8. The personal finance journey

I’d like to live as a poor man, with lots of money.

-- Pablo Picasso

Money, Life Planning, and Happiness

Just as you shouldn’t let anyone else determine your goals and values, you should also seek to maintain control over your own financial priorities.

More than almost any other aspect of identity, if you don’t have clarity of purpose over how you view the role of money in your life, you’ll likely end up going along with what other people do.

The most important part of unconventional life planning is to be clear on what you want.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

-- Cheshire Cat

we often discover that the life we want is in closer reach than we initially thought.

You might as well understand exactly how much you need, how much you’d like to have, and what you’ll do with it when you get it.

“I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Believe me, rich is better.”

-- Mae West


frugality for me is not about pinching pennies in every part of my budget. Instead, it’s about making conscious choices to spend on the things I value—and avoid spending on other things.
After paying the rent and other recurring bills,

  1. I happily exchange money for things I truly value.
  2. As much as possible, I don’t exchange money for things I don’t value.
  3. All things being equal, I value life experiences more than physical possessions.
  4. Investing in others is at least as important as my own long­ term savings.

I don’t feel the need to have a car, and I purposely relocated to a city where public transit is affordable and reliable.

Stuff repre­ sents things that fill up the house, while life experiences represent things that I do.


many people experience a great deal of internal dissonance over where they spend their money.

Deferred gratification can be a form of life avoidance

I’m writing this book a year in advance of publication, giving up other income and devoting a lot of time in hopes that you’ll eventually read it, all because I believe in the project. I also deposited $300 in my long-term savings account this month, another sacrifice I was happy to make.

Better to plan for the future while also living in the present.

To get serious about saving, focus on increasing income more than cutting expenses.

This is because cutting expenses is essentially a scarcity behavior, whereas increasing income is essentially an abundance behavior.

Work toward financial independence, but never retire

In my early days of goal-setting, I decided I wanted to be financially independent. I originally defined this as having enough wealth to be able to live off the interest without doing any other work in exchange for money.
Since I never wanted to formally retire, why was it so important for me to accumulate a large amount of capital?

The goal here is not so much to save a big fortune, but to change your sources of revenue to the point where you can regu­ larly obtain enough income without working for an employer.

Using the Power of Your Purse to help others

I call this principle “investing in people.” I’ll use the words “giving” and “charity” here because they are more commonly understood, but I want to be clear that I don’t view this principle as an act of generosity; I view it as an act of responsibility and gratitude.

those who are poor have very little freedom. Helping people to increase their own freedom and opportunities is a natural response to the recognition of freedom in our own lives.

It's pretty hard to tell what does brin happiness;
poverty and wealth have both failed.

-- Kin Hubbard

Instead of making a one-time gift, it’s usually better to make an ongoing monthly commitment to an organization you like, even if the gift is small.
when you give, let go.

I have enough money to last me until the rest of my life, unless I buy something

-- Jackie Mason

“Life is something to be spent, not saved.”

-- D. H. Lawrence


What they say about winners

Some people enjoy nothing more than putting down winners. I call them energy-sucking vampires.

Just because you’re winning does not require someone else to lose, but not everyone understands that.

People who possess self-confidence and focus are often labeled as arrogant by those who lack both qualities.

Part III: The power of convergence

Let’s put it all together. Work, adventure, and building a legacy that will far outlast your time on the planet.

9. Radical Exclusion and the Quest for Abundance

Every man dies; not every man really lives.

-- William Wallace

In Murakami’s books, cats talk to people, fish fall from the sky, entire worlds of alternate reality are created.
Having completed his first novel shortly after turning 30, Murakami set out to prioritize the greatest part of his life to be spent developing a relationship with a wide group of readers who followed his work over time. Here’s how he put it in his own words:

I placed the highest priority on the sort of life that lets me focus on writing . . . I felt that the indispensable relationship I should build in my life was not with a specific person, but with an unspecified number of readers. As long as I got my day-to-day life set so that each work was an improvement over the last, then many of my readers would welcome what­ ever life I chose for myself. Shouldn’t this be my duty as a novelist, and my top priority?

Another way to look at it is that
Murakami focused on what he would
gain instead of what he would lose.

He identified what he really wanted and ordered his life around that.
embracing life to the fullest and ordering your life around a few key priorities.

It’s Not a Paradox

We have good relationships with family and close friends, we’re excited about work, we’re in good health, we do more or less what we want to every day, and we know we’re making a difference in the world. In short, we find ourselves full of gratitude and regularly challenged in an active, abundant life.

Part 1: Eliminating the Unnecessary

As Murakami found, setting the terms of an unconventional life begins with an active decision. If you want to take on the world and live life your own way, you’ll need to be fairly determined.

“Why should I do this?” and “What will happen if I don’t?”

“Will the world end if I don’t do this? Will someone die?”

Saying no is critically important for setting the terms of your life.
You may even need to devote extended periods of time to what I call “radical exclusion,” or shutting out absolutely anything that serves as a distraction from your key priorities.

The great secret of suc­ cess is to go through life as a man who never gets used up

Albert Schweitzer

The To-stop-doing list

Think about the tasks that drain your energy without contrib­ uting to anything worthwhile.
Try to come up with at least three to five things you currently do that drain your time and keep your focus away from more important tasks.

Enriching Our Lives Through Abundance

At the end of the day, I want to be tired—not from a grind of tasks that leave me with a feeling of “What did I really do today?” but with a sense of wow.

The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times . . . the best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.

-- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Whenever I sit still for too long, I feel like my brain is atrophying.


Yes or no?


10. Contrarian Adventures

Through travel I first became aware of the outside world; it was through travel that I found my own intro­ spective way into becoming a part of it.


A Nomadic Education

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.

-- Robert Louis Stevenson

One of the things that separates a goal from a dream is a deadline.

How to See Experience the World

Thoughtful planning.
Test the waters.
Jump in with both feet.

Highs and Lows