Money, Beer, and the Cost of Being Free

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My needs are simple: a hearty tax shelter, healthy pension, robust health insurance, generous sick days, fully stocked fridge, a little extra cash after paying the rent, and seven beers, preferably craft or imported.

My tastes are sort of set in their ways.

That, and—of course—perfect health for my wife and kids, is all I need, on top of the basics of modern First World living. Forget a new house, car, clothes, and forget Paris. Give me the know-how of there being enough beer in the fridge for the end of a long day of hard work where I’ve earned every dollar. I want to hear that clink-clink when the fridge door is open. I’m not asking to drink seven beers a night, but I want the financial freedom to enjoy one or two if I want, and to have seven more in the fridge waiting for me, for tomorrow or the weekend.

I want the ability to drink or share with the wife or friends—it might be a Bourbon and ginger ale, or a gin and tonic, but the principle remains. I want that bordering-hoarder pleasure of having luxury in reserve, when I want. I want that financial freedom.

And eventually I’ll have it. Maybe when the kids are out of college. I don’t want to die on my feet a sweaty worker who didn’t know how to be smart about money, especially in my American lower-middle-class world, where I’ve been privileged enough to reach a point and skill set that can guide me towards a retirement and help me provide for my children until they can provide for themselves.

What is a dollar? 

Let’s talk about $7—specifically the amount (give or take sixty cents) it costs to afford seven beers or seven burgers or seven of something in your refrigerator. That seven dollars is swallowed up by the big picture—the cost of the fridge, electricity, the contents within—plus the pantry and its accoutrements. That $7 is a small slice of rent or a mortgage, or of a movie ticket or water bill. You know what things cost. The cost of take-out versus a week of groceries, the price of beer and coffee versus milk, and the cost of luxury, however simple, versus holding out until you really deserve that luxurious finish, whatever it may be.



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