Money at 30: “Buy the Avocado Toast” Book Review
There sure are a lot of stereotypes about Millennials, aren’t there? Nevermind the fact that most media outlets don’t seem to know what even constitutes a “Millennial,” my generation has often been regarded as lazy and entitled, with other baseless assertions being peppered in over time. One of the more recent (yet still played out) additions to the list of Millennial tropes is that we all blow our money on avocado toast and, thus, have no retirement savings. Now this cliche has been embraced by author Stephanie Bousley for her book Buy the Avocado Toast: How to Crush Student Debt, Make More Money, and Live Your Best Life. Taken with the title, I decided to download the recently-released audiobook version on Audible and listened to it over the course of a weekend.
As you may have been able to discern from that subtitle, Buy the Avocado Toast is mostly geared towards those looking to pay off massive amounts of student debt without starving themselves for their next three decades. In other words, not me. I can only imagine what it must be like to owe six figures after graduating, but I’m definitely sympathetic to those finding themselves in such situations.
Throughout the book, Bousley not only shares her experience with debt and tips for how to overcome it but also tackles some of the side effects that come with financial burdens. For example, she devotes a chapter to issues such as addiction and how those struggling with it can find help (without adding to their debt load). Similarly, while much of the book could be described as ways to increase your net worth, she also includes a section about increasing your self-worth — or your perceived self-worth, that is. Even as someone who doesn’t struggle with debt, I thought that each of these chapters had some useful information that likely applies to readers of all stripes and backgrounds.
Backing up to the matters of money, I thought Bousley has some interesting ideas for attacking your debt from multiple angles. Among the most intriguing to me personally was the notion of moving abroad not just for the cost of living benefits but also for the potential lower rate of taxation. While I’d heard about geo arbitrage before, I’m not sure I’ve heard quite this take on it. On that note, this section was also bolstered by the fact that Bousley herself has experience as an ex-pat, spending time in Singapore. As someone who’s often dreamed of living overseas (at least for a bit), I was definitely interested to hear her stories on the topic.
Elsewhere, Bousley covers everything from finding high-paying careers to potentially lucrative and tenable side hustles (spoiler: she concludes that there aren’t very many of the latter). She also goes in-depth on how to repair your credit, going so far as to include template scripts for all kinds of letters you may need to send off as part of this process. In each case, I appreciated the authority that Bousley wrote with along with the level of detail she offered.
For as much as I enjoy Buy the Avocado Toast, I can’t say that I exactly agree with all of Bousley’s stances. Namely, while I understand her view that paying rent is just flushing money down the drain, I felt she was a bit dismissive of concerns regarding the costs of homeownership and also insists that buying a home really isn’t that hard. To be fair, she does often make clear that her suggestions won’t be right for everyone. Still, there are a couple of instances where I felt like her advice may have been a little oversimplified.
Considering how the student debt crisis has seemingly only worsened in recent years, I suspect there’s a huge audience for Buy the Avocado Toast: How to Crush Student Debt, Make More Money, and Live Your Best Life that will benefit from its teachings. At the same time, even if you’re not dealing with student debt specifically, I think there’s plenty of general personal finance insights to gain from the book as well. Personally though, I’d recommend reading it alongside other books such as Kirstin Wong’s Get Money and Kristy Shen & Bryce Leung’s Quit Like a Millionaire that might reinforce some concepts while providing alternative perspectives on others.