Age 4, in kindergarten I had plans to become the richest man in the world. A year later I lowered the stakes: I just wanted to become filthy rich by becoming a bank-owner.
This is roughly the time when I started to save up money. I haven’t stopped since.
Later, as my classmates started to take extra classes to become physicians, lawyers and get to great universities I began to blame money as the cause of nice teens becoming quasi-serious assholes around me. So I decided to quit the rat race before entering. My newest plans were to live off welfare (an easy solution those times) / gathering enough money and live off the high interest rates (this seemed easy too).
I was partly inspired by my father (my “poor dad”) who had an unusual strategy with money. He spent considerably less than what he made. Sounds like a pretty simplistic idea but it happens to work. (If you consider the old saying “A penny saved is a penny earned” = you earn money by buying the cheaper butter, it all starts to make sense.)
Looking at money through his teachings taught me half (and the more important part) of the story: you don’t need to be rich to always have enough money. My father clearly kept to his rules as I don’t think he ever invited anyone for a glass of beer and had refused to buy an ice cream to my mother on their honeymoon because it was too expensive.
Some of the high points I reached based on his teachings included:
– spending <1 EUR / day when I moved away from home during high school
– traveling cheap (my first solo trip cost ~100 EUR / 37 days)
– a (semi fake) press card with which I saved couple hundred euros on museum & other entry prices
– saving a couple hundred euros on transportation tickets (buying it half-way, not buying, semi-fake discounts, etc.)
– letting my friends buy the drinks in parties / stealing random people’s drinks in crowded clubs.
Experimenting with very low expenses completely killed my existential fear. I don’t think any more about “what would happen if I lost my job?“, “what would happen if the stock market collapsed?” and similar. What would happen? I’d have to solve different issues than today. Big deal.
My parents didn’t share these thoughts. “If you don’t have your Msc diploma in time all you can ever become is a trashman” and “you’ll starve to death with these votes” (I’ve always been among the very best students). After realizing that I had two hard-working parents in respected positions (pediatrician and university professor) not making much money (Hungary it is) I thought I’d never make an honest dime.
So it came as a surprise when I started to learn the other side of the coin too: how to make money.
To escape my mother’s ever-present question ”have you found a job yet!?” I moved to my girlfriend to Poland after having finished my bachelor’s. Without knowing Polish I offered to teach Hungarian, English, Italian… …and chess. Soon I found out that with a ~10 hour workweek (including teaching chess in Italian!) I could make ends meet – more-or-less. It gave me an existential confidence: if I can make a living in an unknown Polish town without knowing the language why couldn’t I do it in a normal place – like at home!?
The first serious job of mine came out of nowhere: becoming a tour leader on river cruises made me earn a higher per diem than my mother and father together (okay, for a ~16 hour workday, 24 hours on call and away from home). But still. Without ever giving in to parental pressure to ”get serious” with a 40 hour workweek and an office, I could continue pursuing my alternative life dreams.
Becoming an self-employed independent contractor and getting to know opportunities for a couple of years has allowed me to fulfill some of my early financial plans:
– choosing how many days I wish to work a year [as a tour leader] (~55 – 135 days so far)
– choosing how many days I wish to travel a year (~50 – 80 days so far)
– deciding at home whether and when I wish to work during the next week [as a local guide]
– having built up a bit of passive income means I don’t have work to survive
– having made enough savings to take a longer time (years) off if wanted
– having a child; eating out whenever wanted and invite for drinks all those friends who used to pay for the rounds 10 years ago
– pursuing activities that are not well compensated but are meaningful: volunteering to change the situation of kids in deep poverty, coordinating and teaching in an educational programme, organizing ultra-low cost trips for students, writing this article & blog.
– charity (last year donating 15% of my expense).
All of these pursuits didn’t make me a millionaire or a particularly generous person. I often check supermarket prices. I give regular tips. I don’t think I’ll ever buy a new car. I have no expensive clothes or accessories. I don’t buy new gadgets before the old ones break. Our furniture are IKEA or used. I’m not rich by global financial means. But isn’t being rich means you are able to live the life you want to!?
Further articles from me in this topic:
– 8 tips to make sure you never to run out of money
– Morals of measuring my money life for a year
– Enrich your life – stop worrying about money!
– What’d you do with a million bucks or how can you eliminate your money problems?
– How much money do you need?
& I recently came across very similar ideas to mine on mrmoneymoustache.com such as: Great-news: early-retirement-doesnt-mean-youll-stop-working
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