“What kind of life is that?”
“You only live once you know.”
“Life is too short to not enjoy it.”
“I don't know how you live that way.”
“I could never give up that much.”
Yes, these are all real things that people say to me. Every time I hear one of these sentences, it gets burned into my memory – I can see the details of each scene in Blu-Ray quality, and remember exactly how those words made me feel.
I even remember how I deflected or changed the subject because I didn't have the energy to defend my lifestyle again. The problem is that these people either lack or forget about financial perspective. Before I go on, please don't mistake me for saying that these people somehow make me angry or annoyed.
I use this stuff as fuel.
I started living WAY below my means almost 3 years ago, in a successful effort to pay off my student loan debt and get a head start financially. During that time I sacrificed what felt like a lot to me, and I still do it today. If you have debt, I highly recommend that you do a lot of the things that I have done to become debt free. It's a proven approach. I had $40,000 of student loans, and a year and a half later I didn't. It's really that simple sometimes.
When people start saying the kind of things to you that I get all the time – you know that you are doing something right. It's called the 1% for a reason; 99% of people in this country are doing money wrong. I have wealthy friends and I have non-wealthy friends. Which ones do you think I got the quoted sentences from?
While you are waiting for the hamster to wake up and get moving in the wheel, I'll gift you the answer. My non-wealthy friends are the ones that think this way. My financially educated friends tell me to keep going, don't stop, and live below my means until I don't have to anymore.
I'll take my money advice from the people with yachts and nice houses, thank you.
Being good with your money as a young person is all about keeping your mind right and ignoring outside influences that can get you off track. The majority of people want you to waste your money and stay in debt like they do because it helps them justify their own lifestyle.
They feel guilty for some reason, even if you never try to make them feel bad. Non-wealthy people get uncomfortable when they see someone being different and getting ahead. They secretly want you to fail. I want you to succeed.
More importantly, being responsible with your money is also about seeing the bigger picture. You need to have an honest perspective when it comes to items or expenses that you want or “need” in your younger years.
Having perspective is my secret weapon against debt.
I'm about to hit you with some uncomfortable truth about the things that people say they can't live without in this country. Again, you need to have perspective – it makes it easier to “give-up” items or services and apply those funds to your debt.
In order to be debt-free early I didn't buy shoes, clothes, drove a lame car, didn't buy a house, waited to get married, etc. The list goes on for a while. Some people would say that I was extreme, but I think what I did was trivial. Here's why:
80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.
22,000 children die every day due to poverty.
1 billion children live in poverty in this world.
805 million people don't have enough food to eat daily.
1/4 of humanity lives without electricity.
Now go back to the top and re-read those quotes. They seem ridiculous now right? You seriously need cable, Starbucks, and a newer looking car to have a good life? I'm CRAZY and EXTREME for living without that stuff to make sure that my future kids don't struggle?
Child please. I have a beautiful wife, great friends, and no debt. I might as well have hit the lottery compared to most people in this world. I think I'll be alright if I have to watch Netflix to save some money. My goodness.
If the stats above make you uncomfortable…good. You should be, and it might help you make better financial decisions. If I've made you really uncomfortable, I'm sure Buzzfeed has a top 10 Kim Kardashian selfie post that you can read to feel better.
My readers like the truth about finances, not rainbows and Teletubby stories about getting rich quick. Sorry.
If you want to get out of debt like I did, you are going to have to give some things up. Don't be concerned about your quality of life being poor, because giving things up now will make your life exactly the way you want it later on.
Also, take a second to appreciate the things in your life that we all take for granted. You're probably much wealthier than you think.
Question for you:
Do you try to keep your financial picture in perspective?
World Poverty Fact Sources: