So far, we’ve touched on some key concepts if you want to FIRE (financial independence, retire early). Things like…
- Defining Frugality;
- Basic Concepts of Capital (financial and human);
- The Wonder of Compound Interest;
- And what many people fall victim to, which is Lifestyle Inflation as your earnings grow;
This is all great information and helps you build your knowledge of core principles! BUT we have yet to address the elephant in the room:
What is your Ethos?
“Better question Mr.FN…uhh, what is an ethos?”
An ethos is a point of being! The all important Why? From Wikipedia:
Greek word meaning “character” that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, or ideology. The Greeks also used this word to refer to the power of music to influence emotions, behaviours, and even morals.
So while you need the knowledge of points 1 to 4 mentioned above as pillars to build your success upon, you cannot and will not, apply them consistently, if you do not know what guides your belief – why do you want to be Frugal? Why do you want to FIRE?
Keep in mind there is no wrong answer here. The best advice I can offer is complete candor with yourself. You do not need to be altruistic and slap some virtuous poppycock on your forehead just so that people will think you’re this selfless person. If it’s B.S., people will know, because your frugal actions will begin to fade, and you will revert back to what is comforting (Sippin’ dem lattes).
Dare to give a real reason and write it down. Study it. Breath it.
- I want to be Frugal to reduce my negative impact on the planet;
- I want to be Frugal to stash “Go Fuck Yourself” money so that I can follow other passions in early retirement;
- I want to be Frugal because I’m damn cheap and don’t want to spend no 💰;
- I want to be Frugal to stick it to consumerism because I hate that shit. It’s ruining the planet;
- I want to be Frugal so that I may reduce my hours and spend more time with my family in a few years and be there when it counts;
It may be any one or combination of the above, or something completely different. Whatever it is, it’s yours – OWN IT.
I’ve been reading one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. And it’s no secret as it’s a well respected book/bible of many successful individuals and leaders: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Stephen Covey. Mr Money Mustache has a really great summary of one of the core concepts discussed called “Circle of Influence”, I suggest reading his article (and others if you haven’t heard of him) here.
I love this book simply because it reaffirmed my desire to live a simple life and avoid the noise. The book discusses many things, but one aspect that really struck me was when Dr. Covey discusses living a principally-centred life. He outlines how there are multiple archetypes that centre their lives around various things (spouse, family, money, work, community, etc.). While these can all be argued to be important, they shouldn’t be how you live your life (i.e. your ethos).
“But why!? My family is important! And I need money to put a roof over our heads! And…”
I don’t disagree. BUT, notice how all of these archetypes base their lives, their decision-making process, around externally-based centres? You cannot necessarily control these focal points. These are outward centres that are affected by variables other than you.
You cannot command your spouse, sway your family’s reactions, control your employment in absolute, or have dominance over your community and how it is run in every little detail.
If you centre your life like this, you will stress as things don’t go your way. You will fail to maintain control in your life.
The alternative of course, as the book goes on, is weaving core principles into the fabric of your life. Living by a code and knowing how you want to live with respect to character–related attributes.
Let’s take an easy one as an example – let’s say maintaining a strong physique and being health conscious is important to you. It’s one of your principles. How can this principle positively affect other areas of life?
- Spouse: Decide to go for long nightly walks with your spouse where you can include moderate exercise, fresh air, and some bonding time.
- Money: On the weekend, you can preemptively cook a couple healthy meals in large quantities in preparation for the week ahead. This allows you to eat healthy throughout the week but also will ensure the best bang for your buck!
- Work: Forget the car, or even public transit. Take the bike for a rip, or walk, or jog! Better for you, better for the environment, better for your wallet; check, check, and check!
These are just a some examples, but you get where this goes.
By living around principles, you are not affected by the day-to-day chaos that is imminent with things like money, employment, or other people’s moods or opinions. Principles allow you to stand strong in the eye of the proverbial storm and avoid the noise.
So find your why, find your ethos, and live a principally-centered life! It makes life easier and more fulfilling; simplification is always better. Try it out!