Sometimes when inspiration hits for a new blog post, it comes from very strange places. Today’s post was inspired by an odd one — I took a trip to the DMV. Yes, really — the DMV!
Turns out, my drivers license was about to expire. I needed to make a trip to the nearest DMV office to get it renewed. Oh bother! The problem is, I don’t live anywhere near a DMV office. The nearest licensing office is a 30 minute drive away!
Thinking myself clever, I carefully planned my DMV visit on a Tuesday, exactly when I though traffic would be the least. Normally this happens around 10AM. When commute traffic finally dies down.
Wrong! What a blunder that was!
Instead of deftly avoid the traffic, I ended-up stuck in it. Arggh! What should have been a 30 minute drive, turned into a hour long trek! The reason? Construction. Apparently the local construction workers also thought it would be a good idea to wait until after 10AM to start work.
Eventually I did make it to the licensing office… which I found tucked away into a underutilized mall. (I guess this is what happens with old malls now.) The office wasn’t terribly crowded, but I still needed to wait 30 minutes before renewing my license.
To stave-off boredom, I brought along a good book. Because the DMV can be a pretty boring place.
This trip to the DMV got me thinking — There are many things in life that money can help you avoid, but there’s still loads of dumb, boring stuff that no amount of money can help you avoid.
Like — construction traffic, semi-annual dental cleanings, waiting rooms, lines at the DMV, jury duty, and so on… Boring stuff that absolutely everybody has to do, whether you’re rich or poor, financially independent or not.
It’s how we deal with these mundane bits of life that sets people apart. In my case, I brought a book to read. Other people made small talk, some played with their phones, and at least one guy was taking a nap.
Everyone looked bored.
A Life Histogram
Thinking about these boring moments in our lives, I realized how frequent they are. If you could create a histogram of an average person’s life, you’d see something interesting — A few exciting moments, followed by a whole bunch of really boring bits — Commuting, brushing your teeth, sleeping, work, trips to the bathroom, standing in line, and so forth…
In other words, tons of forgettable moments vastly outnumber the exciting bits — The parts of life where we actually feel alive.
The tricky part is getting through those boring bits, so that we might arrive at the more exiting ones. Typically, this means an alarm clock, and taking a job. A job that pays the bills, gives you something to do, and at the end of the day you have a few remaining hours of spare time.
You turn the crank at your job, and then try to escape during your time off. Travel, new restaurants, new movies, expensive hobbies, books and television, games, amusement parks, and so forth. Anything to feel alive and take a break from the boring repetition of life.
Some people approach this by throwing as much money as they can at it. Living paycheck-to-paycheck, they try to squeeze as much fun as possible from each monthly stipend.
It’s possible to spend all of your money doing this, and many people do. They might not be able see the chains, but they are surely chained to a job for life. It might be called ‘escapism’, but they won’t be escaping anytime soon.
Turning The Wealth Crank
As you might expect, Mr. Tako Escapes is NOT a blog about how to live life as a consumer spendthrift. You don’t have to live for the next vacation, next night out, or the next big movie release. There are plenty of other ways to live besides being a hedonistic consumer.
A few rare individuals even manage to organize their life in such a way that the “job crank” becomes a Wealth Crank — that is, every turn at the crank generates wealth.
And I’m not just talking about saving-up for a new car, or the next big vacation to Tahiti. I’m taking about real cash-generating wealth that will work while you sleep. Wealth that will generate passive income for the rest of your life.
It takes almost two decades of saving to reach that kind of wealth. That’s not easy to do. The problem is, humans get bored easily. If you save more, that means less spending on entertainment (and potentially greater levels of boredom).
Can you keep yourself stimulated and interested enough to keep turning the Wealth Crank for two decades?
Not many people can.
I’ve seen plenty of people crack from the boredom. Maybe they turned the wealth crank for 3 or 4 years and then got bored and went back to their free-spending ways. Or, they end up spending everything in some kind of “knee-jerk” spending reflex.
Making it all for not.
Find Joy In The Quiet Moments
I’m certainly not here to tell you how to live your life or spend your money. That’s completely up to you. But I will say this — Life doesn’t dramatically change once you reach financial independence. All your old habits and spending patterns will still continue to exist after financial independence.
And, there’s still plenty of boring stuff that’s going to happen… like my trip to the DMV. The boring bits don’t just disappear after financial independence! The biggest difference between pre-FI life and post-FI life, is that now there is more time under my control.
Want a little advice on how to build wealth?
Wealth building isn’t just about how much money you make. It’s also about how you respond to boredom.
Do you start to reflex-spend when life gets boring?
In my case, I like to read. That’s my outlet when life is boring. I always keep a book on-hand ready to read. As far as hobbies go, it’s also extremely low-cost (using the library).
My advice is to try to find ways to keep yourself happy and stimulated without spending a lot. Do this, and you’ll find that wealth building happens almost magically.
The Wealth Crank almost turns itself.