'Working my tail-end off just to get by’: This Walmart worker blasted older Americans for calling young folks lazy — blames them for 'creating' the inflation crisis, ruining the economy

In recent years, the notion that younger generations are reluctant to engage in traditional 9-5 jobs has risen. It’s believed by some that Gen Z are seeking flexibility and a work-life balance that aligns with their personal values and lifestyle.

The frustrations of Gen Z

In her candid video, Chailyn, a Walmart employee, stated, “I cannot stand how the news has been dogging Gen Z and calling them lazy for not wanting to work 9-5 for the rest of their lives… I work five days out of the week, 40 hours a week. I [still] do not make enough to live on my own.”

She then highlighted the stark financial disparities that exist between her generation and previous ones.

“Twenty years ago, when you were getting started [with your career], you could live on your own. Twenty years ago when you first started, you were able to do everything that I am now struggling to do,” she said.

The video has struck a chord, amassing 6.2 million views, 1.4 million likes and more than 36,000 comments at the time of this writing.

Chailyn's frustration is palpable as she voices the sentiments of Gen Z when confronting the criticisms often directed at her generation.

“You can sit here and call Gen Z lazy all you want, but I have been working my tail-end off just to barely make it by, and respectfully, I don't want to do that for the rest of my life,” she said. “I don't want to work my tail-end off, wasting all of my life working, just to barely be able to pay my bills.”

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Chailyn concluded her message with a pointed argument, shifting the blame to previous generations for the current state of the economy and the burden it places on Gen Z.

“You tell me how it got ruined. We can sit here and we can call Gen Z lazy all you want. But you let the economy turn into what it did.”

She added, “You let it all run to hell, and now it's Gen Z's ‘fault’ because we don't want to work to fix your mistakes.”

The generation war

Chailyn's assertion that older generations have allowed the economy to "run to hell" may seem somewhat harsh. However, she raises a valid concern by drawing attention to the significant changes in the economy over the past two decades; changes that have left the numbers stacked unfavorably against younger generations.

A prime example is the transformation in the housing market. The surge in real estate prices have created a landscape vastly different from what previous generations encountered.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau underscores this trend: the median sales price of houses sold in America went from $191,900 in Q3 of 2003 to $431,000 in Q3 of 2023, marking a staggering 125% increase over 20 years.

Wages have seen growth during this period. Between 2002 and 2022, the median personal income in the U.S. rose from $22,120 to $40,480, according to Census Bureau [data (https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MEPAINUSA646N), which is an 83% increase. However, when juxtaposed with the housing price surge, this wage growth appears insufficient.

Consequently, today's young adults, who are often starting their careers with modest salaries, are now finding themselves grappling with the challenges of uncovering affordable housing — a struggle that is emblematic of the broader economic hurdles they face. This struggle is intensified when also considering the escalating costs of other essentials such as food, health care, and education.

 When faced with an unexpected $1,000 expense, more than one-third of Americans would borrow the money, according to a new Bankrate survey. That may include tapping their credit cards, seeking money from friends or family or taking out a personal loan.

Most would not turn to cash savings — because they don’t have it, the personal finance website found.

Fewer than half of Americans, 44%, say they can afford to pay a $1,000 emergency expense from their savings, according to Bankrate’s survey of more than 1,000 respondents conducted in December.

That is up from 43% in 2023, yet level when compared to 2022.

“We’re just not wired to save,” said Brad Klontz, a certified financial planner and expert in financial psychology and behavioral finance. Our brains are instead programmed to focus on our immediate needs.

Saving “goes against our natural instincts,” said Klontz, who is a member of the CNBC FA Council.

But there are steps you can take to rewire how you think about savings and meet your goals.

Why Americans are prone to ‘financial fragility’

Almost two-thirds of respondents, 63%, say high inflation has left less room to save for emergencies. Meanwhile, just 19% say they are saving more because of high interest rates.

“There’s a persistence of fragility in American society,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.

“There’s more financial fragility out there than I think is widely understood,” he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which prompted millions of Americans to seek help from food banks amid widespread layoffs and furloughs, is one example of how a sudden income loss can make it impossible to pay for everyday needs, Hamrick noted.

Living paycheck to paycheck has become the norm for many Americans, research has found. That leaves people little to no opportunity to save.

To build a cash cushion, the best advice is to start with your current budget and adjust your spending. Where you can, save first and spend second, Hamrick said.

Experts generally recommend having three to six months’ living expenses set aside to protect against unexpected events.

Yet year after year, surveys show building meaningful emergency savings remains a difficult hurdle for many Americans.

How to reframe how you think about saving

To successfully boost emergency savings, it may help to reframe the way you think about that goal, Klontz, said. What may help to overcome that is to visualize, which helps create an emotional experience that can help activate behavioral change.

For example, picture a worst-case scenario like losing your job, Klontz suggested.

If that income stopped tomorrow, how many months would you have before your belongings are out on the street, or until you have to call a friend or relative to beg to stay with them? Or how long before you start withdrawing money from your retirement funds? How long would it delay your retirement?

By tapping into how those situations would feel, you become emotionally invested in taking action, Klontz said.

The next step is to identify ways to stop spending money and direct it towards an emergency fund, which admittedly can be a “painful exercise” for many Americans, Klontz said.

Instead, many people tend to think of their credit cards as an emergency fund, which may lead them to pay interest rates of 20% or more if they use it to cover an unexpected event and do not pay it off in the first month.

Likewise, if you keep a surplus of cash in your checking account, you’re more likely to spend it, Klontz said.

Another way to help encourage savers to take action is to name the emergency fund something emotionally triggering, Klontz said, like “financial security fund” or “financial freedom fund.”

By labeling the money something that’s associated with an emotional attachment like financial security, you’ll be less likely to dip into that money to go out to eat, Klontz said.

That “psychological barrier” may help protect the emergency fund money, he said.

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