While many argue that the economic difficulties we are currently experiencing do not even compare to the difficult times of the Great Depression, those of us that are looking to start our future will tell you that this day and age brings about almost as much uncertainty and anxiety about the future as those held during the dark times of the early 1930s.
Careless spending and irresponsible lending practices have created an economic situation that has cost many their jobs and their homes. Many families are struggling in ways that perhaps they would have believed to be inconceivable two or three years ago. For many the downtown has brought the value of material goods into a distinct separation of what is truly important in life.
But I believe the biggest question for our generation is what we can do to prevent any future economic downturns of this magnitude from affecting us on a horrific personal level and so that we so that we may be prepared to be able to “bounce back” from such a difficult financial time.
“Save half of everything that you earn,” is my grandmother’s personal financial motto; I believe it is very sound advice and it has worked very well for her.
She lived through the Great Depression and saw some of the gloomiest times this country has ever seen, and she never forgot how important it is to save for when you need your income the most.
While I know it is very difficult to save half of everything that one makes, and especially more difficult for a college student to save anything, it is true that if more people would save more money their futures would be more secure.
While saving money is not a foolproof plan for financial protection, it does provide some security to ease the anxiety that the volatile markets like today often bring.
It is going to be difficult for some of us to learn how to save money. While I have many friends whose parents started savings accounts for them when they were born, I have just as many friends that do not know the first thing about saving for the future because their parents are equally as ignorant to the subject.
We also live in a culture that up until recently had largely supported the habit of spending more than we can afford and using our credit to buy things that we otherwise could not afford.
I also recognize that it is increasingly difficult for recently graduated students to think about saving money when trying to pay off student loans and credit card debt that was acquired in college, but it must become and integral part of our future to help ensure that when hard times come again we are better prepared.
By starting with small steps to save money I believe that our generation can teach themselves to save money even if their parents were not active in the process or even believe in saving themselves. There are plenty of resources that can help students and recent graduates make sense out of their budget, or even create a sensible budget to work with.
It also might be a wise idea to buy things only when you can afford to pay for them in cash and avoid at all costs putting things that are not necessities on credit.
While I am well aware that many of us believe that we will land that six-figure dream job right out of college, that is simply unrealistic for most of us in this job market.
Historically, Tech graduates have done very well financially because we tend to be very bright, but in order to continue doing well it’s up to us to save for our futures in hopes of avoiding some of the current hardships that many of our parents and older peers are experiencing.
Even if you do score that awesome six-figure salary right out of college you should still have the forethought to contribute your superfluous funds to a savings account.
Saving can be difficult to do when there are so many different indulgences that our culture offers. In order to save money many of us will have to actively resist the temptations that the advertising industry spends billions of money on every year to try and attract us to spend our hard earned money on the products they are trying to sell.
The recently difficult times should be a strong learning example for the young adults of today.
Let our generation take this as a call to action as opposed to a deafening blow to our financial futures.