Following is a transcript of an interview dated 01/18/2017 with a random, everyday millennial named Lindsey. She was born in the late 80s and currently works as an Nurse Practitioner in a major US city. The transcription was conducted over the phone and reviewed and edited through email with the interviewee.
Interviewer: Good morning, Lindsey. Thanks for allowing us the opportunity to interview you this morning.
Lindsey: Thank you. Its a pleasure.
Interviewer: So, Lindsey, do you mind telling us what you do for a living?
Lindsey: I was a registered nurse in a nearby hospital that I was advised not to mention by name. BSN (Bachelors of Science in Nursing). And I recently finished school for my Masters to become an NP (Nurse Practitioner).
Interviewer: Sounds impressive. Is that a challenging field to be in?
Lindsey: Well, I originally wanted to be a doctor and started out pre-med for my undergrad, so I felt pretty confident throughout the program. But it was still pretty difficult. But it was more along the lines of what I wanted to do.
Interviewer: What do you mean by that?
Lindsey: Well, in my opinion doctors have a tendency to be too impersonal and disconnected to the patient. Its my personal belief that NPs are more suited to cater to the patient more personally while also delivering a high level of care. Because we had that experience as an RN.
Interviewer: So I take it that you like your job as an NP?
Lindsey: Yeah, I love it. I loved being an RN too. Like, a lot of people have that one job they wanted to do as a kid. And I’m lucky enough to have it come to fruition.
Interviewer: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Lindsey: I don’t have any. I work pretty long hours. And what I do have I spend with my family. Married. Two kids. 5 and a 2 year old. They keep me pretty busy.
Interviewer: Is the 5 year old in school?
Lindsey: Yeah. He just started Kindergarten this year. 2 year old is in daycare. We also do the before and after care because both of us work.
Interviewer: How do they like it?
Lindsey: The Kindergartener likes it. I mean, he prefers being home, but he is doing well. My daughter loves it though. She is more social. They both learn a lot too which is good because it costs a fortune. I’m just glad we’re getting something out of it, you know?
Interviewer: How expensive is it?
Lindsey: He’s in school now so he only does part time before and after care. That runs us like $200. She’s full time which is $300 something. Close to $400. But this is all new. Last year he was $300 something and she was $400 even, because the younger they are the higher the parent teacher ratio and more expensive it costs.
Interviewer: Wow, so that’s like $700ish a month.
Lindsey: No. Week. $700 a week. We budget around $3000 a month for it.
Interviewer: That’s insane.
Lindsey: That’s just what it costs. After tax dollars. Oh, and we do have a FSA (flexible spending account) but its a laughable amount. Like 5000. I mean, what good is that when it costs literally 6 times as much.
Interviewer: Well, you an afford it, so that is good. And it only is for a few years.
Lindsey: Right. That’s the way we view it too. I mean, you have to. We looked into full time nannies and au pairs and stuff, but they need the social element. Things will be better in…. 15 years or so. [laughing]
Interviewer: How did you come up with that number?
Lindsey: They start school at 5. We have 2 now and I want at least 1 more. 2 more actually. But my husband says 3 is plenty.
Interviewer: So, you want a big family?
Lindsey: Yeah, I grew up in the country so I wanted to have a lot. And have them young. I feel like its a different mentality than most people in the city. I see parents in their 40s and 50s. I wanted to be done having kids by 35. Which makes sense I guess because we would be better off financially in our 40s. Bigger home. But I’m more concerned with the health of the child, so got to have them young.
Interviewer: Both are healthy?
Lindsey: Yes, very. I’m very thankful for it. We had some scares, but you know I’m in the medical field and I worked in a pediatric rotation. And Oncology. So, that thought is always at the back of my mind.
Interviewer: You sound like a very busy mother.
Lindsey: I am. It’s hard you know. There is just too much to do and too little time. Being a mom. A working mom. Its really hard to balance it all out. Between not spending enough time with the kids and making sure they are meeting all their milestones and the constant stress of having enough money. I wish I could just stay home with them and be that really great stay at home mom, but I have student loans to pay. And I do love my job and would miss it. So, you see the struggle with it all, right? And wife. On top of all that I have to make sure the relationship doesn’t fall apart.
Interviewer: I understand. It does sound tough. Does your husband help out at all?
Lindsey: He does. In fact, he was a stay at home dad for the second kid for the first year. He even said it himself that being a parent is a full time job and he doesn’t know how people do it. Its a tough job by itself. Even more difficult doing both. But he’s glad to be back at work. He was losing his mind for a while.
Interviewer: He pulled it off though? Baby number two is alive and well?
Lindsey: He did. Baby is alive and well. He knows what he is doing. Some things we don’t agree on, but I never had any doubts.
Interviewer: And both of you are back at work full time now?
Lindsey: Yeah. We both have student loans, so we really have to out of necessity more than a choice. Even with the cost of daycare, its worth it. We both have pretty high incomes.
Interviewer: You have a bachelors and a masters. Was that expensive?
Lindsey: Very. I’m well into 6 figures of student loan debt. Its like having 3 mortgages.
Interviewer: The student loans?
Lindsey: And the kids. And the actual mortgage. Yeah, 3. We don’t go on any vacations. [laughing]
Interviewer: I’m going to ask you a couple questions because I can see someone asking them in the comments. Why didn’t you go to a more affordable school or limit your loans more?
Lindsey: I didn’t go to an expensive school. I mean, it wasn’t a community college, but its not like I went somewhere crazy. School is expensive. Apartments are expensive. Books are expensive. And besides, if I went to a community college I might be unemployed right now. Or inadequately trained. So yeah, I paid more but I also earn more now so it helps offset that.
Interviewer: Could you have worked more before or during school to help lower cost?
Lindsey: I’ve been working since I was legally able to. 15 I think. And throughout school. Minimum wage just didn’t do much to counter the cost of it all. In High School I worked in retail. In college, I was a waitress and I worked like every other day. I’d come home with like 60 bucks here. 120 another night. But that’s like food and gas money. Tuition is thousands and thousands. But look, what’s done is done. I’m not asking for help. What I am truly worried about is my kids. I’m not saving for them. By the time I’m done paying they’ll be going and I don’t know what it’s going to cost then. $300,000? Then a couple years later, another $300,000? And another? Something needs to be done and with our income its not like they will qualify for aid or anything.
Interviewer: Did your parents help you when you went to school?
Lindsey: They tried. But barely. They made my car payments and would give me like $200 a semester. I’d try to live off that as long as I could but for example, it cost like $30 just to drive to school with the cost of gas and all.
Interviewer: Do you think the cost of education is a big issue for your generation?
Lindsey: Definitely. I’m a success story though. You have to remember there are people with just as much debt as me… mortgage size debt… and they are working at Starbucks. Add in the cost of living. Housing. Family. I can’t imagine trying to take care of my kids and making… well, you know. A lower income. It would be impossible.
Interviewer: Who do you think is to blame for the crisis?
Lindsey: I don’t think anyone is to blame. Or no single cause. Its a large, systemic, and complex issue and it would be a mistake to try and pin the blame on any one thing. Let’s look at it this way. I’m in the health field. Complex illness is usually never just one thing. There is genetics, lifestyle. A lot of factors. And no matter how many times I tell people there isn’t a magic pill. Its usually a multi-faceted approach with medication, lifestyle changes. Diet, exercise. Preventative care to avoid getting sick in the first place. Or to catch it early enough so it doesn’t balloon into a large problem. When it comes to education, we have a large problem. Cost has gotten out of control. Kids need to be better educated more on large, financial decisions. Having 18 year olds with no concept of personal finance sign large loans is a disaster waiting to happen. The government needs to step in. Demand is inelastic so it needs to be governed.
Interviewer: Inelastic. For readers and myself who might not know the definition, can you explain?
Lindsey: Oh, sorry. Yeah, its an economic term. I could be wrong. Its been a long time. My husband would know. It means that the price doesn’t matter, the demand stays the same. Gas, for example. Everyone needs it to drive. If the price goes up, people still need gas and pay it. Education, it doesn’t matter how much it costs to be a nurse. Some kid will pay it. To the point of bankruptcy. Books too. There were mandatory books for courses that would be $200 a book. You had to pay it. What choice did you have? Inelastic demand.
Interviewer: Sorry to change the subject, but you mentioned your child care and school loans rivaled your mortgage. Do you mind me asking about your house? So you own, not rent?
Lindsey: I do. My husband and I bought a townhome before kids. Just a small thing. 3 bedrooms. It’s okay for now but we would really like to move into a real house someday.
Interviewer: Real house?
Lindsey: [laughing] Yeah. You know, like a regular, normal house. We have this tiny townhome. The commute is great, but you know. I want a yard for the kids. I played in dirt and made mud pies as a kid. I want my kids to have a life like that.
Interviewer: So you want to move out of the city to a more rural area?
Lindsey: No, not rural. We want to be close enough to the city to have access to things. Plus its more diverse and I really like that. The culture. Its healthy for them. Suburbs I guess. Outside the city enough to have land but not be isolated if that makes sense. If you go too far out in the country like where I grew up it puts you in a bubble and you don’t have a good concept of the real world.
Interviewer: I understand. So do you see yourself in a house like that in 5, 10 years?
Lindsey: We have to. We have 3 bedrooms right now. That’s enough for us and the 2 kids. I want another one (kid) in the next 2 years so we need another bedroom. I mean we could bunk them, but I don’t know if they’d ever sleep. I would really like a 5 bedroom but its out of our price range. We’d have to move like an hour and a half out of the city to have that. I’m thinking a nice little 4 bedroom with some land and a reasonable commute. Oh and an in-law suite for my mom because we can’t afford 3 kids in daycare.
Interviewer: [joking] …but I thought you said you wanted 4?
Lindsey: [laughing] Yeah, well, my husband might be right. 3 might be it.
Interviewer: I won’t tell him you said that.
Lindsey: Yeah, please don’t.
Interviewer: I think this might be a good spot to the end the interview. Do you have any closing remarks you’d like to make?
Lindsey: Not really. Eat less carbs and more vegetables. Exercise daily. Get your kids vaccinated. [laughing] I think that about covers it.
Interviewer: Well, thanks, Lindsey. It was a pleasure talking with you today.
Lindsey: Thank you.
If you are a millennial and interested in an interview, please mention it in the comments or email us directly. We would be interested in hearing your story.