I know, I know, you don’t want to hear this, but one of the first steps to creating a life of freedom is telling your boss to go to hell getting control of your money. Money may be the root of all evil and whatnot, but it’s also the root of our current life’s existence whether we like it or not. You gotta have some to do anything. It’s also the first reason people scream foul when they deny the possibility that they can create a life of freedom – no available money to leave a 9-5 job, or no way to earn enough money to sustain a decent living outside of an office.
Well, that’s just crap. When it comes to defining freedom, it’s a very personal choice. For me, freedom meant not being on someone else’s schedule or having to cater to their needs, not being bound to anyone through debt, and having the time and resources available to me to have and do what I want. But for someone else, freedom might be defined as having a home without a mortgage, lots of disposable income to buy shoes and purses and flat screen tvs, or having enough income to finance a private jet so they don’t have to go through the molestation bliss we all know as commercial airline travel. It’s all relative. But the price you pay for that freedom is what matters most. And there is always a price.
Before I discovered that my definition of freedom was the most important priority in my life, I made a lot of money, and I spent a lot of money. And yet, I never seemed to have enough. I was never truly happy. That tenth pair of jeans that looked so awesome in the store and on my ass didn’t change my life. That hundredth book on weight loss didn’t seem to be working very well. Neither was that gym membership. That last numerology report I bought didn’t predict that my prince would arrive in the next week. That Starbucks pumpkin spice latte made me happy for about twenty minutes, until I noticed the calorie count and that I spent $5 on something that was gone in twenty minutes. The five bedroom house in the fancy neighborhood that I always wanted, never mind that three of the five bedrooms were terminally empty and I had to fork out $30,000 on remodeling, didn’t seem to be doing the trick. Those five martinis at $9 a pop while out with my friends? Those didn’t win me any awards.
So what in hell was going on here? Why was I still not getting to happiness? Earning more money didn’t solve the problem, and being able to buy more things didn’t solve the problem. What? How can this be? This is AMERICA people! To spend money is to practice our gospel! How could I keep sacrificing myself slaving away at earning more money, and still end up with less??
I’ll tell you why. There was a direct correlation to how miserable I was, and how much I spent. I didn’t go crazy and rack up $75,000 in gambling debt, but I spent everything I had and then some. And most of the time, not on anything truly worthwhile. Don’t get me wrong, I had some amazing travel experiences that were worth every penny, and eating out with friends is always a justifiable treat. But how many tarot readings did I really need? Why on earth did I think I had to have a five bedroom house when I’m single and have no kids? And for the love of God, how many downloadable ebooks does a girl require on how to understand men? (Try none. We’ll never understand men.)
I would wager a guess that for those who might think you can’t find a financial way to tear yourself away from your 9/10/11-hour-a-day prison, you believe it’s because you don’t have enough money, or can’t earn enough money doing what you love to support yourself and a lifestyle that would make you happy. I’m here to tell you, you’re full of shit.
The reality is, when you’re living a life of freedom – a life that you love – you don’t need to spend a lot of money. You don’t need $150 a month cable bill to serve up your nightly dose of catatonia. You don’t need a six pack of Shock Top every night to numb your pain. And you definitely don’t need a $759 a month car payment to compensate for driving to your shitty job and back every day (while the rest of the time it languishes in the company parking lot, parked over two spaces, surrounded by cones. You’re just a target, dude).
Here’s a nice quote that sums up this concept:
“By using money as the scapegoat and work as our all-consuming routine, we are able to conveniently disallow ourselves the time to do otherwise: ‘John, I’d love to talk about the gaping void I feel in my life, the hopelessness that hits me every time I start my computer in the morning, but I have so much work to do! I’ve got at least three hours of unimportant e-mail to reply to before calling the prospects who said “no” yesterday. Gotta run!’
Busy yourself with the routine of the money wheel, pretend it’s the fix-all, and you artfully create a constant distraction that prevents you from seeing just how pointless it is. Deep down, you know it’s all an illusion, but with everyone participating in the same game of make-believe, it’s easy to forget.
The problem is more than money.” ~ Tim Ferriss
This one is more succinct:
“Yeah, I just spent $70K on this Mercedes to make the dreaded commute to my job more enjoyable. Unfortunately the job lasts ten hours a day and the commute is only one.” ~ tragically, I don’t know, but it’s damn funny
So the next time you tell yourself it’s impossible to quit your job and also avoid reducing your level of happiness to less than what it already is, really think about what happiness means to you. Is it found in your McMansion? Is it found in your Kate Spade purse? Is it found in your new iPhone that replaced the one you just got six months ago? Please don’t tell me it’s found in the latest hardback drivel by E.L. James.
The point I’m trying to make here is that many of us who claim we don’t have money for the things we want or supposedly value, are just lying to ourselves.
When I was in my certification course, I had a friend whom I used to coach who really loved my services. But when I told him that I would eventually charge $5000 for a six month program, his eyes nearly rolled into the back of his head. He could not FATHOM spending that much money on having someone teach him the principles and practices that would result in his dream life transformation. He figured he could easily buy a $20 book and do it himself. But the underlying truth was, he just didn’t value changing his life that much. It wasn’t something he wanted to invest in. And that is totally okay.
But if you do value changing your life for the better, don’t kid yourself that it’s money that is stopping you. If you really want something, you will get it. But you have to make it a priority, and that includes being conscious of where you invest the dollars that do come to you. Be willing to look at how you spend your money. Be willing to temporarily give up some of the silly things you spend your money on to compensate for being in your self-constructed prison, so that you can invest it into creating the life you really, truly want. I say “temporarily” because I want to be clear that you don’t have to trade earning a good living for freedom. You don’t. I didn’t. But you will have to make some sacrifices in order to get there. And one of them will be how you currently spend your money.
So next time you catch yourself blithely spending $50 a day on takeout so you don’t have to cook dinner at home, realize that you’re investing $1500 each month for that privilege. That’s the same amount you could be investing in creating a life of freedom.
Don’t complain you have no money to pursue your dreams. No one will believe you. Especially Starbucks.