The Lucky Ones
I’m going to be writing about money, life, and how those two things are intimately intertwined. We’ll take an occasional detour to talk about philosophy, economics, business and maybe even a little law when Mrs. Grizzly stops by. But we’re going to focus on cold hard cash and the chains or freedom that come along with it.
Given that focus, we need to address the elephant in the room: Mrs. Grizzly and I are blessed. We are the ‘Lucky Ones’. We grew up in middle-class families. Our parents encouraged us. We avoided major health problems. We went to schools and obtained degrees that are richly rewarded in this country. Our luck has paid off: good salaries, a house near San Francisco, a decent sized pot of money saved in our early thirties, and lots of nice stuff. Most people around us think we live an amazing life.
However, we woke up to a simple fact over the past year and a half. Our jobs, our high salaries, our house, our cars, our stuff – nothing but an ever growing pile of chains. Golden chains but chains nonetheless.
What triggered this epiphany? About a year and a half ago we had our first child, a beautiful little girl. She was and is everything a parent could ask for. We took the (very generous by US standards) maternity and paternity leaves granted to us by our employers, but after 6 months we faced the inevitable for two working parents – sending our little girl to daycare and heading back to work. We watched as she changed every day – a new word, a new skill, a new thing she found so funny she laughed out loud. We watched as the time we had with her rapidly slipped through our fingers. Every day it was a little harder to leave her in the morning. Every day our jobs felt a lot less important. Our golden chains more burdensome.
Our eyes were opened a few months ago when I happened on an article and a blog written by a weirdo that called himself Mr. Money Mustache. He offered a very different path than the one hammered into our head by almost everyone around us – go to fancy schools, buy fancy cars, get fancy jobs, send your kids to fancy private schools. Ride a never ending wave of prestige, money, and shit as fast as you can until you die. Forge those golden chains in ever tighter links until they strangle you. Instead, there was another option. Duck out the side door of life. Stop spending on crap you don’t need, start saving a ton of money. Once you have enough your future is your own to decide. Chase a dream. Found a company. Hike through endless mountains. Spend time with your family. Change the world.
Life is time, time is life. The meaning of our life is bound in how we spend that time. My wife and I were choosing to spend it working two high-powered and demanding jobs, forging chains for ourselves every day while our daughter was raised by strangers. This is an all too common and often tragic occurrence these days. There are many who have no choice; the world is hard and unforgiving and not everyone has our blessings. We hope that some of what we’re going to write about can help them too. But our real audience is those that do have a choice. Those like us who have blinders over their eyes as they trudge through the world, oblivious to their chains and the options they have to break them – The Lucky Ones.