The purpose of the first post was to introduce the content of the blog. The purpose of this post is similar but couldn’t be more different. I’m going to use it to introduce myself! I don’t want you all investing too much of your time with The Deliberate Lifestyle before you get to know the asshole who’s writing to you.
My name’s Mark. I like sports, camping, hiking, dogs, trying new food and beer, personal finance, and entrepreneurship. Until recently, I’ve lived about as scripted of a life as you could imagine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy and proud of what I’ve done with my life thus far – I’ve developed some profound relationships and had some incredible experiences – however, I’ve always sort of done things by the books. After spending 18 years in a middle class suburb of Chicago, I went to an in-state public university to get a degree in engineering. I began working for a medical supplies company and moved to Chicago proper after graduating.
So everything is going according to plan (we’ll talk more about this “plan” in a later post). I’m in a position that directly relates to my education, I’m making decent money, and most importantly (depending on who you ask), I enjoy the work that I’m doing. With all that being said, I’m not in the real world/corporate America/the rat race for more than a few months before the following question crawls into my brain:
“Do I really have to do this shit for the next 40 years?”
Although I knew I didn’t want to work for someone else for four decades, I wasn’t actively doing anything to address this desire. Like most of the working class, I was convinced that unless you were a super genius or stupid lucky, working until I was 65 was inevitable.
How I stopped being such a clown and realized that there are other options…
The short version of the story is that I started spending time with people who were into personal finance and the affect that it can have on lifestyle design. That’s actually pretty misleading. In reality, I spent a ton of time with ONE person who absolutely geeked out on this shit. And that person happened to be my roommate. We’ve logged dozens of hours of conversations, some with more sobriety than others, on a multitude of topics. I feel that the hours of discussions can be condensed into:
- Above all else, I want a surplus of freedom in my life
- Needing to work for someone else takes away freedom
- I want to retire from that type of work ASAP
- In order to retire ASAP, I need to save a lot of money and invest those savings wisely
- Real estate can be a bomb ass investment
I somewhat arbitrarily decided that I want to retire by my 35th birthday. Not only does retiring in my mid-thirties sound awesome, there are objective calculations that support how reasonable it is. We can dig into the numbers another day. So here’s what I’ve done/am actively doing to hit this goal:
- I save 60% of my income
- I have a cash-flowing rental property
- Savings not being used to pay down the mortgage are used to buy index funds
I probably turned off most of my readers (perhaps even all six of you) with that 60% savings rate. But I promise you that I don’t practice extreme frugality or live with my parents. Let the records show that I live with my grandparents. JK, dude. I believe in a “parallel tracks” approach. That is, I live below my means so I’m able to save and invest the majority of my income, but I still want to have a good time while I’m young.
The table below shows some of the things I’m able to do with a 60% savings rate and things I choose not to do:
WHAT MARKIE DOES
WHAT MARKIE DOESN’T DO
|Live in nice apartments in trendy neighborhoods||Rent expensive ass apartments|
|Travel internationally for pleasure (took trips the last two years and just booked one for this year)||Travel like a complete tourist|
|Go to the bars on the weekend||Go out every night of the week|
|Take my girlfriend on nice dates (I think they’re nice and who cares if she’s imaginary)||Have a luxury car or big ass truck/SUV|
|Go to games/concerts||Own expensive clothes or jewelry|
|Belong to a gym||Drive short distances in a car|
|Eat well||Insist on eating organic food|
In putting those lists together I noticed a couple themes:
- Everything in moderation, people!
- I prefer to spend money on memories over material
I don’t practice extreme frugality and I’m far from a minimalist, but I actually do get a kick out of being efficient with my paper (read: money). I take pleasure in watching my monthly expenses stay lower but achieve more than people I regularly associate with. Here’s a dumb meat-head example: I’ve spent $80 on 10 pounds of protein powder over the last six months. The average person would scoff at the idea of spending $80 on a specialty item, but spends $8 at Starbucks twice a week on a latte and danish without batting an eye.
SPEND LESS: My $80 lasts 6 months. “The average person” went through $80 in five weeks.
ACHIEVE MORE: My breakfast has made my biceps slightly less small. “The average person’s” breakfast has given him diabetes.
That’s efficiency, baby.
What have I done lately?
In the last post (and again in this one for those keeping score at home), I mentioned that I’ve made a couple lifestyle changes recently. To keep you guys from falling off the seats of which you’re already on the edge, I’ll tell you those changes now. In addition to closing on my first rental property (did so in July 2015), I negotiated a remote work arrangement with my employer and moved from Chicago to Kansas City. The latter of which is probably the most outwardly deliberate choice I’ve made in an effort to design my ideal lifestyle. The move satisfied three things that are important to me listed in order of importance:
- Living closer to Caitlin (that girlfriend I referenced earlier actually isn’t imaginary) means I get to spend more time with her
- Working remotely (even though I’m working more hours) gives my day less structure and more freedom
- Moved to a city with lower cost of living while maintaining the same income level
Nothing groundbreaking – just a concrete example of deliberate decision making that significantly changed my life.
Thanks for reading, gang! We’ll start the first lifestyle experiment in the next post!