Sometimes you need to embrace your bad side; sometimes you need a pocket protector.
[Got a great article for ya’ll today by Andrew Daniels of FamilyMoneyPlan.com! Show him some love if you like this at the end, and watch out for that inner rockstar of yours this weekend! :)]
Have you ever felt stuck between doing what’s good for you, and doing what’s right?
I’ve been grappling with this issue since we paid off our mortgage. You see, I wanted to jump right into pursuing financial freedom but… I’m also ready to stop living frugally and just say “Screw it, party time!!!! I’m going to go and buy everything I want for a while!”
There are these two opposing forces inside of me, and they are pulling different ways…
In this corner, we have the Accountant
Meet the Accountant. I call him Andrew, he’s good with money, and wouldn’t know fun if it poured tequila down his throat. This guy is a minimalist at heart. If you ask him how to be financially free, his answer is going to be something like this:
“Cut out everything, reduce expenses, buy a cheap house, or no house at all. Live off the grid and syphon your utilities from your neighbor, or better yet don’t have any utilities at all.”
Phone plan? “Why bother you don’t need friends, they just cost money.”
Internet? “People got along fine for 2,000 years before it, probably a fad, forget about it.”
Clothes? “One outfit will do. Hey, it was good enough for Steve Jobs! Wash it in the rain and dry it in the sun. You don’t need any more clothes than that. You got rid of your friends, remember?”
The accountant would keep slashing every expense until there was nothing left to slash. That’s good, to an extent. We need to be an Accountant once in a while; otherwise we would go off the financial rails and never return.
In the other corner… the Rockstar!
Then there’s the Rockstar inside of me. I call him Andy. His thoughts go something like this:
“Nothing to do tonight? Let’s go to Fiji!”
“Got a spare half hour? Let’s call up anyone, or even better yet… Call EVERYONE! Let’s go out for a drink and see where the night goes!”
“Hey! Here’s a great idea… lets have 20 drinks and buy everyone in the bar a couple of rounds. Let’s live it up all day long, and live for the moment, like tomorrow may never come. That’s why we are here right? Life is meant to be lived, not shackled to financial sensibility. You can’t take it with you. What if you got hit by a bus?”
We all have the Rockstar inside of us. You may have buried him/her deep down, but it’s in there. Go on admit it, it’s just you and me here. Sometimes that fun loving carefree live-for-the-moment, “It’s Only Money” personality needs to come out. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.
Then There’s Me… The Referee
Then there’s me. Stuck in the middle, with these two guys pulling me in opposite directions. Sometimes the Accountant wins. Sometimes it’s the Rockstar with a knockout. Other times it’s a draw.
There are so many times that I just want to say: “Forget the future! I want what I want, and I’m going to have it.” Whether it’s a cup cake when we’re abstaining from carbs, or buying a huge TV that I just can’t stand seeing anymore in the store because I’ve been looking at it every day for a year…
Sometimes the levy breaks and the Rockstar wins. Other times it’s the Accountant whose rationalizations win out: “You can’t get that, it’s not prudent” hey says. And, “Wait a little longer – it’s not time.” He’s the one looking at our cable bill daily asking, “Why haven’t we slashed this yet?”
What it looks like in the end…
I’ve seen the extremes at the end of these guys’ lives. I’ve actually worked with the old Rockstars and the old Accountants.
The Rockstar is broke, working a part-time gig as a minimum wage worker in their 70’s because they don’t have any savings and are in way too much debt. But there’s a never-ending pile of stories that are almost too wild to believe. Their financial situation is, well, let’s just say it isn’t pretty. Non-existent is the word that comes to mind.
The Accountant will be better off financially in the end. Living in a tent, wearing his one outfit cut off from the world. But they’re always thinking: “I should have taken more risk”, or “I should have done more when I had the chance.” Not bad, but not great. I don’t want to have “What ifs?” when I get older.
So what’s a guy to do?
Personally, I like to nurture them both. You see, without my Accountant-side I’m going to be in deep debt before the end of this article. (Amazon is always a click away!). Accountant Andrew needs to know he’s got a say.
At the same time, if we keep Rockstar Andy locked up for too long, when he finally gets out he’s going to hit the credit cards harder than two kids in a mosh pit (for those of you too young for mosh pits, you missed out… big time).
So he needs to come out and play once in a while. Maybe it’s just me, but when you let him out life seems a little more fun. Expensive, but fun!
How to keep the Rockstar from going all “Kanye” on your wallet
Remember when I told you the Rockstar is waiting to blow the lid off this place? Here’s some tips on managing him:
#1. Celebrate the Little Wins.. A LOT!
If the Accountant keeps tightening the guitar strings, eventually they are going to snap. We don’t need the Rockstar showing up with the band at 3:00 am ready to party like… well, like a Rockstar. You need to release the money tension as you go. Celebrate a little, and do it often.
I’ll tell you something I haven’t told anyone before.
When we were paying off our $320K mortgage for those 6 long years, it was hard. We had to throw everything at the mortgage in order to do it. If we didn’t have a reward system in place, we never would have made it. Our reward system kept Rockstar Andy in check.
We didn’t have a lot of money left over, so we would find ways to treat ourselves with whatever made sense. It didn’t have to be big, but our efforts did need to be celebrated.
For instance, I love cinnamon buns. I love them the way Accountant’s love calculators. So every time we put an extra payment down on the house… Boom! Cinnamon buns! The Rockstar was in his happy place. So simple… so sweet…
#2. Give yourself some party money
Even with all the little treats, when we were paying down our mortgage there were times the Rockstar would get so loud that it was deafening.
“I want this new toy.” “Man would a trip to Cabo be sweet right now.” “Let’s buy that new TV!”
It’s so hard to not listen to him. All those ideas sound awesome. You aren’t going to make it very far unless you show this guy some love once in a while.
Give yourself some play cash, or “beer money” as the Rockstar calls it, every month. Hell, or “Heck” as the Accountant says, it can be as little as a 20 bucks. Go out and enjoy the moment! Do what ever you want with that cash. Rockstars don’t answer to anyone.
But… When that money is gone, that’s the end of it. Don’t ever give the Rockstar the credit cards. Living for the moment means paying for it in the moment.
#3. If all else fails… Compromise
Wanna party like it’s 1999? Great! Call up your friends and have a House Party, like the Sam Hunt song suggests. All the fun without the cover charge, and you don’t need to pay for a cab. Plus, the beer is a lot cheaper at home.
Instead of going somewhere tropical, jump in the car and see where a tank of gas gets you for a one-night getaway. Nurture the fun side, without blowing the budget.
So who wins out? The Rockstar or the Accountant?
Here’s the thing, both are necessary.
You can try to keep your Rockstar buried deep down inside you, and it might be all-good. Maybe all-good for a very long time. But he’s in there waiting. Waiting for you to have a moment of weakness. Waiting to blow the roof off and have a Whole Lotta Fun!
Planning for the future is essential, but so is having fun. Your life isn’t about your bank account; it’s the experiences you have and share with others around you.
Let the Rockstar out once in a while, and enjoy life…
Just make sure the Accountant is the one who wakes up in the morning :)
Andrew Daniels blogs over at Family Money Plan, where he writes about how he paid off his $320,000 mortgage in 6 years and is now focused on finding financial freedom. If this article resonates with you, sign up for his newsletter where you’ll get a free copy of his eBook, “Money Guiding Principles for a Happier Life.”
[Rockstar drinks by Mike Mozart]