• I absolutely adore Katherine May’s books and have bought myself a copy of Wintering to re-read during the dark days ahead. Her newsletter is a lovely read about how to feel grounded in turbulent times.
• I’ve long been a big fan of alternative housing which is funny for someone for whom accessibility is a top concern. Still, this is a good piece about living on a boat. I wish it was more of a choice for many people
• A dollar is a medium of exchange, not a store of value. Some great points here!
• A great non-fiction-ish short story on the real costs of inflation in business and life.
People love good news about their bad decisions
This is why things like Girl Math and Little Treat culture gain traction on TikTok and other social media sites. It feels good to get confirmation that your decisions are in line with the decisions of others. We are, after all, a tribal species.
Unfortunately though, all of these videos and commentary from influencers has very little application to your own personal situation. As the adage goes in personal finance: the only person who cares about your money is you. It doesn’t matter how many videos you watch extoling the virtues of getting a “little treat” in the form of an $8 latte a day if you are miserable because you are sinking in debt – and you don’t even enjoy the latte that much. You need to take a look at your own situation and decide whether or not certain things have value and make you happy. Ignore the noise from the internet telling you that you can ignore any purchase under $5. It’s just “girl math!” What they aren’t telling you is that $5 once a day is $150 a month.
I think the challenge is when a treat becomes, over time, a habit. No one can decide that line for you but if you truly enjoy eating lunch out every day to the tune of $15 a day, then that is probably something you can decide to keep. But if it means you’re upset that can’t afford to go to a fancy dinner with friends because you’ve blown all of your spending money, then maybe review that habit. It’s on you to make those choices and no one else can make them for you.
Yes, there are systemic challenges that are happening and we should all be pushing for change. There is a housing crisis, a recession looming, pensions have gone the way of the Dodo and it can be easy to throw up your hands and say, “screw it, I am going to make myself happy today.” If you choose to do that, who am I to stop you? It’s your life. I am not going to judge. In fact, I don’t care at all. The only person who cares about your money is you.
I see so many people bemoaning standard personal finance advice,
“That wouldn’t work for me!”
“I don’t want to give up my lifestyle!”
“I need X!”
“That sounds like deprivation to me!”
“We need two cars!”
“I can’t eat leftovers!”
“I deserve this for working so hard!”
“Why bother saving, I’ll never be able to afford to buy a house/go on vacation/retire.”
You know what? You are absolutely right. Please carry on.
Do you think Dave Bach or Suze Orman give two shits about what you do with your money? No. They’re busy rolling around in the piles of cash because they’ve been on the personal finance scene for forever and a day spitting out books, getting speaking gigs, plying their trade. All your criticism of typical advice to get your financial affairs in order doesn’t matter one bit. The truth is, it’s very basic and it works. The info they’re peddling isn’t even new or revelational: they are saying the same stuff that you can read on the internet for free any day of the week.
Pay off your debt.
Live below your means.
Save the rest.
Have money in the bank for emergencies.
Save money and invest it long term.
You can bitch and moan all you want that it’s hard, or that you feel judged or that it doesn’t leave you much room for fun things but all it is, is information. You can ignore this information, or you can use it as a springboard to change your life. No one else cares.