I feel like the title of this article comes off as me saying “yeah, I’m already rich so it doesn’t matter.” I’d like to just stop right there by saying no, I’m not rich (I mean mentally I am but financially I’m probably a ways off from where my goals are). Yes, I make a good living, and yes I would say I’m in solid bracket of earners, but that’s not what this article is about. This article is all about living a comfortable life at whatever income level you’re at and how exactly you can do so. The first step in being able to do this is having a couple of conditions met: First, you must be in the correct mindset to have the belief that in whatever income situation you are in, you can make it work. Additionally, I simply think you need life experience to eventually get to this mindset. There are also 2 income level exceptions to achieving this mindset. The first is if you are super poor. I’m talking in dire straits and pretty much on the street. In this case of course you have a tough life and can’t make much sense of justifying the situation you are in. Second, the super super rich. I’m talking billionaires. Just having that much money is going to change your life in some way, shape, or form. I don’t care if you think otherwise. It’s just too much money to not affect you. But hopefully if you come into millions your life changes will be for the better. Anyway, how did I get to the point where thinking a million bucks a year won’t change my life? I think nearly 20 years of making a living, being married, having a house, raising kids and all that fun stuff probably has something to do with it. That and the fact that I like wearing jeans for 20 years, not giving a shit what a restaurant looks like or costs as long as the food is good, and knowing I’ll always use the same deodorant. We’ll get to that.
It’s called living within your means and nearly no one does it
When I was in my 20s I was always thinking about making tons of money to change my life. I’d be thinking about the cars I’d buy, the women I’d meet, the house I might live in. But in my twenties I wasn’t really making much money so having those thoughts were A. normal, and B. prevalent because of where I was in life and my mindset at the time. The funny thing is that life was just fine in my 20s. In fact it was awesome. I didn’t make nearly as much money as I do today, had tons of fun every weekend going out and being single in New York City, and I lived my life on my own terms in Manhattan. Sure I didn’t have as much saved up for retirement. And no, I didn’t have nearly as much money in my bank account. I didn’t have two children to look after and a family to support. But you know what I did do back then that I still do today? I made it work. I made $40,000 a year work. I stayed in a 200 square foot box of an apartment, spent on only the necessities, and was easily able to afford nights out and the occasional expensive whatever it is I wanted to have. The only difference between then and now is that now I can do more of these things (but I rarely do). But how? Simple. It’s making the correct adjustments at each income level and living within your means. You’ve all heard that term before right? LIVING WITHIN YOUR MEANS. It means that you make whatever income level work so that you can live a comfortable lifestyle and still be able to even put aside some money at the end of each month. Bring in more than you put out, period. Bring in more money than you spend, no matter how little an amount of money you might make. Once and only once you can afford something greater do you actually start buying more expensive things, living in bigger houses, and putting more money away.
The Core Values always Remain the Same
Most people who have become millionaires don’t just live within their means in the later stages of life. They’ve been practicing this for decades. Hint hint: it’s what allowed them to become millionaires in the first place. I’ve always, and I mean always lived by the mantra, “bring in more than I put out.” But there’s more than just that too. There’s the realization that certain things in life don’t make a whole hell of a lot of difference. It’s little things like why buy a 300 HP Mercedes at $80K when I can buy a Nissan Maxima which has just as good an engine for $40K? Why spend $250 on a meal when a $2.50 slice of pizza is just as awesome? Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with splurging. But the second you splurge and it interferes or threatens rule number one which again is “save more than you spend” you’ve gone and screwed yourself and your happy medium will have been lost. I personally believe there’s a time and place for luxuries in life but in general those luxuries have to be aligned with a particular mentality that many of us don’t have. Fact is, we don’t NEED most luxuries in life but are mentally conditioned to believe that we do. The whole “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality is what prevents people from being financially comfortable in the first place. Be happy with YOU. Don’t try to achieve what others achieve. Easier said than done and perhaps you should read a zillion self help articles or something. But for the love of God, stop worrying about what Dick and Jane down the block just bought. Chances are Dick and Jane are in a ridiculous amount of debt.
So Should’t Life Be Fine Then?
Yes! Seriously, it should. If you make the necessary adjustments and can live with a life that isn’t luxurious you’re going to save more money in a shorter period of time and you’ll eventually be able to afford such luxuries before you know it. So man up, live in an apartment that’s not as nice. Don’t spend where you shouldn’t. Develop a mindset that you don’t really need as much. But at the same time I’m not telling you to be one of those insane minimalist people who lives in a $30K “Tiny House” and cooks beans all the time. That to me is being on the full other end of the spectrum and isn’t healthy. We’re human beings and to constantly deprive ourselves of things that might give us some temporary gratification is wrong. At the same time, eating a steak dinner at a five star restaurant every single day is completely asinine not to mention will kill you. So where’s the medium? Well, that’s what I can’t tell you but I can say that you’ll know it. You really will, but only after practicing the act of saving more than you make for years and years and years.
So what would change if I made a million dollars a year?
Honestly? Practically nothing. I don’t care for designer clothes. I love to eat out at nice restaurants but I certainly don’t care about doing it more often. I like to travel but I’m more than OK with the frequency at which I travel. Sure I’d love to drive a Ferrari but I’m more than fine with my Maxima. But honestly, what would I really change if I made a million dollars? I think my brain would function in a way where I wouldn’t care AS MUCH if I spent more. So yeah, I might upgrade my car. Yes, I might stay in nicer hotels. And yeah, I’d probably splurge on front row seats to ballgames more. But does that really change my life? The answer is absolutely not. And it sure as hell wouldn’t change it if spending on those things got in the way of me bringing in more than I spend. I’ll just get a bit more instant gratification from some stuff and perhaps have fonder memories of certain things because I did them in more luxurious ways. Like I said, little luxuries are fine as long as the core values aren’t interfered with.
Make sense? Great.