I like to think of personal finance like a battle. It’s a more subtle form of battle, unless you have a level of debt that threatens your survival (or your freedom). It’s more of a marathon, and less of a sprint. The belligerents? They’re the multi-billion-dollar corporations with brilliant marketing teams who do nothing all day but find clever ways to separate you from your money.

Inefficiencies are everywhere. People regularly spend far more than they need on all the basics — housing, transportation, and food — while living in constant fear that their house of cards is about to fall down at any moment. Despite studies showing that most people use only 40% of their living space, that most cars have far more passenger and cargo capacity than people use more than 1% of the time, and generic alternatives exist to most consumer products that require literally no sacrifice at all, making inefficient decisions seems almost baked into our culture like a default that few people bother to question.

This isn’t just dollars and cents. This is war.