The Life You Want Costs Less Than the Life You Have - Common Sense Living Newsletter
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The Life You Want Costs Less Than the Life You Have

Mar 23, 2016

The Life You Want Costs Less Than the Life You Have 

All my life / I thought I needed all the things I didn't need at all / My life / I thought I wanted all the things I didn't want at all...

Evan Dando - All My Life

There you go again, daydreaming about something better than this.

"Is this it?" You ask yourself.

"Surely there's more to life..."

There's always more to life, dear reader.

More money, more time, more fun.

It's not like you can snap your fingers and bring it all into being, or anything. If you want more out of life you have to have a plan. And then enact it.

But there's definitely more out there for you. More than this.

And it probably costs a lot less than you think. In fact, this life you daydream about costs less than the life you have right now.

Wait - what? The luxuries you dream of... the boats... the Porsches... the holiday homes... the five - star hotels... the endless golf... that stuff costs LESS than you think?

Of course not.

That stuff costs an arm and a leg.

I'm not really talking about the trinkets and trappings of a so-called awesome life. That kind of lifestyle can bankrupt anyone pretty quickly.

No, what I'm talking about here is your cost of living right now. A cost that includes, among other things:

  • Mortgage (or rent)
  • Utilities - gas, electricity, water
  • Food
  • Car - petrol, servicing, maintenance
  • Phone and Internet
  • Insurance: health, life, car
  • Taxes

You may not get, use or need all of the above. But if you're like most, you'll have to find money to cover at least 75% of it.

How much of your regular, take-home income does this stuff chew through each month?

< Less than 50%?

> More than 75%?

This is, of course, before we get to any 'luxury' discretionary purchases - things like eating out, holidays, new clothes, new cars (a Toyota, perhaps?), home improvement, kids school fees, going to the movies, concert tickets...

It's all jolly expensive, but this luxury stuff is what most people dream of when they pine for a 'better' life.

I'd argue these are things you think would improve your life, right now.

Some of them might. Maybe fleetingly. They'd burn a hole in your wallet, for sure. But at least they'd burn a few nice memories onto your prefrontal cortex.

You already know your fixed monthly costs are most likely too high to be able to afford a lot of this stuff.

To do it, you'd probably have to go into debt.

Debt has a direct correlation with your stress level. Like sugar and your gut. The more you have the bigger it grows.

This stress weighs heavily on your ability to enjoy the big-ticket thing you just bought. So any meaning you think it adds to your life is diminished.

It begs the question:

What do you really want?

All of these material things sure are nice. The non-material things add convenience - or give you a 'premium' experience. I'm partial to a few of them myself. A good few.

But I'm in a kind of 'head-down' phase of my life right now. I'm working a lot, have a young family, I just moved house, I'm running a business... I'm loving every minute (pretty much)...but I'm time poor.

When you're in this phase and you buy something big and shiny...or treat yourself to a pair of First Class tickets...or Dinner at the acts as a kind of 'quick fix'. A nice reward for all the hard work you've been doing.

These are the things you fixate on when your life is on permanent fast-forward, precisely because they're quick and gratifying. They help you improve your life - now.

But to really improve your life in any meaningful way, you need more time. Time gives you options. Having options makes you feel free. Freedom is the real prize. And guess what?

You'll eventually get more time - for free

The reward of discretionary time appears on the horizon when you're heading into the last 10 years of your career. It's coming, dear reader.

That's when you can really start to think about the life you want in retirement. I'll bet it looks nothing like your life right now. I'll bet, despite what you might've read, the life you really want costs a lot less than the life you're living now.

I'm not there yet. But that's not to say I don't think ahead - about how my life could be richer, slower, lazier and cheaper.

I won't need a four-bedroom, detached house on a large suburban block, for starters. That can go.

I won't need two cars. I may not even need one, if Uber and Google self-driving cars pool their resources to become one mega, ride-on-demand type business. (BTW - this will really disrupt the auto industry... mark my words.)

I won't care for the latest smartphones...if smartphones are still a thing in 2040. Nor will I care too much for the latest consumer tech. How much bigger and flatter can a TV get, anyway?

I see a simpler, smaller, cheaper (and more mobile) life, when I project forward. A life where my costs of living are reduced because my priorities are completely different.

Don't worry too much, your expenses will come down too. They will. You just won't care the same way about the things that seem important to you right now.

With your cost of living reduced, you'll have more time (and money) to spend doing the things you love: travelling, reading, drinking the good wine, writing, joining a choir, taking photos, exploring your country, seeing your family... if they'll put up with you.

You'll see your grown-up kids going through the exact same trials and stresses you're enduring now...and you'll be able to show them that it does get easier.

Life will slow down. When it slows down, you get to soak it in and really enjoy the view.

You'll realise there IS more to life. There has been all along.

And it's happier, freer, and cheaper than you ever thought possible.

Editor's Note: And it's easier than you can imagine to plan for this dream retirement. In fact, if you don't have a plan in place, you might be setting yourself up for a struggle. The earlier you start, the greater your options. We can show you exactly how to put a plan in action in seven steps. Click here to learn how.

Image Source: Jamie Hooper/Shutterstock


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2 Responses to "The Life You Want Costs Less Than the Life You Have"

Ravi Thakur

23 Jun, 2016

Its true.. You can have a better life, not frugal, with less trappings and demands. After retirement, even if you are working part-time and earning active income, life can be simple, less demanding and more fulfilling. A dream retirement does not mean "lavish", it means a fulfilling and rich life, with no worries and concern for petty chores or day-to-day life.

Sudhir Mahale

31 Mar, 2016

All these articles are targeted to those 10 years from retirement. What about those who are already in retirement?. After retirement one gets flooded with investment consultants with advises on investment plans which are again meant for retirement planning 10 years ahead. All these are nothing but ideas to meet their targets.


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