Addressing The Wealth Gap

Addressing The Wealth Gap

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A staunch anarchist. A skateboarding, anti establishment roughneck. I was even the frontman for a number of punk bands in my teens and early 20’s (check out one of our old myspace pages!)

I’ve always been interested in the mechanisms behind the “haves” and the “have nots”, what compounding economic forces drove the wealth of nations, and why some people seem to have it all, and others seem to have nothing.

It seemed to me that some of the hardest working people I knew had the least amount of money.

I’ve learned a lot over the years, and one message has been particularly clear, it isn’t necessarily about how “hard” you work, it is about how SMART you work.

Now, I know, there are variant reasons behind circumstance and situation, and I’m not discounting that, but the previous statement still rings true.

On a personal level, that is why I became interested in real estate. Once I began to understand the immense power of leverage and compounding interest I was sold, convinced it would allow me to get rich in my sleep! Haha.

So, let’s talk about the elephant in the room, THE WEALTH GAP.

I’m going to draw this discussion from some data that is a couple of years old, but the premise is still correct.

In Australia, year on year, there is increasingly a tale of two classes: Older Australians getting wealthier, and younger Australians getting left behind.

We all know it, hear about it and talk about it.

As a 32 year old (read; Millennial), the conversation around “baby boomers taking all the opportunity” has been a common one. You can’t blame them, though, as the unstoppable force of compounding interest pays no credence to age, sex, race, or politics.

In the chart below, you can see that households headed by 65-74-year-olds were on average $480,000 wealthier in 2015-16 than households in the same age group 12 years ago. And that’s after taking inflation into account and despite the damage caused by the global financial crisis. Households headed by 45-54-year-olds are $400,000 richer.

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Scaling right back to 25- 34 year olds though, that figure is only $40,000….
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Ok, and so why the disparity?

Wealth in property holdings (and Superannuation) is the major defining factor in the broadening of the gap.

During the period of 2003 – 2016, property prices rose on average by 37% across all capital cities, and a lot of major regional areas.

As you can see from the 2 charts below, the major defining factor between the net worth of two ends of the sample age spectrum, 25-34 and 75+, is property.

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So, how the hell are you supposed to get ahead?

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Well, you need to be smarter than the rest of the pack. We all have visions of dream homes, forever homes, and living the great Australian dream. And I do, genuinely, believe it is still possible for most people. We just need to adjust our roadmap to get there. 

Of course, you need to get sharp on your money, set goals, build a plan, and more. You also need to think creatively about how to best leverage your money, including investing in areas you can afford now, so you can leverage the equity to invest in the areas you can afford later.

It’s about building a long term plan to achieve your goals, and investing your time and money in the smartest possible way to get you there.

Don’t be afraid to dream big. And then, dream a little bigger.

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