Fair warning, this post may be a bit long winded. Also I have an affiliate link mentioned. If you buy the book, I get a small cut but the price stays the same. If not, it’s still a good book.
The crappy part of blogging, someone probably already posted an article about the same topic you’re writing about. The fun thing about blogging, someone probably posted an article about the same topic you’re writing about.
The last topic I wanted to write about was already done by someone, so I decided to change topics. So I started writing this post and …..drumroll…..it’s already been done. I’ll see if I can add my on pizzazz and sass, cupped with personal experience, to make the post more unique and enjoyable. So I’ll draw you in with a catchy title and hook you with my witty banter.
One In A Million
My ultimate goal is to join the double comma club. To become a millionaire. To have “money in the bank.” Why? Because it’s enough for me to retire comfortably and then some. Enough to become a philanthropist and enjoy helping others without the insecurity of worrying about money.
But can I be happy without a million? Can you? Of course. But then I wouldn’t achieve my goals and all the other things I want to enjoy in life without worrying about money, most likely.
Do I need to buy a million worth of crap? Not really. I live on less than an average income now, and other than paying off a boatload of debt, I like to think I overconsume as it is. So how do we be happy and cut consuming? Changing the mindset of what really makes us happy, while working towards financial independence.
Financial Independence, Mr. Money Mustache, Stoicism, & Badassity
What is financial independence for those of you who don’t know? Financial Independence (FI or FI/RE Financial Independence/Retire Early). Mr. Money Mustache (commonly referred to MMM) retired at 31 and saved up over $800,000 and retired at 31. He lives on roughly $25,000 a year, and was my introduction to the idea of financial independence (See the links below for some of my favorite interviews and MMM videos.)
MMM practices a form of a philosophy called stoicism and his own philosophy of badassity. In short, from what I know about both, stoicism and badassity model principles of lowering consumption, challenging oneself, creating meaningful work and embracing adversity.
One of my favorite MMM quotes, “Comfort is expensive, slight discomfort is cheap.”
As an engineer, he is highly interested in optimization and efficiency, and explains how many luxurious purchases we may think will make us happier actually don’t. How much “stuff” is really enough to make us happy and how much “stuff” do we really overconsume? He shares his recipe for happiness in the first video quoted below under the MMM WDS talk.
Dave Ramsey was my introduction to getting rich over time. Ramsey is not an optimizer, per se, but he does quote himself saying, “If you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” To that I confirm if you work on retirement now, you won’t rely on dwindling social security later.
Ramsey is the “get out of debt” guru. If MMM says, “Debt is an emergency,” Ramsey says “Your financial house is on fire, get out now!” He also has his “gazelle intensity” of being debt free. Every dollar goes to debt and no more debt, no credit cards, no more debt. Get out of debt. He calls overconsumption “stuffitis.”
Tony Robbins has decades of experience changing mindsets. His focus in his book, Money Master the Game, focuses on the investment side of financial independence, but does dedicate a significant amount of time on becoming debt free.
My favorite quote of Tony’s is there will always be weeds. Instead of wishing there were no weeds, you have to look for the weeds and rip them out. Life will always have problems. The only thing you can change is working towards having a higher quality of problem. Paying too much in taxes? Well damn, you make too much money. (Time to optimize and find those loopholes!)
What Are You Getting At?
So how do we take what these experts say and do and translate them into actionable steps? Well after a couple years of figuring out the highest costs lately of overconsumption here’s what I came up with that some people seem to overspend the most on (in no particular order):
- Student Loans – Holy crap. We spend 2x, 5x, 10x, some even 20x the salary that would paid for a certain degree. Are you really willing to pay 5 or 10 years of salary for a degree that doesn’t even really pay that well? Why not follow MMM and try to retire in 10 years or so?
- Housing – Rent/Mortgage/Etc. McMansions, super houses, gigantic castles? Do you really want to pay for 30 years on a house you don’t plan on living in for 30 years or more? Do you really want to put all that money into it? Yes, you can get some money back when you buy a house (equity) but did you buy too much house? Carl, from 1500days.com actually downgraded in house after reading MMM and retired in less than 1500 days.
- Transportation – Cars are expensive. Car loans are now up to 7 and 8 years. That’s crazy. MMM, Dave Ramsey, self-made millionaires and many other financially independent members say to drop the car and pay cash. I’ve even posted my net worth reports and was pointed out I have too much car, and I definitely know it. More motivation to pay that thing off and get it done!
- Groceries – Groceries are something I definitely overconsume on. Food goes to waste, I buy too much, go over budget. Groceries can get crazy very quickly. Luckily, there are many awesome bloggers who know how to “hack” the grocery and definitely get that large expense down.
So That’s How They Do It
This is how people like MMM and other FIRE enthusiasts live on less 25, 50, even 75 percent of their income. If you have no car payment, no house payment, no debt payments, and a reasonable grocery budget (based on income) how much realistically could one spend and still feel an overabundance? What if you cut down other “essential” payments? Lower your cable bill, cut the cord, drop the land line, buy a slower connection. What if you cut the cell phone bill by half, or more?
When FIRE enthusiasts start seeing their bank and investment accounts growing faster than their income, they get addicted to saving instead of spending. Even as I’m getting out of debt, and seeing my 401k growing after 3 years, I’m definitely excited when mandatory overtime for me comes around.
So how about it? Are you ready for some slight discomfort for a nice and cozy retirement? Think stuff still makes you happy? Excited in retiring in half the time or less? Comment below.
MMM WDS talk (28 min): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhLosHd0GWg
MMM Happiness interview (12 min): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VT_sDcjGRzo
Dave Ramsey live streams his radio show on YouTube and on daveramsey.com
Tony Robbins, “I Am Not Your Guru” on Netflix