Yesterday I mentioned “Succeeding” by John T. Reed (I should write up a review for it). Another idea I liked in it is related to Offense and Defense in Football (pardon me in advance if I make mistakes, I’m not a football fan at all).
In Football you want to “meet strength with strength” (defense) and “attack weakness with strength” (offense). Basically you want to focus your strength where the opposition is attacking, and where it is weakest. Wealth accumulation is similar, except you’re playing against society.
Every time there’s pressure to “keep up with the Jones”, your wealth is being attacked. People who are being eaten alive by debt, can’t afford to live the lifestyle they’ve chosen and have to worry about money constantly, have to bring more of their strength to defend against these attacks. Strength in this case is mostly just a matter of giving these issues some of your attention and accepting the negative consequences of defending against them.
Perhaps your friends will give you a hard time about the old car you drive, or the crappy basement apartment you live in. Maybe your significant other will call you cheap when you don’t want to go out binge drinking at the club twice every weekend, maybe cultural pressure will be placed on you to send a check to your parents every month to help pay their bills. Each of these affect all of us differently, and you don’t necessarily need to stop ALL of them, but be aware that issues like this are nibbling away at your wealth, forcing you to work longer-and-harder than you would have had to if they weren’t in your life.
Meeting societies weakness with your strength is another issue that can be easy to articulate, but can be harder to do. Basically, beyond doing “what you want” for a career (fulfillment), you need to factor in how badly society doesn’t want to do whatever job you’re considering. After the dot-com boom, computer work took a nose-dive, because so many people started doing the work. Even though its vital new labour that’s needed by modern companies, it was so popularly perceived as in demand that soon their was a glut of labour being supplied (and salaries therefore dropped).
Currently in Canada and the US you can make a VERY good living in the trades (electricians, plumbers, drywallers, etc). For some reason the public wants to look down on people who use their hands to make a living, and because of this these jobs pay VERY well. If I was a young guy coming out of high school who had any interest in any one of the trades, I’d definitely be thinking about moving in that direction. Even with the massive investment that I’ve made in my mind and technical skills I’m sometimes tempted to move into the trades when I get a bill for the plumber for $250 to put in a new tap in my kitchen sink.
You can accumulate wealth by strengthening your defense or your offense. If you have a strong defense and weak offense, you’ll live like a miser. If you have a strong offense and weak defense, your cost of living will raise every time you get a salary increase and you’ll spend the rest of your life on a treadmill.
By combining both you can figure out what you truly value, earn enough money to pay for them, then have the time to enjoy them.