Monthly Archives: November 2014

Live a richer life, consume less.

Alain holding a baby boa
Live a richer life, consume less.

Let’s consider our priorities.

I have been watching the crazy Black Friday in the United States, Canada, and England. There is a consumer frenzy to buy more, more, more. We are so easily manipulated by the media and our ability to reason goes out the window.

We are in such a vicious cycle. We work more to buy more, and to constantly upgrade our possessions. For example, my mother buys a new car every four years. I have another friend who upgrades her luxurious vehicle every four years. And the examples are endless.

When examining our financial situation, we have to put life into perspective. What do we really want? Do we really want the big house, the two cars, the boat, and the chalet? or do we want to be happy?

In Canada, I am very close to the poverty line, I earn about $24000 per year. Yet, I consider myself rich. I live in a nice apartment in one of the nicest neighborhood of the city. I have internet connection, a cell phone, a laptop computer and I pay all my utilities on time. I work part time and I have lots of leisure time.

I compare myself with some of my friends who are well off, and I would never trade places with them. Materially, they have everything, yet, they work 8 hours per day, in stressful jobs, commute one hour and then they are too tired to enjoy their lives. If they are too tired, all their money becomes useless.

For me, it’s possible to live comfortably with such a small amount of money because I just don’t care about buying stuff that will only collect dust at my place. I don’t have a car and I don’t have a TV. All I need is to pay for food and rent, and I am good. I wake up when I want to, and I take siestas during the day when I want to. For me, this relaxed lifestyle is more important than money. What do I do with my free time? I read, write, attend toastmasters meetings, study. These are things that many rich people wish they could do, but they can not afford because they are busy selling their time for money.

Imagine that you are already rich, that you already have all the money that you would ever want, then, what would you do with your life? Would you like to paint? Do sports? Write? Read? Imagine that you just work part time, you have a frugal lifestyle and you have enough time to do the things that you like to do. Isn’t this scenario much better than having lots of money, having lots of stuff, and not having the time nor the energy to enjoy your blessings?

Now, if your true desire is to have a professional career and spend 60 hours per week working, if this is what fulfills you, then, you are a lucky person. You get to do what you want and get well paid for it. Then, all your financial rewards are almost meaningless, because your true joy is to exercise the career that you love.

Although earning money should not be the primary purpose of our life, we do have to recognize the importance of money, especially when planning for our future.

Recently I had a conversation with a friend of mine. She is a talented artists. Our conversation went something like this:

-You know, I am a talented artist who has done many amazing things. How come I have to constantly reinvent and promote myself? How come people are not running up to me begging for my services?

In any profession, we are only as good as our last project. Clients, customers, employers, they all have this mentality: “What have you done for me lately?” So all of our previous achievements are easily forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind. And here comes the importance of living for today, but putting something aside for the future.

Let’s say that you do the most amazing performance at your job. You are congratulated and you are rewarded appropriately, but one year from that day, your accomplishment has been practically forgotten. 5 years later, it is as it never happened.

On the other hand, when you make a point to save something for the future, the money that you save can continue rewarding your accomplishment for decades to come.

Lets say you do a fantastic job at something, and you are rewarded with much recognition and $5,000. You spend $4,000 and save $1,000. Well, that $4,000 will be gone forever once you spend it, but the other $1,000 will continue producing and thanking you for years to come. Let me show you:

Assume that you can invest your $1,000 and receive 8% gain on it per year, this is what it will look like:

One year $1,080
five years $1,469
Nine years $2,000

You see, your amazing job does not exist in anyone’s mind after 9 years, but your bank account considers it twice as valuable.

How to put this mentality into practice?

The first thing is to meditate and to discover what is really important to you, your true wishes, what society expects of you.

After you have determined your goal, make a plan. How can you get there? How can you do the thing that you love and still be able to provide for the future?

Once you have made your plans, consider that you will be thrown off track many times. This is normal. Imagine that you are an airplane flying from one city to the other. The wind will be constantly taking you off course, but you will continue readjusting and eventually you will arrive at your destination.

Constantly evaluate your performance. Every time you feel tempted to buy something, ask yourself this question: Do I really need this in my life? Do I value this thing more than the security and protection that cash can provide me in the future. If the answer is yes, then go ahead and buy it. If the answer is no, then forget about it and leave that cash in your bank account.

Finally, don’t stop living because you want to plan for the future. Go ahead and buy yourself a beer or a latte from time to time. Go to the movies or on a date. Live the present, but don’t’ forget to put something aside for the future.

I love coaching and I think that I am good at it. If ever you want to book a session, feel free to contact me through my website. As a coach, I will help determine where you are in life, where you want to go, and I can help you draft a plan to achieve your objective.

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