I think that there are two main things worth building in life, not as ultimate life goals, but as valuable waypoints to whatever goals you may have. Those two things are an amazing group of friends and enough money to survive for a long time.
To some people, mostly those who have already done it, that sounds easy and obvious. Others will have done one, but not the other, and only one seems difficult. And to those who haven't achieved either yet, maybe both sound difficult.
But regardless of how easy or difficult these things seem, maybe we can all agree that they're possible and helpful. After all, plenty of other people have done these things already, and don't they seem to be benefiting from them?
Why these two things? Because they're universally beneficial and within reach of anyone. It's not often you can prescribe something universally. On the other hand, there's no simple answer as to how to get them. Each one relies heavily on our individuality.
My next book will be all about social skills, focused heavily on how to build and contribute to a good social circle. It's a big enough topic that I think it deserves a detailed treatment.
That said, there's low hanging fruit that everyone can pick: be the one to make the effort, don't hang out with people you don't like, organize things for your friends, be the best version of yourself, know who you are and how to convey it.
How to make enough money to survive for a while is more foggy. The big part I think most people miss is making living expenses low. My most frugal friend makes $4000 a month after tax, but has expenses of only $600. Every month he saves up almost six months of living expenses!
He won't keep his expenses that low for the rest of his life, but he's definitely checking off his survival box. Even if he increases spending, he knows that he can easily dip back down to $600 per month at any time.
There's a nice synergy between these two things. When you have enough money to survive, the possibilities for ways to spend your time spread wide open. You can work on your own projects, you can think, you can travel around and see the world. You can even spend all your time working on your social circle. And when you build that social circle, now you have a huge force of positive influence to help you guide that time and freedom. That's a great combination.
While this post can't give you a specific path to follow to build your group of friends and enough money to survive for a while, maybe it can nudge your awareness enough to cause you to figure out your own way to do it.
Photo is my friends Leo, Shammy, Todd, and Eva in Budapest, looking at the huge year-long hourglass.
You should write a blog post on your ultra frugal friend. Only $600 a month? Jesus! I'm living like a bum up here in Seattle and thats on $1000 a month. Your friend sounds interesting
This post is old, but maybe you'll read it. There's an entire blog & book dedicated to this topic and very interesting: http://earlyretirementextreme.com/
I think the MrMoneyMustache.com blog relates a little closer, but both are definitely quite applicable!
I would like to hear how to others build their social (friends) network. My personal experience is I know lots and lots of people. I consider them to be friends, although I don't "hang out" with them. Most of my time is spent working on my business and playing on the internet.
I will have to say that the internet became my favorite friend and hobby. If I am not on the computer at home, I'm on my phone using the internet. I have met lots of people on the internet that have become friends, although we have never met personally.
I would say 90% of my personal interaction is with my girlfriend. We do everything together. I enjoy spending all my time with her because she is so pleasant. If I do decide to go do something with somebody else it is usually a family member. I do feel that if I did something with other people she would be jealous or at least have a comment about it. So I don't want to hurt her feelings since I love her so much.
I never got into a routine of playing poker with the guys, or bowling in a league. My schedule was always so topsy-turvey that I couldn't commit to be somewhere every week at the same time.
Most of what I would consider to be my closest personal interactions would be people that I do business with. I have a group of people that I pay to work for me at various times, and they are probably only my friends because I pay them good. They never call me to go fishing with them. I would probably not go if they did ask me.
When I had a full time job I was pretty close with a lot of people there. We talked all day, and they would call me on our days off. I am still friends with them, but I have moved on to doing other things and I don't want to talk with them about that job anymore. That's all they like to talk about.
I have encouraged one person to run for political office, and if she does decide to do it then I will spend a lot of time engaging with her to help her. Once the election is over I will drop off contacting her because things will move on to new topics.
I really like the way you put this advice. Both 'things' aren't really goals to shoot for or dedicate your life to, they work better as principles or constructs for your life and decision-making. So that you are living your life in a way that makes these things possible and allows them to thrive, friends and financial independence.
I think a lot about the goal of financial freedom/independence, and I go back and forth about it. On the one hand, I have achieved a level of financial independence that has allowed me the freedom to not focus on money-making activities for the past 2 years. Instead, I've focused on meeting people, traveling, family, writing, and exploring new ideas. It's been such a great experience that I want to recommend to everyone in the world that they go and create for themselves this type of time/money freedom.
Then I realize the second side of the story, that for everyone, this type of dream is not possible. Anyone can do it, but not everyone, we will need workers for the foreseeable future. We will need real live humans working many jobs to maintain the infrastructure that allows people not working actively to survive and travel and do the other things we want to be able to do. In a sense, living pseudo-independently from day-to-day work on the fringe of society is a fringe activity that not everyone can do and only works because so few people try to do it. I think many more could and that it's worthwhile, but somewhat shallow as an over-arching philosophy for people to follow.
On top of that, I've realized that more important that having the freedom of time is knowing what to do with that time. I finally achieved my freedom and it was tough to deal with. After the first few months of celebration wore off, I was uncomfortable not having 'something' to do. I had a lot of ideas and I'm a young guy, but even with that, translating my ideas into action was hard.
I've seen that most people who become focused on financial independence sacrifice living the life they should be living and going after ambitious goals in their early years because they are more obsessed with the money aspect of things and reaching complete financial independence as quickly as possible. I think most of them will never truly feel secure, no matter how much money they amass. And by the time they reach that level, they won't have developed into the right person and will struggle to know what to do next.
For this reason, I think financial independence makes a poor personal mission or main goal. It works better as a construct for decision making or side consideration...otherwise you just end up making your decisions for shallow reasons.
So yeah...I think it's important how you approach these goals and I like your approach. The goal isn't necessarily complete financial independence or the perfect friend circle, but developing them over time as a part of how your living your life. But they both make a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing.
I think different people value and need different things. Money is great. It gives us freedom to follow our hearts. And a large group of friends can be great too. But a necessity and baseline for everyone? Anytime you say everybody, an exception to the rule bubbles to the surface. Great post. Thanks for sharing.
I disagree. And and if you notice, Tynan said an "AMAZING group of friends" and a "good social circle". Not anything to do with facebook numbers, etc. --- So I think an amazing group of friends and enough money to survive for a long time are absolutely a necessity and baseline for everyone. No exceptions. (And that is rare indeed :o)
I can't imagine anyone believing financial freedom or friendships are worthless.
Many people disregard financial freedom. You hear people say "Money isn't everything" or "Money can't buy happiness". These people tend to take for granted that they have a safe place to sleep at night and food to eat.
Other people don't realize the power of money. Financial independence* isn't something they've even heard of, and they don't know there's an alternative to working until you get a government pension.
(*Mr Money Mustache, Early Retirement Extreme, FIREcalc - google them if you haven't heard of them.)
I realize I may have come across really negative there, but that was not my intention. I have just noticed everyone fighting to "make more money" and that money isn't worth anything unless its a result of financial freedom. But I think that robs us from the moment sometimes. Also, some people would rather live in the bliss of others carrying the burden of knowing what to do and telling them how to live day in and day out, so they don't have to do it themselves. I also have found that many people struggle with the feeling that relationships are a sort of scale we are measured by. How many friends do you have on Facebook? How wide is your network? And are you fighting for your relationships? When so often, getting rid of many of those relationships, is the best thing you can do for yourself. That being said, I love financial freedom and having a wide network, so there you go. I think your book looks great. Congratulations.
I totally agree on those two. I personally added Health into my triangle of a balanced life. Wealth, Relationship, Health.
Sounds like a great topic for your next book. I find that my current social circle is high quality but small. My wife and I have had a hard time widening this circle with quality people, so I hope you'll touch on that subject.
I'm excited that you've chosen social skills as the topic for your next book. I'm looking forward to it!
Just as there are a million ways to drive from Los Angeles to New York, there are a million ways to get from where you are now in life to where you want to be. But, like the road trip, some ways are better than others. As I've tackled different problems in my life and watched others do the same, I've stumbled upon a sequence for progress through life that seems optimal to me.
Following is the sequence, with notes and thoughts on each step.
My awareness is getting better. Last night, I'd been working in a restaurant near Sukhabatar Square until it closed at midnight. Walking home, I was about to pass through a group of three guys when suddenly this flash of danger kicked in. WarningWarningWarning!!!
I stopped, turned on my heel, and walked in a broad circle around them. One of the guys looked at me. I looked back briefly, but then kept moving.
I'm keeping an eye on these guys because they're kind of sort of in my way in the direction I'm going. I can circle around because I'm at the broad part of the walkway past Sukhabar, so there's two paths. But they're still near me.
As I'm watching, a random passerby walks through the three tough dudes. One of them grabs the passerby by the arm, and starts to try totally hold him. The passerby yells, shouts, shoves, pushes, shakes, and is able to get away and run off towards the night.
My awareness is getting better.