Buying Peace of Mind.

I used to be really into financial stuff. I read all those books “The Millionaire Next Door” “Rich Dad Poor Dad” etc. Of course, I’ve been a subscriber to “Get Rich Slowly” for a while too. (Got linked there a few months ago) And then I threw all that shit out the window and have never been happier. I used to check my bank balance constantly, I monitored my credit card bill all the time and generally stressed about money at every chance I could. Don’t get me wrong, it allowed me to save a lot of money but it made me miserable. I do still think it’s important to keep a check on your credit score however. As this article from demonstrates, you can be rejected for a credit card or personal loan on the basis of your credit score. But I’ve still had to make some changes.

Today was the final straw. Look at this list of ways to save money at GRS:

* Get rid of cable television.

* Unplug all appliances.

* Drive less.

* Buy generic.

* Cook from scratch.

* Drink only water.

* Don’t eat out.

* Never buy garbage bags.

* Minimize the use of heat and air conditioning.

* Buy used.

At what point does frugality trump enjoying life? You work everyday but you don’t deserve soda? There is a fine line between self-discipline and self-flagellation. That stuff infuriates me, it’s about control not efficiency. We work so we may fully experience life, afford ourselves opportunity for meaning and satisfaction. Why on earth would you nickel and dime yourself in that way? I would assert that the humiliation of scrounging for trash bags isn’t worth the 2 dollars you’d spend on a box of them. The air conditioner was invented to make life in a house more pleasant, cheaply. So use it. I could keep going, and explain the reasons that a used clothing, awful home cooked dinners, bicycling, appliance-less lifestyle is cheap for a reason, but it’s not worth the time. All I have to add is this:

For the first time in my life I’ve stopped caring about money. I ceded control and just let it ride. I’m working more than I ever have for relatively little but it doesn’t bother me. It will all work itself out in the end. I’m investing in my happiness instead of some arbitrary number. What’s that line Ray Liotta said in “Blow,”…”money isn’t real, people just think that it is.” The benchmark I use now is “Would I pay someone to take this off my mind?” and if the answer is yes, I consider the consequences the cost and proceed without worry. Sometimes–as Tucker pointed out to me–they’ll be high but all the lows will even it out. Isn’t ridding yourself of the burden worth it? How enjoyable can life be when you refuse even the most basic sustenance technology?

So seriously, throw away the all that shit–your recycling box, your parking tickets, you neurotic habits–and see if your quality of life improves. I’ll bet you’ll be more productive and happier. The money you don’t save in the process is just payment for services rendered and I’d say that’s a pretty good deal.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.