Debt is Debt

One of the best decisions I ever made in my life was to make a conscious decision to be financially independent.

DEBT IS DEBT

To me there is no such thing as good debt, it just sounds like marketing nonsense.

It’s simply a way for banks to lull you into a false sense of security to make you think that overextending yourself financially by buying a house out of your price range is a good thing. Yeah right.

Whether you owe because you went college to get a bachelors, or whether you maxed out your credit card for a splashy vacation — it is still money you spent that you didn’t have to begin with, and you now owe it to someone else.

JOB DEPENDENCE IS A FORM OF INDEBTNESS

If you live on the financial edge, heavily in debt but without any savings, you will always be a slave to your job, because you will always need the money to make it to the next month.

Living paycheque to paycheque is not a life, you are not a slave to anyone or to any company unless you make yourself one.

YOU CANNOT BE FREE IF YOU ARE TIED TO FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS

If you find yourself thinking about your credit card balance as you are trying to fall asleep at night, it is a sign that it is a dark cloud that is choking your quality of life.

Thinking about your debt, lack of savings and lack of financial security for the future is not what modern life is supposed to be all about.

5 STEPS TO FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE

1. Get out of debt
Face your numbers, make a plan, muster up some discipline and stick to it. This is not as difficult as one might imagine, and there is a plethora of information out there on how to build a budget. You can start here with all of my best posts on debt and saving.

2. Stop borrowing
Cut yourself off from access to easy money; this means credit cards, lines of credit, borrowing from family members or friends and going past your bank account limit.

If you never stop borrowing, you will never be able to dig yourself out of the hole.

3. Live below your means
If you spend $2000 a month now, think creatively on how you can cut it down by half.

It might seem impossible to many of you: “HALF!?”, but it is a solid, quantifiable goal that will push you to go farther than just vaguely saying you want to spend less money.

It is very possible if you re-evaluate your mindset of why you should spend what you spend.

Start shopping smarter by saving at the grocery store, cooking at home rather than eating out, and learning how to tell yourself “No” when you are tempted.

4. Start saving
Even $10 a month is better than nothing, and with the magic of compounding interest, you could have $1000 in approximately 7 years.

Imagine if you saved $100? Or $500 a month? Think about it. You could have a lot more, sooner.

5. Ignore naysayers
People will tell you that your lifestyle is unsustainable.. and it most certainly it is, but not for you, for them.

If you can do it, go for it.

People told me all the time that putting 50% of my paycheque towards my debt was nuts, and I would never be able to do it.

Don’t be trapped by what people think you should do or buy. There are NO limitations to how far you can go because you are the only one who can judge your own comfort level.

Another good example is my lifestyle:
I’m a minimalist, so I don’t like to spend money on furniture because I don’t see a point for it in my life; all I own is a Japanese futon for the floor, a folding table and folding chairs.

I save a lot of cash doing this, because I never have to pay for moving costs (my minivan is enough), I don’t actually spend money on furniture, and I don’t need to maintain it.

However when I mention this, people look at me askew and I hear a lot of:

“How can you live like that?”

“You should get yourself to an IKEA, because they have cheap furniture if you can’t afford anything better.”

Does it hurt to hear that kind of negativity? Sometimes.

It’s hard not to feel defensive or attacked, when people automatically assume that you’re poor just because you don’t own a couch, a flat screen TV, lots of furniture and you would rather rent than buy a home.

You have to keep in mind that it is your life, not theirs, and you not wanting to do or buy things you are supposed to, doesn’t make you weird because there are plenty of others like you.

The Danger of Retirement

Retirement is a funny thing. So many people set their hopes on the day they get to retire, kick back, and relax. But if you talk to most retired people, they’ll tell you their lives seem busier than ever. I’ve heard it said that retirement is just getting new treads on the wheels. Get it? Re-tire.

Ok, but in all seriousness, why are retired people some of the busiest people?  Well, here’s the conclusions I’ve come to.

  1. Planning. The days that are planned out in more detail always seem to be more productive. Retired people let planning go to the way side and as a result end up with more stuff on their plate than they were “planning” on.
  2. People assume. Society looks at retired people as having loads of time. So, a retired person ends up with all the calls to watch grand-kids, help with house projects, and running errands.
  3. Obligation. Retired feel some sense of obligation to help with all the incoming requests because otherwise they feel lazy since they have no “real” work.

So what’s my advice to all retired people? Ironically, it can be found in my last post The Rule of 3s. Creating priorities and getting involved in something that defines their life and creates structure will help get the message across to others that even though they’re not working a 9-5, they still have a life.

Personally, I cringe at the thought of retirement. It goes against my whole life philosophy. I believe you should do what you love, and if you love what you do, why would you want to stop!? Problem solved.

The Rule of 3s

I’m really excited about this post.  The Rule of 3s is one of those life changing philosophies for me.  I’ve been mulling over it for over 30 days which is significant as you’ll come to find out.

I’ve been trying to figure out a general rule of thumb to live my life out by.  Through trial and error I’ve come to find out that my life areas work best in groups of 3.

History

There are certain numbers in the Bible that are considered special. They are: 3, 7, and 40. The number 3 denotes “divine perfection.” Examples of the number 3 are: Christ was buried and rose in 3 days; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and there’s a lot more.

How it’s applied.

How ironic is it that 3 denotes perfection and we’re looking for the perfect balance in our lives.  So, this is how it all comes together.

1. I use “3″ to define tasks in my life. For example, I’m an EMT, student, and intern in my church. My hobbies consist of swimming, blogging, and wakeboarding. I keep my to-do list to 3 things.

2. Making decisions. 3 days, 30 days, or 3 months. Depending on what kind of decision needs to be made will determine how long to wait but it’s pretty self explanatory. When asked to take on a new responsibility, wait 3 days. When deciding to purchase something, wait 30 days. When making a big/life changing decision (ie getting in a relationship, moving out, etc), wait 3 months.

3. Exceptions. Some decisions have to be made split second, but those are few and far between (like 1 in 100). I’m not saying don’t do anything more than 3 things.  I can volunteer at the soup kitchen or go running with a friend, but it’s not part of my regular routine.

My experience.

July and August were absolutely miserable months for me. I had overcommitted to numerous things and made some rash decisions.  There was nothing I could do about it once it was set in motion but wait for it to be over.  Now it’s September and my life has resumed to it’s normal pace.  All because I’ve incorporated the rule of 3.

Keeping things simple and staying focused on only a few things makes a huge difference. Try it for yourself and see how far you can group your life into 3s.