In the Chronicle, there was this article recently about a book that’s coming out which goes in to detail about how my age group (18-34) has been strapped with too many bills and can’t get out from under the financial burden they’ve been lured in to. This is true to some degree and a lot of people I know are in deep trouble. Many more though, are not. I am one of them.
I’m typical of my generation in how my spending habits used to be. I went to a four year university and graduated, although I only spent two years there due to being a transfer student. I graduated from college with about $12,000 in debt. During this time, a little before, and a little after, I managed to piled up $10,000 in credit card debt. I also live in the SF Bay Area, so my rent is crazy. But here’s the thing. I currently have no debt and while my savings are not amazing, I have enough that if I’m out of work for a month, I’m not prowling the streets for half-eaten food. I also manage to travel internationally once a year or so. On top of all that, I’m a tech geek, so if anyone is going to spend money on garbage it is, in theory me.
This book is just another offshoot of the Whine Generation, which is my generation. Trying to offload our debt as being society’s fault is so indicative of people who never want to take responsibility and are in some ways unable to do it because of how we were raised. But once again, I’m not trying to blame someone else. Even though people are chased around to get in to debt at an early age (somehow I got my first charge card at 16) it doesn’t excuse us from the burdens of life.
There were a few simple things I did to manage my life in a fashion that appears to be better than most my age.
- Turn off your TV. At this point, there is nothing on TV that is worth watching. It wastes time. It costs $60 or more in a cable bill. And most importantly, it keeps trying to get you to buy things you don’t need. I’ve been TV-free for about two years and it’s been great. It hurts to watch it again when I sometimes catch it. The transition is hard at first, but with the internet, it’s gotten much easier these days.
- Don’t get a credit card. If you do, because they’re practical after all, leave it at home. Bringing it with you will only make you think you can spend money you don’t have. If you have to pay cash in hand, you actually realize what you’re doing. At least some of the times anyways.
- Try to avoid having a car. This is really hard in many parts of America, but if you can do it, don’t have one. They lose money the moment you buy them and all they do is suck it down the longer you have them. If you do need one, get something economical. Remember that SUV stands for Stupid Useless Vehicle.
- Don’t eat out. I’m guilty of breaking this one myself, but at the very least if we avoid fast food restaurants, we avoid a group that is preying on our generation by offering terrible wages and terrible food.
- Be smart about buying a home. If you think you can afford one, try paying your rent twice in one month. If that’s a pinch stay away. Also, at the age of my generation, we should not buy a home to live in for the rest of our lives. It is an investment. Do not think of it otherwise, or it will pull you down.
There are countless other things to do, but these are some pretty basic ones. They’ve served me well and will hopefully continue to serve me well. On one last note, whenever you get a call for a field poll, answer it and answer it truthfully. Those have more power than voting these days. And, despite what I just said, vote dammit. Our generation gets forgotten about because we don’t go to the polls. It’s takes a couple of minutes every few years and it decides our fate and lives. Even if you don’t vote on national issues, vote on the things for your county and city. You will see the effect of those directly.
Remember that we are owed nothing in this life. What you get you have to earn. If you get whiny about that, I’ll come slap you myself because it’s about time we pulled our act together.