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February 7, 2006

News & Opinion: Being young and dealing with money

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 5:14 PM – Filed under: Current Events & Public Affairs

BusinessWeek's last issue featured two new books out about the young people in America and their money flow:
  1. Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30- Somethings Can't Get Ahead by Tamara Draut

  2. Generation Debt: Why Now is a Terrible Time to be Young by Anya Kamenetz

The article "Up Against It at 25" describes the books as "similar economic jeremiads, although Kamenetz is the better writer and Draut the more knowing policy maven."
What is it about America's 20- and 30- somethings that make them so strapped? "Flawed government policies that have forced many students to borrow huge sums for college", less traditional workplace benefits and "an older generation of self-satisfied baby boomers [that] will soon begin retiring, sucking up government resources."
Being in that 20- and 30- something category myself, I'm not sure I agree that it is a "terrible time to be young." It's true that education costs are at an all-time high but there are also more people graduating from college than ever before. There are still state universities, scholarships, and grants all out there for students seeking to pay less for a good education. Of course, there are also the student work programs that are dedicated to helping students finding on campus jobs.
As for the government resources, Social Security was meant to be a supplemental income; it was not intended to provide for everything. Thus, everyone in the U.S. -- not just the 20- and 30- somethings -- are in the same boat. Most of us cannot depend on these resources to get us through retirement; luckily, retirement programs such as 401Ks are implemented at most companies to help employees save for their retirement. I also believe that young people today have more access to information; thus, they are more informed about how to save properly for retirement.
While I can easily emphasize with Kamentez and Draut, I don't think that we are truly a generation of debt nor do I believe that we "can't get ahead" without changing our culture. Our generation has many benefits that no generation has previously enjoyed. We have a lot to be thankful for in spite of high education costs, government policies and retiring baby boomers.