As our savings account continues to grow, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. How are Girl Ninja and I quickly approaching a $200,000 net worth at 25 and 27 years old? What’s the magic trick? How can I package our story up in to a $10 e-book called “Punch Being Poor In The Face” and sell it to you all?
I mean, we didn’t receive an inheritance. We didn’t get bailed out by Uncle Sam. We’ve never negotiated a huge bonus or pay bump. Our retirement accounts aren’t performing as well as I would have expected thanks to a stagnant economy. We aren’t incredibly frugal. And while this blog netted me about $3,500 last year, MANteresting cost me $7,500 so I’m not bringing in tons of passive income. Basically, my friends, there is nothing sexy about our story.
Unless of course you find boring sexy.
Fortunately, boring works! Not only does it work, but it works really, really, really well. If I had to summarize how we’ve managed to do alright for ourselves in one sentence I think it would be this: We want a lot, but need nothing.
For over two years now I’ve been hoping my crappy six-year-old Macbook would die. Well, actually it did die once, but I was able to revive it. I want it to die, because I REALLY want to buy a new laptop, but for as long as this little hunk of junk continues to power on, I will continue to blog from it. I recognize that I want a new laptop, and that I will buy one when this one no longer does it’s job, but I do not NEED a new laptop and there is no sense pretending like I do.
The same could be said about our housing situation. We want a house. We want more than 700sqft of space. We want a second bedroom for guests to stay in. Girl Ninja wants a second bathroom so she doesn’t have to go near it after I’ve “occupied” it 😉 We want to stop paying rent. We want to diversify our investments by including real estate in our portfolio. That said, we could still add a little more to savings to give us a bigger financial cushion after putting 20% down. We could definitely use more time house hunting and familiarizing ourselves with the local market. We want a house, and might buy one soon, but we definitely don’t pretend like we “need” one.
Heck, eight months ago we bought ourselves a new-to-us Honda Pilot (which we officially named Pontius). We dropped $20,000 cash on the car ($8,000 of which came from the sale of Girl Ninja’s Corolla). But even then, we knew the whole time the Pilot was a want, not a need. We never felt like we deserved a bigger car. We didn’t try to pretend our family of two needs a car that seats eight. Sure it was frivolous, but because we only wanted, and not needed it, we were able to make sure the purchase didn’t impact our financial situation significantly. A want has no sense of urgency; the same can’t be said for a need.
Most financial experts will tell you to separate your wants from your needs, and only focus on your needs. That’s terrible advice if you ask me. Let’s be real, we are greedy Americans who use the word “need” to justify anything and everything under the sun. If we can convince ourselves we need a new computer, phone, vacuum, or car; we suddenly don’t feel bad about buying one.
That’s not how I roll. Aside from basic necessities like food, water, shelter, and a kiss from Girl Ninja each morning I can’t really think of anything else I need. There are a ton of things I want. Some of these things we will end up buying, others we will just continue wanting. As long as I recognize that our basic needs have already been met, I’m confident our net worth will continue to rise.
Want a lot, need nothing.
Thanks for peeling back the veil a bit. I’ve been a longtime reader and I didn’t realize your place was so small. You have very good points, but I guess I just can’t tell if we are indulging too many wants by disguising them as needs, like the second bedroom in our rental. As I’m dissatisfied that we don’t max out our Roth IRAs (our only long term savings vehicle), I suppose the answer is we don’t want enough. Although we do want plenty!
Well said, Ninja. You continue to amaze me with how well balanced and grounded you are. Sometimes I wish you were single so that I could set you up with my daughter… LOL (and trust me, I don’t say that to anyone….)
Thanks again for another post that reminds me what I NEED to do in order to get keep my finances on track and retire early.
Never take anything for granted and appreciate what you have, especially your health. I may bitch and moan a lot, but it comes from living in this country of bling. Hard not to be envious of others, even if they fake it with debt. I sometimes wish I could go balls out and have fun worth going bankrupt for ;P
I do miss the simpler days of being a kid who only needed imagination to be happy.
Sounds like you two have “…learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” It is a blessed place to be.
I laughed at this post because we did the same thing with our laptop. Ours lasted 7 years before it just didn’t work anymore (I use it for work at home also as an engineer and do quite a bit of my own drafting). First it got slower and slower, then it stopped working as a laptop and died anytime you unplugged it, then the wireless stopped working. We talked with some people and looked around for a few months and finally bought a new one as our only Christmas present to ourselves last month.
You touched on something I have noticed as well. Anymore, people “need” cell phones, cable, a nice car, a bigger house, etc. they deserve these things because they “work so hard.”
You are judged on your ability to be perceived as being wealthy, even if you have more money than others. I have come to the conclusion that it will take a deep 30’s style depression to reset these values, because it is so ingrained in society.
You only made $3,500 off of your blog last year?! I love your blog, but is it really worth all the time you put into it only to make a couple hundred extra each month?
I am curious about this as well. I enjoy your blog and you must put quite a bit of time in to it.
Could you make more money spending the blogging time doing something else?
Could you make more money from your blog?
I have no advice as my blog averages just over 100 views per day.
So why do you write your blog Jane? Are you revving up for more? I’m always curious as to people’s motivation on time-alligator projects.
I was looking for a hobby to keep my brain sharp and a way to impress my career minded sons. I have a dead end health care job and I thought they might be impressed if I could run my own little business.
I was hoping I would hold myself more accountable for my own reckless spending if I had to put it down in black and white for the world to see and judge. I have let myself down with my own spending and to type the words means I can’t pretend it didn’t happen.
I do not see big earnings in my future but seeing the viewership increase on a weekly basis is addictive. I did everything wrong in the beginning and only started to learn about marketing my blog in late December but I have seen viewer numbers increase.
I am a single mom who has started saving for retirement much too late but I will get there and learning about blogging and reading these other blogs and the comments left by readers is teaching me a lot.
Believe it or not I don’t write this blog for income purposes. In a true blogger. I don’t allow paid guest or sponsored posts, not so I conduct any affiliate offers. I really do write this blog as a fun hobby and enjoy providing a mild dose of entertainment for a couple thousand people each day.
I’m probably one of the only bloggers that doesn’t care about monetizing my blog.
The money I did make was virtually handed to me and required no effort on my part.
one of the best posts you’ve ever written. Well said Ninja!
Amen, brother! I suffer from house jealousy the most, but the thing is, I love my house. It’s the perfect size for me. It doesn’t have a lot of upgrades, but doing all those would mean I don’t recoup the costs when I sell because I’ve over-improved it. So I remind myself of those things when the jealousy rears it’s head. I have more than I need, and certainly more than a lot of people, and I’m able to still get many wants on my list. Fortunate indeed!
You’re fortunate to have learned these lessons while you’re young as it will serve you well in life. Have a great weekend!
I think we’re all on the same page here. I myself still have the low-def TV I bought 15 years ago, I only replaced my 2004 PC this summer because the damned thing was on its last legs, and I only bought a new car three years ago because my 2000 Camry was totalled when some fool unlicensed driver rear-ended me. My bathroom could use a renovation, but I’ve put it off until unavoidable. My weaknesses have remained travelling (mostly from 1990-2005) and buying art (mostly from 2005 to the present, though I’m winding down). I’m sure my financial net worth would be greater had I done none of those things, but life is meant for living too, and I’ve never regretted either my trips to Italy or the best of the drawings and prints I’ve purchased.
I’m going to have to suggest you get a new tv. They are cheap and will save you space and electricity. Not to mention the hi def picture might rival your art when you mount the tv on your wall.
It’s on the list. I have room for only a 32″ set anyway. But first I ought to replace the fridge, which has labored valiantly for 23 years but is showing signs of age. And maybe the mattress, which I bought in ’79 but is probably due for replacement. And I could use a new cell phone. In any case I can watch HD TV from the computer, which lets me record shows from Window Media Player to burn on DVDs.
’79 = ’97. Didn’t get the editing window this time.
For a fleeting moment you were the sensei of mattresses.
23 year old fridge? Definately replace that. Mattress last until your back hurts. Cellphones are relatively free these days. I had issues with trying to watch tv on my computer. Changing channels took forever and the windows media interface was clumsy at best, compared to my expensive DVR. Maybe I just didn’t know how to use it. I think if I was single, I would not have cable tv…
Fridge is the first priority, and would have been done sooner if I hadn’t needed some dental surgery that went beyond our insurance coverage. It still keeps food cold/frozen and at worst some water accumulates on the bottom ledge. TV is working fine with my PC and Windows Media Player.
First of all, kudos Larry for keeping a 2004 PC running for so long. That’s not easy.
Secondly, laziness can get you a lot in life. “I want that new tv… but then I’d have to get up and get it. That’s too much effort.” Bam! Just saved thousands!
Life is super easy when you think in terms of your BASIC BASIC needs. As crazy as it may sound, the internet is NOT a basic need and neither is a cell phone. If you have these things plus some, you are living in luxury my friend.
We are so not a “Keeping up with the Jones'” couple. We’ll replace a TV or computer only when it dies and it would cost more $ to repair than buy a new one. We have the same cell phones for over 3 years now (no upgrade every time the latest model comes out), and we only buy newer-to-us cars when we’ve run the old one into the ground.
I, for one, LOVE being boring because it’s helped grow our emergency fund, pay off credit cards and gives us peace of mind… BRING ON MORE BORING!!!
I didn’t realize you and girl ninja were so young. I have been reading for a few months now, and I have always been able to relate to your writing style and attitude toward debt/savings, now I know why! I’m 26 and my husband is 29. Unfortunately, we are what seems like lightyears behind you. Our networth is a measly 20k, but we also have 3 mini-me’s running around and only 1 income, so I guess I’ll just have to be okay with that. The past few months we have really started to see how we don’t need everything that our friends and family go out and buy and we are much more interested in being financially independent at a young age. We still splurge a bit, we have iPads and iPhones, etc. but we sacrifice in other areas and try to stash as much as we possibly can. I think it’s all about doing what makes you happy, and I’m happy to sacrifice a little now so that we can “retire” comfortably by age 50.
You sound like Seneca. I was reading some of the stoic philosophy, and he often talks about wants vs. needs. To be happy you need to follow the same principle you follow now.
It is great to see you doing so well at such a young age. Most of my friends cannot boast of the same situation.
Wait a minute…So you didn’t just get money, you didn’t join a get rich quick scheme, just nothing? I actually like your pure honesty. Most of the time, there is nothing more than just running along at a standard pace that puts it all together. I am glad to hear that you know of your wants and needs, but you just don’t act on them all of the time. I want things, many things, but I need little.
Ninjas, that is awesome! Being in our forties now, and not being there yet, but instead just starting on our journey to financially free, I can tell you that you’ll never regret your “boring” lifestyle. Keep up the good work, and thanks for being a wonderful example and motivator for those of us just starting on the road!
That last line of the post is everything. That is the way to live!
I really wish we could have been more like you at your age. When I was 23/24 before kids I worked at a job where I received some nice bonuses every month. Instead of saving or paying down debt, we bought things we really didn’t need. We are kicking ourselves for it but working to get everything turned around.
Great post, well said but really I just love that you named your car Pontius Pilot!
I am also very boring, Sometimes I think I should become a ‘boring consultant’ to teach out of control people how to be boring. I suspect their lives might not be so complicated.
HAHA! I love this idea. I’ve thought about that too, but it came off more like, “How not to make STUPID decisions.” “boring coach” is much better. 🙂
I think that the issue is, for many people, separating wants from needs. There are so many different justifications people use to show that they NEED something, when really it was a want. You two are doing great.
I am very impressed with your saving abilities and “needs-based” living. I know you initially started off in the hole. How many years has it taken for you to get to this point?
Thanks! and keep up the great work!
From what I have read, you have proven to be wise with what you have been given. You are a great example. Awesome job! My husband and I work at being frugal as well. I take the bus, we don’t have cable, I choose not to have a smart phone because I don’t want to pay extra for a data plan, we have only purchased three pieces of furniture all from Ikea (a desk, tv stand and a bookcase) and the rest were free hand me downs (one couch and a coffee table), we don’t have any dining room furniture or bedroom furniture, we re-wear our clothes so there is less laundry, I make big batches for dinner so we can eat leftovers for a couple of days afterwards, I consistently shop around for the best prices on groceries … the list goes on. And even when it gets rough and we try to be even more frugal, we still continue to work towards paying off our last credit card and my student loan. It’s true, there are times where we wished we made more money because we think it would make our lives easier, but 99% of the time we have to pinch ourselves because we feel so incredibly fortunate for the lives we have, the opportunities we’ve been given and the relationships we’ve made. It’s in those moments where all of our materialistic wants disappear to the background and we are reminded that we actually DO have everything we want (or at least all that is worth having).
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