Australian millionaire Tim Gurner made waves around the world earlier this week when he scolded millennials, saying if they would only stop splurging on fancy coffee and avocado toast, they could afford to buy homes. Millennials on the Internet reacted with rage, sarcasm and, in some cases, math.
Howler Magazine editor David Rudin took the reaction to the next level by releasing a specialized mortgage calculator that allows you to see just how much avocado toast you'd have to give up to afford a home.
His intro reads, "If you're here, another publication has likely suggested that people — even millennials! they're people too — could buy houses if they forwent small purchases. Let's see about that."
He then allows you to choose your city, your vice (avocado toast or, everyone's favorite spending nemesis of five years ago, the latte) and the frequency with which you indulge to determine how many treats you'd have to give up in order to afford a down payment.
Screenshot of the mortgage calculator in action
If, for example, you live in New York City and give up your weekly avocado toast, you would, according to his calculations, at last be able to buy property in March of the year 2410. Congratulations!
Gurner is far from the first person to get roundly criticized for suggesting that millennials who don't own property, or who aren't financially secure, have their own spending habits to blame. In 2016, Jason Chaffetz, the soon-to-be-former Republican Representative from Utah, caused an outcry when he implied that Americans could afford health insurance if they stopped buying new iPhones. And since New York Times bestselling author David Bach coined the phrase "the latte factor" to explain how skipping your daily Starbucks could help you save, numerous financial gurus have tried to guilt millennials into cutting back on coffee.
As Rudin's calculator shows, though, the larger picture is that buying is out of the question for most young people in many major cities, no matter how many treats they give up. Salaries have stagnated while costs have risen, so millennials these days, struggling with rent, student loan payments, and more, are in a far more precarious position than their parents were at their age.
And besides, as an increasing number of financial experts will tell you, home-ownership as a goal can be overrated.