The cost-of-living crisis continues to rear its ugly head as many young adults struggle to kick-start their adult lives, unable to make their limited budget stretch to meet climbing costs.
Despite Orion Meeson identifying as a "hard worker", he is finding it difficult to "make ends meet" with his wage barely covering his expenses — a reality which has him feeling "crappy" and questioning how he is supposed to get ahead in life.
"Now that I'm 20, my parents can't pay for a lot of the stuff that they used to pay for. I'm more reliant on myself now," he told Yahoo News Australia "[But] you work however many days a week and don't get much out of it. You pay your bills, your savings are gone... you're left with nothing."
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Meeson works as a causal pick-packer for a beverage company in Melbourne and admits he prioritised money over job satisfaction but still feels like he is only just managing to support himself. "It honestly feels like I'm working tirelessly for absolutely nothing," he said.
Personal challenges overshadowed by cost-of-living pressures
In pursuit of solidarity, Meeson uploaded a video online and questioned if others were feeling the same way as him. Despite some words of encouragement, many were quick to suggest further education, overlooking the "privilege" of being able to dedicate time to something without the promise of a wage.
"People in the comments were saying, you know, stop complaining and go up skill. It's all very merry to say that, but you have to be able to cover your bases before you're able to study," he said.
Meeson doesn't have a permanent place of residence and is living between his grandmother's and dad's home, with both relatives struggling with their health. He said the cost-of-living pressures are further compounding the barriers between where he is now and where he wants to be professionally.
"I would love to work in the automotive industry, but I'm pretty flexible. I just want to get ahead," he said.
Gen Z Australians among the most financially stressed
Research released this month by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission found 68 per cent of Gen Z respondents confirmed they had major concerns about finances, despite being twice as likely to learn how to better manage their money than non-Gen Zs.
With an imbalance in supply vs demand in rental properties, and the housing crisis continuing, many fear what long-lasting impacts the cost-of-living crisis may have on the next generation as they attempt to establish themselves during a financially tumultuous time.
"I feel like I'm just revolving around again and again, and not getting anywhere," Meeson said.
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