life pondering ocean

9 years ago I blogged about how people who like to “split the check” aren’t my friends anymore. I had totally forgotten about it, but the memories flooded back when I received the following comment on it just this week πŸ™‚

I know it’s not entirely fair. BUT COME ON, it was only 3 bucks dude. After reading your article, it seems like you are the cheap person there. You had a good time, then just let it go! Chill out dude.

Haha… Fortunately these days I do just “chill out” whenever stuff like this happens (though I’ll still ask for separate checks w/ larger parties! Takes forever trying to pay those bills!) but it was a great reminder of how far I’ve come since first starting this blog all those years ago… Now I’m more likely to “split the check” myself, or pay for the other person’s meal entirely because it’s just a nice thing to do!

But in honor of hitting my 9 year Blogiversary last month which I accidentally skipped (oops), I thought I’d share 9 other things I no longer do either since my early days of paying attention to money.

Hope it helps in some way!

#1. I no longer obsess about money anymore

It helps having more money than I used to, of course, but somewhere along the line I’ve moved way from dreaming about millions, to dreaming about having a great LIFE instead. Which, big shocker, you can actually have with or without gobs of money! Now unfortunately it takes just as much time and energy to figure out how to set this up as it does your finances, but hey – it’s a valiant pursuit πŸ™‚

#2. I no longer track every last penny

Someone on Twitter just asked me if I thought I’d be where I am today without tracking my money every month, and the answer would be an affirmative NO. I’ve tracked my net worth for over 110 months in a row now, but it was really those first couple of years that were most transformative. Paying attention to where all your money is coming and going is HUGE when you’ve never done it before – it totally opens up your eyes! But once you get a good grasp of it, tracking every last penny isn’t *as* game changing as it is in the beginning.

Now it’ll certainly save you more cash than not tracking it, I guarantee that, but once you’ve got your rhythm down you get the beautiful decision of whether or not it’s worth the trade off of time anymore. If it is, great! You’ll be saving more than me! But after a few years and seeing the same rough expenses over and over again I decided to just stick w/ my net worth which gives me that overall picture I need without driving myself too crazy. Then I’ll just pop my head into the nitty gritty anytime something major happens, like moving or new kids popping up πŸ˜‰ Another big difference between now and 9 years ago – I’m now a daddy, crazy!

#3. I no longer hustle 24/7

In my efforts to improve upon #1 up there, I realized that in fact working more does NOT make me that much happier despite our culture (and entrepreneur friends) telling us it does. In the last 4 years I’ve gone from priding myself in working 20 hour days down to working about 9-10 ones depending on how efficient I am or not. It’s still a lot more than I want – my target is to stop working nights and weekends! – but you know, one step at a time… And it was again those babies that really put all this into perspective because I was on the train straight towards Workaholicsville and couldn’t get off!

#4. I no longer chase credit card deals or the best interest rates or even the hottest stocks

I’ve since learned that I value simplicity far more than I do an extra percentage point on one of my accounts – so long as I have “good enough” (or, 80% for any of you Pareto Principle lovers out there). It means not having every last one of my dollars maximized, but it also means feeling more at peace with myself/wallet and not being so frantic all the time scouring the web for the next hottest deal, or worse – stock. And believe me, even if people can tell you the latest trending stock, they sure as hell can’t tell you when to cash out of it in time!

So there’s no more chasing the markets or looking for the best savings/credit card accounts for me anymore… I keep almost all my banking under one main roof I’m happy with (USAA), and then all my investments under another happy roof (Vanguard). I then keep my sanity and go about my business from there πŸ™‚

#5. I no longer go shopping for the fun of it

This was one of the first epiphanies I had in my early stage of blogging. I had tried my first “No Spend” challenge where I couldn’t spend any money on stuff that weren’t essentials (bills, groceries, etc), and WOW did I realize I had gotten into a bad habit! I’d literally catch myself pulling into the mall or other random stores anytime I was simply *bored*. And the crazy part was that I had no idea I was doing it!

From that point forward I literally just stopped walking into stores and have saved myself approximately $200/mo ever since… (Now if only there was a way to not stroll into Amazon! ;))

#6. I no longer require new jobs or locations to be happy

This is probably the biggest shocker of them all to me. Having grown up moving around every 2 years in a military family, *change* played a major, and rather exciting!, role in my life. It didn’t matter where I was or what I was doing, as soon as that two year mark hit I was ready to move onto the next glorious adventure awaiting me.

It wasn’t until I went off to college and started working “real” jobs that I realized my normal wasn’t going to be normal anymore… Even so, I struggled with not being able to stay put, whether in location or employment (or relationships!), until finally this blog and my wife were found. Both of which showed that stability can be sexy too πŸ™‚ And coincidentally enough, both found in the same year as well, making it super easy for me to remember the more important anniversary! Haha… And thankfully the entrepreneurial life brings enough change and adventure to keep anyone on their toes.

#7. I no longer care what others think of me

This is also a big turnaround for me over the last handful of years. I still have my weaknesses and seek approval from certain people out of habit, but for the most part I try my best to just be me and do my own thing whether others seem to approve of it or not. Even my beautiful mother – gasp. (As evidence of me still rocking a mohawk at 30-something years old and “looking like a vagabond” with my ragged clothes, per this same mother ;))

Another perk of running a blog, however, is that you also learn how to grow some thick skin as there’s never a shortage of people who find it necessary to tell you how they really feel. Here are a few of these kinds words I’ve saved from only the past handful of months:

“The content is good, but I’m unsubscribing because I have a difficult time with the grammar style of this blog. I feel like I’m reading text messages, not trying to save for retirement.”

“I don’t really care to read about your life for the few nuggets of financial advice you give. My time is too valuable.”

“Oh, and I listen to your podcast with Paula. Love her, but you sound like a clueless 16 year old valley girl.”

“Not the most professional blog.. way too many smiley faces on everything.Β  I also cannot believe you rent!Β  You did introduce me to Rockstar Finance though, so thanks!”

And my all-time favorite:

“He says really nice things but looks like a weirdo. But i guess thats why people like him. Hes like the Miley Cyrus of Finance”

#8. I no longer watch the news/Facebook/media

Want a great way to feel worse about your life? Go scrolling through the news or your Facebook feed πŸ™‚ I used to be obsessed with keeping on top of everything, as well as what all my friends were doing/ buying/flying, and then I realized I never left any of those places actually feeling *better* than when I got there. I’d either feel depressed, jealous, anxious, or just plain scared.

So I stopped reading everything and deactivated all of my personal social media accounts except those relating to this blog. I’ve been in bliss ever since! Now it also means I don’t always know what the hell is going on in the world, but again – trade offs. And my wife is quick to tell me anything she thinks I better know πŸ™‚

#9. I no longer buy bottled water or lottery tickets!

If you were around this blog in 2011 you might remember the hate storm that occurred when I proudly exclaimed that I drink bottled water and wasn’t ashamed to admit it πŸ˜‰ I was mainly targeting the financial aspect of it and how I don’t mind spending the $$ there since bottled was the only way that got me to actually DRINK water (thus, the money spent was = the health benefits), however, I underestimated the environment part of it and was called out pretty good about it.

6 years later though, I’m proud to exclaim that I very much still drink loads of water, but no longer need to use a new bottle every time in doing so πŸ™‚ Finding this bad boy has helped immensely with that, along with purifying the tap more.

And lottery tickets? Well, my experimenting there is over too as I no longer have as much fun playing them as I used to (nor the time to keep going out and buying them each week). I still enjoy giving, and receiving them, for Christmas as they make excellent (and cheap) stocking stuffers!, but now a days I get my cheap thrills off hanging with my kids or chatting with you all here on the blog πŸ˜‰ I’ll never get rich off of it, but hey – LIFE!

And that’s really the point of everything I’ve learned over the past 9 years. Money is great and severely needed up to a certain point, but once you’ve hit the minimum amount for survival/happiness, the rest just feels like extra. The trick then becomes incrementally improving your *lifestyle*, which is just as challenging, if not more, than figuring out your money.

My dream for everyone here is to be able to master BOTH sides of this equation, and then appreciate the progress we’ve all made so far as well. I don’t know what comes after that, but I’d imagine it’s one helluva place to be at πŸ™‚

What have you learned over the past 9 years?


PS: As far as I’ve come over the years, I still mess up alllllllll the freakin’ time. Check out last year’s 8 fails over 8 years of blogging for some good ways to feel better about yourself πŸ˜‰