Gen Y- Living Frugal

Young Scrooge was born between 1982 and 1993, Gen Y is a label they wear like an out-of-date pair of jeans.  They sometimes eat canned spaghetti for dinner and have a wallet full of food coupons. They save money. But unlike Dicken’s Scrooge, Young Scoorge is happy and sociable.

It sounds crazy doesn’t it? Especially with majority of media berating Gen Y’s lavish ways. We’re bad at saving, we’re impatient, we don’t move out of home.

Despite the bad wrap, Young Scrooge is alive and saving. In this post I will introduce you to three Gen Y savers who for different reasons are living frugal.

1. The uni student

Paula studies a Bachelor in Human Services and a Masters in Social Work while working part-time as a pharmacy assistant. She is completely independent with her weekly income of $300 covering rent, living expenses, running car costs, bills etc. Paula works extra in the holidays and is a big believer in selling unused items on eBay or gumtree.

But saving is not new for Paula who’s lived out of home since she was 18 and moved to Melbourne after working full-time on a gap year. Her money savvy blog, Champagne Lifestyle on a Beer budget started as a way to share her everyday saving tips with others.

Yet despite the years of experience Paula doesn’t find it easy sticking to a budget,  “I have to forgo a lot of things such as holidays, buying something I want and occasionally eating baked beans for dinner. I find it quite difficult to eat healthy if I don’t have much money, as it is so much cheaper to buy foods that lack nutrition.”

Paula says that saving money involves a lot of research, but can be as simple as using coupons and membership cards. Some things she has learnt to make money stretch further:

  1. Wait for cheaper petrol days (petrol goes in cycles)
  2. Wait for things to go on sale, because they always do.
  3. Wait before buying something outright – rather than renting or getting a loan.
  4. Buy online and make us of vouchers and discounts.
  5. Get a bit creative, making your own is always cheaper.

Paula is optimistic “being money wise makes you appreciate everything so much more…. Don’t view yourself as going without compared to others around you, look at what you do have and be thankful for it because there is always someone worse off then you.”

2. The university student graduate

Joe graduated from Qantam six months ago and is currently working full-time as a voluntary animator for a TV show and on the look out for paid work. Saving is crucial for Joe as he receives unemployment benefits from Centrelink – a fortnightly payment of $480. As Joe is trying to crack into the gaming industry as a 3D animator, freelancing and unpaid work is the only way to gain experience. He has no choice but to be disciplined with his coinage,

“To make money last I try and buy foods that are both cheap and last longer, like soup, cereal, noodles. Stuff that can be frozen and eaten later.”

Despite his low income Joe thinks he lives quite comfortably, “spending less means less to worry about. Less things make for a simpler life and simplicity is great.”

Joe’s tips are for those forced into saving through unemployment and must spend a lot of time at home, “stay active. Not like fitness, more just finding things to do with your life. Not working, or working very little can be pretty boring. So avoiding stagnation is important.”

3. The first home-owner.

Carolyn, started her blog, Must be Thrifty, after buying her first home. With her home loan chipping into her “pitiful single income” she wanted to “maintain a blog that would keep [her] on the financial straight and narrow.” An example of this is a recent blog post, ‘A confession’ where Carolyn lists of all the needless items she bought recently. The mortgage was her wake-up call to take frugal living seriously as before that she was unable to take saving seriously. Her new mantra is now “austerity is cool.”

Carolyn saves by having housemates to spilt bills and “avoiding unnecessary purchases such as impulse buys, takeaway food, and a gym membership you’ve too lazy to use.”

For those paying off a mortgage Carolyn recommends “being smart with banks, setting up an offset or a line of credit for the home loan, using the credit card for everyday purchases (paying it off every month) and maximizing the amount of interest earned in a high interest savings account.”

She is a big advocate for being penny wise, which gives her “a sense of pride. It’s nice to know that I don’t have to rely on handouts from Mum and Dad or Julia Gillard.”

Carolyn also points out the environmental reasons to living frugal, “by buying less, I’m using up less of the world’s limited resources. I’m also in a better position to make ethical choices as a consumer. For instance, now that I’m using every scrap of food I buy and minimise the amount of money I spend on takeaway I can afford to buy chickens that have had a relatively happy life.”



Filed under money, writing

4 responses to “Gen Y- Living Frugal

  1. What a great post! You’re absolutely right- we’re the generation who need to think smarter and spend more wisely if we wish to be independent.

    • Shannon McKeogh

      Thanks Raelke! It’s not easy but saving money is possible, I guess we have no choice if we want to live independantly. Melbourne is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in (the age did a report the other week), more expensive than living in London. It was a bit of a shock, but it makes sense, theres just not enough choice in the rental market. Its hard trying to get ahead, it often feels like I will always be tight with my cash, but in a weird way its kind of free, if i had more money I would buy more and just have more financial reponsibilities (like a car).

      • Wow, I didn’t know that about Melbourne! I can’t believe that. In contrast, I think Adelaide was recently named the least expensive city to live in in Australia.

  2. Shannon McKeogh

    Yeah its tough to believe. I think it takes in the average income.
    Here’s the link apparently radelaide is more expensive than new york.

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