The moniker Broke Millennial has always been polarizing. It’s never been meant to refer directly to me, but rather be a generational title for so many of us who have felt cash strapped and struggling. Since launching this site in 2013, I’ve had a lot of friends, family and perfect strangers ask some variation of, “what are you going to do when you’re a ‘rich’ millennial?” Well, the brand isn’t changing now — and I’m not sure if it ever will — but I have decided to start a celebration of those who achieved a “Broke Millennial No More” moment. A time in life when you suddenly realized, “wait, I’m not broke!” For some it will be big and others it will be a small victory, but for everyone it will represent a mental shift to feeling as though you’ve succeeded in #GYFLT (getting your financial life together).
In the seven years since I graduated college and moved to New York City, I’ve shifted from barely surviving to thriving. The first year here I worked three jobs: a page at The Late Show with David Letterman, Starbucks barista, and babysitter. My daily schedule looked something like: wake up at 4:15 AM to get to Starbucks for the opening shift, work until 11:30 then head to the Ed Sullivan Theatre where Letterman filmed and work there until 5:30 or 7:30 depending on how many episodes were taping that day and then I’d head off to babysit until around 11:30 or midnight at least three or four days a week. Yeah, I wasn’t sleeping much.
All those jobs and I was barely scraping by earning about $23,000 that year. My portion of rent cost $925, which ate up about 50% of my income. I became adept at finding free entertainment in New York (like ushering for off-Broadway shows so I could watch for free). I heavily subsidized my grocery budget in a few ways. I usually got fed while babysitting because it was always dinner time, plus I ate lots of little kid snacks. On double-show taping days at Letterman we would get fed pizza for dinner, so I started bringing ziploc bags to take home the leftovers (I wasn’t the only one). But the biggest way I would minimize my grocery budget was taking the food from Starbucks that was past it’s sell-by date. That food usually went straight in the garbage, so I asked my manager if I could take it home instead. I also ate lots of rice.
The first shift to having a Broke Millennial No More moment came a year after living in New York when I got my first grown up job. (I’ll be honest that the Letterman gig was more of a gap year.) I started earning $37,500 and felt flushed with cash! Suddenly I could indulge in buying things like Greek yogurt and even going out to eat once in a while.
But my biggest Broke Millennial No More moment happened a couple years later after I started another job with a pay bump up to $50,000, plus I was freelancing on the side. Suddenly, I realized I could afford to upgrade from riding the Greyhound bus to taking Amtrak to go visit Peach. We were in a long distance relationship for 4 years, 1 month, 2 weeks and 3 days and tried to see each other at least every six weeks if not once a month. For a long stretch I went to visit Peach more often than he came to NYC because he was in grad school while working full-time and I just had more flexibility. Being able to upgrade from the unreliable and cramped Greyhound to stretching and walking around on an Amtrak train was pure luxury.
Each Friday, I will feature someone’s Broke Millennial No More moment. Despite the title, you don’t have to be a millennial to submit.
Have a Broke Millennial No More moment you want to share? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org!
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