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Be thrifty with just two items--housing and cars--and you'll have a more rewarding life

By Marty Nemko

I know a lot of people who fit this description: They own a big house in an upscale neighborhood with a mortgage to match. They buy a new expensive car every few years. To pay for such a lifestyle, they invested a fortune and years getting a law degree or MBA and work 60+ hours a week for Corporate America or for a law firm representing Corporate America. After the long workdays, they collapse on the sofa, and often sit with their drink staring at their expensive living room wondering, “Is that all there is?”

US News You Can Use: If I were starting over, I’d major in some field I’d find fun such as theater. Then, I’d move to an attractive, low-crime, but not expensive area near a university town, such as Corvallis, Oregon. I’d buy a Toyota that’s a few years old—they can last 10 more years, easy. I’d hold out for a job I’d like such as journalist or drama teacher. As soon as I could afford it, I’d buy a modest home or condo in a decent neighborhood. Because I wasn’t working 60-hour quota-packed weeks, I’d have the energy to do fun things on the side such as gardening, acting in a local community theater production and/or being a talk-show host on the local Public Access TV station. I would probably not be able to do those life-enriching activities if I had bought a house and cars like the people above do.

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