How to save for a house and have your avocado toast, too

Marketplace Contributor May 19, 2017
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Avocado consumption has been increasing every year since 2010. MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

How to save for a house and have your avocado toast, too

Marketplace Contributor May 19, 2017
Avocado consumption has been increasing every year since 2010. MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Let’s talk about avocado toast.

It’s a simple pleasure. A thick slice of wholewheat, rye or whatever fluffy carb-filled goodness you choose. Add a generous slathering of buttery avocado — only the ripest will do — and top with a little salt, a dash of pepper, maybe a slice of smoked salmon if you want to be fancy and enjoy. 

But: the act of enjoying this snack, especially if you’re a millennial, is an issue for real estate millionaire Tim Gurner. Speaking with 60 Minutes in Australia, Gurner said:

“When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for 19 bucks and four coffees at four bucks each.”

First, who’s paying $19 for avocado toast? Second, are all millennials rabid avocado toast eaters? Questions for another time.

Gurner’s comments set off some none-to-complimentary responses online and got the folks at Marketplace Weekend thinking: Can you really save for a house if you give up lattes and avocado toast? Helaine Olen says no. She tackled this issue in her book, “Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry.” 

“It takes a lot of small expenses to add up to a big expense,” she told Lizzie O’Leary. “If you really want to get anywhere, you need to cut back on big expenses, like housing, like health care. Because otherwise what happens is you tend to get swamped.”

So what to do if you’re trying to save for a home or any other big purchase? Olen’s advice:

  • Make saving automatic. Take the money out of your paycheck before it hits your account
  • Strive to save between 10 to 20 percent of your income (Olen notes that she is trying to do the same herself)
  • Use cash, not plastic 
  • Engage with your money — the more you do, the more empowered you’ll feel

You can listen to Helaine Olen’s advice by clicking on the media player. And enjoy your avocado toast while you’re there. 

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.