What song best captures your finance journey?

Bon Vivant

I originally had this link at the end of the post, but if you’re not familiar with the song, you probably want to take a quick listen first. A good “live” version of the song resides here on Youtube, which is the version I’m most familiar with.

Ah, the “good life”!  Who doesn’t want it?  Even most FIRE bloggers that I read are “reformed” from more extreme lifestyle choices.

I often reflect on how music has interpreted the times and some of the struggles I’m going through.

No different than most people, right?  That’s a big part of music’s appeal.

I was always a fan of Billy Joel, but my admiration became crystallized when we decided to relocate to New York city from Philadelphia in 1996.

Wow, it seems like yesterday, and we were a young 30 at the time.

Writing these posts can be cathartic for me, but sometimes I like to think I’m writing them for young people so they will have the benefit of getting a glimpse into how fast time goes by.  Billy Joel is almost 30 years older than me, but I could always envision him living out this song.  I’m not sure how much young people do that type of “transference” today. When I caught a recent episode of “Modern family” none of the young people recognized or knew any of Ray Liotta’s movies.  That didn’t make me feel exactly like a spring chicken.

“I’ve loved these days”, was always one of my favorite songs, even before moving to New York City.  It’s not one of his more popular songs, but the lyrics are quite poetic and are easy to “slip into”.

After moving to the city, we occasionally needed to rent a car about 6 to 10 times per year and the rental location was near Greenwich Village.

It wasn’t lost on me when I noticed the small diner in the area was named “Bon Vivant”.   I’m not a foreign language major, but I had done my research previously and knew it meant “Good life”. (or “Well living”, according to Google)

That’s exactly how I felt when we would stop in after dropping the car off and have a $5 breakfast special with soggy buttered toast and watch the yellow cabs go whizzing by outside.

I was always grateful for the opportunity.


“We’re going wrong, we’re gaining weight”

As time rolled on, our salaries and responsibilities in our jobs grew.  We were literally and figuratively “gaining weight”.

I’ve always said that New York city is more a “lifestyle” than a destination.  We tended to get lost in that lifestyle often.  While it’s hard to pin an exact number on it, that “inflated” lifestyle, probably cost us about $1M dollars over time, but it was worth every penny.

Ups and downs of the stock market, job promotions, job changes, I’d always hang my hat on this song.

Today a lot of people focus on two big acronyms.  FOMO or Fear of missing out, and YOLO, meaning “you only live once”.

I’ve lived these both too trying to straddle a frugal life with the good life.   One helps the other, and I’m a firm believer in enjoying things while we’re on this planet.

Just like you can’t “time the stock market” (at least not with consistent results), I’m not sure you can time when to inflate or drastically deflate your lifestyle.

There are going to be events in your life, that make you look at those choices differently.  I know many people who made a major shift after being presented with bad news.  Never a wise choice, but resisting that temptation is often easier said than done.  Billy Joel himself, discusses  (at 06:51 of this video) how his creativity waned at a certain point in his career.

A few more nights on satin sheets

Overall, a lot of the lyrics dovetail nicely with what I’ve experienced as “the good life” in New York city.  (and it’s not over yet) As I’ve lived through the ups and downs of city life and monitored Billy Joel’s career, I realize that it’s not always good.  While we don’t live in the 80’s age of “conspicuous consumption”, we still live in an age of $900 cell phones.  Materialism can still be found everywhere.

How far can we really go on “caviar and Cabernet”?  or does it now have to be cheeze curls and 3-buck Chuck?

With the stock market and the real estate market both at all-time highs, I think it’s wise to “drink a toast to how it’s been”. You never know when it’s going to end.

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