I guess I wasn’t paying too much attention early on in my life, because I had no idea that middle class families actually struggled until I started my own. I’m not saying that my family didn’t struggle while I was growing up. I’m sure they did, but it wasn’t really a topic of conversation to be had over dinner. My parents made, what I thought to be, a shitload of money.
But now I’m older, and probably a little bit smarter (better looking??), and a fortunate member of the generation that was brought up with the Internet. It’s become apparent through all sources of the media that the middle class is struggling. Not able to pay their bills. Even becoming homeless.
There has to be something that these people missed along the way. And maybe the bills and cost of living truly outweigh the paychecks. I’m not going to claim to know everyone’s situation, so I’m speaking in general to the middle class.
I’d like to share with you today, the secret to becoming rich. The secret to a life of wealth. The secret to having a stash of Fuck You-money* that you can hold over your future employer’s head when you’re up in arms with them. And it’s extremely simple in theory, although it may (in some cases) take a complete life alteration.
The crazy thing about what I’m about to tell you is that I know for a fact most people aren’t doing it, because if they were there wouldn’t be too much struggling going on. There would still be complaints about tax raises and budget cuts, but most people would fare pretty easily.
I think I’ve built up enough of a hype already so here we go: The secret to becoming rich, wealthy and powerful (if that’s what you’re going for) is to spend less than you make.
Now you’re thinking “No shit Moneyseed”. Obviously this isn’t a secret, but with the way that people blow through money, you couldn’t help and think that maybe it is. If this is a known, why isn’t it put into practice? Why are tax returns spent on “me” money? Why do people have smartphones with a $90 data plan and continue to say they’re struggling? Why are they consuming gas? Why why why why!
I can’t really answer why for anyone, besides the fact that it’s what they’ve been programmed to do for the past x years of their life. Advertisement and social acceptance play a huge role in the way people spend money whether they realize it or not.
When the Mrs and I decided to get married, we both lived at our means. There was no saving. The fact that we were both making full paychecks and had no additional mouths to feed and still couldn’t save is borderline terrible. You see, our parents grew up in a generation where they had pretty much nothing, so once they had kids of their own, they decided “My kids aren’t going to have the same shitty childhood I did”. As one might have guessed, this led to chronic consumerism.
We had brand new expensive cars, cell phones, laptops, wardrobes. I’ll summarize: We had expensive taste in everything. But one day it hit me like a piano in an insurance commercial; we can’t keep spending like this. Stuff isn’t as important as our futures. Our future kids’ futures. And the simple solution to have money for the hard times was to spend less than we made.
Starting to save money wasn’t very hard for us. We set ourselves up on an extremely loose “budget”. Once our paychecks hit our bank account, we transferred about $100 into a savings account. Over time our accounting got better and better. Over time we learned what parts of our “budget” we were putting too much money in to. Over time we learned what areas of our “budget” were completely unnecessary.
You can live your life thinking that other people are the problem. You can think that people have it out for you, or members of your family. You can habitually spend your entire paycheck or more. You can make that stupid joke a few hours after you get paid “my whole paycheck is already spent lulz”.
The media can tell you that you’re struggling. They can make you believe that it’s the system. That everyone is struggling. You might even hear everyone saying that they’re struggling. Well, we heard them too. But we decided to not believe them. We decided to not make excuses.
We decided to take the less common path, and started to spend less money than we earned.
I’d like to personally think that the Moneyseeds have left the middle class. It may not be true on paper, but we don’t live a lifestyle like anyone we know. We save over half of our take home pay. If our employer was downsizing and said “Hey Moneyseeds, money’s gettin’ tight, we’re gonna need to let you go” we would be able to sustain ourselves comfortably for almost 2 years with what we have saved.
Here’s the crazy part of the whole thing: We are average people. If you met us you wouldn’t think that old Johnny Moneyseed is a crampy-pants cheap-ass. You’d probably just think I was a regular dude. You’d probably notice that our kids had decent clothing. And that our cars aren’t rust buckets. But if you looked at our bank accounts, you might have a heart attack. But like I’ve stated before, the only thing we did was spend less than we earned.
You’d be surprised how fast savings can add up over time. If you read this blog regularly, it might add up even faster!
** Credit for the term “Fuck You-money” goes to Jim Collins.