Financial Security
  by Ken Kurson

Like most shallow screenwatchers, I thrive on cheap emotion. I haven't the time for a sentimental education—give me sentimental soundbites. And for pure, heartwarming saccharine, there's no cheaper thrill than the schmo who wins the lottery and decides to keep his crummy job. Why does this thrill us so? Is it because we want our plumbers and mailmen to be richer than our doctors and lawyers? That's part of it. But the real reason we find the notion of a financially secure blue-collar worker so appealing is we know that at any moment, to any strenuous request or demanding customer, our working-class hero can now utter the words that made Melville's Bartleby delicious: "I prefer not to."

That's my definition of "security": the ability to tell your boss to go sniff himself. Not necessarily doing it, maybe not even dreaming it. Just the knowledge that if you wanted to, you could stop licking boots and start licking bonbons. It may sound like a fantasy, the kind that only the lottery or a well-moneyed relation could provide, but for young people newly appreciative of the magic of compound interest, it's a goal that might be more attainable than it seems.

Talk!If the very thought of squirreling money away in hopes of broadening your options makes your teeth yellow, go extol the virtues of Ramen noodles somewhere else. Yeah, when I was eighteen I too considered "impoverished" and "artistic" synonyms. But thousands of homemade records, zines, plays, 8mm films and poetry slams later, I now realize that large corporations have by no means cornered the market on uninspired product. And those who brandish that "sell-out" sword at everyone who tries to carve a slice of the good life invariably don't really have to endure the stylish squalor they think convinces others of their genius. Show me someone who dismisses the goals of others and I'll show you someone with a trust fund.

Your Mission:

establish a chunk of principal—the nest egg—that'll produce investment income sufficient for you to live your life. In other words, you won't touch the nest egg, but will let that money work for you. Let's talk about how much you'd need to retire with a lifestyle that's tolerable but not opulent—midway between Trump and Gandhi.