I greatly enjoy my little secret life. We live on a modest street where no one knows about my Mr. 1500 alter-ego. My neighbors would soil their pants if they knew that we have investments worth north of a million dollars. However at least two neighbors have suspicions. I’ll call them Neighbor 1 and Neighbor 2.
A couple months back, out of nowhere, Neighbor 1 asked us if we were multi-millionaires. It was my turn to soil my pants. How on earth did she suspect this? I play everything close to the belt, but it turns out that Mrs. 1500 is a little more chatty and let the early retirement cat out of the money bag.
I am not thrilled with this. I asked Mrs. 1500 why she told anyone and her response was that ‘they would have found out anyway when I quit my job.’ My plan all along was to stay elusive. On the rare occasion that someone noticed me on my bike on a Wednesday morning and questioned it, I would have said that the nature of my job allows me to work when I want. That’s sort of true, right? It just so happens that I did all of my work in the first 15 years of my working life.
I had this conversation with another neighbor a couple months ago. Again, it came out of the blue:
- Neighbor: So, I hear you’re retiring soon?
- Me: What, huh!!!? How do you know that?!?!?!?
- Neighbor: Well, Mrs. 1500 told Katy and Katy told me.
Katy is another neighbor who warned us on more than one occasion that she is incapable of keeping a secret. So now, I have to assume that the entire neighborhood knows about our future FI life.
Back to Neighbor 1
In reality, Neighbor 1 has no idea what to think of us. While she suspects we may be multi-millionaires, she also suspects that we’re poor. She looks curious and confused when she sees me working on cars or (gasp!) mowing the lawn. Her family has a lawn and house cleaning service, so why would someone with more money not live at least as richly as they do?
I love it that she has idea what to think of us. I’ll play this little game for as long as I can.
Of course, the difference between us and her is the way we view money.
She is defined by money. It rules her.
I define money. It is nothing more than a tool for me to rule my life.
If someone asks what I’d do with a million dollars, the evil Mr. 1500 who dwells deep down inside wants to put on a cocky smile and say this:
Been there, done that. ***yawn*** What else you got?
What I actually say is this:
No matter how much money I have, my life wouldn’t change. If I came into $10,000,000 tomorrow, I wouldn’t move. I wouldn’t trade in my car. I wouldn’t get a new phone. I’ve reached my level of Enough and I’m perfectly content.
However, Neighbor 1 is the exact opposite. Every increase in income leads to a lifestyle change. Her husband works his ass off and just got promoted. It took about two weeks for a “For Sale” sign to sprout in their yard. Our little street suddenly isn’t good enough.
Does money define you?
So now I ask you Reader, what does money mean to you?
- How would you deal with a $10,000,000 inheritance?
- Is money a means to buy stuff like cars or clothes?
- Or, is money a tool that you prefer to put to work to make more money?
Think long and hard about your relationship with money because it’s critical to your long term well being. If you let money change and dictate your behavior, those dollars are a parasite controlling you. It’s always better to be in a position of power.
Use money to gain control over your life. Put those dollars to work for you. They will free you.
And in the meantime, keep those nosy neighbors guessing.
And something else: One of my favorite financial writers in the world, Morgan Housel, just had a son. Morgan’s advice to him is wonderful.
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