WHAT’S MONEY GOT TO DO WITH IT?

22 Nov

Turns out a lot. Probably more than I was willing to admit when I first moved out on my own. And it was another reason for my recent move back home. “Duh,” you might say. “Isn’t that the case with all you entitled 20-somethings?” Well, maybe. Read on for my story.

I entered the job market in 2007 when things weren’t quite so bad, and I still feel grateful to have a held the same job for these past four years. However even us 20-somethings with the jobs aren’t really getting paid the big bucks–or even getting yearly raises. I think those are a thing of the past for most companies these days.

A little history: I left the house with a nice little nest egg (essentially my life savings) and during the three years living out on my own (i.e. with roommates) I saw my bank account grow smaller and smaller, until I was living only about two to three paychecks ahead of my expenses. Given I wasn’t living paycheck to paycheck, but I still wasn’t comfortable with that. I didn’t feel financially secure.

Clearly I was living above my means, but it didn’t feel excessive in any way. I was paying for life’s basic needs and trying to have the social life most any 20-something would want. But I don’t think I realized how much all the little things added up: utilities, Comcast, groceries, dry cleaning, house cleaning supplies, furniture, you name it. All things I thought I had money for, but didn’t explicitly budget for.

So who and what are to blame for my budgeting ignorance? No one really but myself. I can’t put any blame on my parents, since they warned me that “life would be different” when I was out on my own. They also put a lot of value on saving their money, which was instilled in me at a young age. So when that became difficult and nearly impossible living out on my own, I felt discouraged.

I grew up in a well-to-do community that definitely influenced my spending habits and lifestyle. But just like going on a very strict diet, those tendencies are hard to break. And I definitely learned the hard way. But I’m glad I learned this lesson earlier than later, and on my dime and not someone else’s. When I move out again (and hopefully for good!) the plan is to do it very differently, with a well thought out financial plan in place.

My goal is to eventually move into my apartment, but with rents continuing to rise, living with roommates may be the only option again. Many 20-somethings opt to live with a significant other if the timing is right, but my boyfriend of two and a half years (and myself) isn’t ready to make that move yet. That’s another post! ;-)

Not to get too sidetracked… In support of my financial goals I’ve been keeping an eye on the news for budgeting advice for 20-somethings. I’ll just say Forbes.com is my new homepage. Forbes recently came out with its 2012 Investment Guide with a special section just for millennials (Gen X’ers and Boomers fear not–Forbes has you covered too). This paragraph from the article “How Millennials Can Survive And Thrive In The New Economy” really stuck with me:

“They [millennials] grew up believing they’d be flying high so long as they followed a well-defined path: Notch a high score on the SAT or ACT, go to a good college, earn a respectable GPA and get a decent job. Work a few years, then go to grad school for further seasoning and come out with a job lucrative enough to pay off those hefty loans.”

Yes, that was the “dream” (and the mundane life) we were all running towards. I alluded to this concept of the 20-something’s shattered expectations in my last post. The article goes on to feature several 20-somethings who have paved their own career paths in an entrepreneurial way, deciding not to resort to submitting resume after resume to traditional 8 to 5′s. They make a decent living (but not big salaries mind you) and doing something they really love. I am planning to do a similar feature on the blog in the coming weeks–a series that will highlight inspirational 20-somethings–so stay tuned!

I’ll end this post with a video from the Forbe’s Investment Guide, which offers some guidance and reflection on the current millennial and boomer financial conditions.

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3 Responses to “WHAT’S MONEY GOT TO DO WITH IT?”

  1. TruSpeaks November 23, 2011 at 11:33 PM #

    Love this article Jordan! It’s funny because people assume that when you have a job everything is all peachy and you’re living the “dream.” Not to say I am not blessed, but I work very hard for my salary and at times it can be frustrating when you look at the big picture because at the end of the day it’s salary it’s a flat rate for an exorbitant amont of work.

    However, I firmly believe hard work pays off. My advise is to stay frugal live under your means and save the fancy stuff for later in life.

  2. wasabi prime November 24, 2011 at 8:19 AM #

    I sound like my parents/grandparents when I remember gas being as low as a dollar a gallon, but I’ll stop short of walking uphill, in the snow, ten miles to get to school every day (did that ever really happen?). Even by sticking to the must-have’s, removing extras, living costs have risen significantly, which impacts us on a daily basis. We can’t really change the economic situation, at least not instantly, but I think it’s causing a shift in our relationship with money. People are starting to work to live, versus live to work. Because no one’s making the big bucks, we really value each dollar, for what it gives us today and the potential for tomorrow. I see more people taking the mindset of for every dollar of happiness, we save another dollar for the future — living with even less by paying yourself first, into some kind of savings plan.

  3. Kerry Schimmelbusch November 30, 2011 at 4:02 PM #

    Jordan, you are being really smart about your life choices. I WISH I could go back to my twenties and live with my folks longer. I left too early and it was really hard to get ahead financially (even though I had a degree and a good full time job.) It just takes time to move up and get that experience to get higher paying jobs. You will get there so just enjoy your time now. By the time you are my age (36) you will miss your twenties and realize that the higher paying jobs have more stress, responsibility and you often have more demands on your time with family. I balance working, grad school, my 3 year old and my relationship with my husband. Let’s just say I have a few gray hairs now! Something I never worried about in my twenties.

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