I started my journey to financial freedom like many others. I realized one day that I was broke, and it was my fault.

 

 I was cruising along happily in life pissing away all my money and it seemed like EVERYONE was living the same way (they were and still are) so how should I know any better?
  • I was making really good money, but living paycheck to paycheck. I didn’t think it was a big deal because “I have good job security” “I’ll get a raise soon” “I can always get another job if I have to” “Money isn’t that important anyway” all that nonsense we tell ourselves to avoid admitting any responsibility and rationalize our reckless indulgence.
  • I had a fancy $40,000 leased car. You wouldn’t believe how much I loved this car. I used to put blue tape all over the front end when I drove more than an hour so it wouldn’t get rock chips or bug splatter. I LOVED this car. It was $450 a month and I was selling cars at the time so compared to what other people were signing up for, I thought it was cheap! (I actually still miss that car honestly.)
  • I was buying new clothes all the time, expensive stuff too, you can’t believe how few people I impressed. Such a waste.
  • I went out drinking couple times a week. I was 27 or so, dressed fancy, nice car, single, I’m easy on the eyes…… I was living the (supposed) dream!
aaaaaaand then lost my job. Abruptly. and it was because of poor choices I had made

Everything is directly due to choices we make

I’m certainly the first person you have heard tell you this (does my sarcasm come through text well?). Really, though this is such common and underutilized advice that it’s dismissed as an empty cliche, which is unfortunate. Any advice that’s really abstract isn’t always very helpful by itself, you have to believe in the information apply it, and you have to know how it works. If the majority of people make awful choices all the time(they do), especially financial ones, how can they teach you this advice works? Few people I’ve ever met have a great plan or strategy and a vision of how to make choices to accomplish that plan, and I’ve met even fewer who then turn around and teach someone else what they’ve figured out. So you have this great advice but the vast population is just cruising with whatever life hits them with. I think it’s called YOLO!
That’s not choices, that’s just survival. I didn’t want to just survive, I wanted to flourish. 
Let’s make some choices:
  • Dump that car payment. No one wants to do this, but I did, and it was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. I went and found a $1500 BEATER and bought it, oh I had to do a cash advance on my credit card to get there, along with the negative equity the car had. The truck I bought was awful too, it was about 15 years old and had 260,000 miles. A disgusting interior that took me days to clean out, a manual transmission, the paint was a mix of rusty and peeling clear coat, it had no radio just a hole in the dash, and a cracked windshield. You know what it had in its favor though? It was cheap, it was dirt cheap and it got me out of my car payment. If it survived 6 months that’s a LOT of money in car payments and insurance that I could save, so I bought it and I drove it. Turns out, that choice is how I paid for a rental house in cash just a few years later. Dumping your car payment at almost any cost is one the best choices you can make, and yeah it’s hard.
  • Give up music, at least partially, and use that time to learn with podcasts and audiobooks. I did!  This one is easy, massively undervalued, and in my opinion, it has the greatest return on investment. Do you listen to music in your car? Could you give some of that up to spend time learning? So do it, I gave up music and become obsessed with listening to podcasts and audiobooks and it WORKS. I found out about real estate on a podcast and it changed my life. My real estate career is directly attributable to my choices about how I spend time in the car. The time in the car is WASTED time, you’re just sitting there using that big beautiful brain to do the brainless task of driving, and then further wasting it by listening to whatever top 40 nobodies Spotify told you like. FUCK THAT, you can start fixing this TODAY. Podcasts are free, audiobooks are cheap and even free if you have a library card in many places! If you’re reading this and you only listen to one thing I have to say, make it this one. Learning is hands down the best choice of all, and it’s never been easier. (Fiction isn’t learning, no 50 shades of grey or harry potter)
  • Believe in yourself! This is more abstract and useless advice to you I’m sure, regardless, it’s a choice that really matters. When I was considering joining the Army I had a very close high school friend told me he didn’t think I could go through with it. I’m sure glad I chose to believe in myself over him. Believing in yourself is hard because there is some part of your brain inside that tells you things are hard, not worth it, and you should just not worry about it and eat hot Cheetos instead…..that fucker is your worst enemy. (Except for the hot Cheetos part, those are magical). In the military there is a saying that goes “Do the hard right, over the easy wrong”, this is part of what believing in yourself means (at least to me), making the right choice for yourself, even when it’s hard.
  • Choose better people. This one is always disappointing because you’re going to find real quick that if you want a better life for yourself, some people are gonna have to go. Not everyone is going to change with you, in fact, probably nobody will, and you might not be able to drag them along. You may think that peers may try to be a negative influence on you, in my experience, this has been the lesser situation of the two. I’m constantly BEGGING friends and family to learn this stuff with me, make money with me, create freedom for me, but almost none have taken a single step. Maybe it’s because I’m still fairly new at this and they don’t’ believe in me yet, maybe they just don’t want to try. I’ve chosen not to wait to find out what they decide to do, I’m moving forward. The choice I’ve made is to make a better life for myself, the choice is sometimes hard.

 

I already have an outline of what my choices will produce, and if history is any indicator I will exceed even that because we all habitually underestimate ourselves.

 

So things got better after a while, I certainly didn’t’ know all this stuff as it happened. I had to learn my lessons on the backs of mistakes and then look back at what worked and try to reduce them to simple principles that could be useful. As I transitioned from a reckless moron to a responsible moron I found myself not just creating a financial safety net, but something much more: freedom. What I realized along my journey is that living week to week isn’t just a financial burden, it’s an emotional one. It forces people to create attachments to people, things, and places that they might not want to be attached to, but maybe can’t afford to get out. If a person is stuck in a job they can’t afford to quit, that’s called wage slavery, it’s as old as economics. If a person is in a relationship they aren’t happy with, but can’t afford to leave, that’s emotional servitude If a person lives in somebodies house or a place that they can’t leave, is that freedom? Does it make them a pet?? Yes, it’s harsh, it should be. No one should be forced to live in conditions that aren’t on their terms, and ESPECIALLY not because of financial reasons! The more I fixed my money problem the more I realized I was fixing a far more important problem.

I HATED my old life of being beholden to someone or something else. I hated living week to week, worrying about money, and never seeing an end to economic stress. I hated being stuck in jobs I didn’t like but couldn’t’ afford to leave. I hated being stuck around and with people I was forced to make work with because I had no economic breathing room to make changes. I haven’t fixed all this, but it’s a process and I’m getting better. I’ve learned the hard way and I have spent the last few years of my life spending almost all my waking time learning how to fix, and then teach other people not to make the mistakes as I have and to make better choices! Money and all the problems that not having enough of it creates, they can all be fixed. You don’t need to be smart, and you don’t need to have a been born in some lucky condition. I’m none of those things, in fact, I’m kinda lazy actually, and people think I’m a rockstar! The bar is set SO LOW it’s incredible. Everyone can have a far better life once they understand and believe this one thing:

 

Being broke is a choice