I love disc golf.
There's just something super peaceful about wandering around a park playing frisbee: sport edition.
Low start up cost, endless enjoyment (unless you chuck your disc in a stagnant creek full of goose poop), no fee to practice or play, a variety of different courses to play…… talk about a great first date activity. You get to wander and talk, and if you don't like the date all you have to do is quit after 9 holes. If you like the date, you can continue on to the back nine. If they don't like wandering around a park for free with a pretty lady, they're not worth dating.
Like I said, great date activity.
However, there's one thing about disc golf I don't like.
It's inherently unfair.
Whenever I play against guys, I invariably lose. Not because guys are just better at disc golf. Not the case. However they are stronger than me. Unless I throw the disc way better than them, which is possible, 9 times out of 10 their disc is going to go a lot further than mine. An ex boyfriend of mine and I played all the time and I lost every single time. We still had fun, but it got frustrating after a while.
“So Gwen,” you say, “that's cool and all….. but how does this relate to money?”
I'm so glad you asked.
Life is kind of like a disc golf course. Everyone gets the exact same course to play, but some might be limited from the get go and some might be better. To further the analogy, you could equate my lack of strength with a lack of parental support for things like cars and college. Someone who is strong and throws the disc far down the course is equivalent to someone who had everything paid for in life and got to leverage their parent's network for an entry level job.
What are you to do if you're not the strongest at playing frisbee golf?
You learn to play smarter.
Parents can't pay for college? Get scholarships, take classes that transfer in high school, and leverage the local community college during the summer where it's cheaper. Drive around a cheaper car and put the money you've saved on insurance and loan payments into a Roth IRA. Put as much as you can into your 401(k) from work to minimize taxes paid. Buy a house and rent out the other rooms to cover your mortgage.
These ‘hacks' will help you get ahead in a world that seems to keep wanting to push you down. I've found people take a very strong stance on things money related early in life.
“Of course she can do ___________, she has a good job/no debt/no kids/inheritance from her grandma.”
One of those strong stances I've discovered relates to what people consider to be a lot of money.
I signed up for Camp Mustache SE 2018 (weekend two) and once again, people complained about the cost. [sidenote: If you're going to either weekend, let me know in the comments!] It costs $300 plus travel to the camp. For me, coming from the Midwest, travel will run me a bit more than someone who lives in Florida and can drive to Gainesville.
I consider $300 a small amount to cover an entire weekend's worth of lodging, food, and activities at a beautiful camp. Just getting a hotel room in most places would cost you $300! Obviously this can be lessened by using credit card reward points for hotels, but we're going to disregard that angle for now.
I asked several people I knew both in real life and through the FIRE community. Every person, after asking what all that covered, said it was reasonable.
That being said, there were several people who just couldn't imagine anyone wasting Three Hundred Whole dollars on one weekend trip. If they went to this event, they wouldn't be able to go on any other trips.
Not only am I going to Camp Mustache SE in January 2018, I'm traveling to both FinCon and Ecuador for the Chautauqua this year.
As someone who both earns a decent salary and prioritizes travel, I have a hard time grasping spending $300 for one weekend could be considered a lot of money. I recognize that I am very blessed to be in such a fortunate position.
So it made me think….. what is a lot of money to me?
$5 was a lot of money to me when I was a little kid getting a $2 allowance each week.
$20 was a lot of money to me after I started to earn money here and there for odd jobs.
$100 was a lot of money to me when I started babysitting and working during the summers.
$2,000 was a lot of money to me when I was in the military and earning a low wage as an enlisted pog.
$6,500 is a ton of money to me now that I'm working at my full-time W2 career.
Why did my perception of “a lot” jump so much in just a few short years?
I started earning more.
5, 10, 20, 50, 100 bucks doesn't seem much when you're routinely getting ten times that every other week.
However, I'm weird that I recognize I'm getting paid a lot, AND don't waste it. So many people see their income increase and inflate their lifestyle accordingly.
Fighting lifestyle inflation is the number one step to achieving financial independence. I know how hard it can be to see those direct deposits go up and not spend them.
I think it's also worth mentioning my perception of “a lot” changes depending on whether or not it was an expected expense. $500 for new tires that you've known you needed for awhile and have some money said aside for? A lot, but not unbearable. $500 for new tires that came out of the blue? A LOT, and STRESSFUL. Spending $6500 on my house exterior project doesn't make me happy by any means, but it's an easier pill to swallow since I knew it would need to be done from the get go. Also helpful is not paying it all at once. I coughed up $2275 to start and will pay the rest upon successful completion of the project.
Even though my definition of a lot of money keeps changing, I'll never forget what it was like to not be earning money. Much like those I've encountered recently, my stances on money were also ingrained in me early in life. I was lucky to have good money role models to give me solid stances in life!
So tell me friends, what's a lot of money to you?
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