I have to admit I’m a bit confused by people that ask me “How can you live on so little?” I think it comes out of the fact that I don’t really see it as a challenge, I’ve been living this way for years and I’m happy. Doing it now is so easy for me I really don’t get what the big deal is. Lots of people live on about $35,000/year. It is not that hard.
I suppose the real question is: how do you not spend it all when you could? Ah, now that is a good question. For example, one of my greatest weaknesses is historic houses….I LOVE THEM. The hardwood floors, the detailed molding, stained glass and all the other little details…case in point a house like this is like house porn to me. Yet the house I just linked to is listed for $997,000. Yet here is the funny thing…I know I could buy that house if I want. How? I own a property worth ~$400,000. If you sell that and with my income I could get a bank to give me a nearly $600,000 mortgage to buy that house.
So you might think I’m excited by that idea, which I am a little bit. Yet I can also see the other side of this situation. If I did own that house it would a upkeep and spending black hole. You need the cool furniture to match the house, so that is some more money. Cleaning the thing would be a horrible event, which I would likely then contract out for more money. I also know property taxes and heating the damn thing would consume even more cash. In the end, yes I could have my dream but the rest of my life would suck in order to do it, since I would have to work another 25 years just to pay for it, so what would be the point?
In summary, I can see both sides of most of my dreams and realize that just about every dream you have also comes with some tarnish that goes with the shine. Most people are blinded by the shine and don’t notice the tarnish until after they own it. I can usually spend some time realistically assessing my dream and can see most of the tarnish prior to doing it. Everything has its downsides as well as positives. You are the one that has to assess what a dream is worth to you.
This may come across as a very negative way to think about things, but I rather think it is injecting some reality into a internal debate. Also people tend to overrate the impact of their dream purchases, heck I even fall victim to it once in a while. So next time you are looking at a temptation, pull a Janus and look at both side at once. Your future self will thank you.