I’m almost always thinking about money in one form or another.
I work in finance for a huge multinational corporation, I handle the budget for my family, and I worry about retirement.
Because, professionally and personally, it seems there’s never enough.
I don’t mean in the sense of greed or accumulation, but just that no matter how well you’re doing, you’re thinking of what you could do if you had just a liiiiiiiiiitle bit more. You could put a little more away or you could finally do that last renovation. I’m a personal finance nerd and the few things they experts agree on are basic and boring – pay off debt, max out retirement, live below your means.
That’s fantastic, but not always realistic.
There’s something called life that gets in the way. Medical bills, job loss, an unexpected expense, a child, helping out a family member, whatever. So few people have a stockpile of cash in a savings account that they can just throw at a problem. Even if you’re one of the lucky ones to have an emergency fund, that will be gone in a few months.
Everyone of a certain generation remembers the good old days when America was great (as long as you were a white man in the suburbs). But that’s because everything, most notably homes and cars, were much more affordable back then.
Today, 80% of Americans have debt. That’s a misleading statistic because the more money you earn, the more you can borrow:
Pew found that higher-income people with more assets tended to have more debt, but even so, they had healthier balance sheets than low-income, low-debt respondents.
but the point is still made that even millionaire athletes go broke.
I do virtually everything right – I own a home, drive old, beat up cars, put money away for retirement. The only thing I really splurge on is books. And yet I still worry, trying to squeeze every last cent out of a budget, trying to pay off my own student loans while also saving for my child’s college education. Some months have more cushion than others. Some months there’s no cushion at all. Some months I put money into savings; some months, money comes out of savings. Just the way it is.
I’m very fortunate to have the life I have. It’s great. But it’s also a struggle.
Here’s what I wrote this week:
- The Best De Niro Gangster Film You’ve (Probably) Never Seen – The Greatness of Once Upon a Time in America
“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.”
See you next week!
Christopher Pierznik is the author of eight books, all of which can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, and many more. He has been quoted on Buzzfeed and Deadspin. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.