We Are All On a Journey, Man (But Not The Same Journey)

Logan: WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO CHAT ABOUT? I can’t deal with anything super personal today. Can’t do it. EMO’d OUT.

Mike: Haha, why? People have been so supportive!

Logan: Oh, for sure. People are Great. But I reached my “talking about myself in a thoughtful way” quota for the week. DONE.

Mike: But we’ve all been invested in this journey you’ve been on to live within your means, and you had a major breakthrough. We’re all happy for you. Are you feeling overwhelmed by that?

Logan: TOO TRUMAN SHOW. Let’s talk about college, and going to college. EVERYONE LOVES COLLEGE. Lots of people are going to college soon! If not already! Back to school pencils. Trapper keepers.

Mike: I think people are most interested in our conversations when they’re real and interesting, and we’re not reaching for something to talk about. When I have real thoughts about it, and so do you. I don’t have real thoughts about back to school shopping. Only superficial ones.

Logan:  But I am kind of proud of that thing I wrote, and I don’t want it to become like, Daddy Mike approves! I mean, I didn’t write it  to get praise or a pat on the back or anything.

Mike: Nobody thinks that. You need to stop with that. People are proud of you, and if I’m proud of you, it’s not because I’m your dad. I’m just a friend that’s happy for you.

Logan: I know, but that makes me uncomfortable. I feel like accepting … accolades for personal development is kind of silly. I tend to be more comfortable making fun of myself and my situation. I mean, I don’t like to DWELL. And I definitely don’t want it to seem like I have figured everything out.  I have figured one tiny thing out and that’s it.

But I do think that there are more people like me than there are you, financially, in this country.  I feel like more of our commenters are like you than like me, but I also know that  I don’t comment on websites, so I’m going to extrapolate that other people like me probably don’t comment often either. And so it seems important to say, “Hey, you’re not alone!” But also to say, “Hey we’re kind of fucking ourselves”? But also, “Hey money woes are not the end of the world”? Other things are the end of the world. Like: The End of The World.

Mike: I think your situation is one of the most identifiable things for people, because, you’re right: Most people are trying to figure out how to live their lives and live within their means. And it’s a difficult thing to do. We’re all trying to figure out how to do it. I am too, in some ways

Logan: Analysis of your own life is tricky. I think the way the story is supposed to read is that I was a financial trainwreck, but then I bottomed out and pulled myself up! Maybe one day I’l buy a house and get some stocks (or maybe none of this will happen because, hello, world economy, why so blue?) But I hate that narrative. Because I don’t want to discount or muddy up the past ten years of my life and chalk them up to a huge fuck up. Mistakes were made, yes, but it wasn’t all bad, and using those cards let me have a lot of experiences that I couldn’t have had. So it’s important to me that, while I’m Learning Some Lessons, I’m never DEBT SHAMING anyone else. I wouldn’t do that.

Mike: And this is exactly what we’re all about, I think. People often come up to me and ask, “Hey, so what would you do in this situation?” And I always pause and have them take a step back because I don’t think the way I live my life makes sense for everyone. So my response is, “Well, let’s talk about you for a moment, and understand why you’re having this problem, and what makes sense for you to fix it.” It tends to be my mantra around here: “Do what makes sense for you.”

I remember a comment on something I wrote from a few months ago. Someone was saying how her sister was giving her a huge guilt-trip because she wasn’t saving for retirement. The thing was: She actually didn’t have the money to save for retirement, because she barely had enough money to pay the rent. So I told her, “Well, I would never give you that guilt-trip.” We all go at our own pace. We are all living our individual lives. And the only rules we should live by are the ones that work for us. The ones that keep us happy and healthy. (That’s another mantra of mine.)

Logan: True confession: I took two cab rides last night. I wrote this essay about my feelings and money and wants versus needs and growing up and I felt really proud of it. And then I walked home and sat in front of the fan and drank limeade for awhile, and then my cousin invited me over, and it was late—I didn’t want to take the train so I took a cab. $13. And then when I left his place it was 2 a.m. and I still didn’t want to take the train, so I took a cab. $13.

And this was not the most wonderful use of my money, but I had that money in my account at that moment and I knew it wasn’t earmarked for bills, so I did what I wanted to do with it. But I didn’t feel guilty or bad for taking the cab. And I didn’t feel dumb. Maybe one day I will choose not to do little good things like this.  But for some reason that’s important for me to point out. This is not a Total Personality Overhaul. This is the tiniest of baby steps.

Mike: We are all different people with different situations. Let’s take for example, the idea of an emergency fund and having money in savings. Financial types say you absolutely must have the money in savings because you need money for all the good and bad things that happens in life (i.e. “My best friend is eloping and they’re doing it in South Korea!” and “I just totaled my car and have to get a new one”). And because of this, they usually say that you need 3 months or 6 months of living expenses saved up. But that’s just some generic, rule-of-thumb advice that they give to the masses. What they really mean is: When life happens to you, what is your backup plan?

And here is one of the reasons I feel it is so necessary for me to put money in savings, and why it’s probably not a priority for you: When life happens, I don’t have anyone to rely on but myself. I am my own backup plan, because my family can’t afford to be my emergency plan. Your life is different because you can absolutely turn to family if necessary. So again, different strokes, etc.

Logan: One thing I struggle with is this: Is there actually one right way to be? I mean, I would say no, but it seems like paying off debt and saving money are really just steps on the road for being prepared for anything, and that those of us who can’t do that are fucking up.

Mike: I don’t think that’s there’s one right way to be, but I think we can agree that no one wants to be in debt. What we want to be is free. And that’s a reoccurring message in the “Doing Money” series we’ve been publishing: Money is not the goal. It is the tool we use to get ourselves free.

“When you get in debt, you become a slave. Therefore I say to you never involve yourself in debt, and become no man’s surety.” That’s an Andrew Jackson quote.

Logan: I’m reading a book on anarchism now (HI CIA, SUP), and one argument there is that we’re all slaves anyway, debt or not. WAGE SLAVES. But that’s a discussion for another day/person who has actually finished the book about anarchism, maybe even taken a 200-level course, possibly.

I think we’re all going to be okay. I don’t believe in god but I believe in “okay.” (New bumper sticker)

Mike: I’d buy one of those! OK! Good chat, Logan. It’s been a really great week. And as such, let’s celebrate by taking Monday off. See you back here on Tuesday, and have a great weekend!

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