I assume that, like me, most of you are readers of all sorts of finance blogs. I just counted my Google Reader subscriptions, and I currently subscribe to over 60 different finance and investing blogs. I’m not sure what’s more impressive – the number of subscribers or that I can count to 60. As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to stay away from bloggers who are neck deep in debt and despair. I do this because their stories tend to all blend together and because there isn’t a whole lot I can learn from somebody who only grasps the basics of finance. It’s like a 5th grader trying to teach you trigonometry.
I often wonder why these bloggers never “level up” when it comes to their finances. Don’t they want to maximize their earnings? Don’t they want to start learning about stocks and other types of investments? And then, just recently, it hit me. It was like an epiphany or something. Or maybe I was high off the fumes of the chip truck. But I realized it, and I’m going to share it with you. I’ll even bold it, because it’s that important of a discovery. Are you tired of me teasing you yet? DON’T ANSWER THAT.
Most people don’t actually want to be rich.
For the sake of this post, let’s divide people into two camps. The first camp are people who openly say that they don’t want to be rich. I understand there are other motivations in life and that they’re more important to these people. They want to push out many children, or spend all their money on orphans, or other such foolishness. Or, on the rare occasion, they sometimes choose to spend it selfishly. I know, this is the first I’m hearing of such a phenomenon too.
While I disagree strongly with that sort of alternative lifestyle, I can see the allure. For many of us, stuff equals status. Why drive a boring, practical car when you can drive a nicer car for an extra $5,000 per year? Why live in a regular house when you can live in a fancy-ass one? Why get average looking hookers when you can
get two knockouts get married? Nice things are nice, plus you can impress your friends with them.
Chances are though, if you hang around here even a little, that you belong to the second group of people. You’re jonesing to join the club of rich people, and that means you have to practice a measure of frugality. Us regular folk don’t have unlimited amounts of capital to invest. Nobody’s turning into Trent Hamm or anything, but I’m not alone in looking for ways to be cheap. And that’s okay. It’s part of the journey to financial freedom.
Which brings us to the point of this post. Do we have it wrong? Are we all the suckers for working hard and saving our money?
Think about it for a minute. You can get credit for damn near everything these days, assuming you’re not a dirtbag. I could travel a long time before I reached the $15,000 limit on my credit card. I know I have the income to qualify for a mortgage on a brand new house and buy a brand new car in the process. I could live it up, and for a while too. And hell, I probably have the cash flow that I could pay these things off in a reasonable amount of time.
Then why don’t I? Why do I continue to snap up $9 shorts at Wal-Mart? (The answer is because the BASTARDS DIDN’T HAVE $3 SHORTS LIKE LAST YEAR.) Why do I avoid the temptation of replacing my 10 year old tv? Why don’t I move into a bigger and nicer house, since such a place would definitely help attract the ladies?
It’s simple. The answer is freedom.
I’m going to reveal something to you guys. In approximately 18 months, I will have paid off my mortgage. Once that happens, I’ll be able to afford to retire. I could, theoretically, be a 30 year old retiree. I’m not talking about the BS retirement certain other people have talked about. I would have enough rental income and dividend income to support myself. Now this isn’t going to happen because I’d get bored and because I don’t want to stop at the minimum.
Over the past decade or so, I’m worked really hard at growing my net worth and my passive income. I’ve sacrificed vacations (I took exactly one week off work between 2003 and 2010.) I quit playing golf, because the game costs too damn much. At the same time, I poured every last penny into investments. Why all the sacrifice?
Because I want to be free. At this point, the desire for freedom is one of the strongest in my life, along with lust. I am clearly a horny bastard.
I can’t understand why people would deliberately take steps away from freedom. Is impressing their friends more important than financial security for their family? Is a nice house worth the stress of knowing you need your job to eat? For me it sure ain’t. This isn’t even a choice. Freedom wins every time.
Or is it because people can’t defer gratification? Sure, they might save a little, but they just can’t bring themselves to sacrifice to the point where it hurts a little. People usually associate this with the younger generation, but I know plenty of baby boomers who are living in the now too.
Getting wealthy isn’t really that hard. You just save some money, invest it, and then repeat the process a whole bunch of times. Once you get to a certain point, freedom comes into view. I’m at that point. And I can tell you, it feels a whole lot better than any amount of stuff, drunken nights or vacation ever would. That’s the point of all this.