This weekend I opted to get everything that required leaving home done on Saturday since Sunday was going to be unacceptably cold (a high of fifty fucking eight degrees). That is literally below Houston’s average January high and it was March 31. Since moving here, my tolerance for temperatures below eighty has gone from very low to nonexistent. The lifers bitch about summer constantly while I wish it lasted all year and wonder how much further south I would have to eventually migrate to make that a reality. So anyway, to register my outrage with the universe, I did not leave the comfort of my apartment on Sunday and yes, the heat was on. Utilities are incredibly cheap here and that means temperature is not a required area of compromise. So how did I spend my Sunday? I did the kind of office work I hate doing when the weather is good and I also spent some time being purposefully lazy. I think it’s important to experience that novelty every now and again.
As part of this process, I read some now vintage Mr Money Mustache posts. If you’re reading this and you aren’t familiar with Mr Money Mustache, please stop reading this, drop whatever you were planning on doing for the next three months, and go learn from the absolute best. As a guy blogging about finance in 2019, I’m benefitting from “standing on the shoulders of giants” and triple M is undisputedly the biggest and best there has ever been. If finance bloggers were musicians, he would be the first guy who started hitting sticks together in rhythm because something about the sound intrigued him, proceeded to design and build tons of instruments, and somehow also became both Mozart and Beethoven. The man is a living legend in finance blogging because he both created and perfected it. He doesn’t post as much as he used to but his past posts amount to more than enough to take anyone from zero to hero with their finances.
As I worked my way through these now classic posts, I happened upon this one. MMM has a way of cutting through the bullshit details that will trip some people up and distilling a concept down to the absolute essence necessary to get the ball rolling. And in this post, he pretty much does that with all of personal finance. As I read through it again, I thought about my own financial history. I’ve worked hard, made mostly good decisions, fought through some significant setbacks, and benefited from many examples of good fortune along the way to reaching a roughly 70% savings rate using MMM’s methodology. Barring a collapse of almost biblical proportions, I will a financially independent millionaire by 40 and consider myself incredibly blessed. But still, I couldn’t help but marvel at how much better I could have done. My biggest failure was waiting until my late twenties before I started doing things the right way. Had I reached the 70% savings rate in my early twenties, I could have already been financially independent for a while now instead of half a decade away. Had I read this epic post when I was younger, my life may have actually transpired that way.
That’s when I realized something; if you could only read one financial blog post, this one should be the one you choose. No, it doesn’t go into detail on how to achieve a high savings rate. But that simply requires re-evaluating your expenses one by one, making small but key changes, and continually working on increasing your income in the background. It’s one of those monumental tasks that forces you to focus on one small, easy step at a time until you suddenly look up and realize you’ve climbed a figurative mountain. However, this post does something far more important than to show you the steps; it lights the fire of motivation that will get you in the game, keep you there, and keep you aware of how you’re progressing. In one very simple metric, it sums up your entire financial life and then visualizes it on both a graph and a chart.
So if you want to do one thing today that will have an enormous impact on your finances, read the post I linked to above and then spend some time thinking about it. Start working on calculating your expense numbers. It probably won’t be as easy as in MMM’s case since just like his posts, simplicity seems to be a high priority in his financial life. But once you’ve done it, it will be much easier to do again. And more importantly, I can almost guarantee you will have at least one insight in the process that will cause you to dramatically alter what you are doing and save tons of money in the long run. So if the weather spits in your face some day as it did on Sunday in Houston, I recommend turning it into a huge win by checking out the best financial blog post of all time.