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Why Don’t You Just Work at McDonald’s?

Saving Money In Your 20s“Why don’t you just work at McDonald’s?”— This is what my friend suggested it to a mutual friend of ours. The mutual friend was complaining about how he had no money left for one week until he got his next paycheck. Let’s call the broke friend Mark. Mark has been in the same viscous cycle for the last five years with his finances. He makes over 40 grand a year and lives at home with his parents. Yet he has no savings and is always broke. He’s always complaining about not having money. Mark has to often swallow his pride and ask people to pay for his lunch. On the flip side, he purchased a new car (financed) and just came back from a 10-day trip (credit card).

What’s the point of this article? While last week I stressed the importance of finding ways to earn more money [1]. Today I wanted to write about the inherent significance of saving your money in your 20s.

Why is it so important to even bother with saving money when you can spend it?

Build for your future.

What will you do when you need money in the future? You’re going to need to have some savings for when real life starts to kick in and the expenses start adding up. Let’s go over a few examples:

If you live at home now, you’re going to want to move out eventually.

As an ambitious 23 year old, you’re going to want to invest money in yourself by taking some courses.

You’re going to want to go on group trips with your friends.

You might want to quit your job and finance a side business that you’ve been working on.

These are just a few of the examples that saving money right now can help you build for your future.

Make working worth it.

What’s the point of working and trading away so much of your time if you have nothing to show for it? Working becomes redundant and painful for your soul when you’re always on the go and it feels like your not going anywhere. The only way to feel like work is worth it is to save some of your money so that you have something to show for all of those hours that you put into your job.

Create flexibility.

Let’s be realistic here– It really sucks to work because you have to due to debt. Saving money gives you a strong sense of flexibility. With a decent emergency fund you can easily quit your job when your health is totally at stake. You can also take career risks (start your own business or move to another city). Saving money provides you with a unique sense of flexibility.

Those are the main reasons for why I think all 20-somethings need to get into the habit of saving money. If you’re not saving money or if you’re stuck spending money on useless crap, why bother even working hard? Why don’t you find a minimum wage gig?

If saving is so important and being constantly broke totally sucks, what can you do? You need to get proactive with your finances so that you can gain control of your money once and for all. What are the best ways you can avoid being constantly broke in your 20s?

Stop adding to your current level of debt.

If you can’t manage to properly budget your expenses and save money in your 20s, the last thing you need is to increase your current level of debt. This means that financing a car or obtaining a mortgage are both horrible options. You need to first figure out how to save some money. Then you can worry about upgrading your car or moving out into a home where your expenses will be much higher. For now you need to stop adding to your current level of debt.

Increase your income over time.

If you’re always broke then you could simply just not be making enough money to justify your current lifestyle. This means that you’re going to have to start making more money. Since this is a whole new topic in itself, allow me to share a few quick points on making more money:

These are just the most common options for increasing your income. You also need to watch out for lifestyle inflation. It’s really easy to start spending more money once your income increase.

Pay yourself first.

This is the absolute best strategy for saving money. You can’t think that you’ll wait until the end of your paycheck cycle to save some money. This never works. You need to set aside a specific amount of your paycheck as soon as you get it in your bank account. I often recommend automated savings plans. These plans force you to save money before you even see it. This guarantees that you won’t spend the money on drinks.

Ask the readers: Do you have a friend that’s stuck in a horrible cycle with always being broke? How would you help someone gain control of their finances for once and for all?

[Note: I’m not trying to mock anyone that works at McDonald’s. It was just the best example that I could think of for a minimum wage paying job.]

(photo credit: ninasaurusrex [2])

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15 Comments To "Why Don’t You Just Work at McDonald’s?"

#1 Comment By OttawaGuy On July 7, 2011 @ 8:12 am

I have a friend who, like Mark, lives in his wife’s parents basement. They both only work part-time.

They can never do anything because the money they do have gets spent on eating out and a smoking habit.

My friend goes through cycles of being content with this. At times he smiles at himself for having a “stress free” job and life. Yet complains he is over weight and has to turn down things I invite him to.

I don’t think he understands that stress free is relative. When I’m retired I won’t have to worry about money. How stressful is it to worry how you’ll pay your bills at 70?

#2 Comment By Andy Hough On July 7, 2011 @ 11:07 am

If he is making 40k a year, living with his parents, and still always broke I don’t think the problem is his income. The problem is he can’t control his spending. I’ve never made close to 40k and I have no problem paying my bills and supporting my family.

#3 Comment By 20 and Engaged On July 7, 2011 @ 11:20 am

One thing, I think a lot of people assume McDonalds is always hiring. I know it’s a figure of speech but it’s not as easy as it seems to get a job, even in fast food. Other than that, I agree with Andy. I think it has to be Mark’s spending. I was making $8k less than him and had rent, a car note, and bills and was surviving. He should reanalyze.

#4 Comment By Robert @ The College Investor On July 7, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

I agree that there are options for making more money, such as working at McDonald’s. However, if your friend makes $40k a year and lives at home, what is he doing with all that money?!?! If he doesn’t change his ways, that extra $200 a week from McDonald’s part-time won’t help him at all.

#5 Comment By No Debt MBA On July 7, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

I think too few people in their 20s really take responsibility for their financial situations and think about financial goals. This attitude is aided and abetted by media and society saying have fun in your 20s, don’t worry about money, find your passion and the money will follow.

#6 Comment By Jon – Free Money Wisdom On July 7, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

Great points! You definitely have to save first and foremost. Creating a budget is essential as well. Being financially uncomfortable in the beginning is better than being poor when you are a senior citizen.

#7 Comment By FinanceProfessor On July 8, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

For my particular situation, I realized its a matter of stopping any additions to my debt while beginning to establish a realistic budget in order to become more flexible down the road, as soon as possible. Being in my mid twenties, I am in the transitional stage from accumulating debt towards having an opportunity to start chiseling away with sufficient and well managed payments. Thanks for sharing your finance stories and tips!

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#9 Comment By Jerry On July 8, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

Setting goals for yourself is your insurance that you won’t end up like your friend, ‘Mark’. Living only for the moments leads to serious money drains and will never get you towards your goals.

#10 Pingback By Roundup: Interesting Insights On July 13, 2011 @ 1:46 am

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#12 Comment By Jackey Worden On January 7, 2012 @ 2:18 am

This is the absolute best strategy for saving money. You canâ??t think that youâ??ll wait until the end of your paycheck cycle to save some money. This never works. You need to set aside a specific amount of your paycheck as soon as you get it in your bank account. I often recommend automated savings plans. These plans force you to save money before you even see it. This guarantees that you wonâ??t spend the money on drinks.

#13 Comment By Taj On July 5, 2012 @ 10:35 am

Its not the pay that bothers people at McDonalds, its the people, they are all losers that put down other employees, make young people work extremely hard for someone their age, give shifts to young teens that extend well past eight hours without a break and provide unacceptable facilities. Oh and to add to that, they REALLY underpay their employers. You can work at many MANY other places that provide HEAPS less stress in contrast to McDonalds and get paid double. So yeah, thats why I don’t just work at McDonalds.

#14 Pingback By What Other Bloggers are Saying # 7 On August 18, 2013 @ 8:49 pm

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