Flexing for poor people:
Showing off by spending a lot of money.
Flexing for rich people:
Showing off by saving a lot of money.
So for those of you that have been hanging out at Vivre Le Rêve for a while or for those of you that know me in person, you know that I’m pretty frugal and honestly that might even be pretty generous to say. How about extremely thrifty? Or maybe we can just call it financially conservative? Or even better than that, how about excessively economical? That sounds pretty nice.
Whatever we want to call it, I basically avoid spending money.
I keep my basic expenses at £1,500 per month and I try to save 100% of my income by only living off the extra cash my investments generate. It doesn’t matter how much money I make every month. I still refuse to pay Starbucks money for coffee I can make better at home, because to me that just seems like a waste of money.
I still wait for happy hour to start just so I can get the half-price dinner if I go out to eat. It’s normal for me to buy the basic food brands at supermarkets because the name brand is £1 more, it’s basically the same thing with just different packaging. There are no designer clothes, there are no mansions, there is no £100,000 car. There is no takeaways and there is no private jet. In fact I’ve actually never flown first class before in my entire life.
I’ll show you how adopting a few of these fiscally prudent practices could really benefit you in the long run. Especially if one day you want to live off of your investments.
Now for me part of my excessively economical psychology began with my upbringing and just the way I was raised. I only had one parent and without going into too much personal detail there were absolutely times where money was very tight, I remembered those times so vividly. So when I got a part-time job in high school I really started to see the value of money and just how hard it was to keep if that makes sense? I was making pretty decent money for a high school student. I was making £100, maybe £200 a week working after school and weekends as a chef/cook.
But when I really started adding things up, I was blown away by just how much things cost. Like groceries, you know? £100 gone. Car insurance? £150 gone or phone bill? £80 gone. Going out to dinner? £40 gone. Buying a new pair of shoes? £100 gone.
I thought to myself, wait a second. If I just went out to dinner and that dinner was £40 that would cost me 4 hours of my time, just to pay for dinner! I was blown away, I was thinking like how do normal people pay for this? How do normal people afford stuff like this?
I would see rich people driving £50,000 cars and I would think to myself that this would take me 10 years of saving £100 a week, just to be able to buy that! Or I would drive by a two million pound house and think to myself what do these rich people do to be able to afford something like that? Even if I saved £1,000 a week, it would take me 40 years of doing that to be able to buy a two million pound house.
Honestly at 16 years old I just kind of figured to myself “How do I ever afford something like this?”
How do all of these people do it? I remember a guest coming into my work who had a £10,000 Rolex on, and I was blown away that someone would ever spend £10,000 on a watch. From my perspective, that was like a year if I saved everything I made and this guy just spent that on a watch? I just wanted to know how does somebody do that?
But I’ll tell you when I started out in sales, I would drive 30 minutes every single morning just to get to the posh part of the city because I knew I wanted to work in the most expensive area I could. And once you start doing that and surrounding yourself in that sort of environment, all of a sudden that affluent lifestyle and rich people behaviour just becomes very very normal. It becomes normal for someone just to go and buy a three million pound house in cash, without even thinking about it. Normal to see people driving around in Bentley’s everywhere.
It was almost a little bit like the Wizard of Oz, when you finally see what’s behind the curtain. Because I didn’t grow up around any of this stuff and to go from that, to then seeing someone spend £20,000 on a shopping session in an afternoon is just ludicrous.
It was really like this entirely new world that just opened up for me. Like you hear about these rich people, you read stories about rich people like this and you might see movies on rich people doing this. But you never actually see it firsthand, just seeing that these people were out there and they existed. Seeing that they weren’t anything special and that they weren’t more talented than you or I. They were really just normal people who happened to have a lot of money.
It really made me think to myself “Wait a second, if they can do it, why can’t I do it too? If they can have all of this, what’s to stop me from doing all of this too?” 15 years later and here I am. In my room alone typing on a laptop, ha!
But for real, life is great. I still have the exact same psychology today as when I was 15 years old and £100 in my bank account meant that I had a lot of money.
In a way having that type of mentality imprinted in my mind at such an impressionable age, it was really both a blessing and a curse.
On the one hand I definitely overcompensated with extreme frugality. Like, I can make a lot of money and then not spend any of it but then worry why my electric bill is £10 more this month. Or also why I would rather park half a mile away if that means I can get free parking, than park closer and pay an extra £3, like that just seems wasteful to me.
I get how ridiculous that sounds, that’s the way my mind works, but I really believe it’s because of that mentality that I haven’t gotten jaded about money or what it’s really worth and also just how much an extra £10 means to someone who’s living month to month. So for me I never take it for granted and I also really try never to be wasteful with money. It’s because of that that I’ve pretty much adopted this mentality that I live by and it’s this:
I only earn what my money makes me. It doesn’t matter how much money I make every month, I only care about how much that money will make me indefinitely if I go and invest it.
That is the money that I consider income, because to me that £50,000 basically just means £150 extra per month for the rest of my life, without ever touching the principle. When you really start to see that £50,000 to me really only equates to £150 extra per month, now you get to start to see why I’m not splashing around in luxuries every weekend. Like, I can maybe increase my lifestyle by £150 a month. But when you really put that into perspective, £150 a month isn’t like a huge lifestyle increase. It doesn’t mean that I’m going out like doing crazy stuff all the time, you know £150 a month is great but it’s not like over-the-top luxury lifestyle living Gucci flexing.
Call me pessimistic or maybe I have just a very realistic approach with all of this but I’m not naive to think that this type of income is going to be lasting forever. Don’t get me wrong, I would love for this to last forever and I have no intention of ever stopping anytime soon. I just realised that things change over time and nothing lasts indefinitely and it would be unrealistic to assume that things just get better and better every single year. I would love for that to be the case but you know, I’m not expecting that to happen.
While I definitely plan to have as much longevity as I possibly can, I realise that just as quickly as things go up, they can absolutely come down. I just believe it’s the smart thing to do, to prepare for stuff like this, because life does happen and things do happen that are outside of your control. I think a good term for this is cautiously optimistic and here’s the thing, at the end of the day money is really just about giving you (since it’s about having the option to pursue what you enjoy the most) it’s about having the option to go and sleep in if you want to, or going and spending £3,000 at the Gucci store with the other crazy rich people. You do you, and if that makes you happy then I support it.
For my experience the real enjoyment doesn’t come from buying things, it’s from having the option to buy things if you want to.
I have a feeling you’ll find that once you get to the level where you can reasonably afford anything you want. The desire to own those things just kind of goes away all of a sudden, it just doesn’t seem as impressive to buy those things as it once did when you didn’t have the money.
Deep stuff here, did not intend to go down this rabbit hole, but that has been the truth and reality for me. So what do I spend money on then if I am so economically fiscally efficiently frugal?
Well besides investments and index funds which is basically where 99.9% of my money goes. I spend money on things that I feel add value and enjoyment to my life. Like pre-pandemic there was a really good deal in my city for all-you-can-eat sushi during the lunch hour for like £20. If you guys want the best sushi place in the world for all-you-can-eat hit me up. Like that’s my idea of splurging, £20 all-you-can-eat sushi.
Another pre-pandemic one, I found a really good deal for a spa local to me for a massage and I will treat myself to this anytime I feel like I’m stressed out or just want to relax for a little bit. Beyond that I really don’t need to spend money to make myself happy and honestly I get happy from just the the most simplest things. Like sleeping in in the morning, being able to binge watch Real Housewives or being able to do some gardening.
I love just hanging out with my friends and family and talking about random topics of absolutely nothing. I love having the creativity to go and make these Vivre Le Rêve articles, put my own thoughts out there and express myself.
Like these little things that don’t cost money at all are the things that I really enjoy the most. Of course maybe I’ll splurge the odd thousand here and there if it’s a justified business expense and I think it might actually help me with branding and stuff like that, but beyond that I mean none of that really makes me happy.
So anyway that’s the reason why I am so frugal and why I don’t spend money. I just don’t feel the need to spend money and I feel like it doesn’t really add to my enjoyment or happiness. In terms of lifestyle, I mean it doesn’t really matter how much money I make, it’s just how much money that money makes me. That’s what I consider what I earn if that whole sentence made sense? I don’t know if it did.
For everyone reading I guess the main takeaway here is that money’s main purpose is really just to give you security and to give you the option to pursue the things that you find the most enjoyable.
Most importantly when you do go and make money, be smart with it, don’t sit there with your Etsy store earning £2,000 a month and just think that you’re set for life indefinitely. Don’t expect that you’ve hit this lottery with your social media marketing agency and expect those clients to be with you for the next 40 or 50 years.
Same thing goes with actors, musicians, social media influencers, businesses and pretty much anything else you can think of. Most people and brands just find themselves doing exceptionally well for a few years and then things slow down and people move on. That is at least from what I’ve seen, only a fraction of 1% of all of those really stand the test of time and are around for like 20, 30 or 40 years.
That’s why I really believe it’s so important to save while you can, invest while you can and really value that money to make sure it works for you. In terms of actually making money, I recommend that you do what I did which is surround yourself with rich people who are making the type of income that you want to one day.
Maybe, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this if I didn’t see that other people were doing it themselves? That’s where you start getting into the whole psychology aspect of making money and I will save that for another article.