Your Lifestyle Shouldn’t Follow Your Income, You Should Have An Ideal Lifestyle Which You FunD With Income
Back in the early 90’s I decided I wanted to be a doctor… because doctors heal and take care of the sick.
I was in my mid-teens then so logic wasn’t my strongest suit. I don’t know if I wanted the prestige of being a doctor or if I really wanted to heal the sick. I would lean towards the former because I didn’t really have any experience with the sick nor did I have any doctors in my family who I was close to.
The point of this post is to start thinking about goals a little differently, perhaps more the way an entrepreneur or engineer would. Let’s define a goal and work backwards from it.
Set the goal. I want to take care of sick people and help them.
Define the goal. I want to guide their healthcare and be able to make the right decision for them.
So, nursing is out. Physical therapy is out because it’s too narrow. Dentistry is up there but again, too specific. We are left with MD/DO or NP/PA.
The goal needs further defining because I’m left with too many options.
I would like to make good money, have job security and not too many limitations. I also don’t want to spend half my life in school accumulating a shit-ton of debt.
PA seems to be the winner.
No, I’m not trying to say that I wish I was a PA. The point is the thought structure, how to make a decision based on defining a goal.
In our personal/financial lives we 1. try to make as much money as possible in our jobs then 2. figure out how to spend that money to create an ideal lifestyle.
What we should be doing is 1. figure out what we want our ideal life to be and then 2. figure out how much money we need to live that life and how to fund it.
Doctors make a ton of money. How many of them do you know who work part-time? Very few. Perhaps high dual income families with 2 docs will a part-timer but it is otherwise rare.
We are somewhat gluttonous creatures. Not always out of ill will. There is a specific brain circuitry that most of us have which operates on the belief that if there is something we want a little bit of then maybe we should try to have as much of it as possible.
Quite a few people want more money. In reality money makes life very complicated. It takes certain stresses away but adds quite a few other ones. More money also means more taxes, fucking IRS. It means having to worry about losing it and it almost always means having a more income-dependent lifestyle.
Make As Much Money As Possible
In the first scenario we recognize that, oh snap, I can make a quarter mill a year. Sweet. According to the news doctors are rich. I’m rich, I should be fine.
We make a bunch of assumptions and build a life that others think we should have. While believing we are damn unique. We think we are original because our iPhone case is a different color than the person next to us.
$6-10k paychecks keep coming in. Why worry? Other families are making much less and they are fine.
Now that we have this money coming in, of course we’re gonna have a little nicer car, a little nicer house and our kids gonna go to a better school. Okay, next let’s figure what to do with the rest of the money.
You already spent that rest of the money, just didn’t realize it.
Everyone thinks our jobs are really difficult, that we work 80 hrs/wk and only sleep 5 hours a night. Maybe we should take more vacations and eat out more, have lavish get-togethers and buy some nicer personal items because we deserve it, we work hard. It’ll keep us from burning out.
The whole time we’ve been spending the money, there isn’t much left. Now we’re kinda pissed because what’s the purpose of all this hard work if we only have an extra $1-2k a month of disposable income??
And now we are so busy working hard to make that high income that there really isn’t much mental space to plan out our life. Most of the time we are rolling with the punches. Our only zen moments are when we take a shit, alone, in a locked bathroom, with nothing urgent to run to. Maybe that’s why vegans live longer…
Live As Much As Possible
Imagine that you are a doctor and you can work as little or as much as you want. Forget the shit that you’ve been fed about needing a full-time gig for the benefits.
You decide to make your life a priority and figure out how to fund it secondarily.
The life you want is to home-school your kids, live in different parts of the world and compete in marathons all over the world.
So you might have a house in the States which you rent out when you go traveling. You grab the kids and your SO and move to Argentina for a year.
You have worked enough back home and saved for a year’s worth of living overseas, you aren’t worried about finances. Kids are learning a foreign language and doing their home courses while you are competing in your marathon races.
You enjoy this lifestyle and can see yourself doing it for the next lifetime. So, your toughest task is coming up with new destinations. Income, to you, has only one purpose, to fund the lifestyle you have laid out for yourself, to achieve the goal you defined.
Every year you try to save a little and invest it for your future. You also have a reasonable mortgage payment which is covered mostly by the renters you have when you travel. You’re not worried too much about the future because you know you are saving for it. You are more focused on the moment, because you are living in the moment.
What Am I Doing?
I went through something similar 3 years ago. I realized I was just working, making a lot of money and then spending it in order to have the best lifestyle possible.
The definition of ‘best lifestyle possible’ kept changing. Shit, I thought my Movado was expensive, but look I can afford a Rolex. I could take a vacation to a packed resort or for just triple the cost I could have a beach to myself.
I was chasing dreams that I was reading about in magazines. My goal became not needing any more income. I would invest enough money so that I could live off the investment returns. If that failed I would invest in rental properties and if that failed I would start a business.
It wasn’t until 2014 when I realized that I could live whatever lifestyle I wanted, fuck what everyone else thinks of it. “You’ll get bored with all that free time.”
I got rid of the car, rented the cheapest condo possible, ate healthy, started buying more used stuff and decreased my reliance on consumer goods. I changed my entertainment from dining out and expensive travels to reading, socializing and exercising.
My goal is still to have a ton of free time to do productive things with and to have as little reliance on job-income as possible. I have spent the past 2 years polishing and tweaking this goal in order to get everything I want with as little fluff as possible.
The goal at first was to have enough money to support a $5-7k/mo lifestyle. It has since dwindled down to only needing $1,500/mo.
The income part I got down, the job security part I have secured. I have consulted books to read on the process of investing and saving and I have hired a fantastic financial adviser who will keep me on track.
We all should, from time to time, challenge everything we are doing. Whether it’s religion, friends, partners, careers or finances. Maybe in the process we will realize that we need a lot less money than we thought… or maybe we’ll realize the opposite.