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When you hear the word community, what comes to mind?
Do you envision a collection of homes in an enclosed area, landscaping and architectural design that ties it all together? Do you think broader and consider the surrounding streets, local parks and buildings that all seem to have a similar look and feel?
Recently, the word community has popped up in our conversations more often than usual which is causing us to really think about the role it plays in our financial lives. We’ve spoken about our new neighborhood, our new home and the side-eyed exchanges we’ve had with our neighbors since we moved in, so we don’t need to rehash that again. Rather, we’d like to talk about the deeper meaning of community, how its impacted our life and our money.
A few weeks ago, we shared a video on our facebook page about six people in Toronto that purchased a home together, sharing the cost, equity and day-to-day responsibilities. Given how ridiculously expensive homes are in Toronto, at face value, this approach makes sense. A tad unusual but hey, if it works for them, we don’t see the harm in this idea.
Then we thought…why aren’t more people doing this?
If you are a student, entrepreneur or work in an environment with limited meeting space then you’re probably also aware of the growing trend of co-working facilities popping up around the country. These multi-use spaces and communities give members access to a wide variety of professional services, meeting space, networking and activities to support their lives. It’s ideal for people who otherwise can’t afford or don’t have the ability to own their own office space. It seems sharing has blossomed into other areas of our lives as well.
It’s practically impossible to visit a trendy restaurant these days and not see a shared table in addition to individual seating. People use Uber pool which allows them to share routes and lower the cost of the trip. We even have car-sharing apps now that allow car owners to rent out their personal vehicles while they’re not being used. But that’s pretty much where all this sharing $hit stops.
In Europe, hostels are wildly popular and despite some initial resistance, Airbnb has grown significantly showing that people are actually willing to be guests in other people’s homes while traveling. Yet, the notion of sharing a home indefinitely all seems a bit too much which admittedly is sad and fascinating.
For most people, housing is the largest expense. This implies that it should be the primary area of focus if people are looking to make a big impact on cutting their spending. But outside of downsizing to a smaller home, moving to a lower cost of living area or refinancing, there are limited tactics people can employ to decrease their spending on housing which got us thinking.
Wouldn’t it be ideal for more people to live together so they can share resources and lower their cost of living? Even if it was temporary, why aren’t more people considering this? Wouldn’t it be a great way to accelerate debt payoff or ramp up your savings rate?
Think about it.
Owning a home with a group of people allows you to share a space, utility bills and maybe even childcare. The more people you do this with, the higher the likelihood you can car pool, buy groceries and supplies in bulk which lowers the cost of living per person even further. According to AARP, people over 50 are increasingly becoming cohabiters though it’s still far from the norm.
No, we’re not ignoring the value of having your own space BUT it seems there’s a missed opportunity here that’s worthy of consideration, especially if you’re in serious debt. You could argue, today…sucking it up and getting a roommate has far greater immediate impact on your financial life than going back to school. A simple concept like 'sharing' could literally be the difference-maker in people's lives. Click To Tweet
How community has impacted our lives
In our own life, we’ve grown to have a deep appreciation for sharing and community. It’s surprisingly become the secret ingredient that strengthens our ability to thrive on the journey to financial independence. From the people we’ve met at CampFI, FinCon, Statement and the folks around the world who have embraced FIRE, it’s comforting to know we have people who can relate to our way of life and support eachother along the way.
When Mrs. r&R was pregnant, she found great advice in mommy blogger groups and accepted tons of baby supplies from other Moms. When Mr. r&R struck out on his entrepreneurial journey, he found value in joining groups online, attending local real estate meetings and access to other resources. Today, if we needed gardening help, had questions about legacy planning or perspective on flipping houses, there is no shortage of people we could reach out to for help.
Over the last year, we’ve attended happy hours, meetups and even hosted a few of our own. What we’ve learned in the process is that underneath it all, we all have deeper needs for human connection and sharing should be a natural by-product of that bond.These connections build trust and that trust can propel you forward when you're in a tough financial situation or just need someone to vent to. Click To Tweet
But none of this happens until you choose to believe in something bigger than yourself and are willing to make yourself a little uncomfortable. The desire to payoff debt, get rich or create generational wealth is nothing more than making a series of deliberate choices consistently. Dassit! But for a lot of people, that desire to grow doesn’t turn into action until you engage with other people.
We get notes from folks all the time who are looking to make big moves but just can’t seem to get off the starting block. We’ve learned that communities are excellent ways to get you up and running because they make the change process feel a little less lonely and it lightens the weight of difficult decision making.
We were well on our way to building wealth before we wrote our first blog post. It wasn’t until we made ourselves vulnerable by sharing our story online that things began to really heat up. Today, we have deeply personal connections with people of all walks of life all around the world.
These relationships have accelerated our learning, provided access to amazing opportunities and has led to more measurable improvements to our financial lives than ever before. Not to mention, we have couches and guest rooms all over the country we can crash on if needed.
The real lesson here is that ultimately, community starts with you. We didn’t intend on building our own, but it’s here and it’s growing because we were willing to take that first step. We also didn’t intend on falling for the FIRE community, but we did and we’re better off because of it. So if you’re feeling stuck or isolated, it may be time to step out of that comfort zone, join a community and maybe even share something with others. It could make a world of difference.
If there are groups you are a member of and would like to recommend, please drop us a comment below. Here are just a few we know of and recommend.
Real Estate Investing- Bigger Pockets
Debt payoff and wealth building-
Black entrepreneurs- Traffic, Sales and Profit