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Youngandthrifty rants about how fellow generation Y's and 20-something spending habits and the excessive spending and instant gratification we are imposing on ourselves.

I’ve heard this song recently a few times on the radio recently and loved it. It’s an older song (1994) by Cake and it’s meant to be a rant to 20-somethings on our excessive “I want it now now now” attitudes. I can’t help but crank it up and bob my head when I’m in the car and hear this song. I vote that they update the video because the video doesn’t do the song justice.

Whenever I hear this song, I think of all my peers, all the fellow generation Y’s and the mentality of instant gratification whether it be a shiny new luxury car and high car payments, a fancy designer handbag, going partying every week, going for expensive dinners and nights out, buying $600 leather jackets etc.  Just like Money Rabbit says (we were thinking the same thing this week despite being on opposite coasts, I guess!), I wonder “how the heck do my friends afford all this?”

I think as 20-somethings, we struggle with so much lifestyle inflation as it is (saving for a wedding, a down payment, possibly chidren..).  We are excited because we are finally making some good money, but at the same time, there are so many choices available to us to spend that money.  Recently, I have a friend who I talked “money” with (though she seemed a bit uncomfortable with it, I think) and she is the epitome of living the rock and roll lifestyle.  I was curious as to how much she was saving per month.

She has a 2 carat engagement ring on her finger, she goes out for $100 per person dinners on weekly basis, has Christian Louboutin shoes (yes, the $1000 shoes with the red sole), multiple designer handbags (I am guessing at least 15), goes traveling a lot, drives a Porsche, and seems to have a different outfit every time she goes clubbing or goes out (judging from her facebook pictures, she doesn’t live near me anymore).  I’m not jealous of her lifestyle, I would not want to go clubbing every week, nor would I want the designer shoes or handbags… I just don’t really understand how she can afford it.  She says she saves 0% of her income if she goes shopping that month, but if she gets a bonus from work that year (she works in the finance industry), she saves the bonus 100%.

I guess it all boils down to being balanced with your money and to make sacrifices.  That’s why personal finance is so… personal.  We are so privileged to be free, not oppressed, and we have so many choices on how we can use our money.  As a generation Y, I think it can be hard to think and plan for the future sometimes- but we must start saving some of that money instead of spending it and instantly gratifying ourselves with concert tickets, shopping for clothes, buying new shoes.  These are all material things that don’t give us happiness (perhaps 2 minutes of happiness admiring your new purchase, but its all downhill from there).  So next time we are tempted to buy the latest gadget (ahem, iPad 2?), we need to stop, put the gadget down, and think about whether we really need it…instead of lining up at Apple to buy it on your credit card.

Phew.  End Rant. 🙂

Here are the (brilliant) lyrics:
Well, your CD collection looks shiny and costly.
How much did you pay for your bad Moto Guzi?
And how much did you spend on your black leather jacket?
Is it you or your parents in this income tax bracket?

Now tickets to concerts and drinking at clubs,
Sometimes for music that you haven’t even heard of.
And how much did you pay for your rock’n’roll t-shirt
That proves you were there,
That you heard of them first?

How do you afford your rock’n’roll lifestyle?
How do you afford your rock’n’roll lifestyle?
How do you afford your rock’n’roll lifestyle?
Ah, tell me.

How much did you pay for the chunk of his guitar,
The one he ruthlessly smashed at the end of the show?
And how much will he pay for a brand new guitar,
One which he’ll ruthlessly smash at the end of another show?
And how long will the workers keep building him new ones?
As long as their soda cans are red, white, and blue ones.
And how long will the workers keep building him new ones?
As long as their soda cans are red, white, and blue ones.

Aging black leather and hospital bills,
Tattoo removal and dozens of pills.
Your liver pays dearly now for youthful magic moments,
But rock on completely with some brand new components.

How do you afford your rock’n’roll lifestyle?
How do you afford your rock’n’roll lifestyle?
How do you afford your rock’n’roll lifestyle?

Excess ain’t rebellion.
You’re drinking what they’re selling.
Your self-destruction doesn’t hurt them.
Your chaos won’t convert them.
They’re so happy to rebuild it.
You’ll never really kill it.
Yeah, excess ain’t rebellion.
You’re drinking what they’re selling.
Excess ain’t rebellion.
You’re drinking,
You’re drinking,
You’re drinking what they’re selling.

Article comments

William says:

I recently heard this song and had similar thought about my Gen X.

1. It’s all about balance. I would have never thought about going to travel for a month and a half if I didn’t have money stashed away in savings.

2. She works in the finance industry. Bonuses are 50% of her salary and if she earns $100k, then it’s a $50k bonus.

Still… I know friends who were in finance who didn’t save (like her), and spent like rockstars (Porsche? WOW..) only to end up fired because the firm needed to cut costs.

They were out on their butts, unable to keep up with their high octane lifestyle, wishing they learned how to spend less and live on less…

All good lessons to learn in time.

Me, I’ll just save as much as I can just in case.

MoneyIsTheRoot says:

As George Best (soccer legend) once said, “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds, and fast cars…the rest I just squandered”. Im not saying Best was an icon of morality of which to live your life by… but I took about 30 vacations from the ages of 20 to 30 with my friends, that averages to be 3 a year. We went to Europe, California, New York, Toronto, Mexico, Las Vegas, Chicago, etc etc etc….and we went to all of them multiple times! We stayed in nice hotels, ate at nice places, and hit the hottest clubs….I just turned 30, Id probably have thousands of more dollars to my name right now had I been a little more frugal in my 20’s…but now I lament on the realization that those days are behind me, much more than the money I spent on those fond memories.


Little House says:

I’m from the previous generation, that X generation, and I think we suffered from the same problems. We wanted it all! And it cost us. Perhaps our luxury items weren’t as expensive 10-15 years ago as a pair of Louboutin shoes, but this idea of being able to have it all without sacrifices is beginning to catch up with us.

90sgirl says:

Me too.the thing is my friends & family are STILL living that lifestyle.i need to stop cos i can’t afford it no more.

Big E says:

how many “kids” in their 20’s do you think actually worry about saving for the future? if they do it’s a huge plus no doubt (i was one of them), but some people i know who lived it up after uni have life experiences that i am definitely envious of. every decision has consequences. saving early might mean missing out on some things in your younger years that you can’t do after you have a mortgage and a family. you just need to find some balance.

young says:

@Big E- I do! I worry 🙁 And I know a lot of other PF blogger 20-somethings do too. But that might be just us and we’re a weirdo minority. I do envy those who lived it up after university and went traveling for 6 months or 1 year, and I think that those are life experiences that are invaluable. I mean, when you’re 55, do you think “oh, I’m so glad I didn’t go traveling for 6 months to asia and decided instead to pay off my mortgage earlier?”. I personally wouldn’t think so, because traveling at 55 is so different from 25. I do agree to have a “Carpe Diem” mentality, (especially for travel because I’m a sucker for that) but not for materialistic goods. But to each their own- every has different values and priorities in life.

Thanks so much for sharing your perspective- it really is all about balance isn’t it? 🙂

Retirement planning is definitely not high on the list for gen-y. Heck, it’s not even high on the list for many others outside the generation.

In the end, it’s about having a plan to enjoy today and be able to support yourself (and your family) in retirement. Until you are married or have kids, the later part of life planning isn’t a priority for many.

Enjoying today isn’t about living the superstar life and that seems to be misunderstood. I have to say that Christian Louboutin isn’t a designer I hear about at home. Coach is what I hear about and she receives it in form of present rather than regular spending. I of course leverage the discounts they mail us 🙂

I find it interesting when my wife brings up these ‘how can they afford’ it question as I usually find out that not all is what it seems. In the end, most don’t have savings to plan a retirement and I am talking about families in their 40s.

young says:

@The Passive Income Earner- don’t tell your wife about Christian Louboutin! 🙂 I’m warning you now. I don’t know how people can wear them anyway, they’re like a 4″ platform heel. Very sexy to look at, but likely killer to wear.

You’re worrying me even more now, PIE! 🙁 There are so many things to think about before retirement- raising children, the exorbitant cost of daycare, saving for RESPs, maxing out TFSA’s…

Surprisingly I’ve never heard of that song. Thanks for introducing me. Also, I’d like to comment on the entitlement issue, but I’d be here all day. It makes me so mad!

Henway says:

I definitely agree. Most people dun know a thing about delayed gratification and are too focused on short term pleasures, and impressing others. Happiness should come from things like achievement, learning, focus, service, and kindness, not material things

young says:

@Henway- you couldn’t have said it better! 🙂 Happiness comes from within, and shouldn’t rely on external factors, like materialism. 🙂

I feel the same way about my friends. They generally spend a bunch of money on crap like going out and drinking or whatever, and then complain because they’re in debt. The gen y’ers I hang with seem to want it both ways.

If you’re looking for a good Cake song, I recommend “Short skirt long jacket”.

young says:

@Financial Uproar- I like “Short Skirt Long Jacket” too 🙂 One time for a themed dress up party (theme was: characters in song), a girl I know dressed up wearing a short skirt long jacket heh..

You mean you’re not a Gen Y?

I think having friends period can be expensive. Unless they don’t mind going to each other’s places to watch TV or hang out. But going out for dinners, or going out drinking can just be so darn expensive.

krantcents says:

Although I am not twenty something, I want it all, but I am willing to work and sacrifice to get it. It might be a generational thing!

young says:

@krantcents- hmm maybe! But I think the difference is that you are willing to work hard and sacrifice. I think a lot of Gen Y’s want it all but don’t want to work for it! 🙂

CF says:

Ahaha – I think everyone must have friends like that… I know one guy who is in med school (so not a full doctor yet) and goes out for dinner every night at the trendiest (= $$$) restaurants in town. I understand being busy but damn.. that’s a lot of money every night.

I used to be guilty of it too though. When I got my first job, I gave myself $100 per week in “spending” money for clothes, eating out, whatever. I was still saving and paying my bills, so it didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. Now, I’m amazed at all the money I spent and more than a little annoyed that I did not put more of it towards my student loans.

Now I’ve got my head straightened and scaled back, but I can see how it’s easy to slip down that path.

young says:

@CF- wow, really? Sounds like he has a SERIOUS case of lifestyle/ego inflation going on 🙂 Perhaps he thinks that this is the ‘image’ of the doctor- fancy restaurants etc. I’m surprised he’s not more frugal because of the major debt and cost of medical school education.

I think we all get excited. I used to be like that too, eating out whenever, or just didn’t think twice about buying something. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20 right?

JT McGee says:

If she works in finance she may very well earn 20, 30, maybe even 50% of her salary in the form of a bonus. If she spends like an idiot with her monthly income but saves 100% of her bonuses she probably has quite a bit of money stashed away somewhere.

While I know this is a Canadian blog, I know there are at least some correlations in public policy in Canada and in the US. We can rag on Gen-Y all day and night for spending like morons, but we only learned from the best.

Take a look at the growing debt problem in the US. It started right as the “Greatest generation” started sucking up medical payments at the benefit of the recently born, and it is only gotten worse as the baby boomers start looking for their free money.

Truthfully, I think one of the reasons Gen-Y gets fault is because, well, Gen-Y is the generation that is supposed to foot the bill. The other generations spent like there was no tomorrow as well, they just knew that there was another generation waiting to catch their fall.

/Rant 😛

young says:

@JT McGee- Hmm that’s true. I don’t work in the finance industry so I didn’t know that bonuses are THAT awesome (maybe I’m in the wrong industry lol). That’s a really good point you have, JT. We are paying for the baby boomers, they’re relying on us to ensure they get their pension! They better start treating us better then! (Instead of looking at us at disdain at work 🙂 )

Money Rabbit says:

Hey Y&T, thanks for the shout out!

Wow, this woman is crazier than any of the spendthrifts I know. But instant gratification in ANY form can be dangerous … emotionally, mentally, financially, spiritually. I know people who can’t be alone, so they throw themselves into the first relationship that comes along. I feel like it’s the same mindset that people have with their cash … some people have to shop, eat out, and throw themselves into the material lifestyle, because they feel empty without it.

But I have to say, sometimes I get a case of the gimmies so badly. Depending on the strength/cost of it, I either practice extreme discipline and let it die down, or if I can afford it I’ll treat myself on occassion.

SavingMentor says:

I’m sure this is a slap in the face to some people and even to me because I do suffer from the give it to me now attitude on occasion. However, most of the time I am able to override it and control my urges and delay my gratification to save some money on the purchase or maybe not even purchase it at all.

However, I am constantly thinking about not wasting my life being miserly and hoarding my money as well. I only get to live once and I already have a serious illness – so I want to make sure that I don’t wait until a later, that may never come, to enjoy the ride!

MoneyCone says:

I’m happy reading about and watching sex and the city (with reference to the shoes!) than living that lifestyle!

Awesome lyrics!

Echo says:

I kind of have a similar post today about all of my friends going to Vegas multiple times a year. I don’t know how they do it, I sure can’t afford it.

It does make me think about whether to enjoy life now vs. later. If my wife has health problems down the road, will we be able to enjoy all of the things that we put off today?

Like you say, it’s all about balance. I just don’t find myself with an extra $5k kicking around to blow on whatever I feel like.

A memorable trip, yes that’s something worth saving for. But the rest is just excess.

Haha, I love Cake. You have to listen to all their songs.
I think we all go through that spending phase when we first got our big pay check. My spending phase lasted two years and it was so much fun. 😀
Going out every weekend and buying all kind of CDs, electronics, games, etc… The Mrs. came along and set me straight though. I was still saving into 401k even during that time so I guess I was pretty mild.

young says:

@retirebyforty- How Mrs come and set you straight? I’m trying to slowly set mr. Y&T straight, but it’s a battle, I tell ya!! I need to learn the trade secrets lol.

Yeah, Cake’s lyrics are so simple, yet so profound!

Fox says:

Great rant YT!
I think the generation Y is totally screwed. Too much options and even despite the options, its still at fault for unecessary purchases. I think people try to be something they are not and compete. If someone gets a new car, it automatically triggers “I need a new car too” …live your life for YOU and only YOU.

“In Life it’s not where one starts, but rather where one finishes”