Check out my bestselling book on habits, Superhuman by Habit. .
In the last post I talked about how I save money and earn money. This week I will talk about how I spend my money. I think that I spend my money very strangely compared to normal people, but to me it makes a lot more sense.
Most people think about investing long term, but I think about spending long term. Of the money flowing out of my accounts, I want as much as possible to go towards things that will still be benefiting me 10+ years in the future.
For example, I'll spend anything on the best computer possible because if it makes my work 5% better, that effect will ripple through my future. I spent $1000 on the best pots and pans more than fifteen years ago, and will probably never buy other ones. I'll spend money on trips with friends, because doing so strengthens bonds with the people who will be around me for my whole life. I'll pay good money for healthy food and tea because my health is important.
I will never finance anything. My personal rule is that if I can't afford to buy something cash, I can't afford it. I would like for as much of my money as possible to go to utility, and servicing debt takes money out of that pool. Monthly payments are a direct affront to freedom. If you pay cash for everything, you have the ability to throttle your monthly spending down to almost nothing. If you have monthly payments, you don't have that option. Debt makes you responsible and vulnerable to others through mechanisms beyond your control. Look at the people who were wiped out by the housing crash.
I have a somewhat unusual method of thinking about and managing money, which has worked out very well for me. Because money, saving, and spending is such an emotional issue, I believe that there is not a universal correct method for everyone. For example, a strategy that increases someone's earnings by 5% but also increases their stress by 50% probably isn't a good one.
So I present my ideas on finance not as empirical examples of perfect management, but rather something that works great for me and may work for people of similar mindsets.
The goals of my system are to minimize variance outside my control (e.g. stock market performance), maximize long term utility on assets, and minimize the chance I will ever have to do anything I don't want to do. The end goal is not to have the most money possible or to earn the most possible, though both of those things can support my goals.
I don't want outside variance because it inhibits my ability to plan. Accepting variance often increases long term rewards, so I am happy to accept some of it, but I never invest in the stock market because I believe that earning an average 7% per year is not worth putting my whole nest egg at stake.
I am early on a lot of trends. Before they were popular, I was into RV living, being a digital nomad, online gambling, wool, pickup, cryptocurrency, home automation, minimalism, and a whole lot of other things. There are also several things I'm into now that I believe will be more popular in the future (like living in Vegas, shared property, cryonics, etc).
Being early on blogging meant that I could build up a readership just by writing good posts. I didn't have to additionally do the promotion and clickbaity stuff that is all but required today.
In pickup it was very easy for me to get access to the best people out there and learn from them because they weren't as popular and guarded. With financial things like poker there's an an obvious benefit to being early.
The biggest benefit, though, is the freedom of creating your own path. It's fun to explore things by yourself, to make your own rules, and to sometimes be able to influence a field. This process becomes self-reinforcing, because as you discover things for yourself, you realize it's not so hard and you're more willing to do it in the future.
As I mentioned before, Superhuman #1 went extremely well. Everyone left not only with actionable steps to reach their goals, but also with connections to some other really great people. I was a little bit exhausted by the end, but it was really a great experience to get to do deep work with some of my most serious readers, and to get to know them on a personal level.
I collected feedback from most of the attendees. No one rated the event less than 8/10, and 95% of the critical feedback was on logistics and timing, which I admittedly did not do a great job of. Using their feedback plus our mutual experience, I am ready to put on a second event which should be even better!
The biggest change is that this event will be 2.5 days long instead of 1.5 days long. On the first event I was worried that I wouldn't be able to fill so much time with useful content, but now I realize that more time would have been much better. People also universally wished that we had more social time (with all but one person suggesting 70% work and 30% social vis the 90/10 split we had this time). So this time around we will have much more social time.
The goals of this event will be for each attendee to have actionable next steps on their most important goals, to be paired with a like-minded peer to hold them accountable, and to get to know me and their fellow attendees.
It's rare that I see advertisements. I have ad blocking on everything I own, if I go to a movie I try to go late to avoid previews and ads, and if I watch TV it is downloaded with the ads stripped or through Netflix. I still see some ads, of course, but not all that often.
When I do see them, they often jump out at me, especially TV ads.
"Ford, America's best-selling car," I heard the TV say.
What? The line shocked me so much that I wrote it down to write about later. That's a selling point? I kept thinking about it. The fact that a car is a best-selling car is actually a downside to me.
It's here! Once again I've forgotten to whet everyone's appetite by constantly mentioning my book until the release day, but I've always been more into getting books out than marketing them. Starting today, you can buy my latest book, Forever Nomad.
The idea behind the book is that when I wrote Life Nomadic, my first travel book, I hadn't quite figured out how to balance life and work. I was excited about the possibilities of travel and how accessible it is, but it took me many years to figure out how to integrate it with real life.
A lot of that work was to figure out a ton tips and tricks to make every aspect of the travel experience both effortless and affordable.
So this book is full of every single travel trick and hack I know, as well as ideas on how to integrate travel into a normal life, including lots of details on how I buy properties with my friends.
Once in a while people who meet me give me the feedback that they're surprised that I'm actually a real person who doesn't just work 24/7. A challenge of being a public writer is balancing giving useful information versus giving an accurate picture.
I think a lot of the confusion comes from a post I wrote six years ago called Love Work. I just re-read the post and it brings me right back to that time in my life. I really was working about twelve hours a day and loving it. In some ways I miss those days. I remember being in my RV almost all day, eating the same food every day, and making huge progress on Sett.
That period of time was very important for me because before then I didn't know if I could work hard or not. I thought that I could, but I had no proof, and I felt that in some key ways I was lagging behind my peers whom I admired. I also had a tremendous amount of work that needed to be done, so it felt great to cut right through it.
By the time we wound down Sett, I was burnt out. Not from hard work, but from working on something that I didn't feel would succeed. I forced myself to do it for a while because I knew that it was important to cultivate the ability to work hard, and if I quit early I wouldn't be able to know whether I quit because I couldn't work hard or because I had made the right decision to stop working on something that was unlikely to succeed.
Take it easy, she said. A-Yi, a middle-aged Taiwanese woman, rushed us out the door. Go eat! Enjoy! Thirty seconds earlier we sat at her table and enjoyed the two different teas that she prepared for us. I tried to pay, but she wouldn't have it. Take it easy.
Odd behavior for a woman who runs a tea store. We came in looking for some tea cups we wanted to buy, but she only had one left, and Leo wanted four.
Want to drink some tea, she had asked? We'd already had two pots, but it's hard to turn down good tea.
We sat far an hour or so and drank two teas from Dong Ding, her hometown. We had a nice little conversation about tea, her store, and our lives. When my rough Chinese failed, she called her daughter's husband to have him translate a few things.
For years I've thought about doing a live event for my readers. It's always been on the backburner as I've thought about formats and group sizes, but my friend Leo Babauta challenged me to set a date and just do one, so I did.
Last weekend ten people came into town for a 1.5 day event. They were pretty brave, because I gave almost no information on what the event would be like, since I didn't really know when I posted it.
As the weeks passed and I thought about the event, I decided to keep it simple. We'd hang out together in a big hotel suite and I'd coach them one on one, pairing them up with someone else to act as an accountability buddy. I had done something similar via video chat for a charity a few years before and got good feedback on it.
Not having ever done an event like this, I didn't really know what to expect. Would people get along? Would we have way too much time or not enough? How many breaks should we take? What kind of person would actually show up?
The first thing I did where I was aware that people thought I was crazy was to buy a school bus with my friends. In retrospect it probably wasn't the first time people thought I was crazy, just the first time it was so obvious that I couldn't ignore it. I was somewhat oblivious back then, so a lot got by me.
People really thought I was nuts when I started gambling. I suppose I sort of encouraged it as a prank, but there was a very real consensus at school that I had become a problem gambler.
Not everyone thought I was crazy when I dropped out of school, but many people did.
Again, almost everyone thought I was crazy when moved to LA with a few weeks notice to learn pickup. Same when I sold everything to travel the world with a tiny backpack, when I bought the island, when moved to Vegas, when I go on cruises, and who knows what else.
While a lot of the actions I take on a daily basis strike people as normal and reasonable, I'd wager that the majority of people would classify most of my major life decisions as crazy.