Money is just paper. A material thing, like a cardboard box or a flute.
But money can buy things that are not of the material realm. Enter: excitement!
Financial independence, hope, time to spend with family and friends, time to explore your self…these are the priceless dreams American Express sells in their commercials but plastic can never buy.
Most of us will never stockpile enough money to make us “rich” but that doesn’t mean we can’t live the kind of lifestyle being a billionaire affords (the kind that lies beyond material possessions). This is where frugality, once again, is strategically important.
Instead of waiting until we retire to design our lives—having a lifetime of socked-away energy drip-feed our retirement financial needs—why not hack the system and do a bit of lifestyle design while you are still young?
Perhaps you are not looking for an early retirement, but rather for a life punctuated by mini-retirements and living out your dreams.
I know how that feels. I had a dream. The dream was to pursue my writing and blogging full-time, even though this side business was not making full-time income. At first when the thought bubble popped up in my head I didn’t allow myself to entertain it; after all, who gets to live out their dreams? Slowly, I let my dream get a bit of oxygen and sun. Then I talked to my husband. What would it take for me to quit my job and work full-time in my passion?
The fact is, I am a risk-averse person when it comes to finances. So we needed to have our financial house in order before doing this. What this meant to me was paying off our non-mortgage debt (check!), and being able to live off of one income alone. I wasn’t looking to merely survive off of one income alone, but to thrive as well. Thriving to me meant continuing to make our full contributions to our Roth IRAs each and every year within this income. This is what would make me feel safe and secure.
There was just one thing. It’s not like my husband makes a ton of money. We would be cutting our income substantially by me doing this, with the potential of no long-term payoff (which is why I could not forsake the ultimate long-term payoff of a money stress-free retirement for short-term gain). So what would get us there at age 30, when we are newer in our careers, rather than at age 40 when we are more established?
Only half the equation was having a decent, steady income coming into our home. The other half was paying off the debt + living frugally to stretch that one income so that we can live comfortably and continue to save for our future despite my earnings.
Getting to this level, especially if you are young and early in your career, is not just because of a large salary. Frugality has to be the one-two punch so that you can afford to design your own lifestyle.
It’s worked for us. For the last year I have worked full-time in my business, continued to save towards retirement, all while living comfortably.
I am here to tell you that designing your life is within your reach. Isn’t that statement life-changing?
What is it you want out of life but are afraid will not come until you reach retirement? Do you want to have one parent stay home and raise a child? Do you want to take a sabbatical or a mini-retirement to pursue something the time and energy demands of a 9-5 job will not allow? Have you always dreamed of traveling the world as an actual traveler and not just a one-week tourist? Perhaps the next time you find yourself in-between jobs you would like to take a few months off.
Lifestyle design is the last phase that can be obtained from a frugal mindset + a healthy respect for your money. After paying off your debt, saving gobs of money, and shifting your mindset, frugality is what will close the gap between where you are today, and where you dream of being.