Tonight, I had drinks and dinner in Astoria with my friend, who brought his friend and a former colleague of mine at my last company. He and I sort of reconnected at my friend’s birthday event a few weeks ago, and while on the train back to Manhattan after dinner tonight, he was telling me about how frustrated he is that he’s turning 30 this year but feels like given the rent he pays to live in the East Village, he has just enough money to pay his rent, live his life here, and “maybe” one vacation to somewhere abroad a year. He said he’d love to travel more, but the rent kills him. His landlord just informed him that his rent is going up by just over 10% this year, so he wants to move, but where? He thinks he should be saving money to eventually buy his own place, but he’s nowhere near it. And he wants to enjoy and travel now while he’s still young.
When I first moved to New York, I read a book about saving and investing that said that you should never spend more than 25 percent of your income on rent. As sad as it is, I’m sure the majority of 20-somethings in New York spend at least double that, if not more. I’ve always been in a fortunate situation with income, rent, and savings, so I can’t relate to this that much. If anything, it’s a reminder to me how different my life is than most people my age. But what I do feel strongly about is that most people don’t plan at all around my age. They fail to plan, and as cliche as it is, failing to plan is planning to fail. You don’t suddenly end up at 30 or 35 with enough money to have your first child if you didn’t plan on saving in the years leading up to it. It’s almost as though living in New York forces people to “live in the now” and ignore the future by spending over 50 percent of their income on rent, going out for endless and ridiculously priced drinks and dinners, and forget that there are things they want in the future that will need planning today.