Money and Convenience Are Basically The Same Thing

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Hot pot is glorious. Somewhere, deep in my childhood memories, I have vague recollections of bubbling broth, delicately rolled sheets of meat, odd dipping sauces, and questionable food safety, and it somehow became one of my favourite ways to enjoy a meal. Looking now to recreate it – which I did this past weekend with spectacular results – I’d found myself standing in the veggie aisle of an Asian supermarket. In small packages, there were cremini, enoki, shiitake, and white button mushrooms, but there was also a “hot pot mix”, cleverly portioned out to be exactly what I needed. In a moment of weakness, I ignored the $8.98 price tag and put them in my basket. Given a choice between “I could buy the individual packages and get more mushrooms for the same price” and being a bad chef, I became a bad chef. I chose convenience over money. After all, like everyone else, I may as well pay for convenience… right?

This got me thinking though. When you get right down to it, that’s all we ever pay for. You buy a car to avoid walking multiple kilometres to work every day. You buy a computer to avoid doing all your scheduling, task managing, and socializing via pen and paper. You buy meat so you don’t have to raise chickens or gut a deer. Perhaps, if all you want is to live a wealthier life, it may be as easy as letting in some inconvenience!

I know this is certainly true for me. I eat takeout and $8.98 mushrooms more than I care to admit, and I still haven’t ventured into brewing my own beer. We’ve also talked about not owning things if you can help it, but I still have so much crap, I have to give/throw stuff away regularly. Suddenly, I wanted to know what an inconvenient lifestyle looked like, based on my daily expenses.

Wake up.
Brew my own coffee.
Make myself a sandwich for work.
Bike to work.
Drink tap water.
Eat the sandwich on my break.
Bike home.
Make a quick dinner.
Drink a homebrew.
Read articles online.
Go to bed.

This is, of course, regular daily living for countless people and the joie de vivre of many a Mustachian. I decided to go ahead and define my barriers to success.

I would need to buy a coffeemaker.
I would need to make more time for grocery shopping.
I would need to buy another trike (because the last one was stolen).
I would need to purchase equipment for homebrewing, and I don’t have a passion for it.

That’s it! At this point, I found it genuinely weird I’d have to buy things to make my life more inconvenient on my terms, but as it’s such a simple fix, it may be worth investigating. The coffeemaker, for instance, could be a great investment. Coffee currently costs $0.55 at the local 7-Eleven, but coffee at home is more like $0.08. It seems pretty insignificant, but a year of coffee at home instead of 7-Eleven java saves me $171.55, enough for many coffeemakers! Now, I just wish I liked homebrewing…

The obvious takeaway is introducing inconvenience means more money in our pockets. Getting back on a trike would save me from $60 tanks every month for an extra $720/year. Add car maintenance – my last bill was $715 – then add the coffee, and I just pulled $1,500+ out of my ass by slightly inconveniencing myself!

Try doing a similar exercise to the one above, and ask yourself, “How inconvenient can I make my life?” It shouldn’t be too scary at all. Determine your barriers to success, and figure out how much money you’d save. I’m not telling you to dumpster dive or use toilet paper stolen from library bathrooms, but think about it this way: With virtually every consumable, you can either choose to walk away with Money or Convenience.

How rich do you want to be?

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You Don’t Own Anything

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You’ve probably figured out by now the main way to Get Rich is to Stop Buying Shit. Many of us, myself included, purchase stuff because we want the convenience of services on demand. Think about it: If you OWN something, it’s able to perform a service for you at any time. You’re not really buying the Thing, you’re buying Convenience. You don’t really want “a blender”, you want blended drinks at the touch of a button. You could easily go over to a friend’s place and use their blender, but you don’t. You buy the blender because you don’t want to go next door and bug your buddy. You now OWN the blender. Go, you. Have a kale shake.

BUT WAIT! What if I told you you don’t own the blender at all? Remember, you’re buying Convenience, not the Thing. What if I told you the only time your investment is paying off is when you’re actively using it? Deep down, you know it’s true. The rest of the time, the Thing just takes up space and gets in the way. Let’s crunch some numbers.

I’m a massive PlayStation dork. I’ve already mentioned my $5,000 video game habit, and here’s my half-assed attempt to justify it. My roommate and I play together on two screens in our living room. With games like Minecraft and Diablo III, we’ve logged about 200 hours playing together, so 400 man-hours. I’ve also played roughly 400 hours on my own, so we’re looking at 800 man-hours of entertainment. If you look at that from a rental perspective, I’ve “rented” access to PlayStation media at $6.25/man-hour so far. Not great, and probably worse after we account for electricity usage. I’m gonna use good ol’ Ballpark Math and put the total at $7.50/man-hour. This is, so far, a Bad Investment, and if I hadn’t paid $5,000 up front, I certainly wouldn’t rent entertainment today for $7.50/hour. Every man-hour cost me as much as a movie ticket, which could’ve been entertainment for TWO hours. Yikes. This is especially bad because I have access to free entertainment. I could go to the library and read a book instead of chasing PlayStation trophies. Based on this example alone, I’m a huge dumbass!

But what about you? Let’s say you buy a book for $20. Already not the greatest investment because you can just borrow one from a library, but you like the way new books smell so you do it anyway. You finish it in four hours, so $5/hour. You put that book on your shelf like a reading trophy and never pick it up again. In this example, you’re basically renting the book for four hours at $5/hour, and then the book takes up residence in your life until you decide to get rid of it. So is it worth it? Some of you will say, “Yeah, at least I’m not as stupid as Ben and his bajillion PlayStations,” but what I’m HOPING you might say is, “Maybe this is a good argument to not buy things at all and look for low-cost, non-ownership options to meet my temporary needs.” Maybe a bit of inconvenience – in this case, hunting down a copy to borrow from a friend – is good! Maybe this is why you should take public transit instead of buying a car and save yourself shitloads of money! Maybe now, instead of thinking you “own” something, you’ll understand you’re really just renting shit, then storing it at your expense when you’re not using it!

The next time you buy something, I want you to repeat this: “I do not and will never ‘own’ this Thing. This is strictly a temporary Service I am purchasing. I can use it lots to maximize my Investment, but do I need it? Can something else provide this Service for free?”

The Wealthy are willing to overcome a bit of inconvenience on their road to riches. The question is: Are you?

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