I had coffee with a friend the other day who shared a story about how he saw a young boy die on the race track. My friend was and continues to be a very serious go-kart racer, and he took his son all over the region to compete. This meant that he also had to hire a coach, and purchase a new truck for his new trailer, which carried both of their go-karts. The story over coffee was pretty straight forward in its tragedy. Apparently the young boy who died had a malfunction of some kind in his go-kart, and he crashed through the outer barrier on the track hard enough that he was injured. The injury was to the head, and it was bad enough that he died right there, that day, in front of all the other competitors and their families. It was a freak accident, given the circumstance, but ultimately it is understood that all the safety precautions taken can only prevent 99.9% of the accidents.
What stood out to me in the story, as my friend shared it, was that he had gotten this profound life-and-death, “God moment,” out of all of this. That’s what he got out of it. What I got out of it was, holy shit, you spent probably $100k this year on this hobby, you just watched someone die and… sounds like you are continuing your hobby. You don’t say to yourself, “life is short, maybe I should spend my money on more important things” or some variation of that? Nope, you go back to the race track.
At the risk of sounding judgmental, I want to share something that I think is very practical. Please look at what scripture says about life, about material happiness, about amassing material wealth. It’s all over the place. And our friends in the secular world (see Tiny Homes, and those who ‘count their things’ and try to own as few things as possible) are discovering what Christians used to practice for hundreds of years… Here’s the point.
Look, you only really need about $20,000 a year (+/- depending on where you live) to survive as a single person. You need another $5,000 per person (again, depending on where you live, health needs, and so on). No, you do not need another bedroom for every person in your house. You don’t need to travel by plane to an expensive resort every time you take a vacation (2x a year is proper, isn’t it?). You don’t need new clothes every year, or shoes, or a computer, or car. If you want to live like a king in most places, you need about $48,000 a year for a family of 4. Trust me, I am doing that very thing right now. I am spoiled. You don’t need more than that.
Do you want more than that? Yeah, you probably do. Probably everyone wants more, and wants to spend more, and live off more, and have more. Just be honest with yourself, you don’t need that, you want that. Be honest, too, that you are fucking greedy if you are living off of $80,000. I am guessing that some people who read this will say they are barely making it off of a six figure income. Do some research on lifestyle inflation, or just skip to reality and recognize that you are full of shit. You don’t need those things. It’s just a lie.
More importantly, understand how crazy free you will be if you live below your means. Don’t like your job? It’s hard to quit when you are living paycheck to paycheck, no matter how much you are making. Don’t like where you live? It’s hard to move if you are up to your eyeballs in bills on a house you can barely afford. You can quit your job, take a loss on your house, move, go back to school, give away some stuff or a lot of stuff, do something fun (“fun” on the level of, hike the Pacific Trail with your spouse), relax, you can do all kinds of things if you live on less than what your income is. Imagine how your conversations with your boss would go if you knew that you had a year’s salary’s worth of savings in your bank account, and that your living expense are 25% of what you currently make. I know people who could work half time and survive. People call them crazy, some even call them losers for not being “ambitious” (because spending is ambitious, I guess?). There’s so little stress when you live like you’re broke. Laid off? Who cares. You will be so amazingly free from the traps that other people fall into if you live simply.