Last Thursday, I began the day by staring at a picture of myself on the front page of the New York Post accompanied by an inaccurate headline. A friend had texted the picture and I immediately moved my panicked fingers to search for the corresponding article online.
During the seconds it took to load the story, I told myself that there had to be a rational explanation for the false headline.
A few days earlier, I had agreed to speak with a reporter from the NY Post about the HENRY lifestyle and struggles. The conversation was pleasant and topics ranged from investing, the cost of living in major cities, and self care, among others. I was told the purpose of the story was to inform people about the term HENRY, which stands for High Earners, Not Rich Yet. Read more about that here.
Given this context, I was shocked when the spirit and substance of the article, as it relates to me, varied markedly from what I said during the call. The reporter has since refused to issue a retraction for the inaccuracies she reported, and as such I will take this opportunity to address the misconceptions contained therein.
1. Counting Pennies
The reporter inaccurately states that at the end of each month I am “counting pennies,” implying that because of my expenses I am left living paycheck to paycheck. She defended her statement by saying that “counting pennies” means that one is economical, budgetary and price conscious. While this definition is true, words do not exist in a vacuum and in the context of that article, the phrase implied that at the end of the month I do not have any money left. That is a gross misrepresentation of the truth.
What we did discuss is that I track my expenses month-to-month. Specifically, I budget for all of my expenditures, ranging from student loans to eating out. I divide my income into different categories and budget for each portion.The majority of my monthly income goes towards savings.
By dividing my income in this way, I am able to determine if I can afford something or if I need to save more. This is where my “pleasure fund” account comes in. I budget for things that are not necessities and I consider “fun” or non-essential. These items include: eating out, traveling, and luxury goods, to name a few. I follow this internal control because I am fiscally conservative and I don’t spend unless it is in my budget.
I have received so many comments about my fun account that I will continue to talk about this and how it works, so stay tuned!
2. Poor on 100K
I never implied or stated that I was poor. This headline was particularly offensive because I come from modest means and would never sensationalize poverty. Similarly, I never said or implied that being cost-conscious hinders my style or that I cannot maintain my standard of living. If I couldn’t maintain my standard of living why would I openly discuss it? Wouldn’t someone be embarrassed by that?!
In fact, I frequently share with my audience tips and tricks on how/where to purchase goods for a fraction of the cost. I discuss the instances where I have wanted something and ultimately decided against it because it was not in my budget. You can read more on that here.
I revel in my frugal ways, and firmly believe that being cost-conscious and enjoying nice things are not mutually-exclusive.
Lastly, I am married and my household is comprised of two working adults with no children. I was raised by a single mother, so I understand first-hand the marked difference belonging to a two-person income household entails.
From the moment I read the article, I recognized the girl in the pictures, but in some regards not the tone or words attributed to her. Entitled, snobby, and pretentious are just a few words I have seen ascribed to me. I also come across as ungrateful about my life. If I were a stranger reading the article and presumed everything was accurate, I too would share the same sentiments. However, if you have read this far, then I hope you understand that the article is chock-full of inaccuracies and misrepresentations.
For starters, I am not complaining. If I were, why would I build a blog and brand around it? I created my blog to bring like-minded people together and create community.
I enjoy being a HENRY and celebrate the nuance that comes with it. This includes sharing travel, fashion, and general lifestyle tips. Since my blogging journey began in January, I have connected with so many people and I look forward to connecting with many more.
Despite the negativity that has surrounded this story, there are some positive outcomes. First, people are becoming familiar with the term HENRY and self-identifying as one. There were also topics contained in the article that deserve further exploration. For example, financial freedom, real estate investing, and self care. I look forward to elaborating on those topics as my blog evolves.
In sum, the term HENRY is not negative, it provides a context for the circumstances of a growing segment of the population. HENRY millennials have some expendable income after accounting for life’s necessities, and the options they have with their expendable income are the premise of my blog. I look forward to continuing to discuss the HENRY lifestyle and moving the conversation forward.
Thank you to everyone that has reached out directly and engaged in substantive and fruitful conversations with me!