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Money

How to Be Less Stupidly Poor in 2014

Broadly speaking, borrowing culture is considered to have been a major factor in the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, and less broadly speaking—that is to say, specifically regarding you—you're spending too much and not making enough, and moving...
January 6, 2014, 10:20pm

Photo by Chloe Orefice, graphic work by Sam Taylor

Hi folks, enjoying January? Of course you are, who doesn’t enjoy this time of year, a whole calendar month where you’re expected to replace your social life with an urge to Take A Long, Hard Look At Yourself™? As well you should.

The problem with you, you see, is that like much of your generation, you're treading water: trapped in an endless adolescence of drinking your wages, ignoring the future, and being a dick. And now your bank account looks like Dresden. Blame austerity if you like, blame the baby boomers for sucking up all the cash and turning it into golf courses, blame bankers, blame oligarchs, blame your mom, blame God, blame Dawkins, blame whoever, eventually you’re gonna have to sort your financial situation out yourself or you’ll be dead in a gutter by 45.

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Broadly speaking, borrowing culture is considered to have been a major factor in the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, and less broadly speaking—that is to say, specifically regarding you—you're spending too much and not making enough, and moving forward, those are both things you should be aiming to do less of. Let's look at ways to improve your financial situation/fiscal responsibility issues in 2014.

Get Scared About the Future
GG Allin and Kurt Cobain lived fast and died young. But had they lived, GG would've done serious time for all the fucked up shit he did and Kurt Cobain would've made a duff record somewhere down the line and we’d probably all have turned on him. What I’m saying is unless you want to die (you don’t), life has consequences. We're not going to be young and beautiful forever, and getting ready for those times is something we're going to have to do, because if you're totally realistic and pragmatic about it, your band's not going to happen. Steve Albini explained why in his essay The Problem with Music all the way back in the early 90s, before anyone even knew what an illegal download was.

What are you going to do instead? Um, I don't know… Get a job like your grandparents did? Learn a trade or get some professional qualifications, bone up on financial products, and get your shit together (more on all this later), so that your kids don't suffer for your youthful indiscretions? Slater in Dazed and Confused is a cool guy, but if he were real he'd be a 55-year-old deadbeat dad with a drinking problem now. Don't let that happen to you.

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Drink Less
Before you get all job-search-y, let's get the ball rolling with stuff you can't weasel out of with excuses about resume-formatting dilemmas—stuff like drinking. Drinking a lot is like toppling money dominos: I'm not going to patronize you by doing the math, but beers, then food, then a cab to a secondary party location, then coke, then a cab home, then takeaway all the next day because you feel so shitty, then buying all your essentials from the expensive cornershop because you couldn't get it together to do it over the weekend, then etc, etc. You get me?

The funny thing about drinking is that it's not actually compulsory, and reining it in won't make you a social pariah or a dork (as long as you don't harp on about it like a self-righteous prick; vegans and new mothers take note). You can just skip a round or even skip a whole evening (weeknight drinking is a real career killer, you should get a hold on that before your boss realizes you're an unproductive empty husk every Friday). If you can't bear to be around your friends without shoving stuff in your mouth, you can go for a meal or something.

Buying Records Is an Exercise in Showing Off
The mask has slipped guys, the rest of us are onto how your "hobby" is really just a wilfully snobby pissing contest over who is the most super seriously into music and that there's almost no discernible difference when you play either vinyl or a decent quality MP3 through normal, bedroom-sized speakers. If you're spending 100 bucks a month on vinyl and you're still living like a student at 27, you're a fucking idiot. Argue about that statement in the comments section from your grubby rooms while we play Bushwick Bill via Spotify Premium on our laptop speakers in a crowded hotel room in Amsterdam on a super-fun mini-break we paid for by not spending all our money on making sure the people on Discogs.com thought we were 4real. (PS: Buying things is your hobby? Guys… get a real hobby!)

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Photo author's own

Learn to Look at Your Bank Account
Nothing good ever came of not being sure how much money you have in your current account. Also, the kind of people who don't know tend to also be the kind of people who wilfully overestimate its contents. If you're one of those dopey optimists, you know full well that you're living in a world of unpaid rent, embarrassing cash request texts to family members, dodging people you owe money to, and at least three cancelled eBay accounts. I used to be that guy, and I know it's not a sustainable way of living. You need to be forced to look at your balance at least once a week so that you can prevent wild overspending. I know from experience that if you ask them to, you can get text alerts to prevent you from overspending. It'll change your life, I promise you. Also, nothing says: “I'm a douchebag who can't manage my own life” like not having internet banking in 2014. Are you struggling to change your sheets more than twice a year, too? C'man buddy, get it together. Quit Smoking, You Idiot
Smoking was super-cool when we were 16, but then so was a lot of stupid things that we've managed to leave behind. Now you're just spending $8 a day to annoy the non-smokers you're at a bar with by abandoning them every 20 minutes to stand on your own in the cold, so what's the point? At least junkies are getting high and eating ice cream (and, it should be noted, they're pretty resourceful when it comes to getting cash together). Smokers get none of that fun stuff, and they end up dying too. Have you seen this video? Jesus Christ.

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In a hundred years, smoking is going to look as primitive and pointless as witch burning. Let's try to knock that shit on the head.

No One Ever Got Laid Because of a Pair of New Shoes
Can we all agree that boys like sneakers because they remind them of the colorful, chunky plastic toys of their childhood and girls like heels because they remind them of vaginas? Or maybe that's why they like bags, no one knows. Either way, we know for sure that no one of the opposite sex is remotely impressed by your fancy shoes, so maybe that's something you should get over?

I'm talking about shoes and sex but this could refer to any product that you've fetishised and collected over the years but now have no idea why. Most of that stuff will be rendered pointless as soon as you do anything like start a family, and if you're going to pretend that you see these things as an investment, you'd do better to save up that sneaker money and spend a few hundred bucks on fine wines, because rich Chinese show-offs care more about Henri Jayer Richebourg Grand Cru than DQM Air Max 90s. Another advantage to buying fine wines is that you would decrease your pathetic fucking manchild/annoying fucking princess vibes that the whole "shoe thing" gives off by 10,000 percent—which is great, because manchildren and princesses are the worst. Learn about wine-buying stuff here.

Photo by Jamie Taete Stop Pretending You're Going to go to the Gym
I know it's the New Year and everything, and you're definitely going to start going loads once you've recovered from NYE or whatever, but $45 a month for 20 minutes on a treadmill and a ton of woulda-couldas is one of the reasons the terrorists hate us. Besides, what do you need the gym for? If you're not trying to get swole and cut (which is kind of like the shoe thing: no one cares), then do your running outside, get some weights from Target and get some basic tips from those buff gents at Men's Fitness (who are presumably the only lifestyle journalists who have ever been on the administering end of a wedgie).

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Start a Business
If you're not a doctor, a hedge fund guy, or a rich brat to begin with, the only way you're going to end up cash rich is if you do your own damn thing. You needn't quit your day job immediately or anything like that, just get your shit bubbling under in your own time, that way you can get going without worrying about borrowing money or filling out forms until you know it's for you. Look, you hate your day job, all you get out of it is enough money to fund your habit of being a human chemical toilet for two nights a week, and don’t you want more from life than that?

I spoke to my pals at Vagabond, a London tattoo parlor that is only about 18 months old but already winning awards and fucking its projected profit margins up the arse (or something). They had this to say about starting your own thing:

"Take a risk, but have a backup plan for if it doesn't work out. If you're secure in a job but want to go solo, try testing your product/service any way you can in your spare time before making commitments. Do as much research as you can, especially into the boring stuff such as licensing, leases, insurance, etc, that way there's no nasty surprises further down the line. If you're going into business with someone else, make sure you can 100 percent trust them and they are equally committed to sharing the workload. Be aware that if you're young some people out there will take advantage of your inexperience, be prepared to stand your ground and don't let agents, councils, or solicitors mistreat you!"

Get Into the Habit of Saving
This is kind of what we've been leading to. If "the man" gets his way we're all going to be working til we're 70 unless we start being smart about money shit. I don't know about you, but I hate getting up before noon and I want to stop doing that as soon as I possibly can. A fun way to get to that point is to put aside some money each month, like what actual grownups and the people from your hometown who didn't go to college have been doing for years.

You should save regularly (aim for 5 percent of your income every month to go into some kind of account you can't easily get it out of) to build a credit rating so that when a mortgage lender checks up on you when you try to buy a house (AKA the most important thing to own), they can see you're not a totally irresponsible moron. This whole thing is about planning for the future and unless you’re 15 and still into GG, that’s something you probably want to have. Even just clicking here is a decent start.

Learn Code
Finally, a little heads up as to where the guaranteed cash is at right now. You know how no one really understands computers and yet they're pretty much the center of everything we do? Well, turns out that because when we were kids computers were for sociopaths and shut-ins, no one except those guys bothered to learn the computer languages with which apps and webpages were built, so those guys are in high demand and raking in the cash they need to fund their extended LARPing weekends and subscriptions to asian porn sites (lol jk, sorry Anonymous, please don't hack me). Now app devs are clearing an average of $70k a year; web developers enjoying an average day rate of $375.

Happily, it's not too late to jump on that dorky gravy train. This Guardian article from October outlines a ton of places you can go to learn all that stuff, and this is a perfectly reliable article telling you which codes are smart ones to learn moving forward. All this is totally within your reach if you ditch the Gen X slacker bullshit and knuckle down. Just think, with a little determination, hard work, and a huge helping of my advice nuggets, in a few short months you could go from an excellent example of why National Service should be reinstated to an actual functional, contributing, comfortable member of society! Yay! Let's hear it for 2014!