“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.” – George Bernard Shaw
It was a conversation, that stays with me till this day. It was the last day of my honeymoon in Anguilla. My wife and I sat down for one last meal, overlooking an ocean so clear, you could see straight through. Till this day, I swear the Corona commercials are filmed at the beach we were on.
It was a bittersweet moment. Part of me was happy to get home. It’s a nice to sleep in your own bed.
The other part was sad. Anguilla, was a dream vacation and it was over. Also, it was Thursday. The weekend was reserved for moving into our new house. Then, back to work on Monday. Reality began to sink in.
It was an odd time of the day to eat. We were the only ones in the restaurant. The owner was our server.
We began with some small talk. Explaining it was the last day of our Honeymoon and how much we enjoyed the island.
The conversation shifted. We began asking him about how we got to Anguilla. His response, “I wanted to open a restaurant on the most beautiful beach in the world. So that’s why I’m here”.
There was something simple about his response that made it memorable. He knew exactly what he wanted. Nothing was going to get in his way.
The conversation turned to how I was studying to become a financial planner. Moving on to how different cultures view money. It was interesting seeing what an outsider, who travels to the U.S. frequently, had to say about our culture and money.
Unfortunately, it was hard to disagree with what he said, “We work too hard and long. We spend more than we earn. We’re in debt. We think we live a life of luxury, but all we have accumulated a mass amount of material items.”
I can’t help to nod my head.
Our bill comes. We shake hands. I tell him that I will see him in five years, for our 5th Anniversary.
What seems normal to us, isn’t always normal to everyone else. Overtime, what we value has turned upside down.
There have been multiple studies done on the expenses that increase our happiness. I find it a little ironic, that people need to spend money on this research. Of course, it’s better to spend $50 a month going out to dinner with friends than on cable TV. We shouldn’t have to have researchers, tell us that.
I really believe that ours and future generation are slowly climbing on board as to what’s important. Below are 5 unconventional ideas, that I hope are not that unconventional in the future.
# 1 – One Income Households
A few decades ago, this was the norm. Typically, the wife stayed at home to take care of the home and kids. Families survived living off of one income.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case anymore. We spend so much today, that both sides need to work. There no longer is an option. Even worse, couples who are moving in for the first time, start this trend of spending 100% of their income before they even get married.
Here’s a tip for anyone who is planning on moving in with their significant other in the future, start living off of one income from Day # 1. Both of you can work, but get in the habit of living off of one income.
# 2 – Go Without a Cell Phone or Cable TV
It’s possible to go without a cell phone. They are very convenient at times. However, they are very expensive.
If you’re worried about having a phone in case of an emergency, copy my Grandma. She has a pay as you go phone, but at all times the phone is off.
Going without a phone, doesn’t mean you can’t communicate. Just sign up with Google Voice. It’s free. You even get your own phone number.
As for the TV, that’s easy. The good shows are online. If you don’t mind watching shows a little later, rent them from your library or Redbox.
For live sporting events, with the money you save go out to a bar and watch the game. If you’re not a drinker, go over to a friend’s house.
# 3 – Don’t go to College
Investing in your education, is one of the best investments you can make. But as with all investments, you want the best return for your money and time. College uses a lot of both.
Before going to college or graduate school, know if this large investment of time and money is the best investment for you. For some people, college or grad school is the best investment. For some, self-education is.
This is exactly why I decided to create my own MBA.
# 4 – Go Car Free
Like everything in life, there are always options. When it comes to transpiration, there are plenty.
Public transportation is one. Most cities today have adequate public transportation. It may add an hour or two to the time you spend getting from place to place per week but it’s worth the savings.
Think about how much time you spend working per year to pay off your car. For example, if your car payments are 25% of your income, that’s equivalent to working January, February, and March just so you can have a car. Does that one to two hours per week, sound so bad now?
If public transpiration won’t work for you 100% of the time, share a care with a service like ZipCar.
# 5 – Live a Life Completely Debt Free
A life without credit cards, isn’t that hard to achieve. Neither is a life without a 30-year mortgage.
There’s nothing wrong with cutting up your credit cards and using only debit cards. Nor is there nothing wrong with renting your entire life.
Debt can be expensive, in terms of money and freedom. I have had to find this out the hard way. My wife and I, moved into our house, the week we got home from our honeymoon. Less than two years later, we want to move. The problem is, it’s pretty hard to sell a house right now without giving it away.
It’s not that you should live a life without credit, don’t go to college, or live of 50% of your income. What’s more important is to realize that there are always options. Define the circumstances you want to live. Then, find a way to create them.
Photo by: Pink Sherbert