Think about your life and what you want to accomplish. Have you acquiesced to a life of mediocrity? Or are you busily crafting the perfect life for yourself? It is a choice, after all.
Make the choice to live an extraordinary life. Reject tradition and custom by questioning everything. Always seek improvement. Make a habit of optimization. All easier said than done, right?
Where to start? Don’t accept “that’s the way we have always done it”. Push back. Ask questions. Is this the best way to accomplish something? Has anyone tried to do it differently before?
Challenge traditions and beliefs
The financial media wastes so much time and energy distracting you with stories about picking the right stocks or funds. Then they will scare you with tales of financial doom and gloom. Of course once the stock market soars for a while, you’ll start reading articles and hearing talking heads creating a sense of exuberance with all the good news. Financial magazines are full of helpful articles to assist you in your hunt for the mythical ten bagger stock that will finally make you rich.
In the meantime, you’re being led around on a wild goose chase when you should be deploying your assets in a sensible manner. Turn off the television, cancel the finance magazine subscriptions, ignore the pundits. Put your investments in some really boring low cost index funds, check out all your investments with Personal Capital once per month, and be done with it. It’s really as simple as that.
The financial media has to have content to wrap around their advertising, so they talk all day about the best stocks, which way the market is headed, or how the latest current event will undoubtedly cause the next huge bull/bear market. Ignore the noise. Focus on making money long term.
The traditional path to success at work is throwing yourself at your employer’s mercy and working long, hard hours. Stop for a minute and question whether you are getting compensated for all the hard work. Maybe you are. But perhaps your employer is treating you about the same way as your lazy coworkers. Yeah, you might get a 4% raise when they get 3%, or you might get a $2,000 bonus while they get a $1,000 bonus. Is it really worth it to work way more than 40 hours per week for a tiny reward?
Some think it will help them long term or make them immune to layoffs if they are the last one to leave the office every day. Maybe. Or you might get let go anyway. The truth is that you are expendable and today might be your last day with your current employer. Do a good job, but make sure your effort is rewarded. If you aren’t feeling valued, seek somewhere that will reward you for your hard work.
I’m not suggesting that slacking off and surfing on Root of Good all day will make you wealthy long term (although it might!). Just don’t think that being the hardest worker in the office will make you any happier (or necessarily any wealthier) than being the person that comes in, does their job well, and leaves at a reasonable time. Stay balanced. You’ll enjoy life a lot more if you have fun, engaging, and meaningful activities and relationships outside of your job. It’s also good training for early retirement!
Buy the most house you can afford. Great advice. For suckers. How about “buy the house you need if buying a house makes sense in your area”. It might be cheaper and more convenient to rent. Don’t get sucked into thinking a house is the best investment ever. Investments are investments. Houses are places to live. Buy a place to live in, not an investment. Houses have huge carrying costs like taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and mortgage interest.
House values generally keep up with inflation, and in some areas the values have far outpaced inflation. It’s really a gamble though. Focus on what housing is – a place to live – and buy the house that will provide the best living environment for you. If you plan on being there for a while, don’t focus exclusively on houses that will be appealing to the next buyer. Buy what you want to live in now. If the house is unappealing to buyers, the price should be discounted to reflect it.
In fact, you can save tons of money on housing by buying a rough gem and applying a little polish and TLC to turn it into a beautiful home. Buyers are turned off by strange things like weird paint colors and interesting carpet patterns. Even though both defects can be remedied for under $2,000!
This is an area where you can really defy expectations. The common perception is that successful people drive really expensive cars. I’m sure there are successful people driving nice cars, but given the abundance of cheap credit and easy lease terms, even broke people without jobs and zero assets can drive nice cars. Lots of wealthy people drive older well maintained cars and get around just fine. These boring, older cars aren’t particularly good at conveying how wealthy you are. Who cares? Drive a decent but older car and spend the money on something you value more (or you could always invest the savings!). Make consumer decisions that lead to actually being wealthy instead of merely trying to appear wealthy to other non-wealthy people. Emulate Warren Buffett. He drives a modest seven year old Cadillac sedan.
There’s also a bias against minivans and Priuses in some circles. They are unmanly. In the case of the Prius, it’s what dirty liberal hippie tree-huggers drive. Minivans and Priuses are really just large lumps of metal with power sources that transport you from point A to point B. If you drive a lot each year, a Prius can save you money on gas while still offering ample internal space for hauling people and stuff. The same goes for a minivan. They are normally less expensive than comparable sized SUVs and often get better gas mileage. If you routinely need to haul a lot of stuff or five or more people, the minivan is probably the best choice for the job.
If you’re a guy, you don’t even have to take a small notch off your man card if you drive a minivan or a Prius, since you’re making a smart choice instead of falling back on thoughtless stereotypes of what you should be driving. If you really need to assert your man-dom you can always put some mud flaps decorated with scantily clad ladies on your efficient transportation choice. Then everyone will know what’s up.
There are obviously legitimate reasons for purchasing expensive and powerful 4×4 SUVs and pick up trucks. For example, you routinely haul large trailers, you’re a landscaper, or you spend lots of time on mountainous dirt roads or trucking across frozen arctic landscapes. Otherwise those vehicles are overkill.
Work hard for 40 years and retire at age 65. Throw that rule of thumb in the trash! How about replacing that rule with “save a significant proportion of your income while still living a nice life. Then retire early”. Not everyone enjoys an income high enough to save over half of it. But the vast majority of people can accelerate their savings much more than they already do simply by challenging themselves to ignore the traditional ways of living life and thinking for themselves. Be bold, be different.
Retiring early isn’t for everyone. Maybe you never want to retire, but want to escape from your current stressful nine to five job and do something fun the rest of your life. Go for it! Put together a plan and save enough money to ensure a successful launch into the next phase of your life. Don’t be scared of failure – the worst you can do is go back to your old career and pick up where you left off.
Imagine a world where everyone wanted to conform to the rules and never step foot outside of the box. There are no colors, only black and white and different shades of grey. Pretty boring place, huh?
It’s okay to think differently and revolutionize your life. Think for yourself, slough off the chains of conformity, and make your own path in life.
Why not embark on your journey toward your perfect life right now? Make it the most important thing you do today. Having the perfect life can’t wait until tomorrow!