Friday, June 15, 2018

I'm a Millionaire, But I Still Cut My Own Hair

Just because you have some money doesn't mean you have to stop worrying about how you spend it.  In fact, the opposite is true.

We are in a campground, and our neighbors have one of those new campers with all the bells and whistles.  An outdoor kitchen, complete with microwave and fridge, slides out from the side, next to the outdoor television - this in addition to the television(s) inside the rig and the inside kitchen as well.  These folks  have more kitchens in their trailer than they do in their home!

Pretty sweet!  But of course, it is all paid for "on time" and they owe more on the rig than it could be sold for, if push came to shove.

It got me to thinking.  Should we have one of these fancy RVs?  I mean, we could afford to pay cash for one of them - or ten of them, or even twenty.   But we didn't, because we chose not to.  It took me a long time to figure this out, but being "wealthy" doesn't mean spending money, but rather saving it.  Instead of owning things, one has to own money.   And not many people own money today.

Early on in this blog, we started looking at expenses and decided that getting a "haircut" by driving 20 miles into town, waiting an hour in a stuffy barbershop while listening to Rush Limbaugh on a cheap AM radio, wasn't worth $20.  In fact, it was worth nothing.  A basic hair trimmer could be had for the cost of one haircut.

Making simple changes in our lives - as well as larger ones - put us on the road to wealth.   Up until then, we had fallen into the trap that many Americans do, of spending just slightly more than we made every year, looking at each raise in pay as an opportunity to borrow yet more money.   I still cut my own hair, even though I am a millionaire, simply because cutting my own hair is what made me a millionaire, at least in part.

When you try to explain that to people, they just don't get it.  So long ago, I stopped trying.   I put down my thoughts in this blog, and a few people read it.  But I got a lot of angry responses from people - as if my cost-cutting moves were somehow threatening to them, which I guess they were, as they called into question their entire lifestyle.

I also got a lot of e-mails and comments from people who wanted to know how to "get rich quick" - as if most of the world were mere dunderheads who only needed to know the "inside secret" to quick wealth, but were too lazy to bother to find it.   Of course, such secrets don't exist - but the legend of them illustrates how people think.  They get hopelessly in debt and wonder why other people seem to have it "so easy" and wonder whether they too, could know the "inside secret" to wealth.

And if there is one, here it is: cutting your own hair.   Not literally, but as a metaphor.  But it could be literal as well.   The idea of spending less and saving more isn't interesting or exciting.  It doesn't sell seminars and isn't sold on informercials.  The shouting guy on TeeVee doesn't promote it (and his haircut is far worse than mine!).  In short, it really is a secret, in a manner of speaking, in that it lies hidden - but hidden in plain view for anyone to see, if only they stop looking so hard.

We won't be buying a fancy camper with a slide-out kitchen.  Our 20-year-old Casita (which we paid $8750 for, in cash, 15 years ago) works just fine.  I did make a slide-out kitchen for the back of our pickup truck, using the cargo tray I made many years ago, and a couple of pieces of wood we bought at Lowe's.   Total cost:  About $50.   Of course, it isn't as fancy or nice as the camper next door to us.

But it is paid for.