One day a few years ago, I was idly standing by the roadside, looking back how far I’d come and feeling pretty chuffed with myself.
I’d been auto enrolled in a pension since I was 19, I socked money into savings each month, I had an automatic over payment set up for the mortgage and had a decent budget that was improving year on year. Sure I could have been doing better, but I wasn’t doing too badly either. You can probably tell I felt pretty smug about it all.
I was minding my own business when along came this American guy with a mustache on a bike. “Hop in the trailer” he called. “I’ll give you a lift”.
As Pete peddled away and I rattled around in the trailer, he asked me what the hell I was doing about my debt emergency. My debt emergency? I didn’t have an emergency. I only had a mortgage. I overpaid every month. We could almost survive on one of our wages. What was the emergency? We might as well live a little since we were doing so well. We’d earned bottles of wine here, deserved meals out there, a cinema trip now and then, and we do love travel…
Did you hear the sound of a penny dropping then?
For so long, I thought of our luxuries as living a little, when in fact we were living a lot. We we were spending a shed load of cash that we could have been growing in investments or wiping out our mortgage debt. We were living a life that was an “Exploding volcano of wastefulness.” I tried to keep quiet and listen- partly to learn what this mysterious guy had to say but partly to avoid getting called a complainy-pants. As time passed, I got used to the bumpiness of that trailer. Sure, it was uncomfortable. But a little discomfort is good for you. Hitching that ride made me a little richer. In time, it will add up to becoming a lot richer.
I hopped out of the trailer feeling I’d traveled a million miles from where I’d been. Figuring how far hitching that first ride had taken me, I cautiously stuck out my thumb for the next driver going my way. My next driver was another mysterious sort. A British accent, cutting with sarcasm and with a surprising taste in music. Asking what we were listening to, he told me it was “Now that’s what I call financial independence“. I nodded, telling him I’d got “Now that’s what I call Christmas” at home. He didn’t comment.
He went on to talk about ridiculous spending stopping people from being rich. I wasn’t guilty of getting tattoos, betting or even wasting days in shopping centres, but he made an excellent point. Millions of people do spend money on ridiculous things. Some of the money I spent was on ridiculous things. I was doing OK. But I could do a hell of a lot better than OK. Doing better than OK would give me the option of escaping the prison camp.
After hitching my second ride, I was on a roll and my eyes were opened to getting to a better destination and having a better journey. That’s when I met Ty. He gave me a high-5 as I hopped in. He and his wife we forging a path for their family. They were extremely disciplined, not only thriving on one income, but chalking up some serious investments too- getting rich quickish, he called it. A story he told really stuck with me. He told me about how when his Grandpa had passed away, 80% of his and his Grandma’s items were discarded.
I thought about my home, rooms filled with the things we collect, things forgotten, things kept for a ‘just in case’ moment that may never arrive. I’d love to think I have a long and healthy life ahead of me, but if I do meet my maker sooner than I’d like, it would suck for my parents to have to deal with excess amounts of crap we’re accumulating. It was a kick up the arse to get rid of stuff and to stop accumulating more. I’m not even sure if I said goodbye as I got out of the car, my brow still furrowed in thought.
Without really thinking, I held out my thumb to see who I could hitch hike with next. Was there really much further left in my journey? By the time Amanda pulled up, I’d used my redundancy package to payoff the final bit of my mortgage and was living on one income (much harder than I was anticipating, it has to be said) whilst looking for a new job. Thriving on one income was something Amanda knew a lot about. Well, she’d been doing it for 16 years! She was telling me about her awesome weekend where they’d gone the whole two days without spending a penny, and they’d had a blast. At the time, I couldn’t fathom how 2 days of no spending money could change your future finances. It was later that I came to realise it wasn’t really about those 2 days at all. It’s about regularly choosing to do free things and making not spending more normal. Getting rich centsibly. She even invited me to tell my story and listened with interest.
If you wanna get rich, there is no magical solution. There’s working hard, saving hard and looking at things in the right way to make both of those things easier. When I was younger, I wanted my success to be all my own, but as I get older, I realise how foolish it is to ignore the wisdom of others.
There are countless bloggers out there all sharing their experiences and view points that you can learn a lot from. And that’s coming from a smug know-it-all like me! Some won’t be going in the same direction as you.
There will be a few who drive through a puddle as they go past you or don’t pay you the slightest attention, as though you’re a bug on their windshield. Luckily they are not the majority. Unless your aim is to be a rich jackass too, just let them keep driving and be glad you’re not obliged to listen to how awesome they are.
Hopefully there will be people who you can, in turn, give a metaphorical lift to.
By hitching a ride with these guys, my finances have improved, but more importantly, my life is richer too. I can see excesses more clearly, I have less desire to keep buying junk, and I find not spending money incredibly liberating. Perhaps you’re happy cruising along on your own, but you will get so much from listening to people who have already traveled along your route or gone a different way that you didn’t know about.
I have been particularly inspired by Mr Money Mustache, The Escape Artist, Ty from Get Rich Quickish and Amanda from Centsibly Rich (all featured above, in case it wasn’t obvious). You should hitch a ride with them if you haven’t already.
I feel like the metaphor would be incomplete without mentioning the driver of the (financial) party bus, J-Money, who’s gathered the financial rockstars together in one place. Everyone is different and you might not like all the songs, but there is bound to be one that talks to you… And that one might be the one that helps you get rich.
So tell me, is there anyone you’ve hitched a ride with that I should hail down next?