This is another article that was published on 25 Aug 2008, in The Straits Times.
Link to AsiaOne - Living it up - but at what cost?
Living it up - but at what cost?
Most youth today are inept when it comes to managing their finances .
Wed, Aug 27, 2008
The Straits Times
BEING financially free for the first time is a delirious experience.
As young adults in our 20s and fresh out of school, the taste of a first full month's salary feels not unlike the freedom to do anything.
So, we start eating out at expensive restaurants, buying brand-name items, maybe even a small car.
Build a nest egg? That thought never crops up - not at least for one group which has been making the news.
Going by a recent report in The Straits Times about under-30s today being the fastest growing group of debtors, it seems this set has gone a bit silly with their spending.
Among defaulting on credit card bills, growing bankruptcy and gambling, young adults aged between 21 and 29 are notorious for living it up.
The common reason given for getting caught in the debt trap: Materialistic desire for the high life, although most could not truly afford it.
That need is driving us into a hole.
Credit Counselling Singapore, which advises debtors, revealed that under-30s formed 9
per cent of all cases it handled in 2006, leaping to 15 per cent in the first three months of this year.
This age group is also forming a bigger percentage of those who become bankrupt, says credit analysis firm Amequity.
Talk about throwing it all away.
Gaining more financial freedom, and not knowing how to manage it, is a lethal mix that is propelling young people on the highway to destruction.
Personally, I have been guilty of overspending. When I first started earning money, I began to splash on expensive nights out. Weekly shopping sprees were a way to reward myself for working hard. Spa packages costing thousands of dollars? Not a problem, I simply whipped out my credit card.
My friends were the same way. Frequent overseas trips - up to three times a year - were fairly common. One even bought a car shortly after starting work.
Managed rightly, the empowerment of financial freedom can set us up for the future. Wrongly, and our mistakes will follow us into our 30s, 40s and even beyond.
Yet this is what many young adults in their 20s are like: incapable of managing money, let alone be ready to get married and have babies.
We are lost, all right.
As a friend lamented to me, he does not know where his career is headed. His tuition fee
loans have barely been paid off. The figures in his bank account are a joke. He is not sure whether that someone is special enough for marriage. How does the Government expect us to get married and have babies early, he asks? I can't help but agree.
With newer and more responsibilities on the horizon, how can youth mature into adults, with their bank accounts intact? We need people with more worldly experience to impart it to us. Parents should be teaching children the value of hard work and thrift, from an early age.
Schools should educate students on setting goals and making choices before they get pushed out
into the corporate jungle. And perhaps companies could hold workshops or programmes to teach us how to manage or invest our money properly.
Start the young early on how to live wisely and they will gain the advantage.
Abby Wilner and Alexandra Robbins, authors of the book, Quarterlife Crisis, The Unique Challenges Of Life In Your Twenties, said that though the youth of the past faced the same questions as the youth of today, the difference is that this generation has a lot more options.
The big question is: How to make the right choice from the myriad of options, and not have it haunt us for the rest of our lives?
The 20-something years are when our ability to make decisions is drastically challenged. It is a phase filled with much turmoil, indecision and angst. In many ways, it is worse than adolescence.
For me, it is the new adolescence.
This article was first published in The Straits Times on August 25, 2008.