by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a paranoid person, nor am I a pessimist.   On the contrary, I think being informed and aware of things helps to enhance life and avoid certain issues.  With this in mind, let’s look at some glaringly obvious things on my overall list, and then I’ll pick a few to expand upon:

  • Advertising
  • Social Media
  • Mainstream Media
  • our Food system
  • our Healthcare system
  • College degrees
  • Get married and have kids
  • Opposites attract
  • Find a job you love and you’ll feel like you never work
  • and much more…

Much of the list above could be lumped into one category of “separating you  from your money”.  I fall for ads on social media and TV on occasion, so it’s not like I am pointing fingers here, we are all susceptible to this stuff.  There are teams of people who’s sole job is to get your attention and get you to buy something.  It is difficult to defeat that laser-focused approach all the time, so give yourself a little leeway when needed.  But, being informed of this kind of thing ahead of time is an important thing.  To quote one of my all -time favorite movies, Fight Club:

“Advertising has us working jobs we hate, so we can buy sh*t we don’t need”

I bought my last brand new car that I likely ever will more than seven years ago.  Prior to that, I had leased vehicles because I was sucked in on the idea that A. I “needed” a nice car to drive and B. it would be problem free because it is new.   This is marketing at its finest, influencing my decisions by making me think I “need” something, when the reality is I simply want it.  I didn’t need a brand new Nissan 240 SX to drive around town in.  And it certainly didn’t fit my outdoorsy lifestyle of fishing on many weekends.  But it looked cool, the commercials were cooler, and of course I thought the girls would dig it.  And some did, but that still isn’t a reason to lease a car I cannot afford.  But the hook was set, and I fell for the trap.  I signed on the dotted line and 48 lease payments later I had beaten the Hell out of that car, ran up way more miles than I my lease program allowed, and I was in trouble.  Now I was faced with the choice of paying a penalty fee for being over my allotted miles, or roll this debt into the next car.  Which I did, and I perpetuated the cycle more.  Oddly enough, what got me out of this cycle was getting into a head-on collision with a wrong way drunk driver and totaling the most recent car I was leasing.  I got handed a check for the replacement value of the car, and I went out and DID IT AGAIN.  This time I financed to purchase the new car instead of leasing, but I still was saddled with about $450 a month in car payment and expenses.

After a few months of this, I caught on to what I had done to myself and I finally decided to break the cycle.  My wife and I used the Dave Ramsey Debt Snowball method to get out from under the debt I had wracked up.  It took three years of living smart and lean, and we were debt free from that point forward.  Think about that, a lifetime of bad habits and falling for the advertising game, erased in less than three years’ time.  If we did it, so can you.  And it will change your life forever when you do.  I sleep a whole lot better at night knowing I could go a year without working and not have it affect my lifestyle much at all.  Do it, get your finances in order.  Start now.

Alright, let’s pivot to another topic which is a favorite of mine and falls into the category of “Out to get you”, and that is what society thinks your should do with your life.  Pardon my French, but Eff Society…it’s my  life and I will make my own decisions, thank you.  Why should everyone be pushed towards the “American Dream” model of a life, which is a house, a spouse and 2 kids?  Is that really what you want to do with your life?  If you are sure it is, then great, do it.  but f you have even a shadow of a doubt, live more life first before you make perpetual commitments like these.   A mortgage is a huge commitment, and buying a home of any form locks you into a pattern of life that is difficult to stray from.  By this, I mean you now have a large financial responsibility that means that you need to have a job that pays reasonably well to afford this commitment.  If you had designs of being a stand up comedian, starting a business, traveling the world or any other “outside the box” goals, kiss them goodbye.  As soon as you sign on the line for that home (and mortgage), you are locked in.  Yes, you could rent it out, but ultimately you are the one responsible for paying for the home, so keep that in mind before you get locked down.

The same goes for getting married young (under 30, in my opinion), you are committing to a lifestyle that might be great later on, but will alter your ability to do certain things now.  If you want to travel, chase an athletic dream like I did, start a company, etc. these things take a huge amount of personal freedom to pursue.  You need to be free of the usual obligations of car payments and mortgages and kids to feed.  There is plenty of pressure keeping yourself alive and sane during the first few years of starting a business, you do not need the added stress of others to provide for during that time.  I know what I am talking about here, my job at the health club while I played on the Pro Racquetball Tour paid $800 a month, and I had to hustle to add any significant amount of money to that through teaching lessons, running leagues, and other trading-time-for-money activities.  It was a grind, but I am SO GLAD I did it.  I would not be near the same person I am today if I had married my high school sweetheart and headed down the “traditional” path  that so many follow.

I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had with people who, at age 40, have a ton of regrets of things that wish they had done.  “I love my kids, but…” it a common theme as well.  LIVE A LIFE FIRST, and then settle down and start a family.  You are giving up 90%+ of the things you may want to do by getting married and having kids early in life.  Think long term as soon as you can, and realize that life is a marathon, not a sprint.  Yes, it could all end in a moment’s notice, but assume that you are gonna live to 80 and map out your life accordingly.  Don’t be in a hurry to settle into a groove that was meant to be a life-long commitment; marriage and kids are great for most people, but this doesn’t mean that pushing those to the front of the line are going to make them better.  Figure out who you are first, what you are all about, and then find someone to partner with for life.  I think that is the better version of the path to walk.

As always, I wish you luck in your endeavors.

 

 

 

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