Stop Spending SO Much
Is it just me or does everyone find a disproportionate part of their self-worth in the material possessions they own or the services they purchase?
This is a serious question I had to contend with as I was thinking about my own life and the the lives I want to lead with my PYT and the imaginary future children we sometime joke about having together.
We have done many stupid things, including buying expensive engagement rings, leasing cars we could not otherwise afford, and other comfy or status-displaying purchases of beautiful things. However, these "beautiful things" represented whole percentages of our wealth at the time and are horrifying losses of money and wealth overall.
As I look back on those times and ponder what the hell I was thinking, a strange and embarrassing realization swept over me. Those purchases were emotional comforts and I invested heavily in those emotions.
Purchases allow me to show that I am progressing in what I can "afford" as a young professional and adult, unlike true financial independence and emotional security which are both completely invisible. Being able to spend $2400 on a diamond engagement ring made me feel so proud, because I did actually have the money for it. The only problem was that it happened to be about 50% of my wealth back in 2014 (when I wasn't counting my not-yet-wife's assets).
I asked my PYT today if she would have said yes if I would have had a leather bracelet with some lovely line etched into it. Do you know what she said? She said that she would have said yes.
I've been desperately trying to go through the metamorphesis of moving out the poverty mindset of spending all that I have. Now I am focusing into saving what we have and growing it. Before this change can be complete, I must absolutely cement in how much spending money has provided me with a superficial happiness compared to the joy I feel when I think about investing money so my beautiful wife and I can lead a life together where we can be there for each other and those imaginary children.
Perhaps the change corresponds to the fact I feel like I have found a deeper level of satisfaction and happiness by marrying my PYT and now only desire to find ways to allow us to grow together and become an even more badass dynamic duo. Financial independence is a natural progression which will allow us to work... or not.
Anyway, the bottom line is this:
STOP SPENDING SO MUCH!
No amount of spending will ever make you (or me) happy and bring about the things that are most valuable in life. Instead, living significantly below your means allows for real opportunities to be happy and to do what you want to do. To me, this means retiring early - even if that means continuing to work part-time for fun (and money, of course 😉).
So, if you're anything like me, and you feel an emotion come on that you need to purchase something, just remember to Stop Spending SO Much and find true value in your life. You'll also find much better value on your money. Here's a quick reminder of how emotions can help you use magic to make money disappear.
You can also replace all of that purchasing with special free things with the people you love, like spending time talking, walking, hiking, or biking. Or if you are away from some of those special people or you want to give a gift, consider making something special from things you already have - like a letter or card, piece of homemade jewelry or other craft, or a song recording.
You can be happy and financially independent and it all starts with spending way less than you earn.
This is the essential principle of how we (plan to) save us.