Fighting Back

Let’s begin with a few things about me. I’m not especially attractive. I’m terrible with directions. I can’t build Ikea furniture to save my life. I once used a knife upside down for two minutes, wondering, with increasing frustration, why I couldn’t cut a cafeteria pork chop.

I am, nevertheless, great at saving money.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no finance guru. There’s no string of credentials after my name. I have but a humble degree in journalism (ka-ching, right?!). In another lifetime, I was a business journalist, with my work finding its way into the pages of Barron’s and The Wall Street Journal. This is true. But beyond that, I’m just an amateur frugal enthusiast, partly out of necessity and partly for fun.

Necessity because I’m a millennial who entered the job market during the Great Recession with some student debt. Necessity because wages have not risen in tandem with worker productivity since the mid-seventies. Necessity because the cost of everything from healthcare to education to childcare to housing has risen dramatically. Necessity because we’re now in the middle of another recession. Necessity because pensions have all but disappeared and 401K matches keep getting more and more pathetic. Necessity because social security might (probably will?) disappear.

Fun because I like a challenge. Sure, I could go all Network and get mad as hell. But that’s not going to change anything. Ditto for moping. The rules of the game have changed. So let’s start playing the game differently.

I see two main ways forward for the ninety-nine percent. We either all land lucrative, six-figure jobs (I’ve tried and failed) or we start spending less and saving more. This is a blog about the latter.

It’s premised on the belief that it’s easier to save a dollar than to earn it. You typically have to earn more than a dollar to earn a dollar. Taxes, right? You also have to put in sweat equity. To save, however, is to embrace your God-given laziness. I could drive to the mall (which costs money in and of itself) or I could just sit here and read this library book. I basically always choose the library book. How about you?

Nothing earth shattering is going to appear here. Most of what’s to come is common sense. But hopefully I can provide some helpful guidance to my fellow millennials and Gen-Z brethren who are at the mercy of an unfortunate (polite euphemism) economic landscape.

Shared henceforth will be small, actionable steps you can take today that will add up to something meaningful in the aggregate. Add up to a nest egg. Add up to greater financial independence. Add up to flexibility. Let’s take this journey together. The first step is changing your “default spend setting.” The system. The man. The machine. This abstract entity that increasingly operates at odds with your self-interest. Whatever you call it, it wants you shelling out your hard-earned dough like it’s nothing. Screw that. Viva la frugal résistance.

6 thoughts on “Fighting Back

  1. I found this very interesting, Ryan, but I doubt I would have the discipline to follow this course. I suggest that you keep up with physical conditioning, because your blue collar work can be tough on your body otherwise.
    I also graduated with a BA – mine in Social Relations (Sociology, Social Psychology and Culteral Anthropology) So I spent three years in retail (lousy hours) and then took a pay cut to get into industry. I progressed slower than I wanted but earned an MBA along the way. I never achieved the success I envisioned and had several unhappy years, but it was okay for the most part.
    When I first met you, I was impressed by your insight and an indication of the high level thinking to which you refer. My first reaction now was concern that you might be bored at your job, but if you can have fun at that job and then be fulfilled in the rest of your life, I think that will be rewarding, and I wish you well.
    Ray Tower

    Liked by 1 person

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