Your Tribe Matters

You can_t succeed if the people around you are satisfied with mediocrity.

“You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.”
– Jim Rohn

If I were to narrow down the five people I spend the most time with, it’d be my roommates “D” and “K”, our artist friend “A”, and probably my coworkers from my day job. Ever since I’ve known them, they’ve indirectly propelled me towards greater success. This is why.

“D” is industrious, hardworking, and frugal as hell. If something broken can be fixed, he’ll do it, even if it looks like a wad of duct tape and glue after. If it’s functional, that’s enough for him. At 27, he has no debt, and a future career path very similar to Ben’s. He’s currently my closest friend.

“K” isn’t frugal, but he’s fit. He eats lean, has a 21.8 BMI – he’ll enjoy greater longevity – and he’d always rather be in a park. Thanks to him (and my coworkers who always push me), I’m now averaging 15,000 steps each day and burning 3,000 calories. Almost by accident, I’ve already lucked into ‘fit’ and ‘frugal’ just by the people who’ve moved in. It gets better.

“A” is massively frugal. She makes ethical eating choices and with that, she’s able to save on a completely different level than we do. Here are the numbers I’m able to divulge, but long story short, she’s set for retirement already. We pay attention to quantifiable happiness, seek out even more friends for our “money tribe”, and encourage each other on personal goals. She’s my main connection to Mustachianism, and she’s one of my most rewarding friendships. We’ve even hired her to make art pieces in our apartment.

As for my coworkers, they kick my ass. That’s all that needs to be said about that.

This is my tribe.

*****

You can pick and choose your tribe more than you know. If personal development is a key goal, one of the methods I used was the DRM. This sounds callous, but I evaluated some relationships recently, and started prioritizing only the ones that were healthy for me. (See: the “oxygen mask rule”.) Anything that ranked low on ‘pleasure’ and ‘purpose’ – how Paul Dolan quantifies happiness – got pushed aside. This, I feel, gave me room to grow.

I turned 30 recently, and I’m more protective of my emotional health than ever before. Consciously surrounding myself with positive influences has been a game changer for me because I used to booze heavily, and have low self-esteem. Now that I’ve removed people who were a bad fit, I attack my goals like I won’t get another chance!

This is why people find mentors. This is why people pay through the nose for life coaches. This is why people buy self-help books. On the other hand, if you know positive influences already, it only makes sense to make them part of your tribe. For one, it’s free! On top of that, building positive relationships is always a worthwhile effort.

Time is finite, and as a resource that can’t be reobtained, you should be obstinate about who you give it to. That having been said, you should also be a valuable tribe member for others! I hope now to build a tribe of likeminded, frugal, self-optimizers.

I think I’m off to a good start.

*****

At this current moment, frugality is what I’m trying to cultivate. I find I’m distancing myself from spendier activities, and – this is important – saying flat out ‘no’ to things I won’t enjoy. (This is strange, but in my mind, things I won’t enjoy equates to work, and do I really want to be paid nothing for my time?) Someone once told me, “If you’re not improving or enjoying yourself, you’re just wasting your fucking time.” I believe that.

Surround yourself with people with similar goals. Be friends with people better than you in the ways you want to improve. Deprioritize people holding you back. Be a beacon for others wanting to learn more from your strengths. Build your tribe.

You can’t succeed if the people around you are satisfied with mediocrity.

If this made sense to you, I’m sure you’ll find success in no time. Choose better relationships, and you’ll be better too.

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The 5 Love Languages, and How Knowing Them Can Save You Money

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This is gonna be the sappiest post I’ve ever made, so buckle up. There ain’t no brakes on the love train. I’m gonna show you how to improve your relationships AND save a boatload of money. You don’t even need to read this book! Since I’m a huge fan of book summaries, let’s see if I can knock this out in 700 words. It’s time to make YOU sexy and rich.

Listen, unbridled generosity sucks. In this article, I discouraged people from spending money on their loved ones when there are so many free ways to show you care. “Be generous with your time,” I said. Well, love is a tricky thing, and I was foolish to oversimplify. The fact is: EVERYONE EXPRESSES AND ACCEPTS LOVE IN DIFFERENT WAYS. In Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages”, he outlines the five main ways people show and accept love: quality time, devotion, physical touch, words of affirmation, and gift giving. Take a wild guess which one’s my least favourite.

Anyway, how I express love – in the past, gift giving – wasn’t necessarily how my friends or partners RECEIVED love. In my mind, because I’m such a cheap bastard, a gift that cost me MONEY was a big fucking deal. I once bought a $500+ smartphone for a partner, for instance. To her, my gift wasn’t valuable because that wasn’t a form of affection that spoke to her. Needless to say, that relationship ended quickly.

This doesn’t just apply to romance either. After some reflection, I realized I also don’t give a shit about gifts, and in many cases, took my family’s generosity for granted. They put me through my post-secondary, for example, and I really didn’t VALUE that at the time (though I do now). My mom also performs unexpected acts of service for me to show her devotion, but these usually end up inconveniencing me in annoying ways, like that time she decided I needed a tune-up and I was like, “Uh, where the fuck is my car?”

Whether you’re trying to save money or not, it’s important in any relationship to figure out what forms of generosity really speak to your loved ones. Expensive gifts or events are almost never the solution. One of the worst offenders to come to mind is going out for a movie together. “Hey, let’s go spend quality time together by staring at a screen and not talking for two hours! This is how people form close bonds!” Ridiculous, right? There is, however, a caveat in all this… I mean, what if your partner ACTUALLY accepts love in the form of gifts? Like, what if, in all sincerity, that’s what you have to do to keep them around?

Well, decide if that’s worth it for you. No lies, this’ll probably fuck with your FI plans, but life’s about more than money. If necessary, communicate that giving gifts isn’t how YOU show love, and hope they understand. It’s rare to find relationships where your “love languages” align, but now that you’re aware of that, you can: a) stop blindly throwing money at things and events in the hopes that someone will like you, and b) start communicating in a way that will make your relationships stronger!

Figure out your “love languages”. Learn how you each GIVE and RECEIVE affection in a way that’s meaningful. Do your best to keep money completely irrelevant. This won’t make you rich overnight, but it’ll help.

In my monthly spending breakdowns, I used to have a line item for gifts, but I don’t anymore. My relationships are better than ever. As always, keep more money in your pocket and use it on what REALLY matters. Besides, if you have to constantly buy out your loved ones, you’ve got bigger things to worry about. Here’s to a richer and happier you.

I’m A Generosity Addict and That’s Not Okay

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I can’t remember which I bought first for her: the PS3 or the PS2.

This was years ago with our friend J. She was an avid gamer, and I was still riding the high of a successful wedding season, so I was feeling generous. I was like an Asian Oprah. (“YOU GET A PLAYSTATION, YOU GET A PLAYSTATION, YOU GET A PLAYSTATION!”) Seriously, I think I’ve gifted six or seven PlayStation consoles to my friends now. I seem to go apeshit every Christmas and it always seems like a good idea at the time, so I do it every year. Well, J dated one of my other friends and we lost her in the breakup. We haven’t seen her in months now, and that investment in our friendship is gone. In the end, the gifts I bought her were just Stuff, and therein lies the problem.

Say it with me: STUFF. IS. MEANINGLESS.

If you’re reading this, I’m sure you already know that, but my generosity addiction didn’t end there. It extended into my dating life too! I once blew $200 on a first date with someone I didn’t even know! WHAT THE HELL WAS WRONG WITH ME? Was I compensating? Probably. WHY DO I ASSOCIATE LITERALLY SACRIFICING MONEY WITH SHOWING AFFECTION OR FRIENDSHIP TO PEOPLE? Well, I’m not opening that door here, but I know some of you reading this know exactly what I’m talking about. Do you buy too many toys for your kid, thinking more action figures directly translate into showing them love? Have you ever bought an expensive concert ticket for a date when you know they’re not even a fan? Do you break the bank for your extended family when, deep down, you know all they really want is to spend more time with you? STOP SUBSTITUTING STUFF FOR ACTUAL LOVE.

For those of you who don’t obsessively read self-development articles, here’s a goddamn truth bomb: People accept love in different ways, and 9 times out of 10, buying them Stuff is the absolute worst way to go about it.

If you’re the type to be overly generous in a way that costs you money, seriously reevaluate how you give to the people you love. Stuff is meaningless. Be generous with your time instead, and spend that time with your friends, family, and romantic partners. Save your money.

They’ll remember the time you watched their favourite movie with them. No one remembers who bought the fucking TV.