Front page.

So, let me just get this out of the way:

No, really.
My picture (taken by Brett Roseman) is just below the USA Today logo, front and center, above the fold.
I am writer Hadley Malcolm’s lead source in a story called “The cost of financial illiteracy.

The story is about my generation — the Millennials — struggling with money. You know, basically.

First: For reasons that are beyond me, I’ve been on USA Today’s “shopper panel” e-mail list for years. (Jayne O’Donnell, one of the paper’s other reporters, and I are besties.) When I got an e-mail seeking sources for this story, I actually contacted the writer and suggested they interview my sister. In part because she’s more responsible and has her shit approximately 472 percent more together than me. But unable to leave things well enough alone, I signed off and added, “For what it’s worth, I am 28 and still have no idea how to manage my money.”

So she interviewed both of us.

And I’m the only one who ended up in the story, probably because I was desperate to entertain her and gave her everything she was looking for to illustrate her point that my generation is a bunch of spoiled, entitled idiots with irresponsible spending habits and no capacity for fiscal responsibility.

I spent almost an hour on the phone with her from my hotel in San Antonio, just after my second week back in a full-time job, talking about my upbringing, my work history, my moves from city to city, my hopes, my dreams, my desire to have better financial security, my efforts to learn more about budgeting and personal finance.

And in the end, we get this: Paige Worthy is a stupid yuppie. Look at her in that handmade scarf, on her iPad, looking up a recipe while she shops at a hip European grocery store. Check out this flake! She’s had six jobs in as many years, and now this idiot’s about to go off on her own again as a freelancer! Now…let’s go to our experts to find out what a disaster everyone else in her generation is.

I mean, I’m paraphrasing.
I’m a journalist. I GET IT. Ultimately, many reporters use their sources to illustrate the point they always knew they wanted to arrive at. I’m not mad at you, Hadley! My picture’s on the front page of one of the most widely read newspapers in the country. Thousands of people are waking up in hotels everywhere with me juuuuust outside their doors.

But damn. As a personal blogger, I’m even more cognizant today of the luxury that comes with telling my own story day to day.


I won’t argue with most of Hadley’s story.

Yes, I do believe we’re mostly screwed as a generation. We’re inheriting a country that’s positively gone to shit in almost every way. It’s hard to find work, and when we do find work, many of us are being paid so much less than we deserve that it’s practically laughable.

And despite this, many of us continue to rack up debt by spending beyond our means, taking trips, going to restaurants, and so on and so on.

But there’s a lot more going on than just some irresponsible kids that would rather play Angry Birds than learn about being fiscally responsible. A LOT.

I like to live well. I buy my cat’s food at Whole Foods. (It’s $3.99 per bag.) I enjoy a good meal from time to time. And — DEAR GOD — I have an iPad. (It was a Christmas gift, for the record.)

But really, I’m one of the lucky ones. My family taught me, from a very young age, not to take things for granted. I’ve had a savings account from the moment I was born; I have an IRA now that I contribute to regularly; I pay my taxes on time; I can count the number of times I’ve overdrawn my bank account on one hand.
I went to a state college and majored in a subject that, at the time, I knew would translate into a career after graduating. I’ve been employed constantly, if not consistently, since I left school.
I never fell for the credit card scams in the student union. Who wants one of those oversized, crappy T-shirts anyway?
I’m not in debt, from student loans or otherwise. I never have been and, barring any catastrophic future life events, I don’t intend to be.

Why yes, I am patting myself on the back. Everyone who can claim as much should pat themselves on the back, because it’s hard to do these things in a financial climate like this.
And yes, I’m defending myself. Because I’m pretty offended to see my generation constantly carpet-bombed with blanket criticisms about our attention spans, our work ethic, our financial shortcomings.

My problem is, as always, with the hayseed commenters who think they have all the answers. Blaming “me” for the ills of society. Calling “me” worthless and stupid. Thinking a single photograph of a girl on a staged photo shoot in Chicago really says something compelling about an entire generation of young people still trying to figure things out in a pretty messed-up world.
Sorry, guys. It’s not that easy, and it’s not that simple.

I, personally, am in a pretty good place — and I’m getting better.
I gave my two weeks’ notice yesterday at a job that wasn’t fulfilling me, and I’m not sorry for that. I’m going back to freelancing and all the good and bad that comes with that.

Financially, I’m keeping track of my business expenses, paying my quarterly self-employment tax estimates, establishing a budget for the first time in my 29 years on this Earth. (Whether I stick to it is another thing, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, right?)

My efforts to improve are the part of my story that she left out. And really, that’s completely fine. Because the story wasn’t about me — it just started with me.
What’s your story?


59 Responses to “Front page.”

  1. pledgerwood Says:

    Woo hoo! Front page of USA Today! Now, what was that other stuff you were saying?

  2. mizwritesalot Says:

    Good post! You’re doing better than a lot of folks. I have a lot of student loan debt looming over my head. I was fortunate enough to continue deferment as I got my Masters degree from a public university online, but that time is drawing to a close. I was an idiot for going to a private university for undergrad, but thankfully I had a scholarship that covered about 1/3 my tuition costs. Not all my friends were so lucky. 

    I know you’re going to be an awesome freelancer! I think people don’t realize that, for our generation, it’s not about who can climb the corporate ladder the fastest or have the most money. Being happy is also important. For me, maybe that means just sticking with freelancing. Maybe it means taking a FT job for a while until I can go back to being independently employed. Whatever it is, I don’t want to be miserable working. Maybe that’s entitlement talking, but I don’t think it is. I just want to be realistic and happy with my choices. Don’t get me wrong – I work hard, too. But I want to enjoy my life rather than get stuck in the rat race.

  3. Theresa Markham Says:

    Man, you don’t want to hear my story. I’m the tail end of that generation just before yours. The one they tagged the “slacker” generation.  But, someone did give me a mortgage, so I must have figured something out in the seven bonus years I’ve got on you. Don’t worry too much, it all comes together in time.

  4. BlahBlahBlah99 Says:

    The way this was portrayed in USA Today (the photo location, the iPad, the leaving a steady job to freelance)… they knew the reaction and buzz it would cause in an article about fiscal immaturity and I’m sure its what they wanted. I’m happy you recognize this and address it here.

    • paigeworthy Says:

      Thanks, mister. I’m completely aware of how I must come across — and regardless of whatever negative reaction and buzz this generates…damn. I’m on the cover of a national newspaper.
      And this is a great opportunity for me to write about something other than MY STEWING HEARTACHE.

  5. Joe Says:

    USA Today readers tend to be very binary thinkers.  Too bad life is more nuanced than that, and those binary folks are unable/unwilling to open their eyes.  Life is pretty easy, and pretty boring, in a black and white world.  Embrace the grey.

  6. Xyz Says:

    who the F cares

  7. Alex Says:

    Can we really talk about one generation’s money struggles without at least acknowledging the other generations that got us here?  How about the fact that our parents’ generation paid next-to-nothing for their educations, but now charges our generation through. the. nose.?   If I have to hear one more middle-aged attorney say, “Gee, when I was in law school, I only paid $500/semester [stupid chuckle],” I will probably be sick.  In-state tuition at public law schools is up to $20,000/ semester, with private schools even higher.  No, I don’t understand the history or economics behind the change, but it has to be a helluva lot more than simple inflation.  Before our elders point fingers at a generation unable to manage mountains of debt, they should acknowledge the other three fingers pointing back at them;  the sky-rocketing of education debt, sub-prime lending crisis, and Wall Street greed/recklessness were all products of not-my-generation.  

  8. Hamsangwich Says:

    Oh, the irony.  I didn’t bother reading the article after I saw “strapped” attached to this woman’s photo.  She apparently snowed the writer of the article.   Going out to restaurants, going out to drink craft beer and going out to drink expensive coffee and then saying you’re “strapped” in order to further one’s career?  When does all of this vanity and self-promotion end? 

    Yes, we all know it’s always about you, validating you and furthering your career by paying you attention.  Actually, to you it is.  But really not a lot of other people care – especially because you.  only.  ever.  talk.  about.  yourself. 

    Do you not realize how shallow and fake that is?  If not, this is your wake up call.  This is your home brewed Folgers. 

    • Sean D. Francis Says:

      Jealous much?

      • Hamsangwich Says:

        At no point in that post did I say or insinuate that I am jealous.

        Please learn how to read and interpret language, sir. 🙂

      • Sean D. Francis Says:

        Nevermind, I shouldn’t have fed the troll. Sorry for adding to the distraction.

      • Hamsangwich Says:

         I get it.  Online, anyone who doesn’t agree with you or stroke your ego is an automatic “troll.”  Whatever continues to incessant and ongoing validation process, son.

        I wonder if tomorrow USA Today will have an article on how Kim Jong Il was a great guy and a humanitarian?

      • paigeworthy Says:

        Um, no, but you ARE a troll. The textbook definition:

        If you used your real name, or had anything constructive to say beyond your usual stream of insults, maybe we could talk.

        I just don’t understand what you get out of this.

      • Hamsangwich Says:

         I don’t see how calling out the article as ironic is trolling.  You simply apply the “troll” label to anyone who doesn’t feed you compliments to make yourself feel better. 

        I am calling out the desperate attempts to draw attention, self-promote, seek attention and seek validation.  All of your articles are about you, i.e. they are about the constant need for validation and reinforcement.  I don’t know how you’re in this article, unless it’s simply for irony, but then you jump on it to self-promote to attempt to gain even more validation.  It never ends.

        Try writing about something other than yourself as well as improving your writing in general, and then maybe we can talk. 

        Smoochies. 🙂

      • paigeworthy Says:

        Your comments are designed to be inflammatory. And your arguments are invalid.

      • Hamsangwich Says:

         My arguments are directly on point and full of pith. 

        How can you possibly say you’re not aiming for attention and validation with all of this online stuff?  You’re all over the place online with attention bait. 

        I’ll cut you a deal.  Just admit you’re in it here and elsewhere online for the attention, compliments and validation, and I’ll be gone. 

      • paigeworthy Says:

        Wait…are you joking? Why does anyone write a personal blog? Of course I’m here for attention. I love writing, I love telling my story, I LOVE that other people appreciate and identify with what I write…

        This self-absorbed, poorly written crap, friend, has gotten me enough attention and validation to make a career out of writing things for other people that are in no way about me. And that is why I deal with you. Because in the end, the fact that you won’t validate me doesn’t matter.

      • Hamsangwich Says:

         You just don’t get it and never will.  Perhaps, if you did write and didn’t make it all about yourself and the constant pursuit of validation and compliments, then it would be worth more.  You see, making it constantly about you online by trolling for attention detracts from it all in a way you could never realize because you’re so self-absorbed. 

        Now, admit what I asked you to admit, and I’m gone. 

      • Sean D. Francis Says:

        Attention, compliments, and validation… sign me up. Who wouldn’t want attention,compliments and validation?  Is it a trick question?

      • Nik Says:

        Heh. The anonymous person, clamouring for the next time s/he can hit “Reply” with another insult is ridiculing someone else for a desire for attention. Hey Kettle? This is Pot. You’re black.

      • Theresa Markham Says:

        Paige. I like your stories.

      • paigeworthy Says:

        Thank you for validating and complimenting me. It’s why I do this.

    • guest Says:

       Oh my god. Someone uses her personal blog to talk about herself. The horror!!

  9. Renita Says:

    You don’t really know me (maybe vaguely by association) but the story and you got brought up in a Yelp thread today.

    And I pointed out on your behalf — thanks to this post — that you’re not actually in debt. Which means you win over me, at least, since I have a mortgage 🙂

    • paigeworthy Says:

      Hi Renita!
      Thanks for reading. I’m not sure which is worse: throwing money away every month for an apartment I’ll never own, or being in debt from a mortgage. How green is the grass on your side of things?

      • Theresa Markham Says:

         well, we bought with that rent thing in mind, but we’re trapped here now, and our condo is soul sucking us and our bank account, and when we leave, we’ll likely have to pay a difference between the mortgage balance and selling price. so. there’s that.

      • paigeworthy Says:

        Gross 😦

      • Renita Says:

        We bought a house (just last August) because we wanted more space, more privacy, and that whole argument of “you’re building equity”. I’m not 100% convinced of the equity argument, but I certainly feel better about having bought near the bottom than if we’d tried to buy four years ago.

        All in all I’m happy with our decision, but ask me again in five years, yknow? No plans to leave the area, I can live with the commute, but it’s hard to say if we’ll feel “stuck” at some point.

        ((Also, it CAN feel like rent = throwing money away, but you don’t have to worry about property taxes, replacing a furnace, other maintenance and upkeep, etc. If you invest the extra you should theoretically have, you will probably come out even or ahead of homeowners :)))

  10. amy Says:

    I got a text message from my dad this morning informing me of your fame 🙂 

  11. Mike Says:

    There’s one thing I’d like to hear more about.  With every employer looking for candidates who are “currently employed” and “not job-hoppers”, how in the world did you land this gig?  I mean, maybe you’re great at interviewing, and that’s fine, but how did you get in the door for the interview in the first place?!

  12. krs Says:

    I read the article because I was like “hey, I know that girl”.  Not really, but I follow her on twitter, so it’s close.  Then I read your response to the article.  It’s refreshing that you didn’t lash out at the article.  You understand how it must look, you posing with your iPad in Gene’s but also having a tough time with money.  You got it.  Some wouldn’t have seen it or understood how the author would want to make it the perception of a scarf clad, iPad armed girl shopping in a nice grocer.  That’s the perception people have and that’s what people will want to read.  So well done understanding that and not getting too mad.  So after I read your blog post, I read the comments.  What would “Hamsangwich” (if that is his real name) have you write about on your PAIGEWORTHY.COM blog.  He’s right.  Bloggers are vein.  Your blog is all about you.  But it’s sort of what I’d expect because it’s, you know,  What’s with people who have to insult people online.  And what’s with people who also do it anonymously.  Goodness sake.  At least be an asshole without hiding behind the cloak of a stupid name.  I digress.  Congrats on being on the cover of USA Today.  That’s huge.  I’m sure it drove tons of people to your blog to feed your vein need for people to read your blog.  Also start saving some money and don’t get into debt.  If you have a huge savings account and no debt (except a home) then you’ll be very successful.  Enjoy today.  You’re on the cover of USA Today!

  13. Hamsangwich Says:

     Seanie, let me explain something to you.  There is a difference between writing something simply to put it out there for the benefit or entertainment of the reader and writing something for the express purpose of eliciting compliments, attention and validation.  What we have on this blog and in the writer’s other online outlets is clearly a case of the latter.  She writes only about herself.  And she does it for attention and compliments – for herself. 

    Are we clear now, Seanie?

    Anyway, as long as she owns up to what I asked her to own up to, I’m gone and won’t comment anymore. 

    • paigeworthy Says:

      I’m strapped in for a long ride. You’re wrong, and I’m not “owning up” to anything.

      Even if I did, I don’t think you’d believe me. You’re like the villain in a bad movie who kills the hostages even after he gets what he wants.

      • Hamsangwich Says:

         I’m actually surprised you didn’t take a sarcastic tack and admit it – sarcastically. 

        No, I wouldn’t believe you.  You’re all over FB, Twit-ter and wherever else sopping up the attention you so crave, whether positive or negative. 

        I’m just about done with your insufferable begging for attention.

      • Nik Says:

        Here’s a simple solution: Don’t like reading about Paige? DON’T READ ABOUT PAIGE.

      • Hamsangwich Says:

         Trite, angry and hypocritical is no way to go through life, missy.  Hope this helps.

      • Theresa Markham Says:

        I wonder how you see yourself. because, speaking of insufferable, what kind of person hops around on the internet looking for people to criticize? If you’re done with Paige, spare us all and be done with Paige. Obviously she’s got more than enough people here to keep her company and appreciate her perspective.  If you’re so worldly Sir, please feel free to share an example of your idea of a useful/worthy blog post.

      • Goose Says:

        A great solution, Nik! So obvious and simple! I wonder if Hamsangwich posts to EVERYONE’s blogs? I’d say the majority of any blog is a blogger writing about themselves. And what does it matter anyway? Hammy, it’s not like Paige is forcing you to read it, so just go away.

      • Hamsangwich Says:

         Goosie-pie, nobody is forcing you to read my replies.  Since you’re slow, I’ll say it again and type it slow.  This blog is written to get personal compliments and validation as well as to self-promote.  It’s not written for you.  It’s not written for me.  There’s no useful information to be gleaned from these blog entries.  It’s designed to take the trivialities of the writer’s life and then blow them up into drama that focuses squarely on her, and it’s only done to elicit personal compliments.

        Are we clear now, Goosie? 

      • Hamsangwich Says:

         Hi, hypocrite.  Do yourself a favor, Pearl Slaghoople, and take your own advice.  If you don’t like what I write, then don’t read it.  It’s not rocket science.  Oh, and tone down your anger, please.  Thanks!

  14. Lisa Murtaugh Gangi Says:

    Bravo. Remain keenly aware of your choices & their opportunity costs, and reassess periodically, and you’ll keep moving forward. 

  15. Steve Stearns Says:

    One of the inherent flaws in journalism is that it’s so tied to narratives.  I grant that narratives are what have driven communication since we were scratching on cave walls and grunting; but it tends to distort the reality we live in.  

    Perhaps that distortion is minor (portraying generation as spoiled slackers), but there’s plenty of problems with it.  Taken to an extreme it has lead us into unnecessary wars.  To lesser extremes it has distorted the entire nature of our political discourse (both sides are the same, etc).  

  16. E Says:

    Ha! Good show on the article! Some of us older peoples are hopelessly in debt because we trusted a socipath that we should have never given the time of day. Life savings . . . *poof*

  17. Shawn Rana Says:

    I got here by way of your link in the article comments, as I’m sure many of the others have.  I bet you’re loving the publicity!

    I’ll give you credit for taking the time to respond to the hordes of imbeciles in those comments, who have clearly divulged every aspect of your situation from a few short paragraphs.  I guess the irony lies in the fact that most of those people accusing our you and our generation of having an inflated sense of entitlement appear to be baby boomers, whose generational theft has left this country trillions in debt and sent the cost of living through the roof. ..Not that they’ll ever admit it, of course.

    That said, people in general need more education in personal finance.  Given all the pointless classes most of us take in college, it wouldn’t hurt to add a consumer econ course in there somewhere.   If you’re looking for help in that department, watch Suze Orman or read some of her books…as wacky as she is, she knows her stuff.

    Anyways, best of luck to ya…if there’s any place to be struggling financially, it’s in this awesome city of ours 🙂

  18. Chidonna51 Says:

    Why did you accept the position?

    • paigeworthy Says:

      The position was fantastic, and the organization is very well respected in this industry. Ultimately it just wasn’t the right job for my current needs, personally and professionally.

  19. Bwilson Says:

    Paige, Bill from SGC, you look fantastic.

    • paigeworthy Says:

      Ahh, BILL! Hi — you’re so nice to comment. Thank you! Hope all is well at Scranton Gillette!

      • Bwilson Says:

         Admirer from afar. I read your blog from time to time to see what’s going on in your world. Fred showed me the article, and I just knew you must have commented on it here. You are looking great, and Fred agreed.

  20. Jessie Says:

    Ummmm THIS IS AWESOME! Very cool 😀 

  21. Hamsangwich Says:

    ” Thank you for validating and complimenting me. It’s why I do this.”

    Even though this comment is obviously sarcastic, the fact of the matter is that it’s only used to mask the writer’s true feelings, which are that the above statement is indeed a fact without the sarcasm added on top to mask it.  There will be no charge for this consultation and diagnosis.

    My work here is completed.

    Oh, wait, one last thing.  Nik, you are got damned psycho. 

    Peace out, y’all.

  22. Ashley Miller Says:

    I heart you.  🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: