The new car.
The nice house.
The premium cable.
The financed appliances.
The 0% down furniture.
The clothes on a credit card.
The golden handcuffs.
Every time I see a picture of a new car scrolling down my Facebook feed, I shake my head and sigh. It’s usually accompanied by a young person standing with two thumbs up and a smile. The like button has been abused repeatedly, and the comments start flowing with things like “congrats!“, or “that’s awesome, I’m so happy for you!”
Somehow, buying new stuff with other people’s money has reached the same social status as getting married, having a kid, or landing an incredible job. I usually have to hold myself back from commenting, because it would look something like “I hope that car feels better than freedom“, or “you just set yourself back for 72 months“. Even though it would seem like I’m upset with them, I’m really just upset for them.
If I’ve learned anything from my short time in writing about personal finance, it’s that people can convince themselves that any purchase is a great idea. Sometimes, no matter how much I jump up and down and wave my hands while screaming for young people to stop financing their lives away, a lot of them still buy the golden handcuffs anyways.
Young people are generally not very skilled when it comes to thinking about their future. Millennials have this ridiculous need to “live now while they are young”. They don’t realize that they will still be the same person 3o years from now, wishing that they would have saved more, or invested earlier. There is so much financial opportunity squandered for the few minutes of “life” that young people feel when they are buying something they don’t need.
The things that we finance in life are nice and shiny like gold, but will keep you restrained the same way that handcuffs do. If you are thinking about making a financed purchase in the near future, hold off. If you feel like you need cable, try something cheaper first and see if you can stand the difference. If you have to buy a house, be modest. Get the MTV cribs house later when you have a positive net worth.
Every time you make a purchase that you can’t pay cash for, you are giving away a small part of your ability to experience change in your life. You have to keep that job that you hate to make debt payments. Someone else’s pockets are lined while you struggle to find cash in your own. Our future children become doomed to life with student loans. We use social media to celebrate young people blindly trading happiness for someone else’s money and a depreciating asset.
It has to stop.