This past Easter Sunday at church it was so crowded half the people had to stand. You had your holiday attendees, those who only attend church out of guilt on a major holiday. Then there is the devoted church goers who live their lives as close to the church as possible. For the truly inspired this way of life is fairly easy, they won’t allow any outside influences to affect their behavior. For many church is a matter of convenience, for the inspired there will always be time.
This post isn’t about religion, instead it’s about the similarities between the lifestyle choices we make and how we handle our money. Building wealth isn’t hard, spend less than you earn, avoid bad debt and invest the rest. Our consumption and YOLO society is the biggest reason why millions struggle to follow that concept. When I struggle with wanting to buy into a nice condo building or having fancy things I often remember my inspirations, the main reason why I want to achieve true financial freedom.
Two events has shaped my inspiration for financial freedom. The latest was in 2008 at the height of the recession when I was working 70+ grueling hours. Employers had the upper hand, at a meeting a top executive at our company showed us the unemployment headlines. He declared that we should be grateful that we had a job so we shouldn’t complain about the amount of work we had to do. That moment reinforced the need that you can’t rely solely on your job for income. In a company you’re beholden to performance reviews and the whims of your boss.
My other inspiration is my desire to pay off my first rental so that my mother can live in her dream home. In Asian countries the wealthy and powerful owned homes and businesses. Asians value home ownership as opposed to European countries where most people rent. When I was in the Bay Area I went into a partnership with her to purchase that first property. Owning property was important, it was a symbol of what she had to overcome. Having her home and wealth seized by communists, leaving her country to be poor in another country. She’s never made more than 30K, when we didn’t have a car for two years I used to hate Wednesdays. Wednesdays was when the sale coupons would come out in the newspapers. My mom was like the coupon whisperer, she knew where all the sales where. We would catch the bus to two or three grocery stores (based on what sales they had) and lug those grocery bags all over town. Thankfully within two years we were able to get a car. It’s ironic that I was embarrassed to be poor when I was young, today I wear that with a badge of honor.
In Hawaii with the high cost of housing many families will never be able to own. The ones that live in the expensive areas on a teacher’s salary is able to do so because a grandparent in their family bought a home a long time ago and passed it down. (Think of the movie the Descendants with George Clooney). Having a paid off home will allow her to leave a legacy to provide a home for future generations. In order to pay this off in 8 years or less I’m paying extra towards the principle (the rental income covers the costs). Once paid off she’ll live there for the rest of her life.
In order to afford paying extra and ensure I don’t over leverage in other investments I need to have my shit together. Every invested dollar is another step closer to funding all my financial independence desires. I will never truly understand her sacrifices, but I can pay her back by funding her dreams.
For some the inspiration for financial independence is to buy time to do what they want and spend time with loved ones, for others it’s to leave a legacy. If you’re inspired you’re more likely to stick with your goals and not change your lifestyle. What will be your inspiration on your path to financial independence?