In my college years, this is how I thought life would work: Get a ridiculously stupid high-paying job once I graduated and save as much as possible. Keep this job for a couple of years and then completely retire or semi-retire and do something that I actually enjoyed.
It sounded great in theory but I forgot to include some not so glamorous things to the equation such as crazy amounts of stress, doing things that didn’t feel right, leading a miserable existence, being overweight, having high blood pressure, being extremely agitated all the time, thinking I was a sell-out, not liking who I’ve become, and selling my soul everyday just for a paycheck.
Crazy to think that it didn’t work out, right?
A couple of years later, my way of thinking evolved once more. This was the path to a great life! Why didn’t I think of this before?!
I should stop being so damn ambitious and just stick with the job that I have. It pays decently and I’ve done it so long now that it’s sooo easy so I guess I can suck it up for only a couple more years. But this is what we’ll do…we’ll cut back on all unnecessary expenses. No more cable, no more Netflix, no more eating out, no more drinking soda and beer, no more having to pay to play soccer, and no more going on vacations.
Basically no more fun. Ever!
With all this new free time I’ve found, I’d spend every minute creating and growing some kind of business that I could finally quit to in a few year’s time. And with all these savings going on, all of it would be going to our car loans. We’d be able pay off our cars in less than 2 years instead of about 5 years and then we could think about saving and maybe even one day retiring. Oh yeah, and actually having a life.
Sure, we’d be miserable and bored…very, very bored but it’s all about sacrifice! This is how we’d “get ahead” and we’d only have to do it for about 5 years. It’ll be over before you know it and then we can start living our lives again!
So we tried it for a couple of weeks.
I was right; we were very miserable and very bored. It was probably the worst couple of weeks of being a couple.
It was certainly no way to live.
Jump forward about a year and a half and here we are in the present with another iteration in my thinking:
Work for a company that values you and do something that you actually enjoy doing. You spend a lot of time working so you might as well enjoy it. With my paycheck I have some degree of steady income which will take care of our expenses and will allow us to save quite a bit during busy season at work. Do what you can at work to make as much money as possible but if that’s not an option, create a couple of small businesses to gain income from other sources. By creating multiple revenue streams, it opens up new, exciting opportunities for us, which includes saving more if we chose to do so.
To sum it up, if you’re just focusing on saving, you’re focusing on scarcity. You put a cap on how much money you’re looking to earn which will keep you in the same level of savings for the foreseeable future.
When you focus on earning more, you’re focusing on abundance. With my job, there is a comfortable baseline of income that will cover expenses and savings. When you throw in other revenue streams, you increase your ability to earn money which in turn increases your ability to save and increases the amount of opportunities that you have. Basically, life gets a lot more fun. This method is more challenging, but, you get a chance to get more creative which leads it to be a lot more fulfilling.
If you feel stuck in life, especially with your finances, you might be focusing on the wrong thing. The problem might not be saving more, it might be earning more. Try hopping the fence to see if the grass is greener on the other side. You might be pleasantly surprised.