Gen X Money – Financial Independence for Generation X

Garbage Pail Kids, Star Wars, Lite Brite, Cabbage Patch Kids, Game Boys…Nirvana, Boyz II Men, Soundgarden, MTV, Nine Inch Nails, swatch watches…The list goes on and on…

So much cool stuff from the Gen X childhood!

BUT, did you know that Gen Xer’s are now between the ages of 40-54 years old? Wow! How did that happen? Like many Gen Xer’s I ask myself where did the last couple of decades go? College ended almost 20 years ago and time went into warpdrive! Well, we have been busy going to school, working hard in our careers, adding value to the world and raising our families. But it has not all been rosy. Gen X was in the first part of their career when the great recession hit. Vividly remembers the way the world changed after 9/11 and has experienced its fair share of unique setbacks and challenges. Jerry and I are both from Gen-X, therefore our blog typically represents this unique perspective and particular time in life. A time of great responsibility and awesome potential.

Did you know that Generation X currently generates approximately 60% of all income in the US!

Due to our age and position in our careers, many of us are what is being called “HENRY’s” for High Earners Not Rich Yet. Therefore this is truly a golden opportunity to build some wealth and a financially secure future. Gen-X is actually one of the smaller generations of people in terms of population. Some say we may never have a president that is a Gen-Xer because we are sandwiched by the huge populations of baby boomers and millenials.

The Happiness Curve of Life

Some studies suggest that life’s overall happiness is shaped like a “U”, where we start out very happy at the beginning, sag a bit in the middle part of life when demands and stress are high, then shoot back up again in our 60’s and beyond. This is another reason that this stage of Gen-X lives is so critical. We need to keep our wits about us, take care of ourselves and persevere! Some of us are approaching the peak of our earning and career potential years. Some of us have young children and others are managing the costs of higher education. Many of us have school loans, mortgages and a whole host of responsibilities… Do you know what this time in life means? Crunch time to build wealth and invest wisely. But not only invest our money well, but make valuable investments in our time, health and relationships. Our childhood is well over and the cool stuff from our childhood are now antiques. In fact, in many ways we are in one of the most challenging and potentially rewarding times of our lives. Challenging because we have ever increasing responsibilities with raising families, keeping relationships alive, demanding careers and attempting to take care of our health (both physical and mental along the way.) If you are on the path to FIRE, it is a critical time to collect assets and eliminate liabilities as best as possible. In other words, find ways to stash 10%, 15%, 20% or more of your earnings. The choices and actions taken today could have consequences (either good or bad) for decades to come. Most people regret not saving and investing enough during this critical time. But this can be hard. Many Gen Xer’s are not only raising children, sending them to college, etc., they may also be caring for a parent or grandparent in some capacity. Plus, life is just simply very expensive. During this time in life, about once a month an unexpected expense seems to pop up!

A Unique Generation

As mentioned above, Gen X is actually a small percentage of the population comparatively. We are mashed between the baby boomers and the huge crop of millenials. Even millenials are no longer kids and many are focused on their own brand of FIRE. It can be hard to stereotype an entire generation of people, but I believe Gen X is kind of interesting in many ways. Gen X was known as the “latch key generation.” It was the first time on a massive scale that both parents worked outside the home, therefore Gen Xer’s would often go home alone. Gen X saw their parents get divorced on a massive scale. In general, they are not trusting of large institutions, corporations, governments, large religious institutions, etc. So here are several focus areas for Gen-X folks to make the most of this critical, great, challenging and ultimately rewarding time in our lives.

Health

Health should be one area of focus for Gen Xer’s. We are not 20 year olds anymore, able to pull all nighters and bounce right back the next day. In addition, we are managing demanding careers/jobs, probably raising children from the ages of 4 to teenagers. All this can take a toll. It may be neglecting to move around enough or just grabbing quick and convenient junk food. There is no perfect recipe for health, but little changes can seem to have a large impact on our overall health and productivity. And this is the time that will set us up for the condition of our bodies in our later years. It can be hard to undo years and years of damage. Bill Gates is right about treating his body like a temple. It’s the vehicle and space suit we have for this existence. We only we get one on this go around, so good idea to take care of it.

But how?

Here are 5 easy and frugal ways to be more healthy: A life of “True Wealth” is comprised of healthy finances, strong mind and body. So what is a Money Viking to do? It is a big challenge for me to fit any kind of self improvement workout time into a very demanding schedule. Therefore, here are some ideas I deploy in order to increase my chances of staying strong and healthy. The ideas below are simple and do not require a big effort to implement. In other words, none of them require an expensive gym membership or huge amounts of time you may not have. We are what we eat say medical professionals and health experts. Therefore, if we fill our bodies with highly refined junk food and bad oils, we feel bad. I believe this limits our ability to be productive and harness our wealth building potential. For food choices I really like the Michael Pollen mantra of:
  • Eat real food
  • Not too much
  • Mostly plants
One definition I personally have about living a life of “True Wealth” is the opportunity to have healthy, wholesome and great tasting food. But let’s face it, food can be expensive, especially if you are concerned with the nutritional quality. So here are several ideas on eating and living our way to wealth and health:

1. Think Real Food

I have started getting my mind into the habit of asking a simple question before I eat something: Is this real food? In other words, did it actually come from nature or is it something that has been highly processed. See, highly processed foods have been stripped of nutrients and then injected with bad fats, sugar and sodium so they will sit on a shelf in a store. For other good food ideas:  7 Foods That Unclog Arteries.

2. Just Walk

Every chance you get no matter where you are, just get up and walk. Around the neighborhood, in the office to the printer, on the lunch break. Take the stairs, park farther away, go to a park with your kids. Simple, free, clears your mind! As a result, I feel healthier and have a clearer mind almost instantly.

3. Add or subtract one thing

I certainly do not have a “perfect diet”. There is probably no such thing. But a mental trick I try is to either add something healthy to an otherwise unhealthy meal or subtract something unhealthy. For example, if I get some crazy burrito, I will add guacamole. It tastes good and I just added some nutrients. On the flip side, if I get a Mexican Pizza at Taco Bell, I remove the meat to lower the calories and bad fats. If I get a regular pizza, I try to load it up with veggies. Again, I am at least gaining some nutrients and fiber. Consequently, I end up consuming more vegetables and less processed stuff in aggregate.

4. Play with your kids

Kids just want to spend time with you and play. Consequently, this can be good for you too! It’s not about the stuff and the toys and the gadgets, it’s about your attention as a parent. Just go out in your backyard or park and play around with them. We have a big bin of soccer balls, frisbees, and other outside things that can just be tossed around. Turn on the sprinklers in summer and run through them. Instant exercise and all star parenting all in one!

5. Sleep

For goodness sake people, get some good rest! Sleep literally cleans the brain of toxins and protein buildup each night. Therefore, this is one reason it is so important. Sleep is free and healthy and I can’t think of anything easier to improve health, well being and decision making. Life and building wealth is a marathon not a sprint, so get some good deep sleep every single day. However, you will have to create the right conditions. You will have to pry yourself from the addictive grip of devices and social media. By the way, social media is designed to trap you, it is playing off your physiology and makeup to keep you addicted and connected, so beware, it will be hard to turn it off. As a result, If you are staring at a screen at night, you are shooting blue light into your eyeballs. Therefore, at least wear some protective glasses if you can’t pull yourself away. The blue light tells your brain to be active and alert and wears you down. The room should be cool, comfortable, quiet and free from the electronic wonderland we have become so addicted to.

Family

One big thing to keep in mind from this period in life is that we do not get any time back. Now is a time to carve out precious moments with your children and family. Especially those on the younger and older end of the spectrum. The older folks like grandparents may not be around as long as you thought. And we all know that children grow up fast. This is a time to re-affirm and invest in our families. We will not get these years back with our children, parents or grandparents. So call them, see them, love them for who they are and forget about the rest. Life is too short for drama, let it go!

Wealth & Investing

I think one of the biggest things to get straight from a financial perspective is to push back on the rampant consumerism and debt in our society. Most of us truly have enough and if we cannot pay for it in cash we probably have no business putting it all on credit. In other words, cultivating a practice of frugality will pay off for our entire lives. Automate your way to wealth!
  1. 401K Robot!
The first step is usually the company 401k. Max out and get the match every two weeks. This is probably the most important robot to deploy. Most wealth for most people will be deployed in this manner from now and into the future. This is the main tool I used to use the wealth building TRIFECTA and triple net worth in 10 years. We all know pensions are a relic of the past and not really sure what the future holds for social security. Probably some kind of drastically reduced benefit because our “leaders” (I use that term loosely) have failed to prepare and plan for the future in exchange for immediate political gain. Speaking of the future, consider utilizing a Roth IRA wealth building robot in order to save money on future taxes. In the cool future we can all share, your money can be withdrawn from the Roth tax free! The big thing about using the 401k “robot” is getting to what we call here at The Money Vikings as the point of “critical mass”. Others call it the wealth “snowball” effect! The amount grows so large that it starts compounding on itself and growing at faster and larger amounts. At this point, each dollar invested becomes it’s own “robot” wealth building soldier on your team. Each dollar invested is now making more dollars that reinvest on themselves. This can all happen by letting the capital work over long periods of time.
  1. Find other systems to automate. Have a chunk of change pulled out automatically and placed in Vanguard, Robinhood, Stash
Once the 401k is maxed out and you are receiving any company “robot” matches, one can look to alternative investment vehicles and platforms for automation. I place money into Robinhood where I can purchase shares at zero commission costs. Therefore I am utilizing another wealth building platform to add to my wealth building army. SEE RELATED: Robinhood Investing Game Changer

Career

Here is the thing about careers at this point in life. They do not go as planned, and at the end of the day who cares? You are not fully defined by your career, that is a cultural construct. It is also a privilege of elites to base their self worth on a “career.” The main goal should be to work in a field you somewhat like and are interested in, with some people you like and respect and at an organization that is not abusive. If you can strike all three of these factors and make some decent money, then consider yourself lucky and able to steer yourself into a good position. From this point the career can be thought of as a vehicle to make some money, invest it, learn some new stuff, add value and hopefully do it around some people you respect. This time for Gen Xer’s may be the high of our careers in terms of positions and money making potential. From here we will need to seek outside opportunities for continued growth.

Conclusion

I am proud to be a member of Gen X. I think we are able to strike a balance and a kind of bridge between the baby boomers and millenials, who in many ways seem very different. Gen-X kind of does its own thing, doesn’t trust large institutions, questions the status quo, yet strikes a balance with traditional values. At least that is the way I see it. We are Gen-X, so we will not run around proclaiming anything grand. We will be pragmatic and create a secure life in our own unique way.

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