In the US alone… consumer debt is on its way to $4 trillion by the end of 2018. Yes… that’s trillion with a “T”.
For clarity… a stack of 4 trillion one-dollar bills would reach the moon with 32,000 miles to spare.
Put another way; if you had a job that paid $20/per second ($72,000 per hour!)… you would accumulate 4 trillion in earnings around the year 8,358!
We’re not even talking about mortgage debt (add another $8.8 trillion). We’re also not talking about the rest of the world (add trillions more). This is just consumer debt in the US… credit cards and car loans.
Despite the abundance of financial advice, tips, tricks and money hacks… we apparently have no idea how to save money.
Or at least… we don’t know “why” we should save money.
The Most Important Money Saving Advice
A few things…
- First, let me apologize if you were hoping for that simple tip, hack or takeaway. That’s not what this post is about.
- Second, I’m sure this advice is found in many books and has been told to us countless times… but until you’re ready to “hear” it, it’s probably not helpful. In my case… it was in one ear and out the other, until the day it wasn't.
- Finally… whether this advice works for you depends on how much you hate Mondays.
I won’t take too much of your time, but let me quickly share how I came upon this money saving solution…
I didn't hate Mondays… just every second Monday, because those were the days I said goodbye to my family and drove north to live (and work) in a camp for 10 days.
I’d come home for 4 days… and then say goodbye again. This went on for years.
And although I was home for 4 days, it felt like 2.
The first day you're a zombie and then Sunday, the day before goodbye… is mostly uncomfortable silence. When your “Monday” is 240 hours long (roughly how long before I would be home again), Sundays really suck.
My youngest daughter once asked me on the night before leaving, “Daddy… are you going home tomorrow?”
She was just four-years-old and in her mind, I was just visiting. Why wouldn’t she think that… it was true. I was a visitor in my own home.
That was one of my lowest moments… but you know what?
I had six-figures worth of shiny-red-sports-car and an SUV in my driveway to make it all better. You know… to make me happy.
Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?
That’s because it is…
Of course I didn’t feel that way… but if I didn’t feel that way, why did I buy them?
I bought them because I wanted them.
But as I left home for another 10-day shift, I realized there was something I wanted more. I wanted to NOT say goodbye. I wanted more time.
Time is The Answer
With trillions worth of consumer debt… we’re spending ourselves off a cliff.
And yet… only 3 in 10 people say they’re “happy”.
So, we’re wasting our lives in jobs we hate to buy things that don’t make us happy…
Of course “things” don’t make us happy. We know this. And we know we shouldn't spend money we don’t really have on things we don’t need.
But we want what we want, and if we have the means to buy it… we will. I'm pretty sure we're wired this way.
So, “the advice” (for those ready to hear it) is this…
The key to saving money (aka… not spending it in the first place), is NOT fighting what you want… but rather putting the thing you really want “first” in your life (not last)… and more often than not, the thing you really want is more “time”.
More Fridays, fewer Mondays, a career you enjoy…
For me… above all else, I wanted more time with family and more time to do the things I enjoy doing. But I was pissing it away and you might be too.
I still want “stuff” and I really miss my car and SUV (yes, I got rid of them)… but when time is factored into my decisions… the answer is simple…
… I chose time every time.
If I can have both (time and stuff), I’ll happily take them!
I'm not being virtuous here. This isn't a plea for contentious spending and I'm not shouting out against consumerism. Those things have their place and there are valid arguments for both, but that's not what I'm talking about here.
What I'm saying is, if you have to make that choice, make sure you choose the one that makes you happy. If I’m forced to choose between time and stuff (and most of us are), the answer will always be time and I’m okay with that.
It means every time I choose NOT to spend money, I’m richer.
And if you’re unsure how valuable your time is, consider what happens when it runs out… tick-tock.