Broke millennial no more!
Broke Millennial No More
The moniker Broke Millennial has always been polarizing. It’s never been meant to refer directly to me, but rather be a generational title for so many of us who have felt cash strapped and struggling. Since launching this site in 2013, I’ve had a lot of friends, family and perfect strangers ask some variation of, “what are you going to do when you’re a ‘rich’ millennial?” Well, the brand isn’t changing now — and I’m not sure if it ever will — but I have decided to start a celebration of those who achieved a “Broke Millennial No More” moment.
In the seven years since I graduated college and moved to New York City, I’ve shifted from barely surviving to thriving. The first year here I worked three jobs: a page at The Late Show with David Letterman, Starbucks barista, and babysitter. My daily schedule looked something like: wake up at 4:15 AM to get to Starbucks for the opening shift, work until 11:30 then head to the Ed Sullivan Theatre where Letterman filmed and work there until 5:30 or 7:30 depending on how many episodes were taping that day and then I’d head off to babysit until around 11:30 or midnight at least three or four days a week. Yeah, I wasn’t sleeping much.
All those jobs and I was barely scraping by earning about $23,000 that year. My portion of rent cost $925, which ate up about 50% of my income. I became adept at finding free entertainment in New York (like ushering for off-Broadway shows so I could watch for free). I heavily subsidized my grocery budget in a few ways. I usually got fed while babysitting because it was always dinner time, plus I ate lots of little kid snacks. On double-show taping days at Letterman we would get fed pizza for dinner, so I started bringing ziploc bags to take home the leftovers (I wasn’t the only one).
But my biggest Broke Millennial No More moment happened a couple years later after I started another job with a pay bump up to $50,000, plus I was freelancing on the side. Suddenly, I realized I could afford to upgrade from riding the Greyhound bus to taking Amtrak to go visit Peach. We were in a long distance relationship for 4 years, 1 month, 2 weeks and 3 days and tried to see each other at least every six weeks if not once a month. For a long stretch I went to visit Peach more often than he came to NYC because he was in grad school while working full-time and I just had more flexibility. Being able to upgrade from the unreliable and cramped Greyhound to stretching and walking around on an Amtrak train was pure luxury.
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Pay Down Your Debt
I often get asked what is the best way to pay down your debt. Here’s the spoiler: the method that actually works for you is the best way to slay that debt. Personally, I am a weirdo who loves numbers and gets totally motivated by the math behind building wealth and ditching debt. Even though I’ve never carried debt before, I will be marrying into student loan debt later this year when Peach and I finally tie the knot.
Naturally, we’ve discussed how to handle paying off his student loans many times over the years and our plan of attack has evolved as our jobs changed and incomes increased. But one thing remained consistent: we wanted to knock out his higher interest rate student loans first (aka debt avalanche).
Currently, Peach has been putting the extra money he earns from coaching and grading state tests (he’s a teacher) towards his student loan with the highest interest rate. Once we’re married, we’ll be using some of my income to also ditch that debt quickly. While it does certainly take a bit longer to see movement when you’re paying down higher interest rate debt, we’re both able to feel motivated about the idea of saving more in the long-run. However, I recognize this as pretty unusual. Generally, those small wins in the beginning of your debt repayment journey can really help motivate you to keep going. This is why debt snowball is often the superior method for most folks.
But you should choose for yourself! Learn more about how to snowball or avalanche your debt in this week’s installment of The 3-Minute Guide.
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