I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself

Well, two ideas I have for you: first of all, if you want to have enough money to buy a place outright and stop having to pay monthly tribute to your landlord, you may want to try becoming a very aggressive saver and living well below your means. I’m sure you can find countless sites out there full of money-saving tips.

Also, Dave Ramsey has some great stuff written about how to improve your finances and get out of debt. (We have his book, “The Total Money Makeover.”) A tip I can tell you right away is that before you work on paying down things like credit cards as whatnot, first have a nice, big money cushion saved. I think he said the ideal amount is anywhere from three to six months’ worth of expenses – – and that’s EXPENSES, NOT INCOME – – but you may have to settle for something smaller – – like one month or even just a couple of weeks – – if you’re drowning in debts to pay off. This cache is crucial, because you don’t want to be in a position where you’re just one incident, one accident away from being broke or having to go into more debt or miss bill payments. You should also start an IMMEDIATE emergency fund before you get the larger fund set up. If your income is under 20 k per year, it should be 500 dollars. If your income is over that, it should be 1,000 dollars. (I know I just mentioned that the large emergency fund is based on expenses rather than income, but in this case I’m thinking his recommendation is based on what you can reasonably afford to put together PRONTO, based on how much money you make.) As far as the three-to-six-month fund, its size depends on the risk or stability of your financial situation. For people who earn a straight commission, are self-employed, have chronic health problems or a family member with such, are single, or are in a single-income family situation, it should be six months.

I would also recommend “The Education of Millionaires” by Michael Ellsberg. He has so many great and surprising examples, stories, and insights there, and lots of great tips. One I’ll give you right here is: always have a backup. Always have something to fall back on if new ideas you have to expand your business and increase your income – – or happiness with your work – – don’t pan out. This isn’t a Goddarned movie, Nate! None of this dramatic, all-or-nothing, go-for-broke stuff…unless you want to end up flat on your backside. The thing is, failure is not just the opposite or alternative to success – – it’s a road you must travel on your way to success. Unless you’re, I dunno, trying I avoid imminent death, there’s no need I get depressed about failure or make a huge deal of it. You fail, you study and learn from your mistakes, and you make a better attempt next time. If you have your backup already in place, then your failure isn’t going to cripple or ruin you; you can recover.

This is why he recommends keeping your regular, bill-paying job while you reach for the stars; it’s just a matter of carving out the time and setting aside some money for that purpose. You don’t want to just up and quit your job and end up broke and homeless if the new idea doesn’t pan out. You’d effectively be playing a very unnecessary game of financial Russian roulette. The dramatic stuff might make for great entertainment, but it’s not such a good idea for real life.

Hopefully the tips I just gave you will help. Even if you don’t want to get the actual books, you can probably find some free online resources by these guys…if I recall correctly, Ellsberg has a monthly online newsletter, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they both have newsletters or blogs you can get tips from.

Oops, almost forgot another crucial tip: TITHING. Bup-bup-bup! I don’t wanna hear it! Just do it. Be a blessing to others. Make it so that being in a better financial position doesn’t just benefit you – – it benefits others, as well.

For one thing, food pantries are in rough shape in this economy…and you never know when you yourself might end up in need and hoping other people have done what I’m asking (well ok, maybe telling…) you to do today. It’s up to you whether your karma is gonna be Lassie, or just a – – well, you know!

The Tusk


I’m a straight, white male in my late ‘20’s in Brooklyn who DJs and works on a novel and blogs. On paper, I am as bad as it gets.

I am the product of a series of decisions I made in my early twenties: getting an MFA, moving. In my early twenties, I enjoyed Entourage and probably thought jicama was a disease people got in the 19th century. I hate that the idiot I just described determined the course of my life.

Anyplace there’s gentrification, if you’re a working-class white person, you’re just a placeholder in the neighborhood until the real rich people can get there. Even if you’re a racist who loves displacing people of color, you’re still a patsy who’s going to get priced out. People are going to discover your neighborhood for its cuteness, then do away with the actual cute aspects and replace them with…

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