Material Goods, Cushion, and Experience

“I have enough money to live comfortably until next Thursday.”

Those of you who have been enlightened by knowledge of personal finance have probably read, or at least heard of, The Millionaire Next Door by Stanley and Danko. It’s a book filled with studies, reports, interviews, and details about the importance of proper saving and living below your means of wealth…sort of like something both your professor and your mom would make you read. It’s far from a get-rich-quick book; as a matter of fact, it embraces frugal spending and serious investing over a lifetime in order to be a prodigious accumulator of wealth (PAW). It was recommended by our friends over at r/personalfinance as a hallmark piece and is a great introduction to the lifestyle of healthy spending.

Overall, I did feel more acquainted with financial goals after finishing it. The studies portrayed in the book are a few years old, but they still ring mightily true to this day. If you can get past the repetitive examples and some findings that make you say, “well, fucking duh,” I think anyone can benefit from reading it. If you are or plan to be an entrepreneur, this book is your rallying cry.

How to Pick Up Bitches: Chapter 7

I’m still a student, graduating from college soon mind you. Money is consistently on my mind in a sense of survival, but it doesn’t consume my thoughts. There have been sagas of life where I needed to eat ramen a few times per week in order to make rent, but nothing to freak out about. The entire reason I applied to school in the first place was because a better education meant better chances of a higher income. For such a long time I was fascinated by the thought of hyper-consumption. I wanted to graduate school and find the biggest and baddest job and make a load of America’s finest printed currency so that I, too, could drive a Range Rover and retire at 40. Money can buy happiness, or perhaps at least buffer you from financial risk, right?

Over the past year or so a lot of that mindset has changed. No, I don’t want to be homeless or in debt up to my eyes, balls, and/or eyeballs. But at the same time: a Rolex and a country club membership aren’t going to make me happy. I know that a six-figure salary would make plenty of people (including myself) very happy, but it wouldn’t leave me fulfilled.  I can’t won’t take money to the grave with me. While I may be able to pass it on to another entity when I’m gone, I’m not going to be able to spend a single copper Lincoln in that doomsday box buried 6 feet underground.



So why save? What’s the point of having all of that money if you don’t plan to spend it? I’ll spend frugally most of the time, but I should be able to have some fun with it, too! Being frugal doesn’t mean being cheap, it means being smart (and sometimes kind of cheap) with your money. The takeaway of the book is if you want to have a high net wealth, you must spend frugally (playing good offense) and save wisely (playing good defense). This way, you can pay for your kids education, save for retirement, be able to give back, yada yada yada. I’m not going to argue that any of those things are bad, but they shouldn’t be the sole purpose of life. But if you find yourself at the point where all you do is save, I feel like you’re almost as bad as the under-accumulator of wealth (UAW).

I think, at least for people like me, it is imperative that we find a balance between hyper-consumption and living frugally. I can forego the designer clothes at the mall and be perfectly satisfied with last year’s line of funky socks on sale at Target; a logo isn’t worth the price to me. But if I were to choose between staying the night in to save a buck versus going out with good company, I’ll likely take the company!

What I’m trying to express is that life isn’t about who can save the most money or who can keep up with the (goddamned) Kardashians. It’s about experiences. Some of you are out there going, “Ha-Ha, gotcha there buddy! Driving a Range Rover IS a great experience!” I’ll admit, those machines are SLICK (still waiting on that spokesperson check). Material goods can indeed be an experience. For others, their experience of choice might be traveling the world to see as much of this beautiful planet they can witness. For even more, it may be the simple experience of spending time with people they care about and want to be around.

“But you need money to do all of those things, you DICKHEAD!”


I see you, bud. You’re not wrong! There’s no denying that we need an income to accomplish these things. Rather, I’m accepting the fact that I don’t need a lot of income to be fulfilled. I’m not telling you how to spend your money, I’m asking why you spend it. When you’re on the brink of exiting this life as you’re surrounded by those dearest to you, what are you going to think of how you spent your time here?

Are you going to be proud of the shopping sprees and the finer cosmetics of life?

Are you going to be fond of your IRA cushion or the estate you’ll leave your family?

Are you going to think back on how you interacted with yourself and your fellow humans?

“If the sky were to suddenly open up, there would be no law, there would be no rule. There would only be you and your memories, the choices you’ve made and the people you’ve touched. The life that has been carved out from your subconscious is the only evidence by which you will be judged, by which you must judge yourself. Because when this world ends, there will only be you and him, and no one else.”



I used to be one of those guys. One of those guys that would justify going to a chain-style barbershop, and why it wasn’t so bad.

“Bu-b-but they have an app I can go on! It lets me reserve my appointment right here! I can see how busy they are before I go in! I only pay $10 on Thursdays with my student discount!”

Eventually I broke down and had a quasi-philosophical conversation with myself about the subject. ‘Reagan, you care so much about your hair and how it looks, why do you skimp out on how it gets cut?’ I figured a $10 cut is going to look the same as a $20 cut. ‘There’s still mom-and-pop barbers out there for a reason. Something must be keeping them in business. Give it a try.’ Alright, voices in my head. I’m going out tonight anyway, I’ll listen to you this time.

Fast forward a few days, and cue a recommendation via a coworker to try the local Russian barber down the street. Hmm…Russians? Haircuts? The brain compartments and departments start churning… Have I ever met a Russian with a good haircut? Is he going to eat potatoes and slam vodka shots during the cut to keep his hands steady? Should I remind him of the 1980 Olympic Hockey Final? All I could think of was this guy with a pair of rusty scissors in his hands:


This particular coworker is hilariously sarcastic and I can’t take him serious sometimes. Hell, before our shifts, we mimic Globogym’s Purple Cobra knee slap-knee slap-hiss routine to get us going. This particular coworker isn’t afraid to ask someone he just met what is and isn’t off-limits in the bedroom. This particular coworker (and I) partake in comedic renditions of southern accents to create our own NASCAR and general restaurant commentary. The kid is a character. It took some convincing by him, but eventually he reassures me that the guy is legit and even does a neck shave complete with hot towels and warm shaving cream. Hot towels, I would soon learn, are a form of unsurpassed luxury in the male grooming world.

The next day, without an appointment made via handy-dandy mobile application (SHOCKER), I walked into the shop. 3 customers, 2 barbers, and what I assume was a barber’s child. I look at the sign-in sheet, and almost every single “barber preference” was “Danny”. Danny-Danny-Danny-blank-Danny-Danny-Blank-Danny — you get the point. Danny is a badass. Danny is the Russian dude my coworker was talking about. I’m greeted with a semi-thick accented “Haello sir” followed by a softer un-accented “Hello” in the background from the other barber. Want to know who cut my hair? Sure as shit wasn’t Danny, he was being waited on by the other customer. Kathy, you’re up…let’s see what you’ve got.

No starches or clear liquors in sight so far…shut up, Reagan. 

Now, you’ve got to understand, I walked in this joint with some wavy surfer-esque hair that was halfway down my neck. I was proud of the mane I had bestowed upon my head, however, it was becoming too much (quick fun fact about Georgia in the summer: it’s fucking hot). I charged Kathy with the task of “high fade, cut down the top to about an inch.” You know those barber memes swarming around the internet where the barber goes, “Say no more, fam”? Yeah, it was kind of like that, minus the cheesy saying. Kathy knew EXACTLY how I wanted my hair done. Did Kathy have telepathy? ESP? Drugs? Didn’t matter, she knew what to do.

Side story: Not going to lie, Kathy. You astounded me when you began talking on your bluetooth headset to…whoever the hell you were talking to…in the middle of cutting my hair. You astounded me to an even higher level when you hung up on them and apologized to me about it. “They should know I’m at work right now.” You go, Kathy.

This fine woman cut and trimmed and cut some more. I have NEVER had a haircut take this long before, but damn it felt soooo good. She polished my hairs to a slicked-back perfection when all was said and done. And yes, I did get that neck shave and warm towel. Oh my lanta, I realized what I had been missing out on!

I began to realize that getting hair trimmed down isn’t just a necessary part of grooming. Like so many other things in life, it’s an experience. This particular experience is one that I’m willing to pay a bit more for. I walked out of that place looking SLICK. Not only did I look sharper, but I felt sharper, too. Kathy made me feel like there weren’t actually 2 people in line waiting for me to be done. She made me feel like she gave a shit! It shows, people.

Support local business and hit up the barber shop if you haven’t already. The people cutting your hair seem more human, and you won’t be treated like “just another person getting a haircut.” I’m a hopelessly frugal bastard, but I’m willing to shell out a little more for a good haircut experience now. Don’t forget the tip! Just the tip 😉