good times on a shoestring

I’ve been fielding a commentator on the Interest.co.nz site. I suspect – but it’s probably not fair – that there goes a person who has invested a whole lot of life into ‘getting wealthy’, rather than ‘getting something, or to some target’.

As I get older, I look at my contemporaries, and can’t say I’m envious. Most have worked, long as in full-time, although what you call ‘hard’ is questionable. Many are on their second (younger always) partner, are pot-gutted, looking aged, stressed, unhappy.

I’ve probably earned less, and survived on less, than any. Whether I’ve done ‘more’ depends on your definition of ‘more’, but (given that I tend to value adventures, and I include setting up this place as an adventure) I think I’ve done more than most, and if anything, the pace is increasing.

Most of the folk who are disparaging, when you dig, are envious. That’s sad. I remember the fellow who told us (my mate and I were on the way up to Queensland with a small catamaran, away cruisin’) we couldn’t use the products of modern technology and also opt out of it. Really, he just wished he could, but didn’t have what it takes to go (it was in a pub, mid-week, that the conversation took place).

Most folk run penny-wise, pound-foolish lives. They’ll leverage themselves to the biggest mortgage they can manage, and spend all their discretionary income. If they’d gotten a lower-priced house, and saved (self-discipline, in other words) then they’d have had a margin of comfort – increasing all the time. The repayment of huge mortgages and loans, cost so much extra, not in terms of money, but in terms of time.

By being a bit (and it takes surprisingly little) self-disciplined, you can do things like our year cruising the Queensland coast, no income. There were folk anchored alongside us, paying $600 (AUS /1999) a night, and they were away back to Melbourne tomorrow to earn it. We had it all year. We could discipline ourselves to save for three years prior, and hold to a tight ($100nz/week) budget.

It’s not how much you earn, it’s how much you don’t spend.

They used to call it ‘Penny Wise, Pound Foolish’.  I just don’t have enough life to waste.

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