It is not uncommon for me to sit amongst friends and discuss the reality of “the financial struggle” that seems to be plaguing most college educated people in their 20’s. Our conversations usually go something like this, “How are the kids?” “Oh, they’re great, but you know we ain’t got no money right?”
Then the struggle discussion begins.
“Why are we in the struggle?”
“Didn’t we go to school to not be in the struggle?”
“How do we get out of the struggle?”
These are all common questions that are brought to the table, and unfortunately we spend more time discussing the struggle than discussing ways to get out.
To get personal, my husband and I have transitioned a million times in our almost four years of marriage. Although we often include ourselves in the struggle, we are actually considered Middle Class according to CNN and many of the income average calculations. This is honestly no surprise to me when considering the fact that we have everything we want, yet never seem to have enough.
Don’t get me wrong, we do have a Retirement Fund and usually have a great plan to save, but when things happen, it doesn’t take much to deplete our hard work. With a growing family, saving becomes farther and farther out of reach.
What are we doing wrong?
One possible answer is in what we deem necessary to live. This may seem silly, but the average person only needs a few things to survive – i.e. food, water, shelter, clothing, and good health. To obtain the next level of success, we get into things like education, influence and long-term security. And it’s not uncommon to talk to someone in today’s society that is adamant about the fact that they can not live without wifi. Lol. Anything but a life without wifi!
In my line of work, which is nonprofits and social services, I work with many families who simply do not have income and are at the whims of government services, which can be limited and intrusive. Some of these families don’t have access to the basics, yet we are driving around with our iPhones while sipping Starbucks, or in our homes complaining about our lack.
So, I’m moved to question, what aspects of our finances are we dedicating to luxury versus necessity, and what is the appropriate ratio to move towards a struggle-free life?
According to MoneyCrashers.com, 50% of our money should go towards fixed and necessary spending, 30% should go towards fun and entertainment, and 20% should go to savings and paying off debt. Which means, in theory, if we are making 50% more than we need to survive, then we should spend our money wisely, which includes paying attention to debts.
In light of this, my challenge to all of us college educated folks on the struggle bus is to do the following:
- Assess your income to determine whether you are making enough for your needs.
- Create a budget. Prioritize your needs, wants & future based on percentages you are comfortable with.
- Commit. There’s nothing left to it but to do it!