Are you looking to fit in? While everyone is complaining about money troubles, you can automate your investments, essentially making you as poor as your peers (at least in available cash).
Why is it socially acceptable to tell people you’re poor? Don’t get me wrong, I love when personal finance bloggers make debt announcements. These announcements take courage. It’s awesome to see someone working their way out of debt. But, for most people, being poor is a way of life and they almost enjoy venting their problems to the world. All of my life, it’s been almost cool to go around shouting about your money troubles. So, of course, I’ve always wanted to fit in — to some degree. But how can you fit in with the poor crowd without actually being poor?
Eureka! I make myself “poor” by automatically investing the bulk of my money into equities. I’ve been investing since I was 10, but putting it on autopilot assures I won’t hold back any and, as a result, spend needlessly.
Next time your buddy says: “Hey, man, you wanna go in on buying an Xbox?” You can reply: “Sorry, bro, all my money’s gone!” Instant respect gained!
P.S. Don’t really say, “bro.”
I invest a large portion of my money, so I never really have a bunch of cash laying around. I used to joke with a girlfriend that I didn’t have any money because I spent it on my mutual fund expense ratios. To which she would say: “That’s not really spending it, Will.”
Right now, I save 85% of my income. Most of that gets invested in equities. I save 50% in my Roth 401(k), 10% into my Employee Stock Purchase Program, $5,500 annually in my Roth IRA, and the rest of what I don’t need to live off of goes in a taxable account.
So, essentially, I’ve severely restricted my available cash, and, thus, my money-wasting possibilities. This helps keep me stay on track with my spending and also helps me blend in with the poor crowd.
If putting money away yourself each month is more than you can get motivated to do, these days there are apps that will truly put you on autopilot. Stash gives you $5 to sign up, and after that you can set up your investment account to automatically withdraw a set amount from your bank account each month. Don’t get investment terms? Stash puts them in regular English. Acorn is another option that’ll also give you $5 to sign up. Acorn rounds your purchases on linked cards up to an even dollar and puts the change into your investment account. You won’t even notice that you’re saving.
How to Be Poor for Real
Do you want to be poor? My advice: Rent a Ferrari while your credit is still good and promptly park it in a lake. Follow that up with replacing your toilet paper with “hundies” — yes, even in the guest bathroom. Next, you can use nail polish to paint your bedroom walls. And, finally, BASE jump in a national park — to the tune of a $2,000 fine.
I don’t really suggest you pretend you’re poor just so you can fit in with everyone else. But reducing your liquid cash to a lower level is smart and it can help you match lifestyles with some of your peers. Engineering a life where you have less liquid cash can be a great thing. I recommend you automate as much of your income as possible, while still maintaining a high quality of life.