The invisible burdens that keep you broke(n)

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Someone once said, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”…and I believed them

In moments of heavy and heated pressure, I would use that quote to provide a mental turbo boost to push me over a hill I was climbing.  But these days, it feels as if the idea behind that quote isn’t as powerful a motivator as it once was. Honestly, I’ve come to question if those moments ever made me stronger or if they were just killing me…slowly.

I say this because, the idea behind that popular saying encourages you to take on more and more work under the belief that carrying a greater burden will eventually bring out the best in you. Unfortunately, the fatal flaw in this approach is it’s inability to pinpoint where strength training ends and the “killing” begins. Given the invisible workload so many of us carry, it’s remarkably easy to miscalculate just how much is too much at any given point in time.

What does this have to do with money you say?  Everything.

Since money impacts every part of your life it’s it’s clear to see how the lack of it and resulting financial stress can also impact your well being. From there, it’s also easy to spot the big, tangible “in your face” things that contribute to financial stress.  But I believe the non-tangible, invisible things are just as critical; if not more damaging to your ability to climb out of a financial hole.  In one of our early posts, we wrote about emotions and the role they play in your money habits.  Just for a moment, I want to peel back that onion to get closer to the cultural and social drivers that trigger emotional spending and poor financial habits.

Old beliefs

It blows my mind when old, wise, passed-down “rules of thumb” make people stop thinking and start reciting.  There are several I could pick on but for now, I’ll focus on old beliefs about cars.  For many people, asking them to drive a car with over 100K miles on it, is the equivalent of asking them to play Russian Roulette.  This is partially because they are holding onto a belief that after that milestone, cars are worthless, they’ll break down any day and have you standing helplessly on the side of the road.  With this in mind, people tense up in anticipation of having to replace their cars or opt into a lifestyle of continuously replacing cars every few years.

Meanwhile, 61% of wealthy people drive Honda’s, Toyota’s and Ford’s and most buy used.  Mrs. r&R drives a ’06 Lexus IS 250 that smells like shoes and Chick fil-A.  I drive a ’06 Honda Accord, 4 door, 7 dent with a babyseat in the back.  I threw in a new iPhone lightning plug a few months ago after the old one got a lil janky.  The point is, both vehicles have well over 100K miles on them and are paid for.  Our ability to overcome the social pressure of upgrading is one of the key reasons why we are able to invest at a high rate.

One way friendships-

At their core, friendships are supposed to be supportive.  Friends are the people you can count on to lift you up when you’re down.  However, there are some that do just the opposite.  In particular, those one-sided or one-way friendships that always put the pressure on you to “make something happen”, to pick up the tab, to purchase the plane ticket are precisely the type of friendships that I now avoid given our plan to achieve financial independence.  To be clear, I’m certainly aware of how blessed we are and don’t judge my friends for how much money they make or spend.  However, I don’t subscribe to continuously subsidizing my social circle’s lifestyle at the expense of my needs and I certainly don’t commit myself to irresponsible spending under the guise of brotherhood.

 Family Traditions and expectations

Some of you already know where you’re gonna be on Easter, Mothers Day, Fathers Day and about ten other days of the year for your forseeable future.  That’s because you’ve bought into family and cultural traditions that have locked those days down FOREVER.  While I’m all for building memories with the one’s you love, I’m also blown away by how much of a strain these traditions put on people’s pockets because a) they don’t want to deal with Mom/Dad if they say no; b) they can’t stomach the idea of telling Mom/Dad the truth about their situation or; c) the other family member they’re being compared to did blah blah blah.

This is easily compounded when you’re married because you are expected to be with both families equally which turns into a constant juggle of time and even more money out of your pocket.  This is one of the reason’s we’re so excited about our new home.  Today, we can’t entertain the way we want to, so in our current house so we’ll get to start and enforce our new traditions in our new place.  Oh, and we have a foundation now so hopefully we’re in by summer.  Woohoo!

Aging parents

We think about it, we wonder and we hope it all works out but underneath it all, many of us know that at any given moment you may be expected to jump in and take care of an aging parent.  As if managing your own life, work, marriage, issues and child(ren) wasn’t enough, you’re anxiously awaiting the day where you’ll have to step in and and add care for one or both of your parents to your plate.

This invisible burden is incredibly stressful and likely getting worse.  According to the National Institute of Retirement Security, “the median savings in a 401(k) plan for people between the ages of 55 and 64 is currently just $15,000“.  I’ve had many a conversation with friends and co-workers who have taken on more debt than they normally would to buy larger homes with in-law suites or to provide direct financial support to their parents.  For this I have no solutions or advice but I will encourage you to overcome the generational taboo of talking about money with your parents sooner rather than later because ignoring it could only make matters worse later on down the line.


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