My Steps in Escape
I realize some of my past posts were just talk and not much insight on finances. My main point of making this blog was to help others. What better way to do it than tell you what I actually did to get out of debt and escape my past demons. So here we go:
1. Start saving first, spend later.
I realized when I was almost fifteen thousand in debt (car payment, credit cards and college tuition) that my anxiety, my restless nights of confusion and my bad habits all stemmed from my money problems. I read The Richest Man in Babylon and figured if I began taking my savings account seriously, I'd be quick to pay off a few of my bills, cutting away my anxiety. Luckily I realized that and much more. From my savings I started noticing my spending on useless material junk and I quickly ended it. The lack of spending directly affected my savings. It didn't take me long to get into the habit but STARTING it was the largest hurdle. Realizing your spending habits change from old to new was a tough decision but I stuck by and realized my life was turning around. The biggest game I played was ask myself had I not saved, where would my money be? That little game really startled me to see how quickly money came and went from my pocketbook. My new behavior was two things: treat savings like an actual bill and pay off everything first. I may have been broke but at least I had everything I needed. I didn't have to worry about bills for the first time in my life and it felt marvelous. It still does to this day.
I don't carry a credit card anymore and I don't have any debt to my car, my credit or my tuition. All of it paid off in full to keep me from entering into the doomed world of debt.
2. Surround yourself with mentors, not braggarts.
I have to give myself credit to a lot of my friends. Many of them I learned quite a few new skills and had wonderful social interactions with, but I have to give full credit to my friend and mentor Bart. Bart and I make films together and we're passionate about film making. As we began to talk our conversations turned to the government and then to the stock market and before long, we were talking about stock strategy and what we held and sold. Bart helped me get my first gain of a thousand dollars and got my feet wet with having large sums of money in the market. Although I didn't take all of Bart's advice, he still was my go-to mentor. To this day I still talk with Bart about finances and what we plan on investing. It makes my conversations not only social but economically viable. I'd say find someone you'd like to talk money with. Don't be shy about it either. Breaking the taboo tells both sides you're comfortable with changing behaviors and learning new ways to keep the purse fat.
I'm not going to lie, I have my fair share of friends who love to spend quickly and pay the minimum when the credit card bill comes in the mail. Now that I've grown out of my spending days I now notice they live strange lives of finding ends meet. One indication is seeing them join quick rich scams and petty points to their spending. They're not the best friends. I realize now not spending removes all doubt from future troubles. Why are you going to kill yourself trying to make ends meet? Nobody cares about your fancy watch or new phone. You don't need it and nobody cares if you have it.
3. Put money to work.
There's one thing to save but there's another when it comes to putting that cold cash to work. Is it risky? Yes! But so is driving down to street to buy milk. My advice is take the risk. You've got great opportunities out there where your money works for you in the form of investments. Now don't think the stock market is the end all for putting your money in. We now live in the digital age where cryptocurrency have turned basement nerds into millionaires. We also have real estate investments you can team with to help build projects around the world. Not to mention old school cash loans and small side gigs also work in your favor. My two side gigs are computer assistance and seasonal photography. I charge people based off the gig and I'm always learning new things for the gigs. Gigs don't pay much but it's quick cash for gas, groceries and loose change.
4. Live like a peasant.
This is a given and ironically I get the most flak from living like I have no money but I must admit it's paid off many times over. As I speak, I type on a used pawn shop laptop which is set on a Craigslist toss away desk. My house was a fixer upper. My appliances were all used and all my dishes and pots came from the Goodwill and Savers. Nearly all my clothes are hand-me-down and my mother and I have a deal for Christmas that she buys me polo shirts for work. I always try to get a deal from what I'm after and you'll rarely see me at the mall pay full price.
I'm not a penny pincher though and I don't cut coupons. I realized that when the times are right I'll spend money on friends and family. I also do a lot of homecooked meals or find meals that are low price around town.
But I know the difference between quantity and quality, where quality is needed, I'd be glad to pay it. Most of those items will be shoes, socks and tools. Outside of that my best friend is online reviews and refurbished departments. I haven't paid for a new computer since 2004 and even then I was upgrading it myself. Remember, before COVID, I didn't have internet in my home - I'd steal it from the nearby McDonald's...
5. Do it yourself.
Speaking of self upgrades, my next strategy was learning. When I say learning you spend three hours watching Youtube videos and reading articles on tips and tricks and then the last hour actually doing the task. We live in an age now where information is free for the taking, so why not learn something new? After college all my resources come primarily through the internet. Last year I learned how to crochet, cook a whole traditional turkey dinner, play the accordion and use a full frame camera. The year before I learned how to roof a house, tile floors and learn Python programming. This year I plan to publish a book, learn about Paganism and Daoism, grow hydroponic figs and make authentic pho soup.
Two things you get from learning new things: you obviously get the product but you also get the appreciation of the product. It's something manifested from your own hands and mind. There's something special and magical about doing it yourself. Many times you'll get caught up in doing everything yourself, I say pick your battles accordingly.
6. Bank from your phone.
Outside of spending I realize having my money a few clicks away can keep me in full control of every dollar spent. It's allowed me to shift over money from account to account without ever licking envelopes or buying stamps. All my bills are automatic and my habits of saving have increased almost tenfold from when I first started. We're living in the best age of banking. We don't even have to leave the bed and your entire house, car, bills, and food is completely secure with the touch of a finger. Incredible!
7. Be nice.
From all the books I've read to all the scenarios I've confronted, one thing stands out: being nice pays off. For me it's paid off it's fair share to the point that I'm a very lucky man. It's not that I'm being nice for a purpose, personally I just don't want any form of conflict nor do I want to look like an asshole. I'll be first to tell one my true intentions and I'll be fair to tell them how I think. But I always find myself telling them I completely respect them. Building an understanding between both sides always helps both sides. Being honest, upfront but open to scenarios always keeps the parties level. It's easy to judge one person but truthfully we don't know where one's mind is, even the closest ones to us. Always be quick to pick up social cues, body language and expressions one gives off. Make your talk quick and with a positive note.
For me, talking to my neighbors as you pass by them on your evening walks, come forth with compliments to strangers or make small talk with the lonely worker. Never act like you're better than them. Never act righteous or smarter. One might think you're arrogant when you're too nice. Honestly, be yourself and show them who you are while respecting who they are. Build an equality for all people, not just the ones you want to have an advantage over.
I've had my fair share of friends who are arses in their own right and they have brought out the worst in me. I don't like feeling that ugly part of me, where I feel inferior and I have to prove to them they're inferior or equal. There's too much beauty in the world to have such nonsense, why make it a competition? Many of those types of people I now ignore and move away from. It can be tough when you have friends who have done bad things or said bad things and you're stuck between your values and your friendship. To me, choose your values, save your character and move on.
8. Nobody cares about you, so get rid of social media.
Last, social media is junk now. We've all had the dream of making it big, being a potential influencer, making something go viral. In reality, nobody cares about you. They only care about themselves. I'm not going to lie to you. I still carry many social media platforms but I do it for myself. I do it to keep record and to stay in touch with a select few. Outside of that I can care less.
It's very liberating to get rid of social media. It's positive to the mind and spirit to keep yourself off a machine that sucks away thousands of life hours. It's so easy to make the mistake of falling into a media hole and coming out late at night when your responsibilities have fallen to the wayside.
Like I said, nobody cares except you. You don't need it.
I hope these tips helped. Maybe you'll be able to get some order in your life. Happy Samhain everyone! Enjoy the moon!