Over the past decade or so, one of my ongoing goals has been to reduce my overall reliance on money, and to be able to live reasonably comfortably on as little money as possible. My views on finance have been shaped over the years by my college personal finance instructor, Dave Ramsey, Jacob Lund Fisker (Early Retirement Extreme), and learning from not just my own, but other people's mistakes.
Around 2018 I realized how foolish it was to continue making the minimum payments on my car, my student loans, and my credit card and made the decision to double down and make a real effort to finally get out of debt, even if that meant living like I was in college again. It's amazing how long student loans can follow you around through life if you don't address them as being a serious problem, like a staph infection or a cavity. When you start to accumulate debt, it means you're starting to live beyond your means (though there's certainly exceptions). Having a written monthly budget was the first and most important step I made to take control of my financial life and getting out of debt.
There is no such thing as "good debt", and building a credit score so you can take on more debt is stupid. Debt is what keeps you poor. As it currently stands, the only future debt I'd ever willingly take on in the future is a mortgage for a house. To take on any sort of debt is to fuck yourself and your future self. It makes you a slave to your debtor, and more dependent on money.
Although I have a credit card, I seldom use it. I opt to use cash for physical transactions and a Privacy.com virtual card for online purchases. In the fair case that I do have to use my credit card, it's usually at a place that doesn't accept cash (which I typically avoid because a cashless world is not a world I want to live in). I don't my debit card unless it's for withdrawing cash primarily as a security measure. If my card is ever skimmed, the fraudster only has access to the line of credit at my financial institution and not my actual funds - they've got the banks money, not mine, though it's still a headache to deal with, it'll be less so.
I don't buy into the whole points and rewards system that credit card companies use to try to get you to sign up. You think you're smarter than these companies? How do you think they're making their money? Most people don't pay off their credit card at the end of each money and boom, now they're paying interest. If anything, using a credit card to earn these magical points only makes you prone to spending more money.
Epicurus said "A man is wealthy in proportion to the things he can do without". Money is still obviously very important, however I've always been more of a frugal person and believe that wealth is built by living on less than you make. Frugality is the cornerstone to building wealth. Eating out most nights and dumping your paycheck on frivolous shit is only going to diminish the amount of what you're able to save, if anything.
I've always lived a minimalist lifestyle since entering adulthood and endeavor to keep my wants and needs low - and knowing the distinction between the two. I also try to be consciously aware of what triggers my desires, however, the proliferation of advertising being what it is, it's an impossible task to avoid advertisements from being beamed into your head, generating new desires you didn't know you had, unless of course you live off grid in a cave.
My primary financial goal is financial independence. As it currently stands, I need to work to pay my bills, but I have my fuck you money/emergency fund on standby. I'm not trying to waste my life away working 50+ hours per week unless it's something I truly find value in. The FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) philosophy is something that really resonated with me when I first heard it. Essentially, it's paying off all your debts and investing most of your disposable income, then withdrawing a small percentage of those funds each year. Granted, I'm nowhere near that, but it inspired me to get started.
Ultimately, I don't care how much loot you have. What impresses me is responsible lifestyle choices with minimal reliance on money, and properly investing in your future like maxing out your 401k.
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