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Can You Really Save 1/3 of Your Income in NYC?

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Kimberly Palmer, author of Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back was recently profiled in the New York Times. The whole thing about her book/her deal is that she says that young adults in can save 1/3 or 1/4 of their income if they do certain things. Some of what she says makes total sense, but some of it is kind of obvious and I don’t think will necessarily work in New York City. But why don’t YOU be the judge of that (and also be forced to read what I think about it)? Here are some highlights from her profile:

* “Most of the savings was retirement savings and the rest was money we put monthly into an after-tax savings account. I don’t think it’s so important to break down the actual numbers and create a specific budget. I think it’s more about thinking about the big picture '” about your food costs, transportation costs and housing. You can make frugal choices with those things and buy what you think is much cheaper than you can afford. I focused on those big expensive items.”

Ok, this make sense, is pretty reasonable. Retirement accounts can seriously save your ass (even if you, because you can’t deal with your job anymore, quit and live off of it for 4 months when you’re 28!), and yeah, big picture stuff totally is the key. And I’m obviously on-board with the budget stuff, because I’m terrible at math. The only thing with this is if you can’t start a retirement account to begin with.

* “We basically never upgraded our lives after school and just continued living like college students”

Apparently, for Kimberly, this meant not moving into a 2-bedroom with her husband. Um, no shit. Why would you move into a 2-bedroom if like one of the most major selling points of living with your significant other is to cut expenses? Also, it may stunt your personal growth and alienate you if you continue to live like a college student. Just sayin’.

* “We also made sure to always live near public transportation so we only needed one car”

If you live in NYC, do not have a car if you want to save money. Also, pretty much everyone takes Public Transportation, and it’s $89 for an unlimited monthly metrocard. So, um, yeah, no money saved there.

* “Another big thing was we use old clunky cellphones that are definitely not glamorous but saved us money, and we skipped cable a couple years ago.”

Skipping cable is a good idea, but if you’re a freelancer or unemployed, not having a smartphone will probably PREVENT you from getting a job. It’ really not about glamor, but more about checking your email and getting and sending information when you need to. What’s more, is that it probably looks really unprofessional at a job interview and like you’re sort of a crazy person living in the past.

* “Just across the board, we tried to live more frugally than we could have actually afforded to…I think giving ourselves some small indulgences like a nice television made it easier to make the big sacrifices.”

Small indulgences like a television? That’s kind of a huge and unnecessary indulgence if you ask me. Nowadays with the interwebs, you really don’t need a TV. So, if you’re going to indulge, get a new couch or something. Anyway, the key to her whole thing is living more frugally than you can afford to. but, like, what if you can’t afford much to begin with? Then you can’t really save 1/3 or 1/4 of your income unless you literally never eat, drink, or go out or do anything ever. Basically, you can save money if you already make a decent amount of money to start with, and if you don’t, I guess you’re fucked. But all of my crazy defeatism aside, I think a lot of this makes sense, though, I really don’t think you’ll be able to save 1/3 or 1/4th of your income.

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Anna G - Caliburg Contributor

Anna G - Caliburg Contributor

Anna G. is a Southern California native living in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn since 2005. Anna is constantly trying to unite her love of CA sunshine and the excitement of the New York urban jungle, all the while trying to keep her unwieldy credit card debt under control, and look fabulous at brunch, no matter how un-showered and hungover.