I read a quote, once (and I cannot remember who to attribute it to, unfortunately):
“Those who believe they can, and those who believe they can’t, are both right.”
I went for lunch today with a lady from work. We were talking about stubbornness, and I commented that being stubborn was my worst flaw and my best asset. She replied that she wished she was as stubborn, and could only dream of doing the things I have done, like traveling and buying a farm.
She makes as much money as I do. She is very intelligent. She is quite organized. I don’t see any reason why she couldn’t do whatever the heck she wanted.
When I pointed that out, she said
“Oh, but I can’t”
“I’m too old”
“I can’t afford it”
“I’m not adventurous enough”
Well of course you can’t, honey. Look at what you’re telling yourself. All those lovely excuses you’ve made…
I got this a lot when I took a year off work and backpacked through Europe and North Africa. Colleagues, all of whom make comparable wages, went on and on about how jealous they were. I told them to stop being envious and start planning to do it for themselves. That did not make me very popular, but they could do it just as easily as I did.
This is not to say that it was easy. I paid off all my debt, scrimped and saved for years, lived in older rental places, worked overtime, lived below my means, drove an old, crappy car, and, in general, worked really really hard to be able to do that. But I wanted it badly enough, and I accomplished my goal. I’m not all that special. There was no magic trick. Just planning and time and a few sacrifices and some hard work. I was 29 years old.
Now, people are commenting on how we could afford our farm (and acreage). In fact, my father commented to my sister “I don’t know how your sister plans to pay for all this stuff”. Of course, Dad lives in a brand-new house in a nice subdivision, got a new car last year, and just spent thousands of dollars remodeling his kitchen with oak cupboards and marble countertops. I’m not sure he has grasped that we bought an old, run down place that is going to need a lot of work. I also don’t think he has any understanding of how cheap land is in Saskatchewan, if you get far enough out of town. The farm costs us about as much as an average car payment. The acreage, being run down and needing work, will cost us less than renting in that city would.
So, how can we afford all this stuff? Easy. We drive old cars. Like 20 year old cars, that we buy for cash. We don’t have cable or rent movies (no TV). We play board games instead of going shopping. We don’t eat out a restaurants very often. We cook our food from scratch. We don’t buy brand-name clothes. Our dogs and cats are mutts that we rescued, not $2,500 purebreds. We ‘redecorate’ by buying some new fabric and making different pillow cases for the throw pillows. We mostly buy our books second hand. Every year, when I get a raise, I put it into savings, so that we continue to live below our means, and have a safety cushion if we need one.
Does this make us somehow less cool? I mean, a lot of my colleagues drive Hummers, or at least new Jettas. They wear True Religion jeans ($250-300), and lululemon hoodies ($100).
Well, it depends on your definition of cool. My vintage Corolla gets me to work just as reliably as my buddy’s Hummer, and costs me about 1/10th as much in gas, let alone insurance. My $30 jeans still keep my butt from hanging out. My $20 Costco hoodie keeps me warm, and I like the color. I think our trip to Cuba this winter was pretty cool, and we paid for it out of cash we saved by not buying that other crap – stuff we don’t really need or actually even want. You can be a trendsetter, or you can be unique just like everyone else.
Or, you can quit fussing about what everyone else thinks, and just go do whatever makes you happy. Do you believe you can? Or will you tell yourself you’re too young, too old, too dumb, too broke, or not adventurous enough? Either way, you’re sure to prove yourself right…