Disclaimer: This post comes from a position of privilege. Not everyone has the means to save and I fully acknowledge that. I do, however, have several friends and acquaintances who can and should save, hence this post.
I recently spent an afternoon combing through our (my husband and mine) Mint.com account. With all the tools at our fingertips, there really is no excuse to not take full ownership and responsibility for our financial futures. From my experience in California, and more precisely, Silicon Valley, I see a lot of 20-somethings who have not taken control of their finances and who are living with little to no savings. I know people living paycheck to paycheck not because they need to but because they can. I also know people not contributing to their 401k (your 20s are arguably the best time to contribute to your 401k, DO IT!). Here are some of the types of people I've come across.
It is sad, but true, that many 20-somethings are completely ignorant of their financial status and what it means for their monetary future. I know people who live paycheck to paycheck, not because they make very little money, but because they spend it all. It is both exhilarating and enthralling to start making money. It is also temping to buy all the luxury goods and gadgets you want. Those knick knacks combined with lavish vacations, eating (and drinking) out, and exorbitant rent leaves little for saving, which means a non-existent rainy day fund.
The Tech Dreamer
We all know these people, living in the Valley you can't help but sometimes feeling like one yourself. The mantra for this group is, join a start up, wait for it to blow up, get rich. Until then, don't worry about living paycheck to paycheck because you'll be rich in the next 5 (10 max) years. I hate to break it to you, but most startups fail. Even if your startup doesn't "fail", your financial gains might not very significant (at least not significant enough for you to not have saved for 10 years), especially if you weren't on the founding team. If it works out, great, I sincerely hope it does, but in the meantime, save!
These are the people claim no desire for money. They don't need it (or so they claim). Here's my take on that. I don't work for money. I work for passion, for learning, and for changing peoples' lives for the better in whatever small way I can. Money is a great byproduct. That being said, I am not going to deny that I need money. Who knows what will happen down the line. I may need money for an emergency medical procedure for myself or for a loved one. I may need money to move to a new country in pursuit of an exciting opportunity. I may need money for ransom because someone I loved has been kidnapped. You get the idea.
The lucky few that don't have to worry about money because their family has a lot, well, I don't really have any words of advice.
Anyways, the moral of my story is that you should save money. Get a Mint.com account (no I am not getting paid by them in any way, I just really like their service) and visualize your monthly spend. Look at the comparison between how much you make each month and how much you are spending. Check out some great advice articles on how to save. Get going, better now than never!
And for those of you who are already saving, kudos!