There are so many people retiring early and living the life of their dreams at the same time there are so many people struggling to save enough for retirement. How can this be? How can we have so many people struggling, yet so many succeeding?
It is easy to get ahead
Today we are blessed with technology galore. We can start a business from the power of our laptop.
We can learn anything we want from Mr Google or Mrs You Tube.
It has never been easier to self-teach.
There are more job choices now than there has ever been in history.
There is no limit to how much you can earn if you are willing to put in the hard yards.
Money has never been more abundant.
It is hard to get ahead
Houses have never been more unaffordable
Tertiary education has never been more expensive
High paid work is getting harder to find
Kids are getting more expensive
Life is generally expensive
Employers are demanding all our time
We are living longer
Easy or hard then?
A lot depends on the choices we make. The difference between now and the past is that we now have so many options and so much convenience. These options and convenience are both a blessing and a curse. Our success depends on how we decide to use those options. Let me explain.
We now have many things that save us time that we didn’t have 50 years ago. We have washing machines, so we don’t have to wash by hand. We have dryers, so we don’t have to hang clothes. We have unlimited internet access to a world of information through either a computer or a phone. We can mow our lawns with petrol or electric mowers instead of by hand. We have kitchen appliances that can blend for us or even peel a garlic. We have remotes for TV’s. All these things are convenient and save us a lot of time. The problem is convenience costs money if we don’t put all that extra time to good use.
We have so many options available to us that it becomes difficult to choose the least convenient option. It is the convenient option that we often go for, but this comes at a price.
Do we buy a modern house because it is convenient or a fixer upper?
Do we buy 2 cars for the household or get by with one?
Do we make dinner from scratch or buy pre-prepared meals?
Do we buy our kids anything they want to keep them happy or do we teach them the hard way?
Do we spend our free time learning about ways to earn new income or do we sit on the couch and watch TV?
We are faced with so many options on a daily basis. How we respond to these options determines whether we find it hard or easy to get ahead financially.
If we choose the easy and convenient options, we will struggle. If we choose the harder, less convenient options we will achieve more with our money. Often when we take the harder path we also end up happier with our results. Overcoming challenges is one of the key tenets to achieving life fulfillment. Things that come easy do not add to our happiness.
Just because something is less convenient doesn’t mean a decrease in quality of life either. Every one of us that lives in New Zealand is extremely lucky. We have running water, reliable telecommunications, good job opportunities, a good education system by world standards, and a plethora of volunteer centres to help out.
The key is to be grateful for what we have then we will never feel deprived. If we go back less than 100 years, it was normal to do washing by hand. We didn’t have remotes for garages and TV’s. We didn’t even have TV’s. No internet. No electrical appliances. Pens weren’t replaced when they stopped working – the ink was simply replaced. No such thing as disposable diapers. Water came from a fountain or a tap, not in bottles. Houses were smaller and there was no chance of a company delivering food to your door. Back then it was normal. What we have now in comparison is an abundance of luxury. So how any average kiwi can think they are deprived in this country is nonsense. We see this luxury as normal though. It is the new normal.
I used to find it so hard to get ahead in my 20’s and early 30’s. I was living paycheck to paycheck. I thought this was normal too. I used to think eating out 4 nights a week, Sky TV and the best house I could afford were normal. Not until I cut expenses by eating in, removing SKY and downsizing house did I find a new normal. I thought I would be missing out, but you know what? We adapt. I don’t miss having Sky TV at all. I now have all this extra free time with my wife, family and business. I don’t miss eating out. And when we do, it is a treat.
Creating nutritious meals at home is great for our wallet and waist. It feels good to create something of your own as well.
Finally, a smaller home has been great. Lower bills, less maintenance and less cleaning. What used to feel normal now feels excessive. It is human nature to adapt to our new surroundings.
The two best things I did to help get ahead were use the internet to upskill myself on all things personal finance and downsize houses. I used convenience (the internet) to my advantage by using that time to educate myself and not look at funny cat videos.
Saving money is not deprivation. It is just saying no to excessive things that do not add any value to our lives and taking a step back in time to simplify our lives. It is simplicity and saving money that should be seen as normal. Everything else is excess, not normal.
We have it all backwards. We should be thankful for what we have and not chase the latest version of everything. It is a challenge with everything so convenient and widespread, but the sooner we can do that, the sooner we can take the easy road with our finances. Otherwise it will be a long, hard road ahead.
The information contained on this site is the opinion of the individual author(s) based on their personal opinions, observation, research, and years of experience. The information offered by this website is general education only and is not meant to be taken as individualised financial advice, legal advice, tax advice, or any other kind of advice. You can read more of my disclaimer here
How difficult is it to get ahead in NZ? Do you struggle with your finances? Is there anything you could do differently? Do you think we have it good in this country?