Okay, here is a crazy idea for the New Year… live beneath your income. That year-end raise you hopefully got? Stick it in your 401K and keep on living on the same paycheck. Your kids don’t need $100+ shoes, they just want them and stretching to buy them sends the wrong value message. And if you feel the need to buy fancy things to impress your friends, well, you might consider delving deep into why you feel that need and if it’s true about your friends, well, that might be worth some deep thinking too. Let the Jones keep up with the Jones, the only person you need to be better than is your yesterday self. And remember the story about the kid who told his dad that so and so must have money because they have a new pool: the father wisely replied ‘No, son. They used to have money; now they have a pool.’
I have never run a credit card balance in my life, and I have always lived beneath my income. In my student ‘two jobs and a full class load’ days it was live on 95%, save 5%, now it is live on 20%, invest 80% in growing the business. Say it can’t be done? Well, where there is a will there is generally a way and the internet abounds with sites on frugal living, on how to stretch a dollar.
One key is what you value most. To me a savings account was a safe haven in an uncertain world. While others were spending their paychecks buying expensive experiences, attempting to purchase pleasure, I saw myself ‘buying’ safety and security, even freedom, for money represented options and I always felt that not having good choices was a form of imprisonment. I never wanted to be a wage slave, living in a house of credit cards that could collapse with one or two missed paychecks. I would literally think of my savings in terms of time: 30 days living expenses or 90 days, always trying to move the number up. Seeing it creep up gave me a deep sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that meant far more to me, gave me much greater pleasure, than a night on the town or a new car or luxury vacation. I was an expert on finding economical ways to socialize, low-cost ways to kick back and relax.
“It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow.” – Aesop, 620-564 BC
“Industry, thrift and self-control are not sought because they create wealth, but because they create character.” – Calvin Coolidge, 1872-1933, 30th President
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds naught and six, result misery.” – Wilkins Micawber in ‘David Copperfield’ by Charles Dickens, 1812-1870
As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier