“I think I’m going to make an impulse purchase.”
“Erin, if you’ve been thinking about it for more than a few hours, it doesn’t count as an impulse purchase.”
(Recent conversation with a close friend – and I’d been thinking on the purchase for four days.)
When you develop a moniker like Broke Millennial, it gives people in your life permission to start passing judgment on your spending patterns – or lack thereof. Friends have teased me about my extremism as I can violently swing from penny pincher to Kanye West. There’s the fact I’ll treat Peach to fourth row orchestra seats to a Broadway Show but then I refuse to get an air conditioner in my apartment because it would drastically hike the monthly electric bill.
There seems to be no apparent rhyme or reason to when I make financial choices, except, I know the pattern: travel and time savers.
When it pays to stop being so cheap
Inspired by a post written by Cait of Blonde on a Budget, I started reading through some of my old musings. A 23-year-old, still dating Peach long distance, Broke Millennial waxed poetic about finding the glamour in riding the Greyhound bus from New York City to Rochester and back.
The 26-year-old Broke Millennial with a significantly larger savings account is here to tell you there is nothing but grit to riding the Greyhound bus.
A quick trip down Greyhound memory lane:
- Man next to me had been recently released from prison (didn’t share what had put him in there) and he felt particularly chatty about his post-prison plans for six hours.
- Woman boarded the bus, preceded to remove her shoes and unwrap a tuna fish sandwich.
- Sleeping woman next to me (not stinky-feet-tuna-fish-eating woman) kept shoving into my side. When I refused to huddle up against the window and give her the entire armrest, she decided to start screaming at me in Thai at full volume.
- Four frat boys (they did get off at the Syracuse stop) boarded the bus and pulled a 30-rack of Keystone out of their duffle and then got extremely inebriated.
Now, the former first-class flying part of myself was well served by the humbling experience of only being able to afford the bus if I wanted to see my boyfriend on an even semi-regular basis.
The current me cringes a bit at the entitlement in the fact I flat out refuse to board another Greyhound.
Before you judge me too harshly, I have a valid reason for upgrading to traveling almost exclusively via plane and occasionally rail or car.
Riding the Greyhound bus from New York City to Rochester often ended up taking close to eight (sometimes even nine) hours. The best time I’ve made in a car, even driving with Mosby, was six hours and 15 minutes. Flying takes about 3.5 hours door-to-door. It saved me approximately nine hours on a weekend trip to fly. Not only did this mean I could spend more time with Peach by staying later than 10 am on a Sunday, but it also maximized productive hours. I can’t tell you how rough it is to try to get anything done on the tiny space of a Greyhound bus with extremely touch-and-go WiFi access.
What’s your time worth?
Three years ago I did everything possible to save a buck. I’d spend 40 minutes taking the bus to the airport instead of hopping in a cab or Uber for a six-minute ride that cost $12. I once made it from my front door to the gate at LaGuardia in 17 minutes, true story.
Then my mentality slowly started to shift as I upgraded my job while steadily building my freelance career on the side. With the increased income also came the realization my ability to earn more is tied to available time. This time needs to be utilized properly.
Embracing and controlling lifestyle inflation
Sure, increasing my spending to save myself some time can be seen as lifestyle inflation. In many regards, it is. So let me share how I am still allowed to claim myself a relatively frugal person.
- 35 percent of my regular salary gets auto saved into an emergency fund and 401(k). A bit more gets saved with the use of Digit and other habits.
- 100 percent of freelance income gets saved.
- 50 percent immediately goes into a bank account set aside for paying Uncle Sam
- 25 percent gets put into my Honey Pot fund and ultimately invested
- 25 percent goes into my travel fund
Now, don’t go thinking I’ve exclusively morphed into some high roller. I still bring reusable water bottle on trips to avoid paying airport prices for some H2O and pack a lunch for the flight. I do my own laundry, walk my own dog, clean my own apartment, eat mostly homemade meals – not even with Blue Apron – and usually grocery shop over going the Fresh Direct route (wow, I’m a city person). Plenty of chores in my life could get outsourced, but I’m not that rich yet. But one can dream because I would really love to hire someone to handle the dreadful task of cooking.