I wanted my first post to reflect what a lot of Millennials struggle with: Finance. We’ve (hopefully) landed our first professional job, most likely laden with debt. And yet, we’re tempted with spending our wealth for the sake of convenience.
My coworkers and I strolled into the cafeteria – our stomachs empty, our minds numb from the countless meetings and tasks crammed into four dehumanizing hours in an office setting (okay, maybe it’s not that bad.) We were discussing our company’s plans to open an office in the southwest. Although none of us were planning on moving, we were still playing hypotheticals. That was when my coworker, Chris, told me that “I can see you being the cheap ass stuffing your car to the brim and driving it down there.” To him, it was light hearted banter, and I recognized that. But I couldn’t help but feel a little taken aback. You see, I had brought my lunch that day, like any other day. In my nine months of working my first corporate job, I quite literally spent nothing on my lunches. I made it a point to eat out only on the weekends.
“Don’t get it twisted,” I told him. “I’m just very smart with my money.” Now, I know, I know. Pretty pretentious, right? I definitely could have worded it better. I continued: “I may not spend much on nonessential stuff. Why overpay for something that’s mass produced and unhealthy?”
“But didn’t you just buy a TV and – “ he started to counter. “Yeah, my 4K TV and PS4 could have been put towards a few months’ worth of rent. But to me, that’s years and years worth of entertainment.”My guess is it’ll serve its purpose for at least 5 years, if not more. Break it down into cost per year, and suddenly it seems like a bargain. Chris was starting to understand how I look at each purchase: as an investment over long periods of time.
Who really needs a queen sized bed? I certainly didn’t. But I value sleep, and that extra room to me is worth it. Those raw, heavy denim jeans that cost a few hundred dollars? I wear it nearly every day. It’s held up extremely well (though it was super stiff at first) and I doubt I’ll need to spend money on jeans for the foreseeable future. You know how the saying goes: quality over quantity.
But quality items do cost a lot up front. In order to avoid credit card debt, I save up for these big ticket purchases. I buy food and consumer goods in bulk. I also combine grocery shopping and gym workouts in the same trip to cut down on driving. What some may argue is a negligible cost cutting measure, can prove to pay off over the course of a year.
Come March, I am embarking on a two week trip to Europe. While my coworkers were paying eight dollars a day, five days a week on eating out, I was packing my lunches. Theoretically, this costs $1920, which I have to admit is an extreme example. Depending on the food you cook and the quality, your cost may vary. I can almost guarantee, though, that it’ll cost a fraction of the $1920 you would’ve spent eating out.
But, I do know coworkers that literally never cook their own meals (they say they pay for convenience). For me, I’m using the savings and putting it towards a roundtrip flight to and from London, a room on a boat in Amsterdam, new clothes from Paris, beers in Germany, and everything in between. I will gladly live efficiently if it means I can have the vacation of my dreams in Europe! And as I’ll write in my later posts, the simple act of bringing my own lunch ended up funding my entire trip.