Sunday, September 16, 2012

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Money Problems ...

Most of us have money problems - at some time or another. Sometimes, it can seem like we are always having money problems. Not enough money to run the day-to-day show that we call 'living'. Not enough money to get the stuff we want or do the things we would like to do. Never enough .... that's the way most of us feel, for most of the time. But you can also have too much 'stuff' - too bi a machine to run - too luxurious a lifestyle to maintain, etc. In my view, we can blow this whole thing out of proportion very easily - especially if we are the kind of person that continually compares themselves to everyone else. Here are a few of the things I have learned both on and off the mat over the past few decades ...

We shouldn't spend all of our time comparing - we will ALWAYS find plenty of ways in which we come up short. Compare to people who inspire us only as a means of inspiration - not to 'tally a score'.

Money is a construct - a way of tallying a net worth - it doesn't make the coffee taste any better, the love we feel for family and friends any less meaningful - the training any less fun - learning opportunities any less frequent, etc. Money does NOT equal happiness!

Money - or the accumulation thereof - although having little to do with the amount of happiness we experience, does provide us with more options in life; and to that end we should all learn the very basics of how to make these 'dark arts' work for us: eg: how loans work, how to buy a home or even a second home, how superannuation works and how to minimize the amount of taxes we pay; how to save (or learning to live on less) and how to re-construct our lifestyles so that we don't waste too much money, etc.

Many people learn to defend themselves from attack on the street; and spend all their time learning strategies that can help with this - even though many of us may never be called upon to bring these skills to bear in the course of our day-to-day lives. But if we invest 5% of our spare time learning how to protect themselves from financial illiteracy, we can be certain of countless opportunities through the course of our lives to bring this skill set to bear. Just like BJJ - even a basic knowledge of the fundamental skills (how the game works) gives us an extraordinary edge when the chips are down and we need to act.

It hurts me when I see good people hurting because of some fundamental mistake they have made with their finances. The living of our lives shouldn't be about money - they shouldn't center on the accumulation of wealth - any more than a caveman's life should be all about how to hunt on the edge of a tarpit - but the important thing here is to understand that in caveman life or in modern life - IGNORANCE IS NO EXCUSE.

My advice - spend a little time talking to someone who seems financially secure; ask them about the pitfalls they fell victim to and the strategies that worked well for them. Work - when you need to - and put something aside from the money you earn whilst doing that work. Save a little - and regularly - it adds up over time. And curb crazy and meaningless expenditure. my wife and I eat at home - we cook good, fresh food (lots of it) and we dont spend money at restaurants. We love cooking at home - we dont spend money going out. We have other things we want to save our money for - travelling, training, educating ourselves, etc.

I dislike the fact that we need to spend even some of our time thinking about our finances - this is not what living is all about. BUT - neither can we afford to ignore the dangers of and survival strategies relevant to our environments - and 'financials' are a part of those environments (at least for most of us). I love going 'wild' and hiking in pristine and remote environments - and I think the reason I love it so very much, is because of the elemental way I 'exist' there - money/phones/bills - are all totally meaningless 'out there' - and I LOVE that.

Anyways - on a final note (because I am largely just rambling here) .... there is spending - and then there's investing. Learn to distinguish between the two - that is a big secret! Apologies for this somewhat strange and off-topic post. I hope it is meaningful to even a few of my readers out there .... much love: JBW



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