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Not too long ago if you asked me “which would you rather do: increase your income or save money?”, my answer was hands-down the latter. Always. It has worked for me for the longest time, but then you realize it’s not sustainable. With saving, there’s a ceiling (more like a floor?). You can only save so much until you’re down to the necessities. Unlike with extending your income, it’s limitless. Plus, I never liked the idea of living a restricted life. Not that I was looking down upon it, but more just…~ “who wants to live that kind of life” right?
I lived by this belief. It was true. It is true even now. But as you learn in life (at least I did), “when one thing is true, it doesn’t necessary mean the other side is false”. Wise things you learn in life, as you grow old, as you travel eh? This article explains to you why saving is that method that you have to do (even if you don’t like it) in order to achieve your goals. There’s another article that talks about the How (to save money for things like travel).
You Want Your Life Optimized / Lean
Quick (recent) History
On June 29, 2007 Apple introduced the iPhone. Suddenly the internet was (now properly) in our pockets. Mobile data has been available even before the iPhone (remember Palm, O2?) but with the introduction of iOS, not only does the device give you internet, it has an operating system. This is like “windows” or “mac”. With those OS, you can install applications like adobe. Nowadays we call it App Store and apps. The floodgates are open not just for casual browsing, but for other softwares and applications both for programmers to develop and consumers to use. All of a sudden we have a small device, with smaller specs, yet we’re expecting it to function like a laptop/computer (and that’s how history unfolded). It doesn’t add up right? Something’s gotta give. Either we level our expectation from the device or we bump up the specs of the device.
Enter Moore’s Law
Well both happened. Basing it on Moore’s Law, one can say that the power of any device will double every two years. That’s good news right? Guaranteed technological advancement! It is, but at the same time on everyday situations, that can be a long time. What if Apple/Google told you the earliest you can install Gmail/Outlook in your phone would be two years from now? The next angry birds will come out in the next Olympics (summer/winter), how about that?
So what did we do? Well the web development world resorted (more like gave in) to the concept of OPTIMIZATION! Web developers optimize websites which in turn accelerates the delivery and/or improves the experience of users. In lay man’s term, this means:
- uploading a 200×200 (not an ultra-high-def photo straight from your SLR) pixel photo if it’s just going to be a small square on your visitor’s screen
- organizing and cleaning up the logic and how you write codes so that it doesn’t have to deliver a bunch of gunky codes to a visitor’s device
- making sure that the content in a page/section/feature is actually what a visitor is expecting or going for (kinda like content engineering)
to name a few.
We didn’t really have a choice. We also didn’t want to wait two years…so we had to optimize. See where I’m getting at now? Web development taught me how to “Resource Manage” basically.
“So how does that relate to saving money?”
Well for us and money saving, you can choose not to worry about saving money and just focus on earning. You can spend your money recklessly so long as your income can accommodate. But eventually you’ll hit a “ceiling”. It’s not so much of a social limitation but rather think of it as “points in your life that pauses income”.
Maybe you burn out and you don’t want to do it anymore (working hard), maybe a sudden medical emergency emerges (and you’re not Canadian–oh man), maybe you just have a life realization and you want to change your career or path in life (and you have to stop your high income), maybe you meet the love of your life and you have to move to another continent for him/her (and start anew). If you get to those situations, it’ll be so hard to pivot and carry out your changes since you’re dependent on the income stream, not so much on the asset you currently have.
Like the web developers you’ll then realize you’ll also have to optimize yourself/spending so you can make space for these life changes/events. This can take the form of:
- stop paying for things you don’t need
(e.g.: Uber Eats err’ day when you can–and should–cook)
- tone down on expenses that don’t need to be excess (maybe you don’t need a luxury car, you just need a car)
- essentially stop paying for things so that you can hold/earn more money. Start saving!
Life tip: reasons to spend will always be there. Income fluctuates and is not guaranteed so one other way you can help yourself is control your spending. As the quote says:
“Greed knows no bounds”-Andrew Gulli
Another way to look at it is if you keep your expenses lean (optimize your spending), that’s more for you later and more of things that matter and genuinely bring happiness to you. If you buy a car, a house, and other big-ticket items and then realize you love travelling, you’ll be tied to those financial commitments and you’ll be miserable because you can’t travel. Speaking of misery…
You (Will) Want Peace, Mental Well-being …and your sanity
When I graduated from uni, my career opportunities and earning potential were all in front of me! I was completely happy and content with my pay from my barista job but when they offered me full-time employment with a salary a little bit more than what I was expecting, I was going crazy and living it! The logic behind earning (rather than saving) is simple: You want more money? Work an extra hour, or increase your rate, or better yet, both! The problem here is you don’t realize (yet) that you’re chaining yourself to active income (Oh man, passive income is a whole new topic).
I did a startup. I’d be awake until around 3-5am, then take interval naps and then fully ‘wake up’ around 5pm. I was enjoying it and was doing it because I wanted to define myself, not that I needed the money. Also, I had a barista job I’d work on nights and weekends and then I had the fulltime job. I had a good income and I had good amount of disposable cash.
Note: I was actually aggressively paying my OSAP in lump sum too. I didn’t even claim some % of it during some years. Oh North America, why can’t we be like Europe eh…
Anyways to cut it short, the logic still stands now. I CAN work more…but do I want to? I just coded for 8 hours. Do I want to code for 3 more? Not to mention those are also hours staring at a screen. That can’t be healthy. To continue the thought, that same 3 hours can be used instead to:
- Spend time with your loved ones
- Invest in yourself (learn a language/any skill)
- have fun, live life (that’s what you’re working for anyway right?)
- or last but not the least, just decompress, kick back, and stay sane
Mental Health is important
See, what you’ll learn later is personal/mental health is important. I’m not talking about depression and disorders. I’m talking about: your brain needs to decompress and relax.
Sometimes work carries stress. You’d want to squeeze that stress out and not let it leak into your personal life.
Also if you’re just in your own hole, you/your brain is not growing. You become less and less aware of the world, the people around you, things to do, places to go, people to meet, reasons to live life, the list goes on and on!
So if you haven’t realized that yet, I’m telling you that you don’t want that. Strictly in terms of money, the initial logic stands but value-wise, is that really all you want and the only factor you want to calculate…?
Your habits will shape your life
Let’s start with good news here: As you’ve known already, saving up was not my thing. Look at me now, I’ve come around! So learning and realizing come at different points of anyone’s life. There’s always hope 🙂
I’ll put myself here as an example:
One of my biggest expenses before was food, more specifically buying lunches during the work week (…sometimes for dinner too). My mindset was “oh don’t worry, it’s just $15-20, what harm can that do? Besides if anything I dump money in my credit card regularly anyways”.
What happens is that it snowballs. I’ve had a budget and I allowed myself to stretch it a bit since “it’s just a buck or two”. But even if I’m more than able to cover the extra costs, it’s just…reckless. Had I stuck with my budget, I could’ve continued travelling without having to worry about my finances. That $15-20 multiplied by however many days and at the end of the month ends up amounting to one-way, short distance flight ticket. So much for “it’s nothing”. So now you’ve either pushed out your other plans for your money or you’ve started carrying debt. I was the latter and while I am more than financially comfortable paying for the past Dan, it’s not fun since you’re paying for the past when you should be enjoying the present/future.
So now imagine that this got REALLY out of hand. I might reach the point of bankruptcy. I might’ve spent 5-10 more years incurring debt, and even if I can pay for it, think about the stress on that… wise age and stress don’t mix well. Heck I know this already around age 30.
Even before that, did you know that financial problems are one of the top causes for relationship problems / divorce? Imagine that, I would’ve doomed myself even before anything started LOL.
I can go on and on with this but you get the point: it affects your life…directly…not just through your wallet. I suggest you start saving money and not get to that point.
I’m not even going to write a conclusion for this one. I got depressed with that last hypothetical, worst-case scenario of myself. Brb, I need chocolate…or french fries HAHA