Every day, we’re confronted by messages from advertisements and society telling us that we need a new car, new clothes, a new phone — new everything. Without even realizing it, it’s easy to fall into a thought process that goes a little something like this: If I consume more, I’ll be happier. But that’s just not true.
This week’s guest, Vicki Robin, co-author of the seminal book “Your Money Or Your Life,” challenged a whole generation of people to think critically about what they were really working toward financially, and how they could live authentically in a consumer-driven world.
Vicki and her late partner and co-author Joe Dominguez are largely credited with sowing the seeds of the FIRE movement (Financial Independence, Retire Early) as it is known today. Vicki says the reason the FIRE movement has been such an awakening for so many people is because it’s given them a steering wheel with which to take control of their financial lives — which they can use to steer themselves away from debt and other money struggles. For so many people, it feels like an awakening, she says, “like someone just sent me a life ring in a vast sea, and I’m being reeled in.”
Vicki speaks some hard and necessary truths about the concept of “enough,” and how we can fully embrace what’s “enough” for us. She reminds us that you have to want something else more than you want stuff, and tells us that for every purchase, you need to ask yourself: Is this making me happy? Is this thing really worth the number of working hours I’m going to invest in it?
Unfortunately, nothing in society today is inspiring us to think critically about how much we’re spending — every day, we are encouraged to consume. Oftentimes, the only way out of the spending cycle is introspection, and making a conscious effort to think about the future in the present. For example, asking yourself: In five years’ time, what would I like to be doing with my life? or, What are ten things I’d like to do before I die?
While on the topic of consumerism, Vicki also talks about environmental impact — people who reduce their overall consumption also reduce their carbon footprint. In this way, she says, living authentically means living without excess.
Then, in Mailbag, Jean and Kathryn talk about how to build credit scores and credit history for young people, how to save for retirement if your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k), and what to do with a balance remaining in a 529 college savings account. Lastly, in Thrive, Jean talks about balance transfers on credit cards, and whether one might be right for you.
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