Save. Spend. Splurge.

Into the ‘secret’ lives of rich millennial cheapskates

If you know me and have been reading my blog for a while, you know exactly how I feel about these secret lives of rich millennial cheapskates article.

For those of you who are new to this – the story is I basically don’t see the point and I am in pretty much the same position they are, and I still save a lot of money, while enjoying myself.

Loosen up a little

What’s the point of money if you can’t enjoy it, and set what I consider to be a miserable $25/month as a fun budget?

I gave myself $200 and found that very difficult in a mid-sized city, so I upped it to $225, which I think is generous enough. This budget won’t include special things like my friends coming to visit, in which I will basically spare no expense to have a great time.

Maybe they’re ‘enjoying’ the massive savings they have now with great pride, but given the choice, if they had unlimited reserves they wouldn’t do it – it seemed to be a rough transition, frankly.

You gotta really hate your job to do this, and maybe I just don’t get it because I don’t hate my job. I generally wake up pretty excited to go to work and tackle something new.

WTF would I do if I were retired early, like now? Basically let my brain go to rot, blog WAY more than before, and over-analyze Little Bun’s life.

I am not condemning them for their choices – their money, their lives – but I’m curious what they get out of it, knowing they are “retired sooner than anyone else”, but have to live on a beans and rice budget, or move to Asia and live in a Third World country.

Freedom? But it doesn’t sound like freedom to me, it sounds like another kind of prison, where instead of going to work, you stay at home and try not to spend any money.

Why not find a job you love, instead? Work part-time? I can see the merits in that like what Tim has done. He retired early, then picked up a part-time job at the library which he loves, and brews beer on the side.

That sounds GREAT. I’d be on board with that.

What’s this obsession with the word “retired”?

Is it a status thing amongst the financially-minded now? To be able to say: I AM RETIRED*

*Not really.

Don’t get me wrong…

I’m all on board for getting free stuff, thrifting, secondhand, frugal activities, turning off all the appliances (I totally do all of this and see nothing wrong with it), and being cheap AF for those non-value added activities but I’m also not going to tell my friend who visits me for the first time, that we aren’t going to enjoy ourselves and we’ll just stay in and cook and do free things.

I WANT to experience a 3-star Michelin restaurant with her, and I am damn well going to do it because we will both enjoy it immensely.

The experience of being in a restaurant with her, enjoying each meal, picking it apart, having a great time — these are memories I’ll keep with me for a long time to come.

I still remember to this day, going to eat sushi in NYC at a (now) 1-star Michelin restaurant, paying $300, and having the most heavenly experience in my life, remembering everything I ate and how good it was.

You can pinch pennies if you want, fine, but is it going to be worth pinching all those pennies versus just working on ramping up your income instead, or finding other bigger ways to save like side hustling which can be just as fun (think: thrifting and reselling), which also uses up time / is a money-generating activity?

(Also, not all of your free time should go towards ‘side hustling’. I find that mentality extremely draining. Why can’t you read a book just for the pleasure of it, and not because it is a self-help book that will make you make more money? Christ.)

Real fears: Not allowing myself to enjoy my hard work

My real fear about doing this, other than not enjoying my money, is not enjoying my time and then one day be unable to use the money because I get sick, or we die, etc. I believe strongly in a balance.

No need to go crazy eating out nightly and partying it up in 3-star Michelin restaurants, but live a little.

Know who is going to enjoy your money when you’re gone?

Everyone else.

‘specially your kids.

This is why I told myself – Buy that damn car.

Buy it, enjoy it, drive it, and thank your lucky stars every day you were fortunate enough to afford it, and pay for it in cash.

I am not in a bad financial position by any means, and if I am still meeting my goals more or less, and crushing savings compared to ‘average’ millennials and ‘high achieving’ ones, I don’t see anything wrong with it.

My goals are just not theirs, even though I do consider myself money-minded.

I want enough money to enjoy my free time

At the end of the day, I want to have enough money to enjoy my free time.

My partner is retired, but he is really not in my mind, because he is launching into a second career of maybe becoming a teacher.

This lifestyle we have now, is sustainable forever for him on what he has saved, but he has NO FREE MONEY for vacations (remember our nice vacation to Japan in 5-ish years? … Pending. Apparently.), and he is being pretty careful with his cash.

He still buys things here and there, and we NEVER begrudge Little Bun what he needs, even if it is “frivolous” like a new $50 beloved stuffed toy…. but he isn’t flush enough to really live the way he wants to, without worrying about money.

I don’t want to ‘retire’ like that. I want to retire being able to go on a fancy-ass vacation any time I want within reason, and to not have to think about money. THAT’S how I want to retire.

I just don’t see the point in having all this money to live until you’re 90, with NOTHING changing or going wrong. People get sick, die, have to move into assisted living (which gets expensive), and pay for all of that with… what exactly?

And you’re giving up all of your early healthy years where you could work with relatively little trouble, only to be forced back into work after “retirement” because s#*t hit the fan and you now need the money you didn’t save because you hadn’t planned on needing more than $30K a year?

I am not on board with that.



  • Xin

    Ahaha, and here we have yet another awkward and maybe slightly viral – this article certainly went viral in lawyer circles, amongst some of my private sector-leaning law school classmates, because it features someone much like us – personal finance article featuring one of my legal industry peers! It makes me a bit irrationally annoyed that it’s somewhat difficult to find more “normal” personal finance-centric stories about biglaw-ish attorneys…

    Based on the numbers “Daniel” is a nontraditional student, he must have started law school later in life. Someone who went straight to law school after undergrad and is now in the same law firm class year as “Daniel” would generally be 30 or 31 this year. And I think the issue with a lot of the wackier stories of biglaw-ish lawyers who hold themselves out as being extremely frugal is that, with a salary like that, one can have a fairly splurge-y life (even in NYC!) and still save well over 50% of one’s take-home pay. K and I, and most of our friends, can vouch for this many times over. (I’d be curious about “Daniel’s” student loan situation, if any. Though based on his stated salary, he’d have been in the industry long enough to have just paid off his loans in the last year or so, while still being able to save fairly aggressively for retirement.)

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I love that you can give such a detailed lawyer-ly breakdown!!! I would have had no idea. Thank you.

      There is nothing ‘normal’ about big salaries and the bigger the story, the better it sells/reads.

  • steveark

    You have an old soul Sherry, and I think that’s a good thing. Focusing on the finish without relishing the journey is misguided. You still might end up with too much money in your senior years, like we have, but it isn’t because we denied ourselves the things we valued when we were your age. I firmly believe you can have a rich life and still end up with ample resources. The trick, which you seem to have mastered, is to spend lavishly on the things that matter and be frugal on everything else.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Money is no longer the goal, it is the journey of getting there, the accomplishments, the pride I have in what I have saved/done.

      The money for me, is just to live life the way I want, and that changes year from year. I couldn’t have said that 10 years ago!!!!!

  • SarahN

    So I took about 7 months between jobs, as I transitioned from one career to another (a contract was cut short, I had a month in Europe planned etc etc). I enjoyed the time off, I enjoyed having cash to spend, but I didn’t ‘enjoy’ myself, cause I had a scarcity mindset (I still do, to be honest, with the new, much lower salary). I didn’t go to the movies, it wasn’t ‘worth’ it to me. But I did have times I was bored, lonely etc.

    I had hoped this new job at half the salary would be ‘easy’. But I’m the same person. I still beat myself up that I don’t get things right, or that changes I want to make, or questions I ask, take forever to get resolved. And the hours – every job gives you the same base full time hours. So whilst I’m closer to home (I can walk to and from work, and do), it ain’t much different. Except I now resent feel ‘restrained’ cause I don’t want to eat into my savings (which in Australia, we put against our mortgage to reduce interest paid), I want to see them grow.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Not every job is perfect. Honestly, mine may make a lot of money but it is full of stress and deadlines, unrealistic expectations, etc.

      As long as your tradeoff in your mind is worth it – then it is a better choice than what you did before, even if you made more.

      Mental sanity is a big thing, plus commuting.

  • liteadventurer

    If these people moved to where I live, they’d be able to save & invest the same high percentage of their income but also live very well. They’re living like paupers because they’re in New York.

    There’s great financial advantage to residing in a low cost of living area, assuming you’re in an industry that has available jobs in such places.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Even if you don’t have an industry in those low cost places, maybe taking a lower salary makes sense because you’re saving so much everywhere else.

      L.A. is the same thing – high cost of living, high salaries but are you really better off than living in a mid-sized city?

  • Tim

    Well, I’m blushing. Thanks for holding me up as an example. I agree with your point of view…life is too short not to enjoy it. Spend money on what matters to you. Yet I agree with the FIRE idea wanting freedom from full time work but I guess a lot of people don’t understand you don’t have to stop working entirely….honestly some work is just fine as long as you don’t find it stressful and you enjoy it. I also think your way of doing contracts and then long periods off between could also work for people. Just depends on what you prefer to do.

    Besides, the extra cash is nice…I got to my home brewery project done sooner because of it and next up is a 3D printer and taking the kids to Disney next year. We don’t need to do these things but we want to and it is nice to be able to plan these and really not think of the money so much.

    Merry Christmas by the way!

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Merry Christmas! Your FIRE life is my example because you just stopped at job you hate (I don’t hate mine, but I can see myself maybe in the future resenting it for all the money it makes me, if it makes sense?), but I can’t figure out what I’d do afterwards. I am thinking of part-time ideas – maybe the library to occupy my time? Pick up a third language? Travel is an idea but you can’t travel 365 days a year.

  • SP

    I have mixed feelings on this. We keep a decent savings rate without making huge sacrifices, and I think it is absolutely worth it. I don’t even know what I would spend our money on if we spent everything we could.. I generally enjoy my job, but I also think I would enjoy being retired quite a bit. However, it isn’t very financially efficient to be retired, obviously, so working makes way more sense.

    This article in particular was odd. First person has very high income but less savings than I would expect for his age & income ($270k income, 36, $400k savings). Either the income or the lifestyle is probably new? Another woman had $50k saved up, and that was enough for her to quit her high paying job for a career shift into coding. OK, that is great, but it isn’t pursing FI/RE. The money does give her freedom. The other couple didn’t really give any financial details. EVERYONE should use Buy Nothing groups for baby stuff, it is unsustainable and unnecessary for everything to be new.

    I do think most people with very high incomes should be able to save significant portions of their income, without too much struggling, and that should be encouraged.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      High cost of living kills them – I am sure being in NYC you pay $5 for something that costs $1 elsewhere.

      I feel like this article just focused on the BIG HEADLINE.. but not on the details, and where they could have maybe saved a bit more, or like what liteadventurer says – move to a lower cost of living area with a slightly lower salary and watch your savings go up.

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