocado sprinkled with creamy Feta, it would save you a mere $176 per month,” another piece at CBS News’ Moneywatch found. “At today’s paltry interest rates, that’s likely to net you just $11,000 in five years, which isn’t enough for a car, much less a house.”
So with all that in mind, we found the perfect couple to weigh in. Bob and Kimberly Sinnott. Bob owns Toasted, a restaurant in Dallas that sells (among other things) avocado toast. Kimberly is a local Realtor.
I mean, really — how many other couples do you know that would combine to be the perfect source for a story about avocado toast and homebuying? None. The answer is none.
Because the two are busy (they are also brave souls who moderate a bustling and sometimes fractious Facebook group for Lakewood and Lakewood-adjacent residents), we shot them some questions via email, and they responded.
We know what the guy was getting at — you need to save your money when you want to buy a home. But what are some of the obvious other barriers to homeownership for someone a few years out of college besides avocado toast and $4 coffee?
There’s really no other barrier to owning a home as long as you save, pay your bills on time, and live within your means. It’s not rocket science, but it takes discipline! We are big Dave Ramsey fans and we take his motto of, “Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else” very seriously.
This is pretty much the premise for how we’ve saved to be able to open Toasted, which took several decades of saving. The avocado toast analogy is really the metaphor for anything that’s a “want,” not a need in today’s society. But, we don’t want to see people depriving themselves totally! Life is short and we need to have some fun!
And, avocado toast ROCKS and so does an awesome cup of coffee. So, it’s best to budget those items in and to not overextend one’s means.
Why does it seem like it was easier to buy a house a decade ago versus now?
House values have increased so much in the Dallas/Fort Worth area because of the sheer number of people moving into the area. Dozens of large corporations have moved to our tax-friendly state and that’s naturally going to create a housing shortage.
Additionally, some people think that we were under-valued compared to other big metropolitan cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, and Atlanta, and now we’re just catching up. But, our income has just been rising slower than home values, and therein lies the challenge: Home values increasing at a rate that’s more than our incomes.
I also feel that the younger generation (Lord, I sound like my parents!) are all about the here and now — I’m here and I want it now — regardless if it’s in their budget. The key that’s missing a lot with younger people these days (again, I hear my parents), is the lack of budgeting!
I’ve heard a lot of Millennials say that homeownership for them suffers from kind of this perfect storm of college loan debt, rising home prices, and lower wages with fewer opportunities for promotions and raises. Are they right? Why or why not?
I think there’s some truth to it. However, the bigger issue is, I bet if you asked these Millennials if they had a budget, they’d tell you no, so we encourage everyone to make sure they live within their means and make sure to budget a treat of having avocado toast at least a few times a week … it’s only a few dollars for a heavy meal!
Do you think this guy was oversimplifying things or was there some truth to what he was saying?
Yes. As mentioned, he’s using avocado toast as a metaphor to make his point. But it really goes much deeper than that. Budget, spend reasonably, allow yourself some guilty pleasures, but be reasonable on the bigger expenses like cars and clothes. But social interaction is important … as is avocado toast!