Financial Freedom: Maybe You Don’t Want It Bad Enough

Making excuses are for people who don't want it bad enough.

I don't think we have a student debt crisis so much as an entitlement crisis. There used to be a time when paying back your debt with interest was done with honor. There would be no complaints, but simple gratitude for someone or some organization willing to take a risk on you. I think people don't want it bad enough.

Nowadays, it seems like there is a growing movement of folks who believe there should be debt forgiveness just because. Just because what? Seriously, please tell me or write a guest post explaining why you are entitled to free money.

Being a debt welcher demonstrates bad character. If you're not willing to scrub toilets, drive a car, get up at 5am to work extra hours, or flip burgers to pay your debts or get out of a bad financial situation, then you are going blame the world for your problems until you die. 

Financial Freedom: Do You Want It Bad Enough?

Here's a comment from the Average Student Debt At Record High post I'd like you to read.

I went to a private college and got a BS and MS in engineering. School left me in $88K of student loan debt upon graduating. This would have been more, but I was working multiple jobs throughout college to afford the $40K/yr price tag. Like some others have said, the FASFA really screwed over my family. It valued their house at an insane amount even though they had a substantial mortgage. I’m pretty sure it also looked at my parent’s retirement accounts as assets that could be liquidated, but that was not an option.

Anyway, after graduating with $88K in debt, I continued to work 2, 3, 4, and even 5 jobs at a time to make as much money as possible. My first real job started at 50K but has risen to just over 100K in six years. Even though I am making this money now, I am still working side hustles to make extra money, and can easily make an extra $2-300 a week with minimal work from home, mostly through websites like fiverr, crowdsource, and other freelancing platforms. Sometimes I still help out at a friend’s restaurant waiting tables and can make $2-300 in a night!

On top of this, I also went back to school while doing all this work and got a professional degree in an unrelated field that is going to allow me to open up my own business on the side. I’m hoping that this will net me around $10,000 extra each year.

The thing that really resonates with me, though, is how few people are willing to put in the time, and to make smart life choices so that they can reach financial independence. With all this work, I was able to pay off my $88k in loans and finance a professional degree without taking out any new ones.

I also bought a house and have a very reasonable / manageable mortgage payment. I save roughly 20% of my income for retirement when you count the employer match. And, I still can go out for nice dinners, go to sporting events, go on a week or two of vacation each year, go to shows, have nice clothes for work and casual events, drive a decent car, and afford home improvement projects on my house.

Every time I hear some sob story about people who are stuck in debt from student loans, I also hear stories about how they waste money on useless wants, go on extravagant vacations they cannot afford, eat out at fancy restaurants for every meal, and sleep-in every chance they get. They never tell us they are working a second job, or how they are trying to save up for something. Instead, they are racking up credit card debt on top of student loan debt, complaining about it, and not thinking about the future at all.

We really need people in college and recent graduates to be more responsible for their own decisions. I think that is where the solution begins.

When You Want It Bad Enough You Make Sacrifices To Get Ahead

By working multiple jobs through college, multiple jobs after college, waiting tables while making $100K at his day job six years later, and diligently saving 20% of his income, it's clear this commenter WANTS to get ahead. He's not somebody who complains why he can't get ahead while working less than 40 hours a week.

I've highlighted Sean Cooper's story about how he put his life on hold for three years so he could pay off his mortgage early. No sex. No fine dining. Definitely no fancy car. No travel since travel is banned anyway. Forget about main house living. Lots of extra freelance work. And now, no mortgage debt. Sean wanted to get ahead, so he did it. Are you willing to make the same sacrifices to pay off your debt?

The benefits of financial freedom sooner more than outweigh loose spending today. I could show you pictures of how awesome life is once you have absolute freedom, but that would just annoy you or make you feel bad. Hence, all I can do is just continue to write and share some examples of doing what it takes.

Hustling More For Financial Independence
Putting in 20 more hours a week to pay down debt and take control of her life

One More Example Of Hustle

In the post, Larks vs. Night Owls, another reason I decided to drive for Uber between 5am-7am was to get its year-end $750 bonus after 20 rides. You see, Uber ran a special last December where referrers would get a $750 bonus if they signed up a new driver (from $300 usually), and the new driver would also get a $200 bonus for a combined bonus total of $950.

Based on my 400+ ride experience, I knew I could do 3-4 rides an hour. In other words, after 6 hours of work, I could capture a $950 bonus + ~$200 in fares for a total of $1,150. That's an hourly rate of $192, while also being able to do research on early birds for my post. 

A $192 hourly rate equals $33,280 a month, and $400,000 a year if maintained for 40 hours a week. Not bad, if you take advantage of the various opportunities. So many people are making way more money than anybody knows through side hustles.

What's interesting is that I gave my referral code to three friends, and none of them bothered to sign up to earn extra money, even if I told them I'd split the proceeds. All have nice cars (VW GTI, BMW 535i, and Porsche Cayenne), but none of them can afford a median priced single family home in San Francisco. Their house-to-car ratio for measuring fiscal responsibility is out of whack!

They bitch and moan about the cost of housing. One of them would rather let three of his doubles players wait for 45 minutes because he didn't want to pay $3.25/hour for parking! The person who did accept my referral code was my business partner. And she was smart to make me drive for her while she collected her $200 bonus for just being.

I've come to the conclusion that too many people are either too proud to make extra money or too lazy. They don't want it bad enough. Unless you have some physical or mental malady or come from a broken family, it's hard to except so many excuses when there's so much opportunity now.

Remember this: It takes effort to see the sunrise.

For Financial Freedom, Don't Do Nothing

Please don't complain when others buy nice things, retire early, travel abroad, and live in fabulous places. They stayed on top of their net worth and work towards a financial plan.

Get your finances in order the easy way:

Want to be financially free and have a great retirement? You've got to want it bad enough.

Every single goal achiever put in plenty of sacrifice. If you want to be free, put in the extra work today. If not, I guess you can blame me or the President. But blaming won't get you anywhere.

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If You Want Financial Freedom Bad Enough, Put Your Money To Work

As 2022 has taught us, inflation can creep up quickly and put a lot of strain on your budget. In times of high inflation, it's important to put your money to work so it doesn't lose value as prices rise. How you choose to invest will be based on things like your own risk tolerance, existing assets, and financial goals.

Here are some helpful posts to help you get started with managing your money. If you want financial freedom and greater wealth bad enough, you have to be willing to put in the time and effort.

How To Have A Risk-Appropriate Asset Allocation When Investing

Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom

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Updated for 2022 and beyond.

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167 thoughts on “Financial Freedom: Maybe You Don’t Want It Bad Enough”

  1. Children learn their spending habits and lifestyle based on what their parents can afford, and their parents, and their friends’ parents, can afford a lot because this is an awesome country. But they aren’t taught the skills to do this for themselves. So it’s a combination of all of the above: entitlement, lack of teaching, and cultural blindness. We are victims of our success, but we are to blame as well. But children grow up into adults. A child will understandably do bad things if taught to do so by their parents, but there comes a point when the child becomes an adult and the lessons don’t really matter. They are responsible for themselves.

    But parents could make it easier simply having the conversation with their kids “You have a good life based on MY salary which is based on MY skills and credentials. When you turn 18 [or 22 with a shiny new degree] you are unskilled and your credentials non-existent so expect to eat a lot of ramen.”

    I really wanted to go to a top school for my BS, but I’m so glad I went for the state school and scholarship. I found out later that jobs either don’t really care, or they want an MS. And if they want an MS they care about where you went for that, not your BS. And if the MS program is a right fit you should be sponsored anyway. I took out one small loan, deferred, at 2% because I could and that went into my down payment after I graduated.

  2. Ten Factorial Rocks

    This might sound cliche but it takes a village in some ways to raise a child. So many people influence a young adult’s views on money and debt. Universities have become expensive cocoons that extract a heavy price for a 4-year stay of a young adult walking in their hallowed halls. In the 90s Bill Gates famously said, Banking is necessary, Banks are not. Similarly, knowledge is necessary, expensive universities are not. As a senior executive who has interviewed hundreds of applicants for various jobs in my company, I found find the hungry, hard-working tier 2 or 3 university graduates who worked their way through college to be far better hires than those from top tier names who come saddled with $100k debt asking for similar salary!

  3. Middle Class Millionaire

    Everyone “wants” financial freedom… but very few want it bad enough to actually take action and take specific steps that are needed to get there.

    If you are currently saving less than 10% of your income, you clearly don’t want it bad enough. Otherwise, you would find a way to MAKE it happen.

  4. Well my friend there are definite generation changes.

    The feelings of entitlements didn’t exist in our parents generation, but do now.
    Tuition has increased by how many 100%s from our parents generation. My parents worked one year during school and ended up affording a car and paying for FOUR years of tuition. Today that is impossible because the the rate of tuition increase is exorbitant while rate of wages is turtle pace.

    Some things are better with time, other things have changed for the worse over time.

  5. Jenerra Loken

    I think much of the “crisis” you are addressing comes back to the pervasive culture of excess. It’s nothing new, humans have sought to one-up each other for centuries. Our competitive nature has caused mass droves of people to buy into consumerism in a pursuit of winning out over their neighbors. This has only gotten worse as we have added in the element of “self reward,” buying things as a way to reward ourselves for our hard work (at a job we likely hate) because we “deserve it.” I know because I was one of those people just a few months ago.

    Discovering “the truth,” that buying things won’t make you happy and that you don’t have to slave away at a job you don’t like until you’re 65, is not an easy message to get across. This is especially true for the majority of people who, I think, are most comfortable when someone else will tell them how to live their life. Most people are more than happy to take their guidance from friends, family and mass media who perpetuate these myths. It takes a certain amount of intelligence and independent thought to break free, to swallow the red pill. I consider myself lucky to have met very little resistance from friends and family (although I sense most of them think this is a “phase”) and also lucky to have married someone who was just as easily convinced to see the big picture once I revealed it. Now we look at each other every day and ask “Why did we ever think that was the right way to live?” and then “How do we bring others on board?”

    The answer, in our short experience, is that you can’t force these concepts on other people. They have to discover it for themselves or see it in action. Just in the past 2 months we’ve traded down to an electric vehicle, stopped mid-build on a massive custom home and are now looking to sell our current home and downsize to half of what we live in now. We’ve cut expenses in almost every area we can and are looking at our budget each month to find where we can cut back further. The more we cut expenses, the faster we can save and the earlier we can retire because we’ve learned to live with less. This is the example we set for those around us – I tell everyone I know that I’m going to retire in 10 years (or less) as a way to make myself accountable to my goals.

  6. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I may not be doing everything I can to reach financial independence as soon as possible – from reading this post. I definitely have used excuses (too tired from shift work, not having as many opportunities for side hustle in Canada, not wanting to leave my comfort zone…etc) and I feel like I’ve given these excuses too much power to stop me.

    I’ve gained more insight of myself after reading this. Truth hurts!

  7. Fortune Cookie Millennial

    I’d love to side hustle and get ahead, but the problem is that I’m a foreign worker from China, and my visa is tied to my employer. If I earn any active income outside of that, I would be in violation of immigration law. That includes working for another company, this is the obvious one, but also driving Uber, hosting on Airbnb, consulting, and freelancing. Even if the work is location independent, like blogging or YouTube.

  8. My stepbrothers and I are worlds apart, and some of it does come down to entitlement. The eldest was too lazy to apply for guaranteed scholarships from an in-state school since his dad can afford to cover in-state out of pocket. But it’s also about not understanding money and how hard you do need to work to pay it off. My student loans shocked me, and they are fairly minimal, and my degree is in science, but didn’t come with a lot of marketable skills. I built those on my own (coding, leadership, analytics), on accident. Universities don’t always do a great job preparing students with real skills.

    Otherwise, as an immigrant, I think some comes down to the fact that it’s common to be told that you weren’t brought to this country to continue doing menial tasks. My first job was undergraduate research and tutoring, since I didn’t have work authorization before that (to be fair, I volunteered at a pizza place many weekends to raise money for a school activity before, but it wasn’t a ‘real job’). I definitely think if I had been a server or worked more jobs like this when I was younger, I would have had the drive for financial independence earlier.

    I’m just very happy I did not apply for any out of state universities and got free tuition through scholarships. Even now, my student loans have an impact on my financial freedom, which is what ‘awoke’ me financially and got me hustling to pay those off ASAP. But it makes me appreciate my education more. I just wish I had been doing it all along.

  9. I think there’s societal pressure to go to the best school you can get into, regardless of the cost. It’s the same type of message as needing to get the best marks possible. It’s as though that’s a necessary ingredient to success. I had the same pressure put on me for my MBA, given I was usually at the top of my class, and I just refused to spend $100K for my masters. I stayed at home, did it for $30K (less $10K in grants and scholarships I hustled for) and worked part-time during part of my studies, despite my mother offering to foot the bill. I also used money I saved up so that I could afford transportation and parking on my own dime. That meant that I could finish school without breaking the bank. Sometimes, just because society pressures us to go for broke doesn’t mean we have to make that choice. After all, we’re the ones who need to live with the decision.

  10. Most all 20-something folks I have met in recent years are in that entitled crowd and are complete clueless about life and responsibilities… I don’t know.. did their lack of having good parents fail them?? did their formal education steer them wrong?? are they just lazy??? I think it is the first and the latter… Create good goals and achieve them.. life can be simple… and awesome at the same time… with lots of challenges in the mix when you are killing it…

  11. I think there’s definitely some validity to the entitlement issue. But like some commenters, I do think you kind of overlook the costs of education and give a pass to those who are profiting off the backs of students. I took out student loans for undergrad but it was a state school so it wasn’t too bad. I took out the max Stafford loans for law school but I worked full time while attending in the evenings part-time so that my loan burden wasn’t as bad. I could pat myself on the back and say that others should work harder rather than complaining. But I think there is a genuine issue when law schools charge $50,000 and tout their great employment record for grads and $150,000 start salaries at firms when in actuality, many grads with huge amounts of student loan debt will make $40,000 to $60,000 as an entry level attorney. Some may not even be able to get those jobs and have to do temporary document review. Maybe they can work hard and move up…Nope…that type of job will not help you move up or out. There’s also an issue with the interest rates on student loans….federal loans at 6.8% and private loans in double digits, when mortgage rates are under 4%?! Collateral? Well student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy so there’s a good chance that if a person can pay, they will.

    1. As a lawyer, what are some solutions you can think of to help other lawyers? I’ve read that lawyers are one of the most unhappy group of people due to the cost of education, time it takes to be a lawyer, work hours, and job overall. I’ve heard this since 1995 when I graduated high school. It deterred me from going the law route.

      Also, I’ve always thought lawyers were some of the smartest people because they had to get the best grades to get into the law schools. Can we make a conclusion that good grades and smarts is only loosely correlated with good financial habits? It’s not like law students are those who went to go fight a war and are being convinced by private online for private colleges to pay big tuition so they can have a chance at a future propaganda.

      1. Good question, I don’t know the answer as I’ve been “fortunate” to not have the soul sucking job that many attorneys have. I have a government job which okay pay and best of all…decent hours and no need to find clients. As for being the smartest people, I don’t know about that. You may have to have the best grades to get into law school, but there are many lower tier schools (that charge the same as the top ones) where it is much easier to get in. I think it’s a common misconception for many people going the law route that they all make tons of money. There are the top grads from top schools who make the big money:
        But many start off much lower and there is very little in between.

  12. Mrs. SimplyFinanciallyFree

    I recently saw a GoFundMe set up by an average guy who was looking to have everyone else pay off his student loans. His thought, based on the summary, was: hey, if I can get X number of people to put in just $10 I can pay these off. It actually made me a little sick to my stomach and was glad that no one had contributed to it. People need to take responsibilities for their finances and actions. But I do believe there is a lack of education when it comes to personal finance. There really should be a mandatory lesson/class on basic finance that is taught in every high school.

  13. College Student

    Speaking of entitlement, I cannot believe what some college students expect to get paid at their first job.

    A few months ago a group of my friends and I were hanging out when the topic of financial goals came up. The discussion covered prospective job opportunities, life goals for our 20’s, living expenses, college loans, things like that. When it came my turn to share, I was immediately told “good luck, you’ll never achieve that with your degree”. To be honest, I just sat there speechless. For those of you wondering, my degree is in a physical science.

    Apparently, because I wasn’t going for one of the “BIG” degree’s, I was never meant to make any money. While, albeit, my proposed financial goals were ambitious, they were in my opinion very achievable. What nagged me the most though about the conversation was the simple fact that I already had a higher income than they did. I have the highest GPA. I have taken out the most student loans because I’m practically paying for all of college.

    For the last few years, I have sometimes gotten annoyed at how it always feels like I put in the most effort in school while everyone else skates by. Working double time to get the highest GPA possible. Working a job for extra money. Or, how I’ll be paying off way more student loans than most people.

    Yet, as I have gotten older, while the feelings of annoyance have not diminished, new feelings have started to appear. I have begun to feel pride in my independence. I now realize that life is give and take; and my success comes not from how much I take, but in how much I give to reach my goals.

    Reaching the financial goals I proposed a few months ago won’t be easy. I know it will entail countless hours of hard work and then some. It will require many more gives than takes, but at the end of the day, no matter how rough it gets, it sure feels good to be independent.

    Looking back, I do hope that everyone else reaches their proposed goals as well. But, as I have learned over the last few years of college, success is not how much you are entitled to, but how much you are willing to give up to reach your goals.

    As Jon Krakauer said “It is easy, when you are young, to believe that what you desire is no less than what you deserve, to assume that if you want something badly enough, it is your God-given right to have it.”

    1. “I now realize that life is give and take; and my success comes not from how much I take, but in how much I give to reach my goals.”

      I enjoyed this point. I can’t tell if you are in college now, or have graduated. Either way, do know that you will gain no greater satisfaction than being independent to pay your own bills, make your own decisions, and strive to live the life you want. Having the ability to choose is priceless.

  14. This is something I need to remind myself more —

    Things do not happen on their own. I need to MAKE things happen in my life.
    I need to earn my own success.

    I feel like this is also a great lesson on trade offs.
    We can have anything, but we cannot have everything. Something has to give, right?

  15. Financial Slacker

    Speaking of entitlement, did you see the recent story of the woman suing her law school, because she couldn’t get a job when she graduated?

    She is blaming the school for over inflating its employment figures.

    And while I certainly agree that a school, or any business, should be held accountable for accurate performance reporting (obviously a big deal in the investment world), holding the school responsible for her getting a job seems far-fetched.

  16. Nuclear Real Estate

    A lot of comments seem to student loan focused, with several people bringing up a perceived injustice that student loans can not be vanquished through bankruptcy, when other types of loans can.

    Perhaps we should keep in mind that student Loans are not secured by anything. If you welch on your mortgage the lender can seize an asset (your house) same with a car loan etc, but a lender can’t seize your education. So in order for a lender to take on this additional risk, there needs to be SOME form of an incentive. One option could be that student loans could be treated like any other unsecured personal loan, which would result in much much higher rates. Another option is the current treatment, that they can’t b vanquished through bankruptcy. A borrower can’t just demand that they be able to get student loans at artificially low rates, while still having all the protections of other loans… There is no free lunch… just b/c you want it doesn’t mean you are entitled to it.

    From my perspective the problem with student loans is that unlike just about any other kind of loan, there is no evaluation of the borrower’s ability to pay back the loan. When you apply for a mortgage a lender analyzes your credit score, income, existing debt, etc. for the purpose of establishing your ability to service the loan. Any weakness will drive higher rates as the borrower represents higher risk. Additionally the lender goes through the appraisal process to reach a conclusion as to whether the asset (the house) is of sufficient value the justify the loan in question (the mortgage). Why don’t we do this for student loans?

    As an example, someone seeking a $20k loan for the purpose of getting an engineering degree from MIT should have a high likelihood of approval, and at a favorable rate. This would be driven by the low risk profile associated with servicing the debt as only a moderate amount of debt is being taken out, and the degree will likely yield a high starting salary, as well as a high value of the asset (the engineering degree from MIT).

    Conversely, someone seeking a $100k loan for the purpose of getting an art history degree from the University of Phoenix should have a high likelihood of being denied, or only approved at exceptionally high rates. This would be driven by the high risk profile associated with servicing the debt as only a high level of debt is being taken out, and the degree will likely yield a low salary, as well as a low value of the asset (the art history degree from the University of Phoenix).

    Of course people would throw a fit about any such analysis due to the “entitlement crisis” that makes everyone think they are entitled to be able to “follow their dreams” and get whatever education they want, regardless of how irresponsible it might be.

    1. Thats a real issue, and its why private institutions should mostly stay out of the primary student loan market. It was also a big issue before the ability to refinance was there just a year or two ago. You now had professionals with loans that were double the going rate with good incomes and credit that couldnt change the situation.

      While the subject/school part is intuitive, it would likely cause massive distortions in the market and just be too difficult to implement properly. The government should have been much stricter and not allowed these for profit, obviously inferior diploma mills to pop up and just fund them indiscriminately, that was a failure.

      These reasons, and the ultimate over arching societal benefit are why government should be the one on the hook for the primary student loan market. There should definitely be some form of real financial education about value, etc…before taking them out, and something done on their side about not promoting rapidly inflating tuition, though that seems to have come to a head already.

      Im not for the blanket bankruptcy allowance, it would be abused like mad, but I am for 100% tax deduction on all payments.

  17. Brad Spencer

    I really don’t think there’s an issue until serious talk of “write off the debt” happens. THAT is a crisis.

    The moral hazard on that is pukeasaurus rex (Shakespeare created 1000’s of words…that’s one of mine haha).

    Big issue is…as a country we are projecting each interest group’s values on other people. For example, while I agree with you and share your views here on FS in almost 100% entirety…one thing I notice or feel (and again it’s just the way it lands on me) is that sometimes it’s easy to look at “data” and automatically assume we know the answer or that it applies to everyone.

    I think the bigger issue is not how much a person makes or saves…but rather if they’re rational and say “I make $4k a month and I should spend less than that or else I’ll be broke/in debt” then that’s ok. I think you probably feel the same since you’re super rational and logical.

    But sometimes I think it’s easy to assume (and I see this a lot in blog comments here) that people all share the same values. I see readers assume your premises are faulty (especially when I read the “don’t spend more than X% of your net worth on your car” article that was full of haters) or assume it’s not possible.

    I laugh at all the dumb spending I did in my 20’s. Granted it’s not drinking or drugs or whatever…but just depreciation/interest on cars alone is disgusting. I had to “unlearn” my belief that used cars were junk and it took me buying 4 new cars in 11 years to do it. Oh well live and learn.

    But now…I find that it’s easy to live comfortably on 3500-4k net (after taxes and debt paydown) and honestly probably couldn’t figure out what to do with money beyond that. We eat at Chipotle whenever, have fun, watch/go to movies, and can easily pay for our kiddo on that. Life is good.

    So, I’ll say this…it’s always a slippery slope projecting values on other people. Media does it a ton with how they portray millenials. Same with the boomers. America is a great place to live and has probably more immigration than the next 10 countries put together. They wouldn’t be coming if there was a crisis or negative situation.

    We have a crisis of perception/marketing not in the data in my opinion.

  18. Entitlement certainly has something to do with it. I’ve had an entry level employee complain about his $31/hr wage when the guys next to him were making $45 and $108(both different departments on the same project). He thought he should be getting at least as much as them because he does so much work and they sit around. When actually he’s got one year experience and the $45/hr employee has 4 and is a supervisor while the $108 is a contract worker that’s providing his own equipment(which is factored into the rate) and is also a supervisor. The worse part is he’s not the only one that doesn’t realize their place as an entry level employee.

    1. apathy ends

      Nothing pisses someone off more than someone who isn’t willing to pay their dues when others have!

  19. Crystal Ball

    Because it’s Friday, I’m just gonna say ya don’t gotta give up sex to get ahead. :-) In fact, going hard to get what you want is sexy as hell! Hats off to Sean Cooper for his monkish devotion to the cause, but…damn, don’t make it harder than it needs to be.

    Wow – lots of comments to this post. Cool. It’s encouraging to see people refusing to step into the long, slow line of chained suckers shuffling their way to normal.

    Are kids entitled? Of course they are. They’re entitled from the first time they grope for mama’s milk. We all were. But then we started grow up and someone taught us we actually had to DO shit to GET shit and if we didn’t, well, sit down and shut up already! “Oh, but that hurts my self esteem!” Huh? Your self-what? Sounds like you need something to DO. Go make yourself a trophy.

    From 1st grade, financial management and basic economics should be woven into math and social studies. I was hanging out with my college daughter and her friends a while back and mentioned my daughter – who is pretty good with money and contracts – had asked me to give her a crash course on managing money and investing. I was surprised when all of them kinda looked at each other and said, “Uh, hey, any chance we could get in on that?” No one ever taught them. Looks like I’ve got me some students!

    Oh, and if I were allowed to wave the change wand some more, I’d also require kids to study abroad with exposure to a developing nation. India, much of central & south America, lots of options in Asia etc. That college daughter still talks about our no-plans trip in northern Mexico when we walked across the border and took public transportation to get around. She was 7. The lasting image of a girl her age in rags begging her for money helped burn the edges off her sense of entitlement.

    Keep going hard for what you want! Get laid a lot! And thanks for helping others step out of the long sad line to normal. Happy Friday.

  20. Quite frankly, I appreciate that the Government was willing to extend me the money (as loans) so I could attend SUNY to get my undergraduate degree. Later, when i was working, i again used these programs so I could get 2 masters degrees (MBA and MQF). I grew up disadvantaged and my parents had NO financial resources to support any of this. Without these programs (and my savings from HS jobs) I would not been able to afford STATE school. I was accepted to Cornell and others – however it just was not in the cards. Now? I have paid back my loans – I honored my contracts – and I fully recognize without these programs I would not have been able to be as successful as I am know. I was always going to pay it back no matter what (and I have always paid all my debt). Sacrifice – even know when I am making a significant amount of money – is something that I live with daily so I can have the resources that are really important to me. I live in a home that is smaller than I should, drive cards that are have less “prestige”, go on lower-scale vacations, and save for the future. Some people say maybe I am missing out on life – well I value my time and children and financial security more than consumerism. Sometimes I look back and thank my lucky stars I grew up poor and without any means, I truly feel it makes me appreciate everything more and makes me always prepare for the worst.

  21. Regarding entitlement specifically – it blows my mind how some people think they deserve certain luxuries when they can’t afford them. I know someone who is drowning in debt because she treated her HELOC almost like play money for decades and wonders why she has no money left. Nobody “needs” an $80 gym membership, cable TV, newspaper subscriptions and salon appointments but she thinks she does. At least now she is starting to make changes and be better about what she spends her money on.

  22. Had a situation just like this recently when talking with a family member who was lamenting to me about not being able to find a full time job in her field and not having enough money to pay her credit card MINIMUMS. It went something like this:

    “You already have one part time job. Why not get another one while looking for a full time job?”
    “I don’t have the time for that.”

    “Why not consider selling your car? It’s worth around $15,000”
    “I’m not gonna sell my (insert luxury car model) and drive around in a piece of junk”

    “Why don’t you consider cutting down your TV package? You hardly even watch TV.”
    “I have a lot of shows on my DVR I need to catch up on I can’t get rid of those.”

    Needless to say this was an enlightening look into the mind of an excuse maker but also a mind numbing exercise at the same time. Most people love making excuses about not being able to get ahead.

    As my high school math teacher said to students who had crazy excuses about why they didn’t do their homework, “If you put as much effort in doing your work as you do in your excuses, you would be a lot better off.”

  23. I have to say I agree with Willow above. While I applaud the hustle of the poster you quoted who worked multiple jobs to pay down the $88k in student loans, I was also wondering why so many other jobs were necessary while making 100k per year. I realize that certain places (like the San Francisco area) are terribly expensive, but so many side-hustles still seemed overkill. As a college professor (in the humanities, not in a STEM field), I never expect to make 100k. But I was able to pay off my student loans and live a comfortable life driving around my little not-luxurious hatchback, packing my leftover lunches to bring to campus, cooking elaborate meals in for dinner parties, etc.

    As you both say, it is indeed about “choices and trade offs,” and, I would venture to add, our definitions of what constitutes a good life.

  24. Hi Sam. I’m not sure I agree with the premise of the question. I think you can be financially independent without working 60 hours weekly. It’s about choices and trade offs. For example, if you want to move to San Francisco and pay $3500 for a one bedroom apartment, eat out two to three times a week at the latest hipster restaurant and drive a BMW then you probably do need to work those longer hours. However it may be possible instead to live in Oakland/Berkeley for $2600, eat out less, or at more affordable places, and drive an Acura and save yourself 20 hours to connect with friends and family.

    I have luckily not worked 60 hours over a sustained period. I’ve done it for short periods and have been miserable. Obviously the more you work, the more you potentially have for later in life. However, I’d rather take that time now.

    1. BINGO! “It’s about choices and trade offs.”

      We must take OWNERSHIP of the choices and trade offs we make. If we decide to take on massive debt, not finish school, or whatever, we must own up to resolving our decisions and not rely on others to resolve them for us.

  25. I think it’s overly convenient to think of people being entitled. I graduated undergrad with no debt, went to a top 20 law school and had to fund it entirely with student loans. Although the cost was ludicrous ($56,000 a year) I justified it based on supposedly vetted measures like US News & World Report claiming 99% of the graduating class was employed with a median salary of $135,000. Not only did that situation change, it later came out those numbers were a complete fabrication (the real numbers closer to 55% at a median of $70k). Meanwhile, the legal market tanked, most of my class who even found jobs were forced to take unpaid internships during law school so we couldn’t work side jobs or we would never get law jobs. I don’t know about others but between journals, moot court, classes and internships I would say 80 hour weeks were the norm for me.
    I have little patience for people upset they can’t find jobs after a few applications (Oh my god 50 didn’t do it?!) I tracked my Applications though and without exaggeration applied to over 1750 jobs. I finally got one working in house at a fortune 100 company, but guess what? My loan payments if I wasn’t on some income based repayment plan would cover 93% of my take home pay. My loans are at a truly idiotic rate of 7.25%( they are all federal loans, that was the federally mandated rate when I went to school) and have ballooned to over $300k. Meanwhile, at my job WR are expressly prohibited from moonlighting because I’m expected to always be available. That means no adjunct teaching and no side law practice, and even no uber because my employer is one of the largest in the area and it would be impossible to do so discretely.

    This is all a long way of saying it’s unfair to classify younger people as lazy and wanting their loans forgiven. Free University is a total joke, of course, but the prices have gotten out of control. In state tuition at my local state school will still leave you $50k in debt even if you’re able to work and cover living expenses. All this for a job that won’t pay the bills.

    I think the student loan market should be shut down. It would force these schools to stop charging insane rates that lead to a future of indebted servitude. But I’m a little tired of the “lazy” label when the truth is its just depressing to have been scammed so hard. There is no universe where I will ever make enough to pay off these loans. In the past schools were less costly, loan rates less onerous. I think anyone over 40 should try and hold their tongue until they look into it further, because the truth is the situation is vastly different than it used to be

    1. A 7.25% interest rate for a student loan IS A JOKE when the 10-year bond yield is at 2% or less. This is why there is an entire industry of financial tech companies like SoFi who are trying to lower the cost of debt for consumers. I hope you check them or another fintech lending company out b/c you should be paying under 4%.

      Trying to get consumers, borrowers, and financial freedom fighters to SEE all this disconnect, and SHOW them how to improve their situation is one of the things I try to do on FS.

      This is not a Millennial Focused post. This is a post focused on finding alternative ways out. You are not lazy if you are busting your ass and not welching on your debt while having a job.

    2. There are definitely systemic issues. In med school/residency any questions about the feasibility of loan repayment was immediately quelled with, it wont matter its no big deal. While it will eventually be paid off, it is a big deal.

      The way the loans incentivized exaggerated costs is terrible but there are simple ways to make it better now. It would be beneficial to make 100% of student loan payments tax deductible, making paying incentivized, freeing up capital for household formation and consumption, etc…Lots of ways to intelligently make headway to the wrongs that have occurred, and approaching keeping it from occurring again, of course, none of that will happen.

    3. Vistahermosa

      Jd- im sorry that happened to you. That could have happened to anyone. There is a large componant of luck involved. The people who graduated right into the great recession really got a bad break on account of nothing they had control over. Hang in there, bro. You will make it.

  26. Living within you’re means is really important but I think working 60 hours a week is really a bad idea for most people. It’s not good for your health and overall well being, and ultimately you’re going to be stressed and unhappy.

    1. How does one rectify wanting to get ahead with not wanting to work longer than 40 hours a week? Do you speak from experience working 60 hours a week and suffering some health issues in the past?

      I did 60-70 hours a week for 13 years, but am still standing thank goodness to write new articles and respond to all y’all. The beginning was kinda rough as I wasn’t used to it, but i adapted and things turned out Ok. Looking back, I was absolutely thankful for putting in the time while younger to enjoy more time while older.

  27. Well, its super complicated. There is of course some entitlement and then some feeling of defeat and a mountain that cannot be climbed that is a self fulfilling prophecy. Everyone is different, some people just need to be shown to see things differently in order to allow themselves to overcome. No simple answers unfortunately.

    Sometimes bad, crappy things do happen to people that are totally unfair and shouldnt. However, as I have tried to explain to people at times, including my kids, even if that is the case there is no reward for it outside of experience. No one is going to pay your bill out of pity, give you that promotion you deserve, etc….The only thing you can do is take a moment to acknowledge you were screwed and figure out a path around that obstacle. That is just real life and it is never fair. The sooner you come to grips with that the less time you will waste feeling sorry for yourself and being placated by these excuses that only serve to keep you from getting ahead. We’ve all been screwed at one time or another, but ruminating on that instead of the reaction hasnt helped anyone.

    That student loans available were so high and tuition increased like crazy isnt anyones fault but the systems. Everyone is right, but it didnt make the bill go away (tell me about it mine was 496k). Make a plan, learn from your experiences and keep on moving forward.

  28. Chapel Hill

    I so love these stories and your continued commitment to encourage others to do the same.. My husband and I (married 30 yrs) are nearing retirement. Lost everything ( yes homes, and retirement) during this last downturn, we are “older parents” of a wonderful daughter, she’s 25 and 12 credits shy of her undergrad. She had to come home and begin working instead of finishing school during the downturn, we could not afford to pay her living expenses and college.

    We had both been laid off 2008-2010, last lay off was 3 mos before closing on our new home, my husband started his own private practice (he’s a therapist) and worked in a wine bar part time helping to keep us solvent, his income is modest, but we survived, I was able to get a job that pays a 6 figure salary, and we began our climb out of debt. I took on additional contract work, any time I could find it, from Consulting to handing out coupons at Pet Smart. Throughout all our financial struggles, we were able to short sell our homes, pay all associated fees, taxes,(no bankruptcy!) and continue to pay down our debt. We moved into our new home, and had the additional burden of taking full time care of an elderly parent, and a 23/yo nephew, and helping to support other family members that were seeing hard times.

    I’m so very grateful for being raised by a family that when times got hard, they always worked harder and loved each other more. I came from a family of six kids, four of my sibs have always been self employed, our dad and mom always had their “Job” + a family business on the side. Dad was a fireman, mom a nurse, but together they owned 6 apt homes, and dad even worked evenings weekends as a realtor, and cleaning homes in new subdivisions, our mom was always by his side working in every capacity possible.

    Fast forward, the past 5yrs have been a struggle, rebuilding our retirement, and stretching ourselves even more to continue to support those we love. We opened our home as Airbnb & VRBO hosts, we’ve gotten our debt down and getting our “house” in order. We’ve been able to maintain very good health, have work we continue to enjoy, and now since losing mom in Nov. have decided to make 2016 the year that will close out all debt. with the exception of our mtg.
    We are moving this week into a 900s/f apt. and have rented our home as an executive lease for the next year and will have the last 29k paid down by May 2016. So. yes, hard work,determination, and keeping your eyes, mind, body and soul on the goal of being FREE.. makes it all worth the struggle… and the struggle is Real!

    Thanks for continuing to be an inspiration to all of us!

    1. Such a wonderful attitude! I love it. I’m glad you have your family there to support you to get through tough times. May the financial trauma of 2008-2010 never return! I think a lot of us have learned from our mistakes, and therefore, I don’t think things will be as bad again.

      We’ve talked about a proper bond and stock allocation for people of various ages. We’ve talked about a proper net worth compositions based on our experience. And we’ve got net worth goals to shoot for by age.

      I’m confident that everybody who implements a plan will be much better off when the next downturn comes.

      Fight on!

  29. I personally disagree with your article. Do we really want a society where a person has to work 3 jobs to afford to get an education? Do we really want a society where a person has to forgo sex in some of his/her most fertile years in order to afford a roof over his/her head?

    Do we really think that overworking ourselves to death is praise worthy? Why?

    The inventions of the ages were not created by the serfs working 12-16 hours a day. The great masterpieces are not created in the 30 minutes is takes you to drive between 2 jobs.

    A society where everyone husless is a stupid society in my opinion. It’s a society where everyone has his nose to the grindstone and nobody dreams.

    In order to have trully insightfull thoughs you need to have headspace. And in order to have headspace, you need to have free time.

    There’s a saying that inventions are made by lazy people, because those are the ones that look for shortcuts. Being conscientious is good, but it is not the end all / be all.

    This comes from a person who graduated from university with a degree in engineering in the first 30% in her class while working full time and also slowly destroying my health.

    If I could go back and not have to do that, I would go back and not do it.

    A society where people are forced to choose between school and money, where there is no time for the finer things in life is a broken society.

    I see nothing to glorify in this article, I see poor sods like myself who are working themselves to death. It might not matter in your 20s, but you will feel it in your 30s and 40s with interest.

    1. I would love to have more of a society like Europe, where there’s a broader safety net, a lot less anxiety, and a lot more happiness. I’ve been doing research about why Europeans are consistently so happy, and it’s fascinating! Have you seen The Wintergatan Marble Machine that was just created by a brilliant young Swede? AMAZING!

      The health benefits of early retirement are priceless. Please read the post. I decided to get out of the rat race to work less and live more free 4 years ago and I do not regret it, even though I made way less money the first two years out.

      May I ask you why not also take things down a notch if you want to protect your health? I can guarantee you that stopping to smell the pink jasmin flowers is totally worth it! What keeps you from not living a more leisurely life if you’ve already put in your hard work?

      Check out: Wealth Is An Illusion Of Happiness

      1. You misunderstood me Sam. I have taken it down a notch. I actually taken it way down and planting my own jasmin to smell. It’s just when I was in my 20 I did not have the luxury to take it down, that money was a need not a want. I am now left in my 30s to deal with the fallout of having neglected my health for almost 7 years and while having worked my but off during that time has given me a lot of money, it has also robbed me of big opportunties.

        As somebody said above, in my corner of Europe, only poor people work like crazy, because they don’t have another choice. We, as a society are definitely not perfect, let’s not kid ourselves. We have plenty of problems and our economy is not going to get better any time soon. But we have got one thing right: almost free education for smart students. Because those smart students will then produce more for the society than if they would have had to worry about how to pay the money back. And those students who don’t have the ability or grits to go into university? Well, they are better served by not going to a consolation university and being left with a worthless degree and a huge loan. They will not get a good life, but they still get an ok life, with healthcare and opportunities for them and their children. Just not as many.

        I don’t think the future should look like Europe, but I dread a future where everything looks like the States. It just feels weird to me that we would want to go back to a place where a chosen few (either by ability, but increasingly by family name) would reap the most rewards, while the rest of us would be left to fight for the scraps. That’s not a fair society. That’s been done. It’s called the Victorian era. Just like then, we have huge technology advances, but the very rich managed to capture the majority of the ensuing benefits for themselves. I would not want to go back there.

  30. I want FIREFUM so badly it hurts! But here’s my list of excuses.

    I belong to another category, the scaredy cat category which comes from having little to no financial education. It’s a family thing. I come from a family that knows nothing beyond running a household and being super savers and budgeters. We do know to sacrifice than to get credit cards.

    The few forays we’ve made into investments (mostly ETFs), were unsuccessful and we’ve lost whatever little hard earned money we’ve managed to scrape together. So we are absolutely risk averse because it takes so long to save and then just like that, it’s gone.

    My family defined financial freedom as being credit free and a permanent job. But the way the economy’s been for the last 10 years that is clearly no longer a definition that works.

    My terror of the tax man and his astronomical rates dissuaded me for a long time from investing as I didn’t understand how tax was calculated. But now I do and I’ve started investing (and paying the tax man :’( ) and I research financial products online (which was unheard off a few years back, you just had the word of the person selling it to you).

    We have no clue on how to run a business or any idea that you could do a side hustle. We just know how to work hard and save. I think I’m the first in my family to even think of getting a side hustle on/getting a second job. It’s been ingrained in my family that you work one job and be loyal to the company (probably because we’re Indian). But having knives in your back will wear that sentiment off. I just wish I hadn’t been so blind and had started earlier but part of that is that I really wanted to believe in my employer; needed to pay back my parents, innocence of youth and all that.

    Also, for many years my health problems (can you believe blocked sinuses almost killed me?) drained me physically and mentally and the thought of overtime let alone a second job was unachievable. But now that that’s not the case and I’m ready to work like I did in college, the overtime has dried up (typical Murphy’s Law).

    It was only really after reading your blog that I was inspired to now try another avenue for revenue (one that I would’ve to pursued later in life) in a different way. So thanks Sam. It’s true; everyone needs a Sam in their life. :D

    1. One more thing I would like to add to my defence is that from the time I started working permanently up until last year, I was taking care of at least two households at any one time (my own as well as some struggling family members).

    2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! One thing I learned from leaving the work force early is that the fear inside our heads is often much, much worse than the reality.

      The main purpose of using charts in this post and in the income profiles of financially free people post is to do exactly that, SHOW people the way. I can only share and write so much.

      It was people online 7+ years ago who spent time to show me that making money online was possible that gave me a chance to try full-time and risk leaving a well paying job for no money.

      I would MUCH rather have tough love and SOLUTIONS to problems, rather than be coddled and told everything will be OK, and to not worry b/c someone else is at fault and somebody else will save me. Solutions are sometimes hard to swallow, but they are often the only way to improve.

      Let me know if I can help further!

  31. It’s unfair to complain about student loan debt if you know what you are doing going into it. Unfortunately at 17 most aren’t equipped to make that decision. Maybe that’s their fault, or maybe someone else let them down (parents, school system, colleges).

    I’m lucky. I came out of college with no debt and my fiance’s is manageable enough. So I don’t feel I’m in a position to judge those people complaining with 100k in debt and no job. Tough spot to be.

  32. Mrs. Whipple

    Why on earth are student loans the only kind of loans subsidized by laws that make them impossible to default on? Why aren’t the banks required to face the consequences of their stupid decisions to loan money to students who aren’t good candidates for loans? Why are they allowed to reap all the reward without having to face any of the risk? It’s absolute madness.

    The idiocy is in the society that sells the dream of a college education to kids who can’t afford it, and the price we pay is a whole generation of graduates who are left digging themselves out of a hole instead of building wealth in the first decade or two of their work life and a slumping economy as all of our extra dollars are poured down the mouths of the banks who gave out stupid loans.

    You prattle about hustle and side gigs as though everyone in America should be willing to work eighty hours a week to get out of a negative net worth, as though it’s normal and not at all a system problem of inequity that’s been getting worse and worse as time goes on. You’re wrong.

    I’m a high earner, self-employed, frugal, as bootstrappy as you can get, and still it makes me sick to read stuff like this that puts the blame everywhere but on the people in power that let things get this bad.

    It’s not the seventeen year old kid to blame who doesn’t know any better about going to college.

    It’s not the kids’ parents to blame for wanting their kids to go to the best and priciest schools.

    It’s not the twenty-two year old graduate who sees the reality of crushing debt and is grasping at straws to get out from under.

    It’s not the millennial who wants an iPhone (because forgoing an iPhone will solve the 50k loan debt, right?).

    It’s not the person’s fault to blame for buying a nice car and getting tricked into taking out a loan. We all deserve a safe vehicle.

    And it’s certainly not a young couple’s fault for buying a house with the little they have down and then seeing the economy turn south.

    Push frugality and hustle all you want, but don’t make the mistake of blaming people for problems that are so overwhelming and systemic that they have erased the wealth building capabilities of a generation. They are not to blame.

    Banks and cutthroat corporations who constantly cut benefits are to blame. 

    And it’s people like you who publish this yay-boostraps propaganda that ignores the real problem in favor of placing blame squarely on the people who have been hurt the most by the systemic issues in banking and education. Because if we can blame the students, we don’t have to face the real issues that are staring us right in the face, and we sure as hell don’t have to stand up to anyone in power and tell them that they’re doing things wrong.

    I hope you find compassion within your lifetime, but you’ve lost a reader today.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts! Any suggestions on solutions to the problem? What are some of the things you are doing to help those who are in debt or who are striving for financial independence?

      1. You won’t get an answer because people like Mrs. Whipple only COMPLAIN and blame other people, instead of ever doing something to help other people by taking action.

        This is called virtual signaling. Sad.

    2. Student loans capable of being defaulted would be such high risk loans that no bank would make them at a non-usurous rates. So your proposal simply does away with student loans. Which may be a good thing, really.

      I say that because you do almost touch on the actual problem created by the current student loan system. And that is that the money is so widely available it has (1) encouraged people to go to college who aren’t really college material and (2) created incentives for schools to increase tuition and other expense far faster than inflation would suggest was normal and reasonable.

      When I went to high school in the 80s, there were kids like me in AP English, and other kids who spent half the school day in the school mechanical, electrical engineering, woodworking and automobile shops. That is all but gone now, for no good reason I can think of.

    3. Great comment Mrs. Whipple. There’s blame to go around everywhere. I do tend to hate it when those who are educated and privelaged pick on those beneath them instead of identifying and vilifying the true culprits – often white collar elites.

      Think about the universities who expand expand expand and pay their presidents ridiculous sums and focus on their football teams above the care of students.

      I think the point about having to work meaningless jobs 80 hours (hustle) a week just to get back to even is absurd. That’s not life. Anyone striving for financial independence knows that’s not what life’s about. We need to fight the institutional problems, the greed and rapaciousness of those in power and not shame the poor folks who are victimized by it.

      Sam offers many great insights so I will continue to read him – and challenge him at times – but I believe most of us can gain through his posts.

      1. What about working 60 hours a week instead of 80 hours a week? Anybody want to join me in driving for Uber again? Or maybe we can try doing TaskRabbit gigs to help pay for things we want or the debt we owe?

        My point is: blaming is useless. It doesn’t get us anywhere. We need to find solutions and take action.

        You guys will enjoy my follow up post!

    4. Mother Teresa

      Mrs Whipple,

      You are the worst type of person in society. Not only do you blame others for your problems, you lash out at people while saying you are doing great, yet don’t do anything to contribute to society. Give me a break.

      You’re probably some lonely, out of shape woman who nobody wants to be with because you have no heart, kindness, or self-respect. As soon as you can love yourself you can start loving other people. It’s clear you have some deep personal issues that need to be resolved.

      Go see what suffering and poverty is like outside of America.

      1. Seems harsh. She didn’t seem to blame others for her problems, but rightly pointed out that student loans are treated differently from other types of loans as they are not dischargable in bankruptcy. I see no reason why they shouldn’t be?

      2. My guess is Mrs. Whipple is an Surgical Oncologist (and spent years working over a 100h/wk) and while she does well, is not so blind as to see issues in the system that perpetuate the problem. Sam is correct that blame doesnt necessarily make it better, voting and working for change certainly does, making everyone a little task rabbit isnt necessarily the best use of bright minds either. Acting as if laziness is the only problem isnt any better though.

        Its far more worth it for a highly productive individual to hone their craft then to annualize a one time bonus to a fictional $/h figure that is not able to be reproduced long term in that area. Please so me a sharing economy or gig work that pays greater than the 1400/h I can get by focusing on my primary endeavor.

        In real life problems and solutions are nuanced and have many levels of problems and unintended consequences.

    5. Do you really want banks deciding who should be loaned money for college? What happens when redlining type activity starts occurring, and the most underprivileged members of society can’t get financing for college?

      I agree with the comment above, the issue is that loans are so freely available that those who are not college material, get loans, go to school, may even graduate from some of the worst colleges, and then are more unemployable than they would have been without college (and a trade).

      In other countries with affordable higher education, they are VERY discriminatory on who can go to university/college. For example when looking at 25-34 year olds;
      in Germany 26% have a free/very affordable degree.
      In the US 42% have a very expensive degree.

      If you want cheaper education like Germany, you need to fail out students like Germany so it is affordable to the country. In America, that is 16% of the population getting expensive degrees, and likely having very little use for them.

      I don’t see the lenders being the correct group to decide who can go to college. It should be based on academic ability.

    6. Mrs. Whipple, can I point out a tiny flaw in your argument? At 18, these “children” are allowed to vote, join the military, and if they perform criminal acts, be sentenced as adults. If we push responsibility for these adult activities, why not finance management (debt)? Why are parents failing to recognise their children’s capabilities and encouraging them down a more suitable career path? (My parents acknowledged that my brother should not attend a tertiary institution). Why are we encouraging this victim attitude?

      While I agree that some of these creditors must be reined in (based on reading opinion pieces on the internet) but demanding free anything, including education, is a slippery slope from which there’s no return. I live in a country where the government promised free housing, electricity, water and education and barely fulfilled anything. Currently universities are burning because students are demanding free tertiary education. It will never end just like how the electricity theft will never end because it was promised free.

      Unfortunately we followed the American education system, by closing trade schools and lowering the quality of education as well as implementing a ridiculous 30% pass mark, so most of these students have no business being there anyway.

      What Sam speaks of, is the desperation to be out of debt taken to the limit. My parents had a 20 year mortgage back in the day when interest was around and above a crippling 20% to build our house. My dad worked a low paying job, making extra with overtime. He knew nothing of finances. My mum supplemented income by doing cooking and sewing, and ran the house, accounting for every cent. But by the time I was in university, they had paid it off in full approximately +5 years later by chopping corners and still making ends meets. This blog piece reminded me of those times and how normal it was to us. And how I feel now.

      I have to tell you that yes, forgoing an iPhone will solve the 50k loan debt. It’s a luxury, not a necessity. I’m not sure how you guys run a household over there. When I see the cash price (in my currency of course, please pity me) of a new iPhone, I see six month’s water, electricity, household rates and phone bill (with slow adsl) paid in full with money left over. And mind you the phone bill with its unlimited calls and adsl is my little luxury.
      I’m 32 but I’m only on my 2nd phone having received my first as a gift at 17 (I was responsible for the bill). Why should I buy another when this one is still in working condition with bluetooth, camera and email? I’ll only buy another when the phone packs up and you can be sure the replacement will be on sale. Same with my car and clothes.

      Do you feel overwhelmed when you have a debt? Of course you do. Just ask my mother who spent sleepless nights for years planning her way out of it. It’s part of growing up. Life’s tough and unfair. But that doesn’t mean you roll over and say poor me, I’m such a victim of circumstance. You take the hand you were dealt, plan ahead and fight your way back and out of it.

  33. Very cool post, really gets you thinking! I really resonate with the engineer in this post.

    My two cents: a lot of people get caught up with life, sold on marketing and consumerism, and buy what other people buy because it portrays success. And having a nice car, a nice expensive purse and fancy clothes is a status thing.

    I’m guilty of that too…at least more so in the past.

    What has helped overcome this: Once you take a bit of time to reflect what you really want out of life, then it all makes sense and you will do what it takes,

    Those are the the action takers

    As for others, they gravitate to immediate gratification and working extra isn’t worth it.

    I still hustle despite having a family, a full time consulting gig, and my blog….the extra money helps me build more projects, help others and buy more time in the future.

  34. Sam, c’mon – there are lots of lazy people out there but I think there’s clearly a predatory lending problem in this country that’s created a student loan problem. Lenders are very protected legally while consumers are quite exposed.

    There are plenty of people who are taking out huge loans for for-profit degrees that have no idea what they’re getting into. I firmly believe no one wants to ruin their life by taking out $200k for an art degree, but that happens. Even if it’s because they’re stupid don’t they deserve a little protection – how can they even be approved for that sort of thing?

    Lots of people who are single parents desperate to make a better life but with real responsibilities, people who have to take care of sick parents, people who have medical emergencies and can’t bankrupt their loans. You were a never a dumb kid who made a mistake?

    Consider for a moment your high powered education, upbringing in a nuclear family and investment banking experience that puts you at the upper echelon of society. I don’t want people to get a free pass but I reject the notion that lenders are blameless and everyone in trouble is lazy and could pay their loans if they’d just get off the couch.

    1. I am a blogger who was unemployed for a couple years and drove for Uber for 7 months most recently. My profile is definitely NOT “upper echelon of society” material. Maybe while I was working in finance, but not now and not for the rest of my life probably.

      I made plenty of dumb mistakes and I paid for them dearly. And now I’m doing everything possible not to make the same mistakes. Medical expenses are outrageous here in the US, and I’m very pro universal healthcare b/c nobody should not be able to afford medical insurance. I don’t care that I’m paying $1,500/month for two people if it can help someone else get care.

      Tough love is tough, but it will do more to help someone than to just tell them everything will be OK. If anybody wants to get motivated, let’s ping ourselves at 6am every weekday and get started on something that can help achieve financial independence!

  35. I have written about this in the past, and this article is right along those same lines of the point that I always try to make. Our choices in life have a very, very profound effect on how successful we ultimately become and whether or not we achieve our goals. While there are circumstances that we truly cannot control, our choices and how we react to those circumstances we very much CAN control. Some complain. Others do.

  36. Sam,

    Couple of things here:

    1) Is it okay that companies and high profile individuals can declare bankruptcy (a la Trump) but not the run-of-the-mill fool down the street who’s been exploited and duped? I believe in debt forgiveness big time. For student loans in particular (as those never leave) that really pisses me off. This is taking advantage of young people without experience who’ve been lied to that a college diploma is integral to success. I have sympathy for those folks. Not to mention those private for-profit colleges which disseminated BS fliers promising hi-paying jobs, etc. upon graduation. It’s BS these people were preyed upon.

    2) My wife incurred over 480k of debt. She is a lawyer, a public defender. Her base salary out of law school was 50k. Now granted she didn’t have to attend a prestigious law school and she could have delayed matriculating until she had the money to defray some of the costs. But she didn’t. She was 21. Fresh out of undergraduate, and wanted to start helping people immediately.

    She is on the 10-year public service loan forgiveness plan. This will have enormous repercussions for taxpayers I believe. An uncountable number of individuals are taking this route and there is no method to adequately trace just how many participants are out there. I believe the first bill comes due in 2018. As you can imagine this program has come under attack and is not likely to be extended long-term. However…it has been open for 8 years already. She is also paying an ‘income-based’ rate so that it’s affordable…meaning she’s not even near touching the principal.

    Perhaps this encourages public service. Perhaps it encourages citizens to continue their education. I think it’s a little of both and I’m sure a slew of other issues.

    I’d be happy to pen a guest post on why I think loan forgiveness is important. Can potentially provide examples of nations whose loans were forgiven which saved their citizens from devastating consequences.

    1. Are you able to provide a breakdown as to how your wife graduated with $480k of debt? What proportion was tuition / living expenses / ungrad vs grad school / interest?

      1. I was mistaken in terms of the initial amount. She took out $180k solely in law school loans, tuition being about $40k, living expenses, rent etc making up the other $20k.
        Because she’s on income based repayment and required to be locked into the federal government loan rate of 8%, she doesn’t even touch the principal each month. By 10 years she estimates it will have ballooned to $480k as I mentioned before, based on the interest being capitalized and added onto the principal.

    2. Yes! I would love a guest post from you about why debt should be foregiven, or why I should pay for your wife’s student’s debt and not you if she should default.

      This will be great! I love reading perspectives and learn how folks justify their decisions.

      1. Sam here is an article that give a brief synopsis of country debt forgiveness I alluded to:

        It’s just one article but in my Master’s program I remember doing some case studies on nation’s that benefited from sweetheart deals with creditors that had a positive impact. Wonder what will come of Puerto Rico today?

        Shoot me an email if you want a post and I will try to work on something and email it to you. I think you’d want it confined to personal debt forgiveness in which case what you’re likely to receive is a list of compassionate anecdotes that places blame not on the unwitting consumer but on the unscrupulous lender(s).

        I actually believe I have an objective stance on the issue, really. Many people make dumbass decisions knowingly (take out obscene amounts of debt to finance nice toys) and I don’t have much sympathy for those folks. But that doesn’t capture the entirety of the picture as you know.

    3. quantakiran

      Okay, Financial Fool asking a question here. What is the big deal with filing for bankruptcy? Yeah your finances are disclosed to all and sundry but at the end of the day, the debts are cancelled and you start fresh right?

      Are there employment issues like Sam’s previous post about the bad debtor not getting the job because of a bad debt?

  37. After reading this site for several years, this is the first time I’ve felt compelled to comment. I’m a 32 year-old doctoral student with extremely high student loan debt ($200k +). While a small portion of my student loan debt is from my undergraduate degree at an Ivy League institution that refused to apply my outside scholarship money correctly (long story for another time), most of it is the result of my doctoral studies being extended due to unexpected health challenges and a field change (another long story). At this point, within the next year with career options (academia, government, or traditional corporate) and side hustles (writing, tutoring, music, ministry-related endeavors, consulting, etc.) that make my student loan debt feel manageable. Plus, I’m single and I have few responsibilities outside of myself and my elderly mother. Nonetheless, as a largely quantitative public policy researcher, I am aware that the United States’ student loan system has many issues that need to be addressed–especially with regard to private loan servicers like Navient (formerly known as Sallie Mae) that tend to target students from low-income families who in many cases are among the first in their immediate social circles to go to college. The same could be said about for-profit educational institutions like the University of Phoenix and Corinthian Colleges (which ran Everest College / Everest University / Everest Institute before being shut down by the federal government for its unscrupulous dealings) that have been known to target low-income individuals with little knowledge of the education system and below-average financial literacy. In the end, entitlement is a part of the problem, but so is the system of predatory lenders and educational institutions profiting while selling false hope to vulnerable people.

    1. Glad you are commenting for the first time after several years!

      I think you’ll feel much better about your student debt once you graduate and start working. There’s always anxiety during school on whether you will get a job or made the right choice. The good thing is you recognize you’ve decided to take on the $200,000 in debt. So my question is: do you expect to pay it back? Or do you expect someone else to pay it back for you?

      I don’t know these for-profit education institutions charge so much. It would be one thing if they were free, or charged a level that was commensurate with their placement levels.

      1. I do not expect anyone to pay my student loan debt for me. While I wish my educational journey had been more straightforward and less expensive, I still feel the opportunities I have ahead of me are worth the cost. I’m creative so I am confident that I will find a way to thrive in spite of the high loan payments that are waiting for me once I graduate. For now, I am weighing my career options and trying to ensure that I am not swayed by salary alone. Thankfully, I have friends with high-paying corporate jobs who have been open enough with me to share the pitfalls of having a high salary and no personal fulfillment. Ideally, I’ll end up being a scholar / entrepreneur hybrid.

        As for the for-profit institutions, I have a friend who earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice from the now defunct Everest College. He chose Everest because its online offerings fit in well with his work schedule. At the time, he was working several hours per week as a security guard for a few retail stores and nightclubs. After graduation, he decided to go back for his bachelor’s degree at a traditional 4-year college. He pretty much had to start over because less than a semester of his credits transferred in. Then, with a year left of his studies, he found out that his time at Everest led to him prematurely maxing out his undergraduate federal loan eligibility. Since his credit wasn’t strong enough to get a private loan, he ended up dropping out. He’s currently working the same kind of minimum wage job that he could have obtained without attempting to go back to school except that he now has student loan payments. I feel that government repayment (which unfortunately falls on taxpayers) would be acceptable in cases like his since the government really did close Everest for its predatory practices.

  38. I don’t know if its so much about getting ahead as it is about not falling behind. Europeans are happy because they have safety nets in place. They will never worry about going bankrupt due to medical costs, or spending $100k+ on a degree, or having to eat dog food in their old age. Younger Americans will not receive pensions and do not expect much from Social Security. So “getting ahead” may mean affording medical insurance, paying off student loans and adding some financial security in their old age. This would make “getting ahead” on par with what Europeans get for free.

    Obviously your level of success, retiring before 40, takes much hard work, study, patience, and some luck as well as personal sacrifices. Retiring before 40 is not an entitlement, but is a carefully planned choice. But for a country as wealthy and productive as the US, people should be able to afford homes, pay medical bills, and have some future security on 40 hours per week. In times past, families were provided for on single person incomes. Why can’t we do it now with our current levels of GDP?

    1. Good perspective. Coming from a middle class family, I had tremendous fear of falling behind b/c so many people were smarter, went to better schools, and came from wealthier families. The only way I could catch up was to work longer and figure out side hustles.

      The good thing I’m coming away with is that those who don’t work longer or do any side hustles must not feel the same amount of fear or stress that I felt. In other words, they were more relaxed and happier.

      Times change. Society changes. We must adapt or get left behind. I’m for universal health insurance b/c disease doesn’t discriminate. Why should the rich live and the poor die b/c they can’t afford the same treatment.

  39. I also think a factor is the culture of spending in the U.S. Many people seem fine with being in debt (loans, credit cards, etc.) and continuing to spend without saving for their future.

    For example, I just graduated college last summer and started working full time. Out of my three college roommates all three bought new cars after graduating and starting work, mind you 2 have student loans to repay. And let me add that all three were no where near your 1/10th rule for car buying, but all seem perfectly ok with shelling out what I see as an absurd amount of money for a brand new car. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

    1. It’ll be interesting to see how things turn out in 10 years. Compound interest/returns is a very powerful wealth builder.

      I’m glad you’ve got your head on straight EARLY on!

  40. I think your travel experiences to Asia and the third world give you a unique perspective, but one that is not shared by others. America is still a relatively good place to find opportunities but we are a shadow of what we used to be. Just decades ago, high school grads were able to find a job that allowed them to buy a house, a car, and get married and raise kids with their wives staying at home. Going to college was the way the smart and ambitious could get ahead.
    There was an implicit promise in society that good grades and education provides a good job. So I can feel for today’s generation that get $120k in debt and spend 6 years getting a Masters degree only to be unemployed. Working “only” 40 hours per week with two weeks vacation is still more hours of work than most first world countries. Only comparing America with the third world makes us feel lucky.
    Compounding the frustration and anger is the fact that jobs are still being outsourced at an alarming rate and company executives make 300 times what their workers make. GDP has tripled over the past few decades, but the average wage has stayed stagnant even though the average citizen is more educated.
    This idea that only the hyper-energetic and super-ambitious will succeed and the rest will perish is what is tearing society apart. If your goal is to live a balanced life, raise a family, volunteer and be active in your community, then you are out of luck. Only those that chase money can seem to catch up let alone get ahead.
    Finger pointing and calling those that choose not to work 60 hour weeks is pointless. If these trends continue, the masses will elect whoever promises to solve it. Right now it looks like it might be Trump. Next election it may be a real fascist. Having a highly educated, under-employed, unhappy citizenry is an easy recipe for chaos.

    1. I don’t remember ever being given an implicit promise that getting a college education and good grades would promise me a good job in the 90s. All I remember was thinking “FOOK! The world is so damn competitive. I better get good grades to give myself more options.” I remember someone scolding me during freshmen chemistry saying, “How do you ever expect to become a doctor if you can’t even get an A in HS chemistry?” I didn’t have the natural gift of getting good grades, and my SAT scores were very mediocre so I just had to spend more time studying.

      I knew some very wealthy people growing up, which caused me more anxiety to try and work more b/c I didn’t have the crutch to fall back on. If there is no safety net, the only way is forward.

      There are definitely bad breaks all the time. Lucky for us, there’s the gig economy that helps keep people surviving if they have the hustle to work jobs beneath their $120K Master’s degrees. Luckily for us, there’s the internet which we can build our brand ourselves online to potentially find better opportunities.

      Working 40 hours a week or less is absolutely fine. Europeans are consistently rated the happiest people on Earth, despite high unemployment and taxes. But working 40 hours a week or less and complaining why you can’t get ahead makes no sense. Does it to you?

  41. Ha, the comment featured in this article is mine from one a few months ago. Nice to see that it helped inspire more discussion on this topic! Unfortunately I think the people who could most benefit from reading these articles and comments simply don’t get it and will never see discussions such as these. Keep up the good work!

  42. Excellent article Sam.

    As an international student who came to the US 14 years ago, i am really dumbfounded when i keep reading about this whole loan forgiveness thing. I used to work on campus, spent very little money, the time i was a student. After graduation i survived on those savings till i got a job. My wife who was also an international student took student loans, and paid off all her loans, by working, and keeping her expenses in check.

    Younger folks need to understand, if banks are evil for asking their money back, they were equally evil, when they went asking for a loan. When some folks take time off before college to find “Themselves”, they should also make use of that time to do some market research, explore their interests and find a major that might actually help them land a job.

    That being said, i do agree that education in some big schools seems to be really expensive. But since i went to a small school, i can’t speak about the quality of education offered in some bigger universities, and whether it is worth the money.


    1. “Younger folks need to understand, if banks are evil for asking their money back, they were equally evil, when they went asking for a loan. – ”

      I disagree – A 17 or 18 year old kids understanding of personal and macro finance is probably on average an F to a D. A bank’s understanding of both is A+. Moreover, the banks have very, very good statistical models on your probability to default on a loan and what the average charge off will be (I actually did some of this modeling in my MBA program). They know probably 10,000x as much as the individual young adult taking on a loan – a loan they are encouraged by media, parents, teachers, guidance counselors, etc their entire lives to take. I’m not saying people don’t need to take responsibility (at least when they can), but to suggest banks and individual borrowers are on equal footing in this game is disingenuous.

      What’s ironic to me is that so many people who blame personal consumers for charge-offs think nothing when businesses go bankrupt – in fact usually those same execs get new jobs in short order. Those business have teams in finance dedicated to managing this that are experts yet they are held blameless yet a kid with an IQ of 90 is held to some lofty level for responsibility.

        1. Besides the ones I mentioned earlier, unfortunately would require regulating banks and fractional reserve lending. Fractional reserve lending is defecto short on the USD and doesn’t get as much attention as it should. Andrew Jackson was wise in that regards. There are no easy solutions as you have hinted at and all changes have winners and losers.

  43. I agree and disagree. I could write a guest post, but I doubt it would appeal to the average reader :P

    First we have to distinguish between financial freedom and making a living. Making a living is for the masses, and only a handful of people will ever be able to break free financially. So, what should the system do with the majority. People are sold the idea that they can all become millionaires one day, but very few really will.

    We have the biggest economy in the world, yet people can’t afford housing, basic healthcare, and education.
    When it comes to the education system, the government is running it as a for profit organization. First by lending money with interest rates up to 7%. Second the easiness of getting a loan allows schools to jack up the tuition every year. Also, it’s cheaper to rent an apartment for an entire year then to live in a dorm for about 8-9 months. Schools are not supposed to be financially profitable. They’re supposed to invest in the students and new generation of adults.

    Prime example, when given a loan to a student he’s supposed to sign a document where it says that his parents have no saying in what loans he can or cannot take, but on the other hand they are required by law to support him financially until the age of 24.
    These kids have no experience in managing money, they just left their parents’ house, yet they can get money so easily, finding themselves in loans that take decades to pay off.
    A lot of these kids going to school, are first generation trying to get college education, they have no role models in teaching them financial responsibility.
    As much as people want to feel like they have control over their life, most of them need a system to help them with their life. When that system is engineered to get them trapped into debt, then you have what we see today. Don’t forget that the median household income is roughly $52K, and most of the degrees people get, hardly earn them that much.

    Having said all that, it’s still possible to break financially free if people lived a more humble lifestyle. New grads could easily get back to their parents for a few years and be able to either pay off the loans, or get the necessary money for a mortgage down payment, just by working 40h a week. If people were more family oriented, that would have been even easier. Parents can pay off their kids debt to save them from the compound interest.
    But that’s hard for people to grasp. They’d rather owe uncle Sam those money, than be bound by family contracts.

    1. Good points!

      But only people who contribute to a Roth IRA believe they will be millionaires one day who will make incredible amounts of money in retirement than while work. For the rest of us, making more in retirement than while working and paying a higher tax bill is not a reality.

      How’s that for an interesting derivative?

      1. I’m still un-educated when it comes to investment, but I don’t think that any pre-established system is there to make you rich and independent. College education is there to help you make a living, and so is 401(k), IRA, ROTH IRA and everything that is available to the masses. Even if you’re able to reach the million through these form of savings account, I’m sure you’d have been able to make much more through other non-mainstream investment methods.

        I sound very conservative, but I still believe “family oriented” type of investment is still the way to go. In your previous article you shared how you were growing tired of actively managing your investments. You could have an investment firm manage your money for a fee and get some returns, enough to make up for inflation and reduce your losses during a downturn.
        Now think of a scenario where you’re 60, and don’t have the same enthusiasm to invest, but you have kids in their 20-30’s, if you raised an healthy family with an healthy sense of entitlement for care and support within your family, then you’d invest in your kids, education, then business. You’d bring the wisdom and they’d bring the energy. It’s a win-win situation.
        I’d rather have $1Mill in collective wealth with my family than have it on my own. That assures me I can fall back on my family for any obstacle in life. Self made millionaires are great, they are in control of their wealth, but their wealth is fragile. You’re your business, you get sick or injured, you’re out of business.On the other hand building something with your family, you run the risk of dealing with leeches.
        In the end it’s a choice between stability and flexibility.

        1. You bring up some excellent points. Raising a family is a great insurance plan and has been for thousands of years. Yet the hyper-competitive individualism that this post supports (i.e. working 60 hours per week) is a good way to never get a family or have one break apart.
          Too many people are sitting on the margins of our economy and there is no reason for it given the size of our GDP. We can’t just call them lazy and unmotivated as they work harder and are more educated than previous generations, but lack the same opportunities.
          As I said earlier, the end result will be a collectivist movement. We are at the tail end of a hyper-individualistic trend that got popular in the 80s. This movement may look like a Trump style nationalism or a Bernie socialism, but people are realizing that our communities are more than just a collection of super-competitive individuals working hard to get rich.

  44. This also goes with college education funding. I don’t think that it is fair if I save money to put my kids through college and others who don’t save are subsidized by me paying full price.

      1. Kevin @

        “Every person in this country who has the desire and ability should be able to get all the education they need regardless of the income of their family. This is not a radical idea. In Germany, Scandinavia and many other countries, higher education is either free or very inexpensive. We must do the same.” – Bernie Sanders

        This just means that a free college education would then be about as a valuable as that free high school education. And we all know how valuable and worthwhile that is:/ And then we’d have to conjure up yet another “higher education” system to add to the end of your free high school and college educations. You know, something to set you apart from everyone else who merely graduated because the government needed to “push them though”

        If it’s free, it will not be treated seriously, and then the college system will be plagued with the same problems of the public school system.

        But hey, the government is usually so good at this sort of stuff;) Feelin’ the Bern, yet?

        1. Then you base who can attend on merit and keep strict standards to limit this issue. Problem with this is universities are money making enterprises and high standards means less throughput, hence less money.

          Talking as an Australian grad who received a government subsidised law degree that still came out with admittedly easy to pay off $50k in government loans 10 years ago, watching our education standards drop thanks to a move to a more American education system. I pity the new grads with their sub standard degrees and higher debt levels.

        2. Every person in this country who has the desire and ability – See more at:

          I think people focus too much on desire and forget about ability. The reason why there is free education in Europe is because ability is a big part of it. Only 60% of highschool students in France actually get their diploma, and not because they are highschool dropouts, but because they get a tough test at the end. And when applying to the university, there’s another test to be taken.

          So yeah, everyone who can and wants will get a free education, but you have to prove both of these conditions: you have to be both smart and driven to get there.

          And so it should be, a nation should select the best and brightest students and invest in them so that it reaps the rewards of their inteligence later on. The way it seems to go in the States is that the nation makes 0 investment, other than giving you a loan that you have to pay back. And it makes this 0 investment for everyone, regardless if they deserve it or not. It’s weird really.

  45. People are not entitled to a college degree or a high paying job if they do complete a college program. I graduated with a degree in finance n 2008, there were no jobs available to me outside of sales. Plus, my family didn’t have money to help me with college so I went into the military so I could use the GI Bill to help pay for college and not be buried in student loan debt. I also worked while in college to stay ahead. I saw many fellow students who refused to get a job, max out student loans and credit cards thinking that that is how it was supposed to be. I never understood that mentality.

  46. Many people are brought up to be “above” certain work. If your parents put you through college, then they could be disappointed if they heard you were uber driving, doing manual labor on your investment property, or other work that is beneath you.

    I sometimes feel that growing up poorer gives me an advantage in side hustling, since I don’t need to live with any of those types of expectations. I have so many friends who were raised middle class who struggle to get ahead, since they are stuck in the life expectations of;
    go to college
    rack up massive debt
    get a big corporate job
    work 40hrs
    complain about said job
    take out maximum mortgage / car payment you can qualify for rather than afford
    try to get to 65 without getting too depressed at your situation

    Taking this path allows their parents to boast to other family members about how well they are doing.

    I have also noticed that other immigrants don’t feel as committed to this path, making the side hustle easier (which shows in number of companies started by immigrants).

    1. I have to believe growing up poor does help you not feel embarrassed by taking certain jobs growing up in a middle class neighborhood. I absolutely felt embarrassed working at McDonald’s for $3.65/hour, so I quit. I didn’t want my peers to see me at the cashier, so I hid in the back making apple pies. TOO MUCH PRIDE AND EGO. But the flip side is, I knew I didn’t want to flip burgers for my entire life, so I studied my ass off at a cheaper state school.

      It felt cathartic to go full-circle and go back to a close to min wage job driving. I picked up an old client during my days in banking, and it felt like confession. No embarrassment, just a normal friendly feeling. Same thing with giving a waitress at my tennis club a ride. She told all the staff that I drive, and we all talk about ways to side hustles, as none of the staff make that much.

      If you’re embarrassed, then just don’t tell your parents or whomever with high expectations of you. But I will say, you will get a lot more admiration from your loved ones for trying, then wallowing.

      Related: Spoiled Or Clueless? Try Working A Minimum Wage Job After College

    2. You make a really good point Lucky Ozy. I think your upbrining has a lot to do with the type of work you accept. However, I also think if you really want to be debt free and reach financial independence, you will get past the social stereo types and do what needs to be done.

      It does all boil down to entitlement. I don’t think its a generational thing, its a personality thing that is either nurtured or killed through how you were brought up. I hate the stereotype that says millennials and post-millennials that entitled brats. That may be true, but I know a lot of baby boomers that are that way too.

      One thing that unites most millennials though is student loan debt. The difference are the ones that can rise above it and not let it define them and the one’s that gripe about it and blame the world. So sad.

  47. I love this topic Sam. Real story that happened to me…last year for a few months I was dating a beautiful, educated, very intelligent, driven young lawyer (34 yrs old). She had gone to Harvard undergrad and then onto Law School. I really liked her, we had real conversations about stuff, not just silly crap you make up in order to break the silence with some people. She is extremely liberal in her views which I actually liked, because it is refreshing have an intelligent debate on subjects. Everything was fine until she brought up this very subject. I had not asked about her particular financial situation because it didn’t matter when you are getting to know somebody…but then she expresses what a travesty it is that the government is making people pay back their student loans and they cannot be forgiven with a bankruptcy. This was tough to stomach as a guy who worked 100hrs a week before during and after college in order to be debt free before the 6 month grace period was up. When I asked her why she felt her loans should be forgiven she explained that it is impossible to get ahead and the banks are predators. I partially agree that because there is ZERO teaching of financial literacy to young people they do make really dumb decisions…but come on! Now this woman who probably made six figures leased a brand new $30,000 car, had an impeccable wardrobe, and traveled & spent freely. When I mentioned these facts to her it was as if I had slapped her in the face…how dare you, why should she sacrifice now that she is making big bucks that her education she decided to purchase allows her to have? The concept of financial responsibility was like I was speaking Chinese to a farmer in Iowa…no clue and actually slightly offended. Needless to say our paths didn’t align lol, but I can assure you some younger people honestly feel it is not fair they have to pay for what they buy (they deserve a bailout)…its crazy!

    1. Very interesting! At 34, she’s also been practicing law for around 10 years and making her income yes? I don’t understand why it is a travesty to have to pay back your loans. What if someone borrowed money from them? Would they think it is a travesty if the law forced their borrower to pay them back? Not at all!

      1. My brother’s wife started out at a similar place (ivy undergrad and top ivy law school), but she took a job with the highest paying (i.e, most grueling) firm in NY and will be out of debt in 2.5 years post-grad because they’ve chosen to live extremely frugally. So it’s totally a matter of choice and perspective. I’m also a younger lawyer and don’t have any debt other than a 15-year mortgage at a very low interest rate – this allowed me to walk away from big law after a few grueling years and now I’m soooooo much happier with my current work setup. I do think “debt is slavery” and law school debt burdens are often just awful, which is why you have to get rid of that as fast as humanly possible. The only down side is that I’ve run out of steam and don’t have much desire to hustle outside of my job anymore, other than continue to build up passive income. Anyways, I never pass up an opportunity to get on the soap box and tell law school grads to do whatever it takes to get rid of student loans as fast as possible.

  48. Great post Sam. These are all things I’ve thought but may have been to hesitant to say out loud. I’ve lived with roommates since graduating from college almost 7 years ago. Would I like my own place? Yes. But were there more pressing things such as student loans and retirement that I put ahead of my personal wants? Yes. My degree (and my work ethic) are things that helped begin to earn a six figure income mid/late 20’s. I did not complain about my ~$40k of debt coming out of public school since that is what helped me get to this point where I can begin to plan for financial independence.

    1. Love it! What is wrong with saving money for 7 years by living with roommates? NOTHING AT ALL! The people coming to the city and thinking they deserve to live in the best neighborhoods and all that and they complain why things are so expensive are seriously misguided.

      For example, just live on the western side of SF and you save 40% on rent and purchase price! But noooo… people aren’t willing to commute an extra 15 minutes. Sigh.

  49. This is a dead-on post, Sam! It’s become a different day and age – a good majority of people out there want it all, but don’t want to do the time to have it all. Everybody seems to want something for nothing and it seems to be getting worse with each generation.

    It’s actually frustrating to me that people seem to value the doo-dads that money can buy, but they have no ambition to work toward financial independence. I have friends that buy, buy, buy and then complain about the debt they’re in. Then 2 seconds later, they’re busy booking a vacation.

    It seems that you have to be a part of the community online to really find the people that just seem to get it.

    — Jim

    1. It’s true. If you surround yourself with people who like to hustle, the chances of you hustling more yourself will increase. I’ve always tried to AVOID hanging out w/ people who don’t share my core values, or who have a penchant for dragging me down with them.

      Case in point: JP’s comment above.

  50. Great story above. You can still get ahead in America. You just have to work hard and hustle. Nothing is free in life. You have to make sacrifice to get what you really want. Even $100k student loan isn’t that bad. Your lifetime earning should be much higher than if you don’t have a degree. Don’t get a liberal art degree if you need to get a huge loan to finance it.

  51. Totally agree with this post! Isn’t this the reason our country is in the shape it is- no one wants to work hard at anything anymore. Wall Street Journal reported most of the businesses started in this country are by immigrants- who have to work their butts off to achieve something.

    1. I might want to write a post on this. Why are so many student who get accepted into every single Ivy League school each year recent immigrants as well?

      In Silicon Valley, there is an ENORMOUS immigrant population of startup CEOs too. I always wonder where did everybody else go who have a language and cultural headstart when attending meetups.

      1. Yes, you should do some research/post on why our schools are flooded with immigrants. We returned from Singapore and Indonesia after meeting many people who said they went to college in the Midwest! No wonder our kids can’t get into our colleges. Just curious what the admission people are thinking. Is it truly all about money since they pay full price?? Or do they??

  52. i usually view this as a systemic issue rather than a subjective, take-it-personal-political-issue to attack people on. i would think that we could agree that we have a systemic issue if average student loan debt is going to record highs, not that we have a mysterious record high level of debt welchers for some reason. I believe that because we also know that wages are not tracking along with those debts. we also know that most of the wealth accumulation of the last decade or two has gone to those who are already extremely wealthy. Should we extrapolate that the poster just believes that we also have record high debt welchers for some strange reason and that it’s all unrelated?? if you know much about the history of money, then YES, loans frequently were forgiven throughout history, JUST BECAUSE! but again i think this is missing the point and tangential. People speaking out about their crushing loan debt is not because they are complainers and lazy welchers. (I think) They don’t think that it is a righteous and rational money system that allows an increasing portion of wealth to be trickled up to those asset owners that already have so much. They don’t think it makes sense that their starting average wage vs 20-30 years ago is the same but they now must negotiate massive loans and inflated asset prices along with that. It has nothing to do with a work hard and get ahead as a cure all for everything vs i’m an entitled crybaby give me everything.

      1. What problem are you saying we are addressing? Once we can establish what the true root of the problem is, I ask that you answer the same question. To rehash, I’m proposing that this is more a money system issue (Federal Reserve) than a problem with people acting whiny, soft, entitled etc.. The Fed is subsidizing too big to fail institutions (many of which lend money to students) which is leading to sustained and unsustainable asset prices and inflation. Low to no wage growth vs these increased debt burdens people take on in order to afford a minimal standard of living makes people upset (= candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, not a totally unrelated conversation). The complaints of these normal people are not the cause of the problems in the system, they are the result of it! If prices were ALLOWED TO DEFLATE, things like college and housing would be cheaper and we wouldn’t have people working 5 jobs in order to reach financial independence (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Unfortunately, the current fix for a broken system is for the powers that to be to go deeper into the problem rather than to propose actual meaningful alterations in our course.

        1. OK, so it sounds like there are no problems, as I can’t find any solutions in your comment. And that is fine.

          No problems is the reason why I have an option in my survey “There are no problems. Everything is rational.”

          1. My answer was ‘other’, not ‘There are no problem’s’. There is clearly a financial and debt crisis but it’s being driven by the system itself at the expense of the the young and or those without assets. How many times will you refuse to acknowledge the debt driven inflation of assets that enriches those holding them while pushing them farther out of reach for those with stagnant wages who may be highly educated and motivated? One could say that articles like this are part of the problem. You seem to be ignoring systemic issues while blaming individuals or highlighting those that blame individuals for being lazy or welching when all that they are trying to point out is that the system is rigged. The solution is to let it deflate and bring back some sanity to the monetary system or watch the avg folks hi-jack the system to redirect assets/income. I see no issue with the latter as an option as well. The analogy would be for normal citizens to ‘unionize’ against a corrupt bank/debt worshipping ‘management’ to get back part of that which is rightfully fucking theirs.

  53. I selected Other since there was not an answer that combines the two crises. I think entitlement is a real issue in my age range (I’m 26) that impacts what kind of jobs/salaries/lifestyles we think we deserve. College students think their dues are paid after four (or five or six) undergraduate years of living like a pauper and the reward should be a job that is interesting, immediately pays them enough to have a nice car/living arrangement/vacationing lifestyle but only requires them to work normal hours (or less!). Employers don’t see it that way.

    I also think primary job incomes have not grown proportionally to the rising cost of higher education. This has nothing to do with side-hustling and working additional jobs for cash, but I do think it presents a longer outlook obstacle to new graduates. There is a potential bubble here if too many new graduates are not able to service their debt, but a bubble burst would have more to do with entitlement than a crisis. Before any bubbles burst, however, I think the market will eventually dictate slowing growth in education costs as more people opt out of the massive debt burden for quicker, cheaper alternatives to get into paying careers.

    I’m exploring options to leverage my abilities to side hustle outside of my normal career. I don’t know if I would have done so had I never started reading this blog. Thanks for killing my entitlement.

    1. You are welcome!

      I like your rational thinking about “before any bubble bursts,” what happens. I think you are right. In the long-term, everything is rational. In the short-term, there will be disruption.

  54. This is a very good motivational post, Sam!

    Reading these stories, I concluded that, while I am driven, as I can say I’m doing very well professionally, I do not have in me sufficient motivation to go the extra mile and do all it takes to make as much money as possible and be financially free.

    When in school, I always had temp jobs and some of them were not pleasant. I have never thought of them as a way to make more money as they were not easy & glamorous and after a while I always quit.

    They were, however, a reminder of how fortunate I was that I didn’t need them and, most of all, they reminded me that if I did not continue to study hard and be financially responsible, one day I may have had to take those jobs full time.

  55. Phil Stanton

    Love it! I’m old enough to remember an SNL skit with Bill Clinton (played by Phil Hartman) taking a question from a young voter (which back then, I guess, represented my generation – the Gen Xers). The actress playing the voter just kept asking “Where’s my stuff? Other people have stuff, where’s mine?”

    I’m old enough now to resent the millennials just like the baby boomers resented me!

  56. I completely agree with you on one level, but I think the other side of the argument that you didn’t touch on is the cost.

    When I went to college 20 years ago, I went to an ‘expensive’ school, but even with the costs then, people that had loans were able to go to classes, work some, and still have a ‘life’. They were able to have the experiences that go along with the education that are, in my opinion, are a part of the learning for those who go away to college. At college, I learned not just economics and my other course work, but I learned what it meant to ‘grow up’ and that prepared me for the entry to the real world. It’s also where I established relationships and friendships that I still carry today. More so than during any other time of my life.

    Your suggestion is certainly doable, but at what sacrifice? You have lots of gaps in your life that might stay even after the debt is gone. It might be harder to build a social circle with that big gap of time.

    I think where it comes from and why there’s so much revolt is the cost. Twenty years ago, even at the expensive school, a student could go to school, pay for what they could pay for, work to pay some of the gap, and take loans for the rest. The loans were manageable meaning that the person could enter the ‘real world’ and have that payment, but it would be something they could fit it, even at entry level salaries.

    Now, because the cost of college has doubled or tripled whereas incomes have not, that opportunity is gone. A student now must choose to sacrifice everything or have crippling debt, where students in the past didn’t have to pick one or the other. I think that’s the part of the story you glossed over. Yes, people CAN make every sacrifice in the world, but part of the story is that this is the first generation where it’s almost a necessity.

    1. Thoughts on people understanding the costs? When you know your family makes X, and see you/they will have to pay Y, surely people understand the math no? Or should we not assuming people should understand the cost? This might be the case. Otherwise, why do people who make $50,000 a year gross, spend $32,000 on the median priced car in America? That makes no sense, but it happens all the time.

      The point of this post (, was to highlight that cost comes with income. Record high student loan debt can be paid off with record low interest rates and a median salary. And those who cannot afford full retail price, will pay a subsidized rate based on their financials. And those who who are deemed too wealthy, as in the case with the commenter highlighted in this post, will work multiple jobs to pay their debt.

  57. Aliyyah @RichAndHappyBlog

    I think a lot of people want financial freedom but don’t know where to start. They don’t know how their skills align with the market to provide value.

    I started side hustling during my first job out of college. It went well and I wish I had started while I was in college. But it takes time for people to learn what their skills are and how to monetize them.

  58. I partly agree and partly disagree with your sentiment here. What I disagree with is this irritating idea that millennials are entitled. First of all when you slap a label on an entire generation you’re bound to be wrong in a hell of a lot of cases. There’s a big difference between feeling entitled and being pissed off because you were sold a false bill of goods. We were raised to follow our dreams and that going to university would essentially guarentee us good jobs. For our parents generation that may well have been true but in the mean time the cost of education was skyrocketing and its relative value was plummeting. There are many hardworking intelligent people who at 17 were not savvy enough to foresee how useless their degree would be and how much debt they would graduate with, or how that would affect them. We really need to stop blaming people for the bad decisions they were encouraged to make at 17. You don’t hear the same outcry declaiming the victims of the subprime mortgage clusterfuck as being too entitled. All that bring said, you’re tottaly right that when you find yourself up shit creek without a paddle, the only thing you can do is start swimming. That’s what I did to get out of debt and start working towards FI and got the most part that’s what I see my peers doing too. Of course there are always a few idiots out there buying brand new cars when they’re still in debt and generally wasting perfectly good money, but that’s why we blog right? :)

    1. Exactly. Start swimming in shit! Do whatever it takes. That is my point. Don’t be too proud to improve your financial situation.

      I wasn’t approaching this post with the “entitled Millennial” lense. There just so happened to be an amazing comment I had to republish and riff on. My my late 30s and early 40s year old tennis buddies, none of who can afford to buy a 2/2 here in SF, but drive nice cars all rejected my offer to make easy side hustle money, I felt I had to write this post.

      But I’ve learned over the years that a great blog post is one that speaks to a reader. So I’m glad this spoke to you :)

  59. I don’t know if I agree with all the choices What would you say about people who entered into a loan in good faith, made a good faith effort to pay it back, realized there was just no way it could really be done and then took the consequences of their actions in terms of whatever happened with the loaning entity (agreement to settled the debt for x amount, perhaps a Deed in Lieu, etc), ruined credit for x years, etc, all within the bounds of the law?

    This of course isnt to say that there arent people gaming the system or who simply can’t add, but there are grey areas as well, no?

      1. There are also shifting market sands that no one could forsee. Real Estate looked like a no brainer in 2003 and if you got in and out quickly, you gained like made. Fast forward to 2006…if you got in there and couldnt get out, you were doomed. Unfortunately, everyone can do the math on a napkin, assuming figures, all else remaining equal, but the unknowable future can have you trying to dig out of a hole than no amount of math can help.

        That being said, I do agree, overall, that people should do whatever possible to make good on their debt. But then again, you gotta know when to hold em, no when to fold em. There are legal remedies to not paying your debt and consequences will be suffered for failure to do so.

        1. Not necessarily doomed. I bought my Lake Tahoe property in early 2008, right before the mega meltdown, and still own it now, despite massive foreclosures in my building and a huge drop in price. I just chose to continue paying the mortgage, spend lots of time advertising my listing on Craigslist to help boost occupancy rates and rental income, and write a post about my property to help market it online. It was a terrible investment, but I chose to suck it up, and do everything possible to make sure I would not welch.

          1. Kudos to you for doing so. But again, there are legal remedies for when you signed the contract with the lender that if you pay all the time with interest, you will have no issues. If you do not pay, x and y will happen under the legal system. You’d be sued by the bank and either negotiate your way down or be found in total default, etc., credit ruined for 4-7 years and so forth.

            Agreed the default should be to do what you did…suck it up and move heavan and earth, but not everyone is programmed like that. Some would send jingle mail, some would pay until they were forced to make too many choices….not everyone is a businessman or so entreprenurially minded. The main lesson here, perhaps, is do the math, assume a very bad case scenario and see if you still want to pull the trigger assuming numbers add up to your ability to pay back at your current earnings, etc.

            As for the schoolkids, dont get that liberal arts degree. Go for one that will earn you right out of school…computer sciences, med school…in demand careers. Or eschew those and go to trade school…when someone needs a plumber, you have them where you want them :)

  60. I agree that the hustle you describe is the way to get out of the hole. However there are many issues not addressed.
    First these are kids deciding to take on this debt. Society has told the parents that college is worth it at any cost. Even in your example, housing equity and retirement savings are only included for private universities, so even he made choices to increase his debt.
    I received all kinds of flak for sending my kids to UNC. My wife and I went to Duke. They got into Duke, but Duke is now triple the cost of 35 years ago, and UNC is double (in adjusted dollars). I wouldn’t pay for Duke, or cosign loans.
    Secondly these kids then find themselves graduated and then learn that owing $500 a month plus the sky rocketing rent prices, and stagnant wages. In Charlotte the medium salary is $63k, for women it is $35k. Granted many or most at the lower end don’t have college debt.
    What they really need is someone who thinks it is ridiculous to borrow large amounts of money to have a chance to talk then it off it. I am retired at 52, sending them to a private school would have set that back 10 years, or burdened then forever

    1. Sending your kids to UNC as Duke alums is IMPRESSIVE!

      It is interesting though, that with the internet making education FREE, tuition has skyrocketed. Was there no grants from Duke as alumni parents?

      Do most Duke graduates stay in NC? I met many Duke alum who moved to DC and NYC for work while I lived on the EC.

      1. I think UNC was a terrific choice for undergraduate education especially if your children may want to pursue some sort of graduate education post. I got into Duke as well, but my parents didn’t send me there for similar reasons. I ended up going to U of Miami on a scholarship and did grad school in New York. After grad school, I came out with the same prospects as my friends who did go to Duke with a lot less student debt.

  61. I don’t think it’s as simple as saying, “Oh, us millennials, we’re just spoiled brats.” Certainly, many of us are like that, but aren’t we also the product of the previous generation?

    Over the years, I’ve made a lot of stupid financial decisions. At the time I was making these decisions, though, I always thought I was making the best decision due to the advice and opinions of older, more experienced people. For example, I’m $55k in student loan debt due to the (very strong) advice of my parents to go to school. If only I went to school, surely I’d be successful, in their logic. It’d been pushed on my since I was a little girl. At the same time, I never saw my parents do side hustles to pay off debt. Not my neighbors, not my grandma, nobody. This was a foreign idea based on the way I was brought up.

    I’m not trying to say it’s all my parent’s fault. It’s not. They were acting on the best info they had available to them as well. I – me, myself – made those decisions, and now I’m dealing with the consequences. I’ve taught myself how to do better. I’m a self-learner though, and always looking for ways to improve myself and things in general. I think many millennials are stuck in a rut because they’re not like that.

    I’m waking up at 4:30 every morning to work on side hustles. I have completely stopped watching any and all TV. I pack all my lunches, and I’m saving up for a car rather than taking out a loan. These are all things I had to learn to do myself. But, it woulda been a hell of a lot easier if someone would have taught me to do these things from the get-go.

    1. Distilled Dollar

      I completely agree with the ‘product of previous generations’. Millennial entitlement was not created in a vacuum. I don’t believe much of the entitlement factor was intentional but its partially a product of previous generations.

      After WWII America prospered and you saw a whole generation was able able to work for a large corporation and retire with a pension. The Baby Boomers were able to work within one field with higher job security compared with what Millennials are faced with.

      The entrepreneurial spirit of side hustles didn’t make sense when you had a secure job with a pension at the end. It also didn’t make much sense to learn about personal finance.

      Props to 4:30! That is inspiring.

      1. Keep in mind that it’s height, only 43% of employees were covered by pensions (and that includes government workers). Back then, the rest had only 2 legs of the stool. It’s a myth that everyone had a good factory job with a pension.

        I think it’s a chicken or egg scenario as to whether job security was changed by workers job hopping and companies adjusting to that new dynamic, or if companies somehow as a whole forced workers to change jobs more often thus reducing their job security. I know most of my friends change jobs on their own, they were not fired or downsized.

    2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I actually didn’t have the “Millennial Entitlement” angle in mind when I wrote this post. I simply read an inspiring comment that made me think about so many other people who are working more than 40 hours a week, who are getting their hands dirty with minimum wage jobs, and just getting stuff done by going to work at 6am (my passengers).

      And then, when my friends, who are all in their late 30s and early 40s, who are not wealthy, but who didn’t want to take advantage of this opportunity of making bonus money with their nice cars, I just had to write this post. Two live in a rented one bedroom. One lives in a studio. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t want to make a quick $600 in 6 hours if we split 50/50.

      Nice job getting up at 4:30am! My question to you is: Why don’t more people do that? You can put in a good 2.5-3 hours of work before going to a day job. Do that for 250 days a year, and you can do wonders.

      1. Haha – well, now you can see what happens when I wake up at 4:30. My brain sometimes still doesn’t work as well at that time. Millennial entitlement is a sore spot for me, esp. when I’m working my ass off, so I’m quick to spout off on the topic sometimes. Apologies, and great post!

        1. Excellent point about having to teach yourself to be financially independent if you were not raised that way.

          I am not convinced millennials are any more entitled than other groups. As a baby boomer growing up, I heard endlessly from older generations about how irresponsible we all were. Now we boomers seem to be saying the same thing to younger generations. I would need to see some pretty solid data before I believe that millennial entitlement is anything more than just the usual intergenerational complaints.

          The only thing I would take issue with you about is the value of education. Perhaps I misread your post, but I still feel a solid formal education is one of the best investments I ever made. It taught me a great many intellectual habits I doubt I would have acquired on my own. I would not begrudge the time and expense involved in that decision.

      2. If you really believe that nonsense comment from the “engineer,” I’ve got some swampland in Florida for sale. Firstly, very few engineers are making 100K after six year – unless they’re a software engineer in silicon valley. Most grads start at 50K and won’t be breaking six figures until their middle aged. I’m an engineer making 65K after five years experience. And yes, I have a second job that pays well and am a disciplined spender and still have little extra at the end of the month. If a 27 y/o can make 100K/year and live like a student, then yeah, they can be financially free in their thirties. Duh! But how many people make that much at that age? Top 5% of earners? Your advice is worthless to the rest of the 95%. People aren’t lazy and entitled just because they don’t want to work 60 hours/week. And besides, the vast majority of side gigs aren’t that lucrative. It’s dumb and disingenuous to point to an exceptional over-achiever and chalk it up their success to simple motivation/hard work. There’s a lot of factors, not the least of them being luck, that play into a person’s financial success. Add some realism to your posts and they might actually be useful to an average person.

        1. You are right in that most all of us are lucky, and that hard work has only a little to do with things. The thing is, this site is not really for “the rest of the 95%.” This site is for the seriously motivated who are looking to achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later. Its for those who recognize their luck, and are trying to take max advantage.

          You will enjoy, or probably hate reading these posts:

          Finally, don’t be too proud to hustle!

  62. Distilled Dollar

    When it comes to hard work and getting ahead, I often reread Ben Franklin’s Way to Wealth. It is helpful to know he is writing it as a 42 year old entrepreneur who is about to retire and start his life in public service. The man hustled for 25 years and tells it like it is in 20 short minutes.

    Putting in the time is one hurdle, but another is that many people don’t see the long term benefits. Even if you explain to them a $192/hr driving opportunity they would still opt for that $10 Netflix experience because they value it more.

    The entitlement crisis you mention reminds me of a quote from the historian Will Durant, “A nation is born stoic, and dies epicurean.”

    Millennials are obsessed with eliminating student loan debt (viewed as instant gratification) at the expense of their long term wealth (viewed as delayed gratification). The end result is paying tax efficient debt in a tax inefficient manner.

    Student loans have been a blessing in my life. Obviously, they got me a degree in accounting, but the real value they provided was being one of the chief motivators behind learning about personal finance.

  63. I keep seeing people complaining and not doing anything about it, moreover, I see how they spend their money on useless things. It’s a sad situation of lazy people complaining and complaining without them taking action.

  64. These are some good examples on how working hard can get you faster where you need to be. It helps to do something about the situation, rather than complaining about it.

    On a peronal level, I do not do a side hustle now. The main reason is the work life balance that I would like to have. My job tkes a lot of my time. Next to that, I want to spend time with the family and help out the community once in a while. This leaves little time to side hustle.

    That being said, I do go the extra mile at work. That probably brought me where I am today.

    To complete: I do not complain that my FIRE date is only in 2029. I could bring it forward by working evenings and weekends. As this does not match my priorities in life, I accept the 2029 date.

  65. Everything in life is about priorities and trade offs – if you want something badly enough, you need to make sacrifices to get it. Do you want financial freedom earlier or do you want to go out to a nicer dinner all the time? Just $100, compounding annually at 7%, will become $386 in 20 years. It’ll be $761 in thirty years. If you do that every week, that’s a big chunk missing from your financial freedom fund.

    1. You summed it up perfectly, Jim.

      If financial freedom is a priority, you’ll make it. If it’s not, then you shouldn’t complain about how others are getting ahead of you.

      It’s true that education is VERY expensive nowadays and it doesn’t guarantee a great job, which means many graduates are left jobless and in huge debt – this is a big problem.

      But it’s also true that you can work outside your ‘diploma’ and make it, while waiting for the right job to come around.

  66. The people I know who want it all seem to do it! However, that’s mostly other bloggers, not people I know in my daily life. Most of the people I know in my daily life seem to be deeply entrenched in the earn-to-spend cycle. Whether it’s a personal fail or a cultural fail, most of the people that I know probably can’t conceive of any other way than working for decades at a mediocre job while drowning in consumer debt the entire time.

    1. As a fellow blogger whose been around a while, we experienced the same thing first starting out. The Yakezie Challenge was to post 2-3X a week without fail for 6 months and get to a 200,000 or lower Alexa ranking. The majority who entered the challenge did not pass. But those who did felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment. And many who did built up a great side hustle or FT gig where they left their jobs.

      Life gets in the way. It all depends on your priorities. My priority was financial independence ASAP, hence the aggressive savings, and side hustles now to build financial buffers for an inevitable downturn.

      And for folks who want to blog, just follow my lead. Publish 3-4X a week with me, and I’m positive you will see tremendous growth over the next 2-3 years. We can help encourage each other not to slack!

      1. While I’ve never gone through that Challenge, I’ve admired what Yakezie has done because it gives beginners a strong framework to build on and a positive nurturing community to do it in. 2-3 posts a week for six months is not easy but if you can do it, you’re going to be better off.

        1. Thanks Jim. Too bad it died out as it took too much work, and the site is custom and therefore hasn’t been updated in 7 years! The spirit will always be the same. Challenge yourself and be amazed at what you might be able to accomplish if you stick things through!

      2. MedSchool Financial

        Hey Sam,

        The spirit of the challenge still exists for sure, since starting the challenge a couple months in now, its been a positive experience and ranking has drastically improved using the alexa bar. I’ve been doing the 2x-3 per week, but I am game for the 3 to 4 times per week and encouraging each other not to slack.

  67. MedSchool Financial

    Getting out of debt and reaching financial independence is in part the reason I started the site for increased accountability for myself with the hope of helping others along the way. I do agree with you same there is definitely a sense of entitlement in some people nowadays, but I also think the debt loads especially in the realm of education are astronomical nowadays and in some cases absolutely no hope of a traditional job that can relieve that even if you have it.

    Students dont have the financial literacy of how to approach financial obligations of this magnitude, and that is something that needs to change. People just borrow without a long term strategic approach of why and how taking that risk is going to be part of the overall plan.

    They end up in a precarious positions that put them in indentured servitude for many years to come. The lack of hustle is also, in the moral fiber that kids have these days. we honestly live in a world where if you go the extra mile and think outside the box anything is possible.

    But kids from day one are trained push this button and everything is handed to you, everything we used to have to work for is instantly available and that slowly erodes at the fire that makes you keep doing the daily “20 mile march” that’s required to get what you want out of life.

    All it takes is achieving that why you hustle and putting in the sweat equity. The why is important because it keep that fire burning.

    1. Yes, having a plan is key, even if it doesn’t work out the way you want. Therefore, have multiple contingency plans/scenarios instead.

      After the 20 mile march, is everything not golden?

      1. MedSchool Financial

        The 20 mile march is just baseline every day commitment, but consistency increases that probability of getting to a point of being golden. Jim Collins book great by choice, talks about it and is a good read as well.

  68. You had me at ‘entitlement crisis’, I really think that is such a big part of the problem. It is ingrained in our society that the correct route is to go to college, get good grades, and then have the right to get a good job and earn lots of money.

    Any variation is frowned upon, having multiple jobs is only for the poor (or maybe that’s just European, I don’t know). There are so many possibilities that aren’t even considered by most, like stopping the buying frenzy or hustling on the side.

    Success is often seen as working little, earning lots and driving a big car. Funny thing is that the rich people I know always see opportunities, have multiple streams of income and work every single day. And they hardly ever complain about being deprived or defeated.

      1. Hi,

        I am not the original poster, but I live and work in Germany.

        I work in FP&A for an international corporation and make about 75k USD per year. Now, that may not seem like much, but consider this is for a 37,5 hour workweek (with paid overtime and 25% on top for overtime), 6 weeks of paid vacation, pracitcally unlimited sick leave (if you are sick longer than 6 weeks, you get 85%, I think, you never reach that, unless you are in a serious accident, and then you have different problems anyway). This is not a management position, I am just a regular analyst.

        Why on earth would I want to take a second job that has nothing to do with my area of experise and pays me maybe not even a quarter per hour of my main job? If I don’t have enough money, it would be far easier to simply cut my expenses. Note that I am talking about paying the bills here, not investing in another career to diversify my streams of income on the path to financial independence.

        Over here, if you went to college, studied something useful (business, law, engineering etc) and you take up a second job to pay the bills, you are considered a complete and utter failure. The only college grads that do that, are people that have studied sociology, theatrical history (yes, that exists), philosophy or things like that.

        Oh, and since there are no tuition fees for college, most people don’t have any debt upon graduating.

        Yes, we have it good here.

        1. Not for long after those refugees get done invading your countries, you’ll be doing the call to prayer and the women will all be wearing beekeeper suits.

  69. I agree. It’s lack of motivation. You have to take it at face value when people complain. People who complain don’t truly want or care to change no matter how much you’re willing to help them.

    It floors me when I see someone renting or living in a trailer driving a >$20k vehicle. I firmly believe that anything beyond a functioning vehicle is the basis for a justified consumeristic lifestyle without regard for one’s future. Get rid of the unnecessary transportation expense and nearly every other expense goes down as well.

    1. Terry Pratt

      I think there is a reasonable middle ground which allows something beyond a functioning vehicle. Some years ago I owned a base model 1989 Hyundai Excel (first year, one step up from a Yugo) which was quite unpleasant to drive. (Bought it cheap from a friend’s wife when she upgraded to a much better car.) While I had a functioning vehicle, I think it is reasonable to allow someone to own something beyond that base level car.

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