It's really interesting being a young woman in today's economic times. My generation was raised during a time of prosperity and excess. Those good ol' Clinton years blessed our parents with career oppurtunities and an ability to consume in excess while living within their means.
By all appearances most women in my generation have a difficult time living within their means. I don't know if it's our obsession with youth that propels us to spend, experience, and acquire. At times it seems like we view our 20's as a last hooray with youth. It's as though once we reach 30 we'll be knitting and nesting and all oppurtunites for fun will end. When you operate with that mentality it's only logical to maximize any oppurtunity for fun no matter what the cost is.
Budgets and phrases like "I can't afford this" are foreign concepts to many women in their 20's. I recently talked with a friend about this topic. She said she often felt pressure from her friends to adopt their spending habits. I know I've been there. There are countless times I've opted out of a round of drinks to save ten dollars only to have my friends push and insist or buy the drink for me with the expectation I'll purchase the next round. Now instead of saving $10 I'm spending $40 on the next round.
$200 jeans, fabulous trips, and overpriced handbags are the norms for most young women I know. A night on the town easily runs $100 between drinks, cabs, tips, and food. You do this once a week and $400 has just been spent in one month on having a good time. When you consider most young women are taking home $2,000 - $3,000 a month after taxes. that's a seriously high percentage of someones salary. You also figure in the amount of money 20 somethings spend on looking fabulous between waxing, cuts and color, mani and pedi's, and cosmetics and you're easily looking at $300+ a month. Clothes, gym memberships, car payments, insurance, premium cable, rent, and student loans and you've surpassed that $3,000 monthly take home.
I realize I may sound a bit like a negative nancy, and I really do believe in the imporance of celebrating and treating yourself. A promotion or birthday should be marked with an indulgent reward or celebration. It just seems like those "rewards" have become necessities. With the economy looking like it will continue to tank, 20 somethings are going to take a hit. There will be less oppurtunites for promotions and salary increases. We have graduated with more student loans than previous genersations. Rent is skyrocketing, home and car loans are more difficult to obtain and have higher interests rates. We're looking at a bleak future.
I encourage young women to be responsible. Plan for your future and position yourself for freedom and independence. 20somethings should support each other and find ways to have fun within their means. Skip dinner at the new swanky spot and catch up over a walk through the city. Challenge eachother to find fabulous clothes at outlet malls and discount shops. Have fun without the stress of debt!!!!