The Gen Y Reality: Expensive to Live, Easy to Spend, Struggle to Save

How to Save for Life's Surprises (CNW Group/TD Bank Group)

TD research finds high cost of education, lower salaries and high debt load biggest barriers to saving for 20-somethings today compared to 40 years ago. 

TORONTO, June 11, 2013 /CNW/ - According to new research from TD Canada Trust, more than a third of Gen Y (34%) admit they find it an almost impossible struggle to save. Young people today face fiscal challenges that older generations did not have to worry about, like working to pay off high student debts in tandem with managing spending on lower salaries.

Still, the principles of budgeting, saving and spending remain true no matter the financial reality, according to Raymond Chun, a senior vice president at TD Canada Trust. Diligence, automation and realistic goals are essential to making saving money a habit.

The research, which surveyed Boomers and Gen Y on their ability to save in their 20s, found that today's youth appear to be more affected by common obstacles to saving than previous generations:

  • Paying for education costs (44% of Gen Y versus 18% of Boomers)
  • Salaries too low to cover living expenses (39% of Gen Y versus 30% of Boomers)
  • Debts from credit cards, loans and lines of credit (38% of Gen Y versus 26% of Boomers)
  • The temptation to shop beyond their means (36% of Gen Y versus 16% of Boomers)

"There is no question that the job market is tighter, university costs higher and salary growth lower for young people today," said Chun. "With planning and discipline, young Canadians can lay the foundation for a solid financial future by diligently tracking their cash flow and creating a plan for saving and spending."

As a general rule, individuals should aim to set aside three to six months' worth of essential expenses in an emergency fund. While this is not easily done for young people starting out today, the most important thing is to start a savings habit early, regardless of how much can be set aside at the beginning.

"It is tough for young people to balance all of their financial obligations as they enter adulthood, but this is precisely why it's important to be committed to saving even just a little each week - every dollar counts," said Chun. "Savings provides some freedom if a great opportunity like a new job overseas comes up, or as a financial cushion in the event of something like temporary job loss."

Chun outlines principles of budgeting and saving that stand the test of time:

  1. Small actions yield big results - Reaching a savings goal is a marathon, not a sprint; be diligent about putting away a little bit with each pay cheque and it will add up. Consider putting away just $25 a week, and over the course of 12 months this will add up to $1,300. Don't make the mistake of not saving at all just because the goal doesn't appear achievable right away.
  2. Budget to help manage spending - Getting ahead is difficult when more is being spent than earned. Assess spending habits starting with a list of all essential expenses like food, rent and transportation. Then review each item on the list and assess whether there are any 'nice to haves' hiding behind them. For example, food is essential but buying a bagel on the way to work is not. Whatever is left after the essentials, including servicing debt and saving for the future, is for discretionary spending.
  3. Save and service debt simultaneously - As a general rule, the amount of debt people carry should not exceed 40% of their pre-tax monthly income. This means, if a young professional earns $3,000 a month, monthly mortgage repayments, student loans and other debts should not amount to more than $1,200. Young people with heavy debt loads should concentrate on paying down their highest interest rate debt, such as a credit card, before putting a bigger focus on saving. If there is no money left over after paying off debt each month, it's time to review the monthly budget for additional areas of tightening - or, set up an appointment with a financial advisor to discuss other options.
  4. Make it a habit - One of the most effective ways to save is to put money away before there's a chance to spend it. For example, set up a pre-authorized transfer of a set amount each week to a high interest savings account. Or, some banks even offer services like the TD Simply Save program, which automatically transfers a small pre-set amount into customers' savings account with each access card transaction, like a debit purchase or an ATM withdrawal.

About the TD Canada Trust Savings Poll

TD Bank Group commissioned Environics Research Group (www.environics.ca) to conduct an online custom survey of 6,014 Canadians age 18 years and older. It surveyed 1,311 Millennials (born 1981-1999) and 2,186 Boomers (born 1946-1964). Responses were collected between January 10 and 25, 2013.

About TD Canada Trust  

TD Canada Trust offers personal and business banking to more than 11.5 million customers. We provide a wide range of products and services from chequing and savings accounts, to credit cards, mortgages and business banking, to credit protection and travel medical insurance, as well as advice on managing everyday finances. TD Canada Trust makes banking comfortable with award-winning service and convenience through 24/7 mobile, internet, telephone and ATM banking, as well as in over 1,100 branches, with convenient hours to serve customers better. For more information, please visit: www.tdcanadatrust.com. TD Canada Trust is the Canadian retail bank of TD Bank Group, the sixth largest bank in North America.

Image with caption: "How to Save for Life's Surprises (CNW Group/TD Bank Group)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130611_C6759_PHOTO_EN_27814.jpg

SOURCE: TD Bank Group

For further information:

Liz Christiansen / Jillian Turgeon
Paradigm Public Relations
416-203-2223
lchristiansen@paradigmpr.cajturgeon@paradigmpr.ca 

Sandra De Carvalho
TD Bank Group
416-944-7095
Sandra.decarvalho@td.com