When I graduated, I went to work for a small technology company. The owner was eccentric and had built the company from the ground up over the previous 20 years. He was known for being a tough man who didn’t take any crap. After a few years of working for him, he passed away. He worked right up until the end. His business consumed him, but he loved it. His work was his life. He always had stories to tell, and one always stuck with me. It was about the life of a cathedral builder.
Cathedrals take a long time to build, like a seriously long time. Notre-Dame in Paris took around a century. Sagrada Familia in Barcelona started construction in 1882 and as of now (2018), it is still not finished. It’s architect Antoni Gaudi died in 1926 and never got close to seeing his work completed. Cathedral builders must have the belief that they are building something so significant that they may never see the end of their project. A stonemason working on a cathedral could spend his whole life working on a single section of one building, never to see the end. My previous boss had the cathedral builder’s mentality; he worked and built a company that was greater than himself. One that he could leave behind for the benefit of his children and their children. He worked on building this legacy right up to the point that his body gave up.
Have you noticed that we don’t really build cathedrals anymore? The modern world has a very short-term mentality and the older I get, the more I notice it (I promised my younger self I would never say anything like that!). How is this relevant to a money hack or your Financial Independence? Well, I think it’s one of the most important aspects, if not THE most important part. The way you look at the world and the way you curate your financial future is all about your mindset. You might like the idea of Financial Independence, but have you got what it takes to achieve it? Can you plan ahead? I’m not talking about planning next year’s holiday, or what’s happening at Christmas with your family. I’m talking about whether you can chart a course for the next ten plus years of your life AND stick to it. Most people can focus on short term projects like a diet; you set in place your 90-day plan, lose weight and feel great. But what then? Most of us slip back into previous bad habits, only to un-do all that hard work and start the vicious cycle again.
Money Mindset – The single most overlooked money hack
I hate the word ‘hack’, but it’s what grabs headlines. What I really mean is that your long-term mindset is often one of the most overlooked part of your financial journey. It WILL determine your success, or failure. You might think you can get rich quick, but most people can’t. You might think you can buy Bitcoin today and retire in a few months, you can’t. Let me make that very clear, you might have read stories about people getting rich overnight but the chance of that happening to you is minuscule. Do you want to have a better chance of getting rich? Then consider changing the way you think about money. The Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) poster boy MMM (Mr Money Mustache), has a totally different mindset to most people. MMM doesn’t think ‘where can I save money?’. Instead, he thinks about what brings value to his life. Does he need a car? No. Why? Because he already has a bike and likes to cycle everywhere to keep fit. His family have adopted the same approach. Will he pay a builder to construct an office in his garden? Hell no. This is a great opportunity to learn how to build an office, why miss out on that? Most people will opt for convenience, at the expense of money, over self-improvement and saving money.
How do you use your mindset to save money?
It’s really hard to change yourself. Temporary changes like diet or being more positive are just that – temporary. You must really want to change, you have to know that this is not temporary. I was watching a fitness video on YouTube and the coach said for you to look like you live the “fit life” you have to actually live the fit life. There are no short cuts, there is no magic pill and you cannot revert to your old ways. The exact same principals apply for you to achieve the right money mindset. You have to believe that what you are doing is going to make your life better. I’m calling this a money hack but it’s much more than that, this could change the way you look at the world. The deeper I travel into the Financial Independence, Retire Early community the more I learn how important having the right mindset is.
Consider this; how are you going to react when a colleague jokes about your old well-worn shoes? Or your second-hand car, when everyone else in your peer group has brand new whips on lease? Surely a successful person like you should have better clothes/house/car/watch etc? Well the answer is, you could have better things that you own, but you are busy building a legacy. Some of these colleagues will not even know you when your plan comes to fruition, so why do you care what they think? Would they look at you differently if they knew you had £100k in the bank or if you were generating £10k per year in passive income? Surely that is the ultimate accolade of wealth and financial success?
Adjusting your mindset is a gradual process, don’t beat yourself up for spending money and don’t think you have to change your life and live like a monk. Adopt the right financial mindset, consider what you value and what makes you happy. Focus your money on these things. For example, I like good food, so I used to eat out a lot. But’s it’s expensive. My financial mindset change has encouraged me to learn how to cook good food, to spend my time and effort trying to understand what goes into making something taste nice. The knock-on effects are that I now understand the caloric and nutritional breakdown of the food I cook. I’m also teaching my children to cook and prepare food at home. I now value all these things more than the ease and ‘reward’ of going to a local restaurant. Plus, it’s cheaper. Don’t get me wrong, I still go out for dinner, but far less often and on special occasions.
The people who have been most successful with Financial Independence have a long-term, humble, and meaningful mindset. A select few started out in life like this, but most have developed it through continual improvement and adopting a growth mind-set. You can too.
I have learnt over the years what I value and what is worth spending money on to me. I’m still learning. This is a lifelong process of continuous improvement and refinement. I have made plenty of mistakes and that’s ok, those lessons have been extremely valuable. Mistakes are only negative if they are repeated and not learnt form. I have laid the foundations of my very own cathedral and I will continue to build it until I can’t build any more.
For me, knowing that what I am doing is greater than merely owning a few material possessions. I know that what people think about me doesn’t really matter. My true friends understand and already get what I am ‘in to’ even if they are not doing the same thing. I know in my soul that what I am doing is one of the most important things to my (and my future generations’) life; I am building a financial legacy that I will be proud to leave behind!
By changing my mindset, I will leave behind a financial legacy for my children and maybe even my grandchildren. I will hopefully set them up with the same financial mindset, so they don’t have to learn the hard lessons over a lifetime. Instead they will have the best short cut to financial freedom I can provide – the money mindset.
This article is part of our “Money Mindset” series. If you enjoyed reading this please like and share using the links below. If you would like follow us, we hang out on Twitter and Instagram. Alternatively, leave your e-mail address to get notified when we release new content. See you next time.
“Building wealth is a marathon not a sprint. Discipline is the key ingredient” Dave Ramsey