The Inaugural Bored-At-Work Read Club: Week of July 20, 2018

The Bored At Work Network is "bigger than the BBC, CNN or any traditional media network” and is made up of “millions of bored office workers [who] blog, Tweet, Facebook and IM all day.

- Jonah Peretti, Co-Founder & CEO, BuzzFeed

Raise your hand if you have ever been bored at work. 

Okay, that's everyone, myself included. While being bored at work may be an indicator that you've finally made it over to the other end of the steeeep learning curve at your job (congratulations!), or that you should find a new job that continues to challenge or give you meaning, it could also be due to the natural ebbs and flows of a regular work week. 

When your inbox is no longer full of [URGENT]'s and your colleagues are too busy working from home to call an "all-hands", it is finally time to take a breather, look around and plan for the future. 

The most productive creative geniuses of our time rest deliberately. Many read, take long walks, draw, or simply do nothing and enjoy themselves with their loved ones. 

At Empower, we believe in lifelong learning, and one of the best ways to do that is to read. But we are realistic, not everyone has the time or the attention span for a book, so we prefer to exchange thought-provoking articles to deepen our knowledge and understanding of what surrounds us. 

Every week on Friday, one of our team members will author a collection of articles he/she has read around the web in the last 3 months, that we think you would find interesting. Since we're obsessed about personal finance, it will have something to do with your money. Doesn't everything have something to do with your money?

Without further due, here's this week's collection for the Bored-At-Work Read Club, by yours truly.

Week of July 20, 2018

The Premium Mediocre Life of Maya Millennial

by Venkatesh Rao, Ribbon Farm



A satire piece best reserved for late-night or lazy Sunday hangover reading pleasure when all guards are down and you are mentally prepared to be made fun of. You've been warned. Best for individuals fascinated by the pop culture and our contemporary consumption habits. 

How we spend our money is large dependent on what our peer group, and the larger society value. Reading this piece, I couldn't help but wonder if every brunch I buy or culottes that I add to my cart are reflections of what I think taste and look good, or is it of my peers and tastemakers?

Millennials Want to Buy Homes but Aren't Saving for Down Payments

by Laura Kusisto, Wall Street Journal (paywall)

OK, this is one of those catchy headlines that totally got it wrong. It's not that we aren't saving for down payments, we're unable to save. This took me down a rabbit hole, trying to understand why it is so hard for our generation to achieve one of the epitomes of the American dream. (If you want to follow me, read here, and here).

The upshot is the trifecta of dismal employment prospect post-Great Recession, student loans, and the all-time low supply of housing (since everyone went to college instead of trade school and become general contractors).

With interest rates on the rise, the dream is even more out of reach. 

I'm A Financial Planner - Here's Why I Won't Buy A Home

by Eric Roberge, Business Insider

Now this is one of those pieces that make me question my life goals. I've always wondered about the tradeoffs of putting down roots and the ability to pursue career and life choices that present themselves.

Sure, you don't build equity renting, but "primary residences are terrible investments", which I tend to agree with. There is definitely "opportunity cost to saving for a down payment, versus investing", but you can solve it by investing your down payment saving, just not in super risky investments.

The other points in the article about minimal living, predictability of cashflows, etc. are good points, but isn't there something inside of us that just scream "Owning your home is a GOOD THING"? Many of us are lucky enough to have grown up in a primary residence that our parents own, perhaps that's why our attachment to "home sweet home" comes from. 

I would be curious to hear from a reader who grow up renting and hear what you think about homeownership. 

That's all for today, folks. Have a great weekend!