My parents set the example for frugality. I’m sure my dad had a mental catalog of every item in the grocery store and how much it should cost. After shopping for our staples at King Soopers, our local Kroger mart, we’d walk across the street to Safeway because milk and bagels were cheaper there. We never ate out at a restaurant without a coupon. At those same restaurants, we would share one coke between the family, a fizzling temptation challenging our self-control. My mom would take one look at a $70 jacket I pined after in PacSun and said she would make it herself. It was quirky and we knew it, and even though when I was a kid I was horrified to wear a homemade Pikachu costume, and as a teenager I would moan that all of my friends had sweet razor phones, I would later thank my parents for their resourcefulness and for being able to put me through school without shouldering a crippling amount of debt.
I filled out my first W-2 at 14 years old. I biked down to the local golf course and taught kids ages 4-14 how to golf, spending half days in the summer happily chucking minimum wage into my bank account. I babysat kids on the weekends, building up my business from one family to over ten. I’m extremely privileged that I didn’t have to contribute to the family finances. I was neurotic (who are we kidding? I still am) about spending money, even though I didn’t really have to worry.
That is my financial background, the upbringing that affects me and my relationship to money to this day. But why am I writing this blog?
If you include babysitting, I worked five jobs before my first out-of-school full-time-employee becoming-independent job. The salary I was going to make was staggering. I had “problems” I never expected to have. What do I do with my money? Is 0.01% interest in my savings account a good rate (the answer is no.) How do I invest in the stock market? What is this 401k check from my last internship, should I just cash it (the answer is no, but I did anyway.) I started devouring every article, “Things I wish I knew in my 20’s” and found out that a lot of people regret not saving for retirement.
Beyond the practicalities, I needed a new goal. First it was a puppy, then a car, but now what? What is the next goal that is like 100 dollars to a five-year-old, nearly incomprehensible but achievable? I found it rambling around on the internet: Financial Independence. People retiring in their thirties and traveling the world. People retiring to their dream of a homestead in Vermont. People intent on using their money as a tool to pursue what they really want in life. So, what do I really want in life?
I don’t know what I want in life, and I think that’s okay. I am young, I have time, and my desires will change over the course of my lifetime. In the meantime, I am going to be true to my frugal roots and save for whatever that goal will materialize into.