Look, I get it, there are plenty of different ways to live your life. Some people love nice cars and spend their money on purchasing and maintaining them. Some people love clothes and spend a lot of money on buying them. Other people love going out to eat and so spend a ton of money going to nice restaurants. Honestly, as long as you’re able to pay off your debts and support your life style, I say God Bless. Sure I have my own opinions on how I think a life should be lived and how money should be spent, but those are just my opinions.
However, I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of these articles that come out and extol these unique lifestyles being taken up by millennials. Somehow, these authors and individuals believe that they’ve hit upon some amazing formula for living that will not only make you happier than you are today, but also somehow shame you into believing how you are living your life is wrong.
The perfect hipster formula.
I admit, some of the articles about de-materializing your life get me to think. I enjoy reading Mr. Money Moustache’s articles because they make me think about what I can live without. I enjoy listening to Dave Ramsey because his take on debt and its impact on our lives helps serve as a mental bulwark to the constant barrage of credit card and consumer ads.
Also because his show makes me feel really smart about the financial decision I have made and really good about the financial position I am in.
But I can’t stand these articles that clothe hypocrisy in a shroud of green living, spiritual inspiration, or a life inspiring change. My all time favorite hypocritical article used to be “Why I Gave Up a $95,000 Job to move to an Island and Scoop Ice Cream”. Why might you ask? Well it’s not because this woman who went to Yale is laying herself out as a guide for the rest of us. It isn’t even because she was making great money in what most consider to be the dying field of journalism. Nope, it’s because she starts the article while peeing in her toilet as a chicken watches.
Let me be clear, the chicken is in her bathroom.
A lot of veterans, especially those of us who served in the early years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan lived in squalor. At no point in time did any of us think to ourselves, “Man, I can’t wait to leave this third world county, to go back to a first world country, just to leave for another basically third world country.” I could get into how her lack of planning for her future is asinine, but I’ll let Aesop Fable’s The Ant and the Grasshopper hit the point for me.
Articles have come out on why people left their 6 figure a year job, sold their expensive home and moved down to South America with their kids.
We used to call that retiring early….
But my new all time favorite article, the article that inspired me to sit down and write something today is a baffling and self-contradicting piece titled “How One German Millennial Chose to Live on Trains Rather Than Pay Rent.” I clicked into this article because I assumed, this German woman found a way to ride the sleeping cars for cheap. Somehow, she found a way for those of us who would love to travel around Europe to do so without paying for hostels and hotels. Unfortunately my hopes were dashed. You see, she gave up her apartment, bought a monthly rail pass, showers and cleans herself in the train’s bathrooms, and here’s the kicker, “…she tries to sleep at the apartments of relatives or friends. Often, she is accommodated by her boyfriend, her mother or grandmother."
Newsflash, if you are actively sleeping at other people’s homes, you aren’t living on a train.
So why should any of us care about articles like these? Honestly, just like the grasshopper who eventually had to come to the ant for help,
Really to save his life.
there will come a time when these millennials will rely on those of us who didn’t take off for a vacation.
Or in the German’s case, eventually people will become fed up and tell her to stop being a bum.
We should care, because at the core of what it means to be an American is the idea of a work ethic. There are two defining factors of our nation that has brought and continues to bring people to our shores: commerce and religious freedom. In many respects, it’s the ability for a good life, the ability for commerce that binds us. It’s a social contract that we are all supposed to have with one another. If I fall on hard times after working hard, society will help me get back on my feet. This contract begins to break when we start glamorizing those among us who forgo the hard work, forgo the responsibility, and who live off of the sweat of our brow, off of the fruits of our labor.
Don’t be fooled, eventually this German will have to stop living on the train. Eventually scooping ice cream is going to get old. When the markets have been on a bull run for the past 6 years, early retirement sounds great, but markets go down.