We all know that teenagers are out of touch with reality, expecting to earn $90,000 per year by age 30. In my experience, many single 20-somethings are just as clueless when it comes to creating a realistic financial plan.
I read an article recently about a 22-year-old man named Sean who just graduated from college and started working for an investment bank. His goal was to be financial free by age 33, and here’s how he planned to do it:
Sean had a great starting salary of $75,000 per year, with the potential to earn an additional $50,000 in bonuses. To maximize his income, Sean’s brilliant plan included working 85-hour weeks for the next 11 years. He shared an apartment near his office downtown so he could walk to work. Sean planned to save money on food by bringing his lunch and dinner to work so he could eat at his desk.
The end result of Sean’s financial plan was to save over 60 per cent of his income and have an investment portfolio worth $1.5 million by the time he reached age 33. I’m all for setting lofty goals, but this plan doesn’t stand a chance. It’s just a dream.
I can remember when I was in my early 20’s and single, dreaming of financial freedom. I worked long hours, socked away money inside my RRSP, and lived on Pizza Pops and Kraft Dinner. I was going to retire young and wealthy, and then live it up over-seas. But then something happened that usually foils the financial dreams of all single men; I met a girl.
The one thing that is rarely accounted for in the financial dreams of young singles is the relationship factor. Suddenly you have to consider someone else’s needs other than your own. I don’t know about you, but my significant other wouldn’t really appreciate me working 85-hour weeks while sharing a cramped two-bedroom apartment with my old college roommate.
My financial priorities have changed dramatically in the last 10 years. When I was single I put any extra dollar into my RRSP without even thinking about my short term financial needs. Now that I’m married and have a family, I find myself more concerned with paying off our mortgage, building an emergency fund, and saving for a nice family vacation. I’ll stop myself before I end up buying a used mini-van.
I’m not suggesting that young single folks can’t make their financial dreams come true. Just remember to have a back-up plan that includes a significant other in your life.
**NOTE: I absolutely agree with Robb. Everything you thought you knew and wanted in life can be turned upside down once you meet someone special. I think even the biggest relationship skeptic can change if the right person comes along. But maybe that’s just me wanting to believe that it’s true. :)
Robb Engen lives in Lethbridge, AB and writes about Canadian personal finance at Boomer & Echo. Together with his mom, (she’s the Boomer, he’s the Echo) they offer their own unique perspectives on saving, investing and personal finance. You can follow him on Twitter @BoomerandEcho.