I didn't grow up in a family that was big on saving money. Cash got spent just as fast as it came in, and very little was ever left over. What that meant is, with each day my family members worked, we never got a single minute closer to retirement. We were working each day just so we could work the next one.
That's the treadmill that so many people in this country find themselves on. If we spend all that we earn from our job, that finish line of financial freedom never gets any closer. We're stuck. We're stuck working that same 8-6 job that we complain about. We're stuck driving the same vehicles and living in the same crowded parts of the world. We can't vacation when we like, we can't sleep when we like. Our lives are owned by the contract we made with our employers.
So how do you hop off the treadmill, I hear you asking? Let me tell you.
Don't think about what you want. Think about how you can get it.
Let's say you want a shiny new BMW. You obsess over it. You think about how it looks, how it'll smell, how it'll drive. We need to reframe that thinking.
Leasing that new BMW is going to cost you at least $700/month, and the insurance will be at least $200 more on top of that, or $10,800/year. Sure, you say. I earn enough to afford that! No problem, where do I sign!? Well, hold on a minute.
Rather than thinking about how sexy I'll look behind the wheel, I focus my time brainstorming ways to get it without delaying my overarching goal of no longer working for money.
Need: $900 /month lease plus insurance payment.
Current monthly savings: $7,000.
Additional monthly income needed: $900
Option #1: Just lease it with after-tax income. (Unacceptable 1-year delay)
Option #2: Start micro-business drop shipping products from eBay onto Amazon. Scale to $900/month, spend income on a car rather than accelerating my retirement by 1 year. (Unacceptable… why wouldn’t I just retire sooner?)
Option #3: Ask the BMW dealership to give me a loaner car
Option #4: Invest heavily in my online businesses, getting my existing cash pool to work for me. Once my businesses grow by $900/month, then I can purchase the car. (Same as above, why wouldn’t I just accelerate my retirement?)
Option #5: Start an extended-drive auto blog. Create videos using friend’s cars to build credibility. Ascend through the echelons of the car makers, starting at the Hyundai’s to the Honda’s until I’m finally at the Porsche’s and I am driving my beloved 911 turbo.
Option #6: I could attempt to trade penny stocks until I reached $60,000.
Option #7: attempt to trade cars similar to the man who traded from a rubber band up to a house. People often don’t understand the value of their vehicles and I could extract a small amount of value in each vehicle trade, possibly through repairs or possibly just through asymmetrical information.
Option #8: Convince a current BMW owner to allow me to drive their car. This could be through befriending someone, or by taking care of their house and receiving permission to drive their cars while they’re away.
I do this exercise whenever I think about buying an item that costs more than $5,000. Trying to think through the means of acquiring the items I desire teaches me a few things:
- I want financial freedom more than I want any objects
- Expenses delay financial freedom by a significant amount. This car would delay it by one year, or 7%. That’s huge!
- There are non-money means of obtaining the items I want
- The means of acquiring the objects I want could also be applied to accelerating my financial freedom. If I have the time and the resources, I should attempt the best of these projects to accelerate my overarching goal rather than getting distracted on micro-goals.
To retire comfortably in a nice part of this country, you need no more than $30,000*/year. Paying after-tax dollars for that BMW for the course of it’s 3-year lease would add add one additional YEAR to my tenure as a working person.
My personal goal is to complete financial freedom before I turn 40. Thinking in terms of years worked is always a great way to persuade saving over spending.
*Financial freedom requires no more than $600,000 invested at 5% interest. With $30,000 per year in passive income, you are left free to pursue whatever career takes your fancy without the handcuffs of money.