Special Segment: Finding Financial Freedom

November 20, 2011 (CHICAGO)

While some young people struggle to find work, Brook Still and Jennifer Swann were lucky enough to land paying magazine internships. Getting something full-time in their chosen field is even more elusive, so they spend as little as possible. To make ends meet, Still has a second job and Swann has a roommate.

"I recently canceled gym membership which was $50. I realized they have a gym at work for $35, so I'm looking for cheaper options," Swann said.

"I thought 25 would be the magic number and I'd be all together, and my birthday is in January and I don't think that's going to happen," Still said.

Financial advisor Chris Long says twenty-somethings need to be savvier about expenses because their incomes are lagging.

"They don't have the leeway prior generations have had to make mistakes. The job market is the worst it's been since the Great Depression," Long said.

He recommends spending no more than 30 percent of your income on housing. If it's costing you more than that, it may be time to look at your options like roommates or moving home. For school loans, he says consolidation may be an option on some loans. Another money-saving tip he suggests is searching for the best cell phone plans by checking free websites and even looking for free texting options.

"There are free ways to text. Google Voice -- that's one way to save money especially if you're paying 20 cents a text," Long said.

Graphic designers Andy Kim and Marija Biljeskovich met in college. Now Biljeskovichis freelancing and living on her own while Kim is working full-time and living with his family. They are both struggling financially trying to launch their own business. They invest anything extra into the business, but they have found a way to budget for entertainment.

"Really put aside entertainment money. You've been saving all week, let's go out on the weekends," Kim said.

"I spend a lot of my time living paycheck to paycheck but I'm trying to balance that out now," Biljeskovich said.

Long says balance is a healthy way to budget and just as some cash can be put away for fun, save some, too.

"Every eight years you wait you'll have to save twice as much money, so if you're saving 25 a month today, you would need to save $50 to save the same amount," Long said.

Jordan Gales is a senior finance major at DePaul University. He's confident about finals but not so confident about the economy. He's planning to move home after graduation, job or no job, and he's starting saving.

"You really do not know what is going to happen next in the economy. I study it in my classes, and something new happens every day," Gales said.

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