How To Be Young, Employed & Completely Broke

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1328671464191_90111I work in an office with a lot of young 20-somethings. Not to sound like a weird stalker or something but listening to and observing a bunch of fellow millenials is really interesting to me. I work in the beauty industry so the young 20-somethings I work with tend to be a little more superficial than average. Don’t get me wrong, they’re generally all nice people but there is always someone talking about either shopping or how broke they are. I have a general idea about salaries in the industry so it really amazes me how someone making that much can be employed and broke. I appreciate nice things too but I like not being broke more. Here are some sure-fire ways to be young and broke:

1. Buy lunch everyday

Most people in my office buy lunch everyday. I work in Midtown Manhattan, where the average salad will cost you $13. I have to admit that I buy lunch more than I should too but I’m trying to be better about bringing my own. There’s also a juice bar and Starbucks downstairs so everyone seems to be buying a smoothie or latte at least 2 times a day (those are like 5 bucks each). So lets do the math: $23 a day, $115 a week, $460 a month…on LUNCH.

2. Wear designer everything

I like to shop more than I really should and it would be nice if I could afford some designer items but I really can’t justify it (other than a purse that I’ll use everyday). I notice a lot of designer clothing, shoes and handbags in the office everyday. Personally, I think its fine to buy expensive things if you can afford it, but if you’re complaining about how you’re broke, that leads me to think you can’t afford it?

3. Go out every other night

New York City can be one giant playground for a 20-something. There is always some party or event to go to. I’m more low key so I tend to stay away from those type of things but the nightlife can definitely be tempting. The mornings at work always seem to consist of someone talking about how much fun they had the night before (even on a Tuesday). A night out in NYC can get really expensive, from dinner, drinks, and taxis. You can easily drop $100. Ouch.

I realize I sound judge-y in this post and I kind of am judging some of the 20-somethings I know. But I feel like one of the first things you need to learn in your 20s is to not live above your means. Spending all your money on partying and shopping might be fun now but it’ll make your 30s kind of miserable. Financial stability requires some sort of sacrifice – even if it means eating ramen and staying home watching TV.

Do you know any young 20-somethings with bad money habits?


  1. Mark F. says

    most of my friends are like this…its sad. i have one friend that is actually making close to 200k but broke due to his lavish lifestyle, had to borrow money from me for a movie ticket last week lol.

  2. says

    Sadly it doesn’t surprise me. I think a lot of people in their early 20s have their focus elsewhere. They just graduated and want to live life, free from classwork and possibly living on their own for the first time. There’s so many things to do and explore, and no one holding the reins anymore. A lot of my friends are guilty of eating out a lot, as well as going bar hopping or on expensive vacations. The sudden influx of money that most of us have never seen before opens up possibilities in our minds, and that can be hard to control. It’s important to know how to manage your finances for that reason!

    • Connie @ Savvy With Saving says

      Definitely agree. It takes some self discipline to not spend all your money once you land your first job out of college.

    • Connie @ Savvy With Saving says

      Since its NYC, they’re probably paying a good amount on rent…but that’s all the more reason to stop spending so much! haha

  3. says

    I know a lot of 20 somethings who are employed and broke. It was never really an option for me. I had my first kid at 22 so I had to smarten up with the whole money thing.

  4. says

    We used to do a lot of the above. We would go out all the time and buy rounds of shots and drinks for everyone. I guess we have grown up because going out every night just isn’t as much fun anymore! haha

    • Connie @ Savvy With Saving says

      Wow, a round of shots is expensive! Yea, definitely not every other night but once in awhile! lol

  5. says

    Very interesting post. I don’t see how someone can live that type of lifestyle without being a trust fund kid or having lots of credit card debt. Our 20’s and 30’s is when we should be making the good financial choices so we don’t regret it in our later years. Great post.

    • Connie @ Savvy With Saving says

      Agreed. Yea, I don’t know if they have trust funds or not but either way, still seems irresponsible.

  6. says

    I can be judge-y too and I know plenty of 20 somethings in NYC living that lifestyle. But I can understand that it is tough. I’ve never worked in NYC except for a summer internship. I think it is tough to stay discipline and bring your own lunch, refuse invites to go out, and avoid designer labels when everyone is doing it. There definitely is some peer pressure to follow the crowd. You don’t want to be an outcast I guess.

    • Connie @ Savvy With Saving says

      NYC can definitely a tough place to be for a 20 something, it’s easy to get sucked into the glitz and glam.

  7. says

    This is so true! At my last job a coworker was constantly complaining about being broke and “living paycheck to paycheck” but she made more money than me! I skipped lunches out and nice clothes and paid off all my debt. She complained about her finances and kept using her credit cards to go out all the time. So silly.

  8. says

    I think most 20 somethings (or early 20 somethings) live like this, that is until they have to survive on their own without any help from the bank of mom and dad. I like nice things too but I much prefer not having to complain about how broke I am but feel satisfied to myself that I’ve got enough money in the bank.

  9. says

    I know a few 20-somethings with bad money habits. They go out to lunch everyday, buy new clothes at least once a week (not cheap ones either) and somehow end up with massive utility bills because they leave all their lights on, water running etc. I’ve always packed my own lunch and my grocery bill comes in between $100-120 a month. $460 on lunch a month…I can’t imagine!

  10. says

    As a 20 – something I definitely went through the phase of spending money on items I didn’t necessarily need, nowadays I have bigger life goals than spending money where there is no return, I still like nice things, but my future financial goals come first.

    • Connie @ Savvy With Saving says

      I definitely went through it too. I think everyone goes through that phase at one point and then we wise up, some sooner than later.

  11. says

    “I appreciate nice things too but I like not being broke more.”

    ^YES! I used to buy lunch everyday when I first started working in San Francisco. I justified it by telling myself that I needed to explore all of my options. When I started bringing food from home, my wallet definitely thanked me!

  12. says

    No matter how much I made, it was so hard to save in NYC! NYC is so amazing for 20-something year olds.. and 30-something year olds. Best city on earth for 6 months of the year! But boy, it’s impossible to save.


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