Australian millionaire Tim Gurner offered some financial advice to millennials—and frankly, it’s the pits.
“When I was trying to buy my first home,” the 35-year-old property tycoon told Australia’s 60 Minutes, “I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each.”
By the time Gurner’s criticism of the trendy toast topping hit social media, lots of people started questioning the extent to which ditching avocado helped him on his path to homeownership.
FLARE reached out to personal finance blogger Desirae Odjick of Half Banked for her take on Gurner’s advice.
“Giant eye-roll,” she said, before laughing.
“Especially because this is actually the second Australian millionaire to make this comment in the past year. This all happened in October, literally with a different Australian millionaire saying the same thing.”
She’s referring to Australian columnist Bernard Salt, who also claimed that too many young people are frivolously ordering “avocado toast with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop.”
Suffice it to say, Odjick thinks it’s advice that should be taken with a grain of salt.
“If you’re a boomer millionaire, I think you’ve been so disconnected from what it’s actually like to be starting your career at a time when wages have been so stagnant for such a long period and housing prices have been soaring,” she says. “To say that avocado toast is the reason a millennial can’t own a home, it just speaks to the depth of that disconnect.”
Much like the idea of skipping a morning latte to save a few extra bucks, Odjick explains that giving up on simple treats like avocado toast is unrealistic in daily practice.
“Here’s the thing about the latte effect: at its core, it’s about intentional spending. If that latte is the best part of your day, and it makes your life amazing, intentionally spend that $5 every day. That’s totally fine,” she says. “It’s when you spend money without thinking about it that’s the problem.” (For perspective, writer David Rudin has created a mortgage calculator that shows you just how many avocado toasts or lattes it would take to make a down payment on a house in Toronto, Montreal, New York City, San Francisco and Boston. Spoiler, it’s a lot.)
So if you love weekend brunch dates and avocado toast is important to you, it’s not a terrible waste of money. It won’t be the factor that breaks the bank on your road to homeownership, either. “When you look at house prices in really over-heated markets like Toronto, or Sydney, Australia, it’s laughable to think that not buying avocado toast will make a difference. Even if you spend $120 a month on breakfast! Because saving $100 a month by skipping out on something that adds value to your life isn’t going to be the make-or-break factor to you getting into a house in any short, reasonable time frame.”
Odjick also disapproves of the idea of homeownership as the definitive mark of success. “Homeownership isn’t always the best financial goal. Instead, the underlying question has to be: does owning a home make sense for your life? Because if you won’t be able to do anything you like if you own a house, maybe it doesn’t make sense. And that’s what bothers me most about this advice: there’s this implication here that if you want a house, you can’t have any of the stuff you love. I think we should prioritize finding balance, because we have a word for people who can afford a house but nothing else, and it’s house poor—and that’s not a good thing.”
Instead, Odjick says that it’s important to review what you intentionally spend your money on, and to ask yourself if it’s actually adding value to your life. “If it is, power to you. If it’s not, I could cut it out.”
And if she could speak face-to-face with Gurner, Odjick would have this advice for him:”Walk a mile in someone’s budget before you offer them financial advice.”