When I first graduated from college, found a real job, and saw paychecks double, I felt like I’d joined a new club. I was rich. I’d gone from Keystone Light and night-of-the-week pizza deals to an oxford shirt world where my work and opinion had value – at least it appeared that way to everyone outside my office. I lived with my parents to “save money” for a big transition into adulthood, a grand second act. And enough of my friends did the same thing that it was barely a transition. We were boomerangs, some with big-boy jobs, some still searching, but we were 22, our ties pulling us into the real world while our feet dragged behind.
I graduated with a degree in Financial Economics, whatever that really means I never figured out. It was a glamorous business degree, one that meant I was supposed to be good with money, if anyone was. Turns out I was better at spending it than anything else. After essential bills like student loans, a train pass, and a great pair of loafers, everything was disposable income. And dispose of it I did. Until one day when a light switched on and I realized that all the dinners and drinks, takeout lunches, and countless new toys weren’t getting me anywhere. When retirement came along my new wardrobe wouldn’t be there for me, let alone fit. Having the newest iPhone wasn’t going to supplant my 401k either.