“If you can’t trust me and the relationships I choose, we can’t be friends!” click. After a long night of phone calls with my friend, Nina, as she tried to protect herself from her fiance and as she worked her way through calling the police and filing a domestic violence report, I was left with that one line after one final phone call. Two hours before she had been in the middle of filing the report at 2 am and I was waiting up, just in case she needed consoling.
For years I complained about the ones I had – too tight, too loose, nearly impossible to find size in stores like Target. But I made due. And a few of the ones I have, I’ve had for at least 5 years, despite them being too tight, too loose, the wrong size altogether. And then, this year, I caved. I bought 4 bras at the Victoria’s Secret Semiannual Sale.
Most financial bloggers who share their net worth can thank J$ for the inspiration. It’s a phenomenal way to keep track while being held accountable, not to mention a great reminder to check your stuff and see how far you’ve come. Or not, in which case it’s a nice motivator! This post is going to be a bit of a long one as I go into my processes and strategies and cover half a year of tracking (oops).
The FIRE, or Financial Independence Retire Early, community thrives online, with many memorable and incredibly helpful personalities out there to shine the light on their personal financial journeys. FIRE people are so incredibly varied that it’s pretty easy to find someone whose situation parallels yours; you’ve got everyone from Millennials looking to retire in a few years to folks who have already retired. Some people are just getting started on their journey to independence and some only have a few months left. (And all of them are super friendly!)
There are so many things you can do with your money and everything is marketed so well and well, of course, you just have to have it for reasons x, y, and z! How do you decide? Do you decide? Eh, just throw it all on a credit card, you’ll pay it off eventually right? And besides, that’s what everyone else does. You know… everyone else like those 53% of Americans who have less than $10,000 saved for retirement. That’s definitely not enough. Unless you can survive on less than $400 a year. (1/3 of Americans have absolutely no retirement savings at all. Maybe they bought a new Tesla instead. Throw it on the credit card!)*
So what do you do?
We all know there are plenty of reasons to live at home throughout college if you have a solid relationship with your family. This is especially true if they are offering free rent like mine did. (Their caveat was that I remain in school full time. Oops.) Not only does living at home save you buckets of money – see below – but it gives you a chance to hang out with your family just a little more often. Once you move out, it can be difficult to see family frequently even if you’re just a city over. I do my best to eat dinner with my parents once a week, but that doesn’t always work out between weekend events on both ends. Luckily (or unluckily), I work in the same office as my father which makes it easier for them to make sure I’m still alive.
I’ve been following several personal finance and FIRE blogs for nearly two years now. Constantly, consistently. I read every blog post and skimmed through all the comments. I probably had about a dozen blogs I regularly checked in on – sometimes every day even though I know their schedule is twice a month or twice a week. And after a year and a half of this, it started to feel like it was all the same.
Once upon a time, a good friend of mine moved to West Virginia to work a (for him) well-paying but dangerous job in the coal mines. He was following both his father and the money, and both were good. Money had not been plentiful in his earlier life and the allure of $3,500 a month called to him, understandably so.
Recently, I moved for the third time in the last year. Ah the life of 6 month leases and flakey roommates. I’m hoping that I’ll be in this new place for at least a year, but that depends fully on what sort of opportunities arise in other counties or states. Who knows, maybe I’ll chase the snow and move somewhere with real seasons!
There’s something I need to clear the air about here before I get down to some nitty-gritty bits about my personal life, my work life, and my financial life. See, I have a confession to make. I grew up enormously privileged and that privilege has spilled over into my adult life. This despite the fact that my parents believe I’ve made a no-good, horrible, very bad decision by dropping out of college.