I think debt is slavery.
How can we increase freedom, and reduce debt? And how do we save money — and why save money?
I. Why save money?
First of all, why save money? Isn’t life short — shouldn’t you just buy shit that makes you happy?
The more money you have saved up (in cold hard cash) and the more ‘liquid’ your money is — the more freedom you will have in life.
So for example, I have a lifestyle that I like. I don’t like to do things I don’t like doing. I don’t like networking, commuting, worrying about money, don’t like being held down by a mortgage or car payment, I hate smartphone bills, and anything that restricts my movement (physical, spiritual, emotional).
For example, Cindy and I currently have $150,000 USD+ saved up. To me, I love this — it means that in theory (assuming our costs are $40,000 a year) — we can live 4 years without stress, without ‘working’ or making money.
Things I like to do: spend time with friends and family, I like to make photos, eat tacos (no tortilla), eat in and out burger (no bun, protein style), drink espresso at hipster coffee shops, write blog posts, make videos, teach, and socialize with passionate folks.
So the more money I have in my savings, the more freedom I have — to do what I wanna do, and not do what I don’t wanna do.
II. Freedom = happiness
The philosopher Epictetus— when asked, ‘What is the greatest good?’ He said:
Freedom is happiness.
We think that having a lot of money will give us freedom. We just want to have the freedom not to go to work, with our shitty boss, or we want freedom from worry and stress.
The thing is money doesn’t equal freedom. You can be a billionaire, but if you cannot take a nap when you want to — you are still a slave (credit Nassim Taleb).
If you are earning $1,000,000 a year but spend $1,000,001 a year — you are a slave.
III. My life story
I grew up on American culture. I remember watching advertisements — Rotisserie Chicken, Seen on TV, ads for Power Ranger toys, Pokemon, Tomadachi, etc.
I was spoon-fed the idea that if I had that one toy, I’d be happy.
I remember I wanted this one toy, a remote control car, that could drive upside down and right side up. I lusted for one. I finally got it, and after ten minutes, I was bored. At age 10 I realized:
Any toy I buy, I will eventually get bored of it.
Rather, I was not bored when making art. When drawing, painting, or dancing.
Lesson 1: happiness is only when you are making stuff or being creative, **you cannot purchase happiness. **
IV. I’m the worst sucker.
Even though I’m a master marketer, I still get suckered by advertising. I wanna buy a Porsche, because I think it will make me cool and happy. I want a new iPhone, because it will unlock my creative potential.
This is all false, we are suckered by marketers and advertisers to believe the false reality that
If I just buy this “X”, I will be complete and happy.
Advertising works by making us feel dissatisfied. Dissatisfied with our lives, with our stuff, and with our possessions.
So if you ever watch an advertisement, and you feel more depressed about your life– the advertisement is working.
Most of us fall victim to advertising because we think we are immune to it. If we realize we are suckers, then we are more immune to it.
So I always remind myself:
Eric, you are the worst sucker. Don’t let the Sirens pull you into the deep ocean, tie yourself to the mast like Ulysses, and listen to Cindy.
V. Be satisfied with shitty stuff.
I had a shitty car, a 1991 Nissan Sentra. But I had pride in my shitty car. I fixed it, modded it, and had pride in it. Because I built it myself, rather than just buying a BMW like the spoiled rich kids.
To me, I have pride in being an under dog. I have pride in having shittier stuff, but having the power to modify it. And to improve my existence, through the labor of my hands and mind.
I still wanna buy expensive shit, but Cindy has taught me to be satisfied with what we have.
And not only that, but to buy more used stuff on Craigslist, eBay, from friends, or asking for free stuff from family.
So if you don’t want the best, you will save a lot of money.
VI. Increase income.
Of course, to save more money, you gotta increase your income. That means, working more (I work 14 hours a day, seven days a week) to create more value, to make more money.
I don’t need money for myself, I need money to help support my mom, sister, and Cindy’s family.
The secret if you own your own business, just charge 25% more for your products or services. If you have a day job, do freelance work after work or weekends.
VII. Live below your means.
I can buy expensive shit, but choose not to. Easiest way to become rich, and build your savings.
The money you don’t spend is more important than the money you earn.
Even though Cindy and I are rich, I don’t upgrade my $2 Capresso Espresso machine that Cindy’s mom found at a garage sale, or the $25 Capresso coffee grinder we bought at Costco. I enjoy my $600 Ricoh GR II, I don’t buy new digital cameras that costs more than $1,000.
I don’t wanna own a phone anymore. That’s a lotta money saved.
I don’t wanna own a car anymore. That’s a lotta money saved.
No more pretentious restaurants for me. That’s a lotta money saved– Mexican food and In and Out for life, and cooking at home.
Make it fun. See how little money you can spend everyday. See if you can survive on less than $4 a day.
Marry well. Best life hack.
Cindy’s mom taught Cindy how to be frugal and resourceful. Cindy has made us rich. Thank you Cindy.
I don’t trust myself with money. I just give it all to Cindy.
Marry a frugal life partner, and you will be rich.
Live below your means, and spend less than $4 a day. You’ll be rich.
Make a lot of money, and then buy your own freedom. Then buy the freedom of your family. Then seek to empower all of humanity.
Photography Entrepreneurship 101
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