A recent article in the East Bay Express gave an interesting snapshot of what it’s like to be young and wealthy in Silicon Valley. In the course of her interviews with employees working for companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, the author was surprised to find that many were actually living paycheck to paycheck, regardless of their paycheck’s size. To make sense of the phenomenon, she turned to Carl Richards, a financial planner whose clients include members of the tech world. He remarks that a lot of tech employees cannot envision themselves decades into the future, and as a result have a difficult time with financial-planning exercises:
There’s a common financial-planning exercise that asks participants to try to imagine themselves and their lives in twenty, thirty, forty years — where do you want to be living? What do you want your job to be like? According to Richards, some tech employees have particular trouble with it: “There’s this problem with not understanding risk because you sort of think it will always be this easy — you’re young, you’re on top of the world. And that leads into this issue of not being able to imagine your future self.”
Not planning for the future while working in an industry that shifts as rapidly as technology is to court danger. These are people in their twenties and thirties, working white collar jobs in lucrative businesses. In a way, being so highly paid at an early age can be a disservice to young people, because if individuals never have to struggle to make a living, they don’t have to peer inside themselves and ask the really tough questions.