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We want a paycheck. Because that paycheck will allow us to pay our bills, take care of our needs and wants, and maybe have a little something for ourselves.
But I think many people view a paycheck in the wrong way. That is, they view it as just a means to an end, and not much else. If I get a paycheck I can pay my car note, keep gas in the tank, and pay for the insurance and upkeep. If I get a paycheck I can keep food on the table and bellies full. If I get a paycheck I can have a place to live and keep the lights on.
Maybe I can take a vacation or two from time to time, have a little bit of relaxation and create some memories. Perhaps there are toys I can buy with what I bring home in my paycheck like an RV or a boat.
And all of these things are good, of course. These are all things worthy of being able to do, and being able to have as each week rolls by when we work hard and new paychecks get deposited into our bank accounts.
But, is it really living that we are doing? Are we getting ahead? Are we truly realizing the full potential of what those paychecks ultimately can provide? Are we truly ever secure?
Because what happens when the paycheck stops? What happens when a catastrophic event occurs such as a car breakdown or the furnace suddenly not working? Are we financially prepared for such things? Or do we resort to pulling out a credit card, or applying for a loan at the bank?
Moreover, are we thinking about the future? What do our retirement prospects look like? Are we going to have enough to live comfortably on when the paychecks stop and there are fewer sources of income we can rely on? Are we going to be able to retire completely, or are we going to have to do part time jobs just to make ends meet?
When people ask me why I save so much of my money I usually make the joke that "I prefer to spend money my money makes, rather than spend money that my ass does." While there is some truth to that, of course. It's also a very short answer and not exactly the entire reason why I save my money.
I save my money because I do not want to live paycheck to paycheck. I save my money because, while I don't mind working, I want to also potentially have a way out. I save my money because I want to be in charge of me. I want to be in charge of my time. I want to be in charge of my life.
Moreover, I want to be in charge of my decisions. I never want to find myself caught in the trap of having to work in a job that I hate just because I cannot afford to quit and find something I might like better.
When it comes to my life I want the freedom to choose my own fate, and my own destiny. And so, saving my money, and investing it wisely is just something that I think is very important to do. And I think everyone should be thinking about that as well.
Many of you have probably heard the phrase 'intrinsic value.' It is nothing more than an assumed value of something. Consider the value of your paycheck. What is it really worth?
I mean, if you all you do is spend all of it each week as it comes in, the value of your paycheck is essentially worthless. Because once it is spent, there is nothing left. You have to go back to the grind each and every day to produce more paychecks.
Saving some of your paychecks makes your paychecks more valuable. Especially over time. Because now some of the money you have already earned will earn more in the future. Paychecks that once upon a time only provided for a week's worth of expenses now can provide for many more weeks worth of future expenses.
Granted, it is not easy. Especially if one is starting from nothing. The task is more daunting, and the idea of having several thousand dollars or even several hundred thousand dollars later on seems virtually impossible.
Especially considering the constant "life happens" kind of thing that always seems to want to get in the way of getting ahead. You get a little bit of money set aside and then BAM! The brakes go out on the car and you are back to square one.
But really, it's more about setting the mindset. Not so much about accumulating money to start. It is getting into the habit of saving, and more than that, getting yourself into the process of learning HOW to invest in order to reap the bigger bang for each buck you work so hard for.
Because at some point you want to be able to enjoy life more. Again, working is good. It can be very rewarding. It can add to our esteem and our personal evaluation of our own self worth.
I know many guys I have worked alongside over the years who even went as far as to buy those toys I talked about earlier. Some had RV's. Some had boats. Some had both. But could they enjoy them?
The reality is that most of those guys simply bought those toys with money that they did not have. They took out loans to buy them, and by the time those toys were sitting in their driveway, or docked at a pier somewhere, they did not have any spare time to actually take their toys on a trip, or a spin across the lake. They had to work. They had to get more paychecks to pay for their toys.
When we say we want to make a living, we should think of what we are saying in literal terms. We actually want to live. We want to be able to have the freedom to do the things we want. We want to be able to have the experiences that will make our lives more fun and more fulfilling.
You don't want to just work and get a paycheck to just get by. You want to work and earn a paycheck to buy a future. Either to have the ability at some point to semi-retire when you are younger, and have more time to enjoy life and use your toys, or to be able to fully retire and really get on with living.
Especially to be able to do these things while you still have the ability to enjoy these things.
As someone once told me, "The only reason we continue to work is because we still have things we need to pay for." Perhaps it is a mortgage, or a car payment, or something else.
Set aside the basics like food and clothes and gas for the car...these are things we will always have to continue to pay for.
But we can either pay for these things with a paycheck, or we can eventually reach a point where all of the paychecks we earned before can pay for what we need to pay for now.
Having money, and even having lots of it, has nothing at all to do with how much money you make in the short term. It has everything to do with what you do with any of it. Or all of it.
As I said before. Don't just work for a paycheck. Work for not having to continue to need one. Work for having the ability to survive without one. Work to be able to one day live life to the fullest, and to have the ability to enjoy what time you have on this earth.
Life is too short to spend the entirety of our time simply punching a clock.