Twenty-Something Confessions: To Save or Not to Save?

Being a twenty something isn’t a bad gig. We’re in the fruit of our youth, fresh from college, and ready to make our mark on the world. Unfortunately, along with these jewels come the stone cold troubles of being an active member in the “real world.”

Depending on how spoiled you were in college, the real world can bring taxes, student loans, health insurance, cell phone bills and finding a job in a down economy to pay for it all. Oh, being young.

Those that are lucky enough to have jobs are presented with another crisis. I call this dilemma the Save vs. Swank Dilemma.We’re told to live at home and save, save, save, but when we are able to afford or barely afford to live on our own, we move out of the nest and can’t wait to gain back the freedom we cherished in college. Pizza for breakfast, yes! Plus the ability to decorate your own place and start your official life as an adult. (My parents say when I’m out of the house, I’m out for good- monetarily).

I’ve been facing this crisis for some time now. I’m currently still living at home and doing a pretty decent job of saving, but I’m looking forward to moving out and embracing my freedom. I have a bunch of friends that are opted for “swank” over “save” and love their decision as well. That’s another good thing about being young. You can roll with the punches.


Nonetheless, here are a few tips that I’ve picked up to help spend smart and save whether you endorse the “save” or “swank” option:

– Avoid ATM Fees. If you have to walk the extra mile to go to your bank, do it.

– Put a set amount of money into your savings account and stick to it. 20% of your income is a good principal if you can float it.

– Take advantage of deal sites! A smarter way to indulge on things you enjoy like eating out and beauty services.

*Chicagoans- I suggest checking out Daily Deal Chicago, launching August 11, 2010. The site is going to offer one “amazing” deal (more that 50% savings) each day from Chicagoland restaurants, bars, spas, comedy clubs, sporting events, theaters, classes and other businesses.

Unlike other deal sites, there is no minimum voucher purchase in order to get the savings. The deals are real from the minute they are listed, and they are there for the taking.They’re currently running a $100 Apple gift card giveaway so check it out and subscribe to their daily emails!

– Brown Bag it. Lunches out add up. You spend money on groceries so eat your groceries!

– If you opt for “swank” find an equally “swanky” roommate to cut rent in half.

To clarify, living at home doesn’t mean shackles for everyone. I love my family so it’s a win-win, but everyone has a different opinion on the “save” experience.

It is important to do what is best for you and your situation. If you have a job and a place to call home, then it is safe to consider yourself pretty lucky.Some people don’t have either.

I think twenty somethings intrinsically feel like losers for moving back home right after college. I’ve heard way to many complain, “I got to do something. I can’t stand living at home any longer.” Returning to the nest definitely has negative connotations. I also hear stories from twenty somethings who regret burning years of income on rent.

You never really know if you’re making the best long-term decisions, but I argue that’s half the fun of being young.

What do you do to save money? Also, are you facing the “save” vs. “swank” dilemma? If so, how are you dealing?


I state in my “About Me” section that this blog is ever evolving. It is titled the Public Relations Hybrid and I try to stick with that theme. Part of being a hybrid is being open to discuss new topics and provoke conversation. This is part of my “twenty-something confessions” post series. Stay tuned!

Full disclosure: I was given at $25 gift card for mentioning Chicago Daily Deals

3 thoughts on “Twenty-Something Confessions: To Save or Not to Save?

  1. I love this post! I was and still basically am in your same situation. I lived at home for almost an entire year and was saving money, but also realized that living at home isn’t a feasible money saver for everyone. Not to mention $140 monthly Metra train passes add up as do starving at the train station after work and hitting up Jamba Juice and McDonalds.

    My tips for saving once you have a full-time job is to set up direct deposit into a savings account. For example I put over a third of each check into a savings another third into a checking that’s only used for rent/bills and the remainder (varies by check) will go into a third checking account which is what I use for everyday spending. I realize three accounts doesn’t work for all, but it fits my lifestyle/spending well.

    Also, I love daily deal sites. Granted for some it encourages extraneous spending but for us living in Chicago these sites are awesome at giving you deals to GOOD places that you’d go to anyway. My only advice: AVOID I worked for them for less than a week. Total scam artists.

  2. This is great article and so relevant to twenty somethings considering their financial options! I believe that another factor regarding purchases is deciding whether it’s a “want” or a “need.” This tends to curb excessive impulse purchases. Also, determining whether a person lives at home or their own place has a lot to do with accessing which environment will be most conducive to their growth. Some might need the support system and some might need the independence to focus on their goals and aspirations. Both can work.

  3. Great thoughts Tegan! I often face the same dilemma you described. The only thing I would add is to consider the value of the purchase. Because the lines between want and need are often blurry.

    Whether large or small, is it an investment purchase? Will this save you from having to spend more money later even if it’s a little more now? Is it going to save you time, energy, and make you happier than you would be without it? Do the benefits outweigh the costs or will it just set you back further on your financial goals?

    When it comes to grocery shopping, does the generic food have the same (or better!) nutrition stats as the similar item in the organic section? Sometimes. Does the beauty product from Sephora give you better results than the OTC product at Walgreens? Sometimes. It’s that kind of thought process I have when I make those purchasing decisions. Do I really need my hair done for THIS weekend or can that purchase wait a couple more weeks so I can squeeze in a few other priorities on this paycheck?

    I’m still living at home, but getting an apartment (!!!) with Ross this month. So while I have been a little swank living at home, I’ve still saved. I’m still able to move out and be financially stable on my own. My parents have the same cut-off mentality as yours. But I can say that I’m finally ready! 🙂

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