Wow, February snuck up on me quickly. Of course, March will sneak up even faster, but not as fast as it does most years.
I’ve been spending a lot of the month preparing goals and New Year’s Resolutions. I usually get those published in late January. However, this year, I’m trying to combine them with my monthly passive income update. Look for it next week when I have the numbers.
More and more, I think the key to accomplishing your goals is to create good habits. When you make something healthy a routine, it just happens. For example, I grew up in a frugal home, and it helped me through some tough times, like the dot-com layoffs around 2000 and the Great Recession of 2008. It became such a habit that it pains me to throw anything useful in the trash. I’ve had to train myself to spend money, which might sound crazy to many of you. I still find myself gravitating towards the most frugal solution to any challenge.
As great as habits are, there’s possibly one thing better… culture.
I have a friend who travels the world constantly. She’s always talking about the culture of certain places. One of her favorite places to travel is Singapore. You’d think it was Shangri-la, the way she talks about it. I let it go in one ear and out the other until I watched Live to 100: The Secret of Blue Zones on Netflix.
Singapore’s government nudges its citizens to make good, healthy choices. They subsidize the healthy food and make the unhealthy food more expensive. The result of the nudges is that the country ranks in the top 10 in longevity and spends very little on health care. In the United States, we have the opposite culture. Our longevity is dropping, and our healthcare spending is through the roof.
Another example is the drug crisis going on in San Francisco. A decade ago, we used to live south of San Francisco, and it was great. I didn’t need to venture into San Francisco too much for work, but my wife did. There were a lot of homeless people. Crime was bad. Between that and the fog and the traffic, I was never too excited to go up there.
Imagine my surprise when my friends told me that it’s gotten much, much worse since we left. I didn’t believe it at first, but they all said it was true. Earlier this week, The New York Times explained why San Francisco has a drug crisis. A lot of it can attributed to culture. I’ll let you read the article since it’s so well written.
So what about our money culture in the United States? In general, I think we spend, spend, spend. There are ads everywhere advertising everything. I remember everyone rushed to get iPhones when Androids were so much cheaper. Nowadays, you can probably stick on an older iPhone, but I was able to buy very cheap Android devices for my kids to play Pokemon Go when they were 5. (We used my mobile hotspot.)
Is it hypocritical to preach frugality after I wrote at the beginning of this article that I was trying to move away from it? Maybe. I think the difference is timing. When you are young and starting out, frugality helps you put a lot more money into compounding investments. If you are able to do it well, you can reach financial freedom and really let loose.
I found the culture of personal finance blogs has really helped me reach my financial goals. Hopefully, they are working for you too. Let me know in the comments.