So that sucks, right? It would be awesome if everything were free, or if we were rich. Some of us, I suppose, are. But then there's the rest of us.
Listen up bitches. I'm all about being young and having fun. But I'm gonna play Papa Justin for a few minutes and give you a few important tips. Let ME think about your future, so you don't have to.
SAVE SAVE SAVE
My mother raised me with a continuous fear of being poor, and homeless. This may have been slightly cruel, but it was also effective. I now have a VERY large saving account. It wasn't always that way - I've been aggressively saving money since I was in college. Just a little bit here and there. As my salary and income increased, so did my savings.
Saving money is boring, I'll admit it. I'd much rather go out and buy video games. But you know what? There's a nice feeling that comes with a sense of security. If I lost my job, I have enough in my savings to live income-free for a year or more. And that's assuming ZERO income, which I would never allow myself to live with.
YOU CAN'T TOUCH THAT
How did I save all the money I've put away? Simple. I snuck it away from me behind my back. I set up an ING bank account online. I programmed it to tip-toe into my checking account at Citibank once a week and pull out a chunk of money. In the beginning it was $50 a week. Then it was $100 a week. Now it's $500 a week.
I then treated the account like it didn't exist. If my checking account was low leading up to my next paycheck, then I lived with it. I cut corners. The rule was simple: I am NOT allowed to touch my savings. Done.
Try it. Even if you're having $10 deducted a week, it's still something. It's still a start.
A lot of people are in disgusting amounts of debt. That's terrible and I'm sorry they have to face it. For me, my debt is always controlled, and intentional. Essentially, I only charge for what I can pay. My credit card bills are always paid in full. In fact, thanks to digital checking, I often pay down numbers on my credit card the second they appear.
The only time I charge for MORE than I can afford is when the credit card lets me. For example, my favorite credit card is my BEST BUY one. When I make a multi-thousand dollar purchase, it allows me to pay down the charge, interest free, for anywhere from 18-32 months. Again - the catch is that I actually pay it down. I look at the total months, and the total charge, and divide it to see EXACTLY how much I need to pay a month in order to avoid interest.
Listen boys, if you're bad with credit STOP BUYING SHIT. Interest is the biggest sucker of them all. You're paying money (and potentially lots of it) for absolutely NOTHING. Spare yourself. Pay with a debit card. Live according to your actual income, and not your ideal income.
$1,000 AIN'T ENOUGH
Somewhere there's an article that I read that says an astounding majority of Americans would need to BORROW BEG OR STEAL just to get $1,000 if they suddenly needed it for an emergency. This is bad. This is very, very bad. You never know where your life might lead you.
So get that $1,000... but do NOT stop there.
You should have AT LEAST $1,000 saved away in a bank account somewhere. Start now if you don't have it. And then just keep on going.
GO FOR DEALS
This city is full of open bars, cover-free parties, giveaways, and freebies. You just have to look for them. I never miss an open bar when I'm going out. If you don't have the cash to afford drinks at the bar, drink at home first, and then have one at the bar.
Again, it's nice to live lavishly, but it can lead to ruin.
IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU
And now I go the fear route, like my mother did with me. Listen, fellas. You're NOT impervious. Go watch the documentary MAXED OUT. Credit and debt is a serious fucking thing. You could end up 40 and homeless (hard to imagine when you're 21 and living the life... but you should).
My father was once a very wealthy man. Then he and my mother got divorced and he went on a spending binge. Now he is bankrupt, living on food stamps and in government housing. I take him out to meals and cut him monthly checks to help. Looking at my Dad ten years ago I never expected this. But it's very real, and a terrible way to live. Trust me: I watch him trying to survive every day.
Listen boys, I don't mean to be a killjoy. But, since I'm probably the oldest gay you know (or near-to-the-oldest) I feel this is my responsibility.
- Open a savings account.
- Deposit in it weekly.
- Avoid debt.
- Use debit.
- Live like you earn, not like you wish.
Just... do it for Papa Justin, mmkay?
xo Justin Luke