Feeling a little blue? Maybe you woke up this morning and finally realized you won’t be a Fortune 500 CEO, inherit a fortune, or win a multi-million dollar lottery jackpot.
Face it — Finding a sudden large fortune just isn’t going to happen in this life. Your dreams of private plane trips to sun-drenched caribbean islands have been crushed into oblivion by the harsh reality of life.
Are those tears? Don’t cry! There’s still some hope. If you’ve been reading personal finance blogs (like mine) you’ll know that people can retire early and live a really damn good life. Financial independence is a very real possibility! It’s a way to amass a minor fortune and break off the chains of wage slavery — all before old-age hits.
One big problem with that plan… While you were busy trying get that big promotion at work, you spent way too much money on your home, your car, your clothes, your entertainment, even the food you eat.
Let’s face it — you suck at saving and you’ve got a long long way to go before financial independence. Given the lifestyle you’re accustomed to, you can save maybe 10% of your income in a year…
Wait! Wait! Stop crying!
Fret not my friends, I got a solution for you! A collection of common strategies use to help soothe that bruised ego:
1. Have a Drink
Good old alcohol. There’s nothing that soothes frayed nerves like a tasty adult beverage of your choice. If you’re not going to be wealthy or financially independent you might as well be relaxed about it. Take a drink and numb those nerves. The rest of your years don’t have to be sober.
2. Enjoy a Night Out.
Rather than sulking until retirement age, you might as well get out there and enjoy life. Get a sitter, go out for dinner, and take the night off.
Enjoy a nice meal out at a really nice restaurant! Drinking, dancing, the theater…whatever makes you feel happy. You tried hard and did your best — give yourself this small reward.
So what if success eluded your life! You can still enjoy the pleasures of life before old age or death takes you.
Don’t forget to take photos of the food, lest you forget this wonderful meal…
3. Go On Vacation
A vacation is the perfect way to take your mind off things! Take a break from your normal life! Instead of focusing on the disappointment your life turned out to be, fill it with interesting new sights and sounds in order to replace all those excessive hours you put in at the office.
Instead of living in your crummy small house, take a week off, head to some place tropical and stay at a 5-star hotel. Really feel that luxury. When you head home at the end of the trip you’ll have those memories to remind you of that week of “the good life”.
Hold-on to those memories. Remember the good times for as long as you can.
4. Get a Nice Haircut
Have you ever gotten one of those awesome haircuts from the salon, where you walked out and just went, “Bam! Look at me! I’m look like a million bucks!” Yeah, get one of those haircuts! It’s easier than actually making a million dollars, and far easier than saving a million dollars.
You’ll probably feel just as good as actually having a million dollars…at least until your hair grows out.
5. Find A New Hobby
OK, so you failed to get those big promotions in your career. You didn’t make it to the C-level executive suite, but few people do. That doesn’t mean you don’t have considerable talents to utilize. Only now you can use them for your own benefit!
Finding a new hobby is a great way to keep learning, creating and expanding your skills.
Hobbies that require significant time to master might be a great new place to direct your passions. Photography, Mountain Climbing, Sailing, Skiing, and any other hobby that takes a significant amount of skill, study, and equipment might be a great fit.
6. Retail Therapy
While I’m not much of a shopper myself, Mrs. Tako tells me that that people feel a lot better after a good solid day of shopping. Apparently, there’s just something about buying new stuff that makes people feel better.
Perhaps buying “new stuff” distracts us from remembering that everything gets old, wears out and dies… Or maybe it’s the thrill of the hunt.
Whatever the case, it works! Shop till you drop!
Finances And Emotions
If you haven’t guessed by now, this list was a complete joke. I’m being sarcastic.
I don’t actually believe any of these strategies are going to help fix your financial problems or even make you feel better for more than a couple days.
In fact, all of these strategies will have the exact opposite effect on your finances. You’ll be spending money for quick temporary fixes that will actually hurt your finances.
Here’s the scary part — I didn’t make any of them up. These ARE commonly used strategies to ease the fears and frustrations of life. People do these things all the time, even though they’re not financially independent (or even on the road).
They distract us from the real problems at hand, and NONE of them help you financially.
In my own life, I try to avoid all of these activities. They’re only temporary “fixes” to my emotional state. The bigger and more permanent problem is my finances.
I’m not going to say that we never eat-out, or go on vacation. We do, just rarely. When we do, they’re done on terms that won’t affect our financial independence. I definitely don’t drink, and Mrs. Tako cuts my hair with a Wahl clippers. I’m also a big believer in hobbies that either cost very little, or pay for themselves. Retail therapy just doesn’t qualify.
We organized our life so finances came before emotion. I can now say that I feel like a million bucks….because I’m actually worth a million bucks. A couple million actually.
Very few people are going to make it into the upper-executive levels at large corporations (and those guys want to hold onto their jobs as long as possible). You probably won’t catch that high-income gravy-train.
Frankly, it doesn’t matter how much money you make either…the math holds true at all income levels. The CEO that overspends his income is going to have the same problem as a minimum wage worker when his job finally ends — Expenses that are too large and income that’s too small.
If you want to have any real monetary success in life, you must separate your feelings from your finances. Finances are about mathematics, not emotions.
You might not feel great skipping that vacation to Bora Bora this year. You might get tired of cooking dinner every night after a long day. You might feel sad skipping that shopping spree. You might hate wearing your old worn out clothes.
Those are all just emotional responses to the loss of your pampered life.
Financial independence means creating the mathematical equation that leads to your eventual financial success, not pampering to your emotional whims.
Suck It Up
If you’re behind on your savings (like many American families), just face the cold hard reality — You’ve lived a life far more luxurious than you should have. Instead of spacing out the “pain of saving” over decades, you’re going to have to feel it on a shorter time frame.
It’s going to hurt. And that luxurious lifestyle you have? It needs to come back down to earth.
The only *real* way out of an average income and 10 hour days at the office is financial independence. You shouldn’t be doing ANY of those 6 things I listed above until your saving rate is at least 50% of your income.
Suck it up. Make the big changes required.
Think that 50% is too hard? Think life won’t be any fun? Don’t want to downgrade your lifestyle?
Then you can just keep playing the “hope” game — Hoping for that big promotion at work. Hoping you win the lottery. Hoping you’ll have enough savings to lead a decent life when you retire at age 65. Hoping you inherit some money. Hoping you don’t die before retirement… That’s a whole lot of hope.
It’s your choice. Make it a good one.