“No shame, no blame.” Your money or your life, Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez
As I stated in my first blog post, the driving force behind this blog is to document my journey from someone who is living the typical 9am-5pm lifestyle to someone who is financially free. Even though I am just now beginning my journey to financial freedom, arriving at this “starting point” took a lot of internal reflection and questioning of why I did certain things in my life. I asked myself things like:
Was going out with friends and spending a lot of money on food and alcohol every weekend truly making me happy?
Why was I spending all this money on new clothes all the time?
Do I understand the difference between pleasure and happiness?
What things in life bring me true happiness?
What if an unexpected emergency happened and I lost my job or I couldn’t work for 6 months to a year, would I be okay financially?
What if I didn’t want to work a 9-5 job for the rest of my life, what other options did I have?
Am I thinking about my financial future properly or was I avoiding the topic and hoping things would work themselves out?
“Change your mindset, change your bank account.” – Tai Lopez
The reality is that not until recently did these types of questions really begin to internalize with me. What helped change things was meeting someone who was living this unique, financially independent lifestyle. I met a girl who not only talked about living the alternative lifestyle of financial freedom, she lived it. From a young age she was always someone who was very careful with her money. This set the foundation for the rest of her life as it was in her blood to be frugal.
When I say frugal, what I mean is being able to actually enjoy what you have. I want to emphasize the important of this idea of being able to enjoy and appreciate what you have as I really think its fundamental to happiness. I’ll dig in to this idea more in a future blog post but I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Tony Robbins, “You want to change your life, trade your expectation for appreciation.” The question to ask yourself here is “are you appreciating the things you already have in your life or are you constantly expecting more: more money, a better car, a better looking partner, newer clothes, etc.?”
Going back to my friend, as she was already very smart with her money, once she got her first job her financial journey really began to take off. Unlike most people who moved out of their parent’s house, she stayed at home to save money, when her friends were going out to party every weekend she was working hard on her side-hustles and putting money away towards her 2-year emergency fund. Today, in addition to her full-time job in Silicon Valley she makes a decent amount of passive income through a variety of sources including e-commerce, real estate, and affiliate marketing.
It was through getting to know her and learning about her journey from making just $50 through her first e-commerce shop to where she is today, making more money through passive income than many people make with full-time jobs, I realized this financially free lifestyle wasn’t just some dream, it was something that was achievable through hard work, discipline, and persistence.
With all of this in mind, I wanted to share a little bit about my financial journey in life up until now. I’m currently reading a book called “Your money or your life” by Vicki Robin. This book was recommended to me by the friend I mentioned above who is financially independent. The book centers around people’s relationship with money and really forces you to look closer at how you spend money and why you buy the things you buy. One of the exercises in the book asks you to look back on your life and calculate all of the money you have spent and then look at what you spent it on. This exercise is intentionally a little painful and aims to give you insight in to the amount of money that has both come in to and gone out of your life to date. Without beating yourself up too much, you can reflect on how your life may have be a little different today if you had more intent when spending money.
With regards to my own life, this task was a bit daunting as I used to spend money pretty freely after I got my first job as a consultant. Unfortunately, at the time I was just not conscious about my spending habits and I wasn’t thinking about setting myself up for a financially stable future. I would spend money on clothing pretty regularly, buying new shirts for work, buying a jacket that was on sale, and sneaking in a new pair of shoes here and there too. On top of this, I spent almost every weekend going out to dinner with friends, grabbing drinks afterward, and partying. Then, when I wasn’t going out with friends I would travel around the US to see my family and I was liberal with my money then as well. I would pay for our meals and go out frequently. Lastly, even though I had the opportunity to live with family during these years, I chose to live in San Francisco with roommates and spent $1,500-$1,700 per month on rent for almost 2 years. What made this even more painful is that I would only be in San Francisco to enjoy the apartment 1-2 weekends per month due to the travel required from my job…
If we do a rough breakdown of the money I potentially could have saved you can come to the following numbers below:
Over the 2.5 years I lived in the Bay Area, I lived in an apartment for about 1.5 years. my rent averaged about $1,450 so that comes out to about $26,000 in total I could have saved by living with my family.
This category is quite painful for me now as I live a pretty simple life. However, I spent about $3,779/year on clothes, shoes, and things. This comes out to $18,899 over the course of 5 years.
Restaurants & Dining
Yet another painful category I’m embarrassed to look at now. Since July 2013 until July of 2018 I spent about $29,808 on food, alcohol, and dining out. This breaks down in to $5,961 per year or about $500 per month.
The last big category for me is travel. Over the past 5 years I spent about $28,000 on travel which includes things like hotels, airfare, excursions, and any other costs I had along the way. This breaks down to $5,615 per year or $467 per month.
If you total everything up you get about $102,707 that flowed in to my bank account and then out to various merchants. Even as I am writing this I have to admit that this is painful for me to see. Not to say I regret the fun times I had through all my experiences, but if there is anything I have learned as of late is that I’m a pretty simple person and it doesn’t take much for me to feel fulfilled. On top of this, I have friends who were able to travel and have a lot of fun over the same period of time I did – yet they were able to actually SAVE up to $100,000 by being smart with their spending.
Okay, so I spent a lot of money over the past 5 years, what’s the takeaway here?
I am currently in the process of digging myself out of a debt I got in to while traveling abroad. At one point I had about $28,000 in credit card debt which felt like a huge burden on my life. By spending the past 6-7 months laser focused on my budget I have worked that debt down to about $7,000 and am on schedule to have everything paid off by early 2019.
Beyond my current rent, utilities, food, and a few other necessities most of my money goes towards my debt. You might think that by reducing travel, going out, and shopping my happiness levels might have taken a hit, but the reality is I feel possibly even more happy and fulfilled than I did back when my spending was out of control. This has been an amazing learning experience helping me realize what truly brings happiness in life.
Do I wish I would have learned these lessons at an early age? Of course! However, a big part of the book “Your money or your life” is the phrase “No shame, no blame.” What happened, happened. Theres nothing you can do about it now so you just have to learn from it and move on. Having learned these lessons the hard way, I plan on moving forward with intent. The next major steps for me are the following:
- Pay off my debt
- Build a safety net of 6-24 months of expenses in my bank account
- Begin exploring where I can put my money to start having it work for me (stocks, etc.)
- Work on side-hustles as another avenue to start building wealth
My name is Miles and this blog is documenting my journey from the 9-5 lifestyle to financial freedom. I hope you enjoyed today’s post – feel free to leave a comment below!