Five years ago, I began my college career with high hopes that graduation would bring financial freedom, a fancy apartment, a Fashion Week-worthy wardrobe and stability. Well, most of those things came to fruition on some level, but not quite in the grandiose, stereotypical way I had envisioned.
Through an internship, I fell in love with a job at a non-profits arts organization. A job that played on my strengths and kept me involved in a discipline that I love dearly. A job that demanded 60-hour work weeks at times and paid a fraction of what some of my former fellow students earn in the corporate world. When I graduated and was hired on full-time, I was thrilled. My bank account and credit cards, not so much.
The truth is that my life is not lavish. I'm not a big spender, I don't often throw money away on impulsive and indulgent purchases - and yet, I still feel that I struggle monthly to get ahead financially. Since graduation, my major accomplishment has been that I've paid my bills. I haven't built any substantial emergency fund, I haven't contributed to the charities that I support, and I haven't put a dime into any kind of investment or retirment account.
And I'm not alone. I'm part of a generation of millenials that have graduated college to find a very different world waiting compared to the economic and social landscape of our parents' era. The workforce is changing and morphing to provide opportunities that come in all shapes and sizes - it's not always enough to land a traditional corporate job. I love the career path that I've chosen, but I've realized that no matter how much you love what you do, when you can't change the amount you earn, you have to change how much you spend.
Since I can't control my income at this particular moment in time, over the next six months I'm embarking on a journey to change my mindset on spending, to live more frugally, to build better financial habits, and to embrace a lifestyle that somewhat rejects the consumerist culture of America.
Many experts have begun their own journeys in the same place and have paved the way in the field of frugality, money management and simple living. This project is just my story, but I hope that I can encourage at least one person along the way as I learn to change my mindset on finances and consumption.
I hope you enjoy my path to living well simply while loving what I do.