I'm back in the Bay Area, enjoying some good weather and sunshine. In the process of being back home, I've been making efforts to reconnect with friends, readers, and basically anyone who wants to talk shop about early FI, travel, and investing.
Just this past weekend, I had a string of meet ups and like always when I've been gone for awhile, It takes me time to recalibrate my system to try and comprehend what's going on in the Bay Area again.
Take for example the first conversation I had on Saturday. Like with everyone else I know who owns a home in the Bay Area, this particular friend of mine is sitting on a gold mine (quite literally). But when everyone else around you is doing just as good (if not better) financially, human nature takes over again and we find ourselves inevitably comparing our results to our peers.
"Yeah, but I don't feel wealthy at all," is a typical response you'll hear from the jaded Bay Area investor who is griping about first-world problems.
In response, I can only say something along the lines of:
"Bro, you're up like $200-300k on your home. You could easily rent it out RIGHT NOW to someone else and they would pay off your mortgage and then some. You would have something like $1,500-2,000/month in cash flow and the luxury of freedom to be able to live pretty much anywhere you wanted in the world, outside of another super expensive city. 99% of the world's population would kill to be in your shoes and to have those type of options available to them!"
Seriously, when you're up MASSIVE on an investment and doing very, very well for yourself in the finance department, I really don't think it's a bad idea to take a time out and realize just how good you have it!
Thank your lucky stars!
Or, reminisce one time and try to recall a time in your life when you didn't really have nothing to your name... because you don't want to one day end up like the below:
"It's true, you don't realize really what you got til it's gone and I'm not, gonna sing another sad song." --Ahmad; Back in the Day
Anyway, I was recently in the Dominican Republic (a very lovely place), and although I had an awesome time out there, it really didn't take me very long to see the struggle that goes on in such a place where the local citizens don't have the means to advance in their careers and who certainly aren't sitting on the aforementioned gold mines that their first-world counterparts have been blessed with. No, for these folks they have to rely on busting their asses every single day to try and make ends meet so that one day they can hopefully climb up a few tiers in society's ladder.
When you learn that the local salary in many other parts of the world are no more than $4-500/month USD and these people still manage to find a way to smile and appreciate life, that's gotta give you like the biggest gut check ever!
My little cousin and our tour guide/friend "Slim" (one of the most jovial guys you'll ever meet), shown below.
Here's a short clip of my brother @livingproof talking to Slim about all things food in the DR.
But back to the topic of moneymaking and finances.
My own observation is this -- Unless you detach yourself from all the noise that's out there and look beyond having to compare yourself to everyone else around you (especially your co-workers), you'll always feel the need chase more and more money... to no end.
See, the thing about making money is that unlike eating good food, there's no mechanism in place to regulate greed. When it comes to building more wealth for yourself, the sky's really the limit...
It's an endless buffet!
Having bucketloads of money may not make you feel complete as a human being, but it sure isn't going to make you feel sick to your stomach, either.
Anyway, for anyone else who's out there and feeling lost, trapped, maybe even hopeless and tired of thinking about making more and more money all the time, it wouldn't be a bad idea to hitch a ride out of town and go someplace much more chill for some reflection and you'll definitely gain some more perspective on how little each one of us really needs to survive (and thrive) in life. Maybe you'll even find some better peace of mind too.
As for myself, now that I'm back in Silicon Valley and once again surrounded by all the hustle and bustle of a town that is All About the Benjamins Baby, well, I'm going to try and do my best to only let this climate rub off on me in a positive way.
Right now, I've been spending a lot of time just kicking it at the local coffee shops, like I mentioned in a most recent blog post. I see so many young bucks who are hungry to make their mark on the world (and some serious cheddar), so I'm trying to channel some of that energy to help me write more blog posts and expand the FI Fighter brand. :)
Am I all about $$$ yet again too?
I'll admit, having more scrilla is always a reassuring thing to have going for you. For whatever the reason, having more money makes people feel good and it's so often used as a metric to validate everything it is that we are doing with our lives. It's kind of like confirmation from the heavens that what we're doing is working out and we're on the path to success.
The juicy carrot stick that's dangling right in front of you that you'll never fully be able to snatch and enjoy.
Nevertheless, money makes the world go round!
I'm gonna keep doing my own thang, but if I ever feel swamped, overwhelmed and the pursuit of more money is causing me more stress and harm than anything else, I'll reflect back on this post and think about good ol' Slim and the DR.
Having some perspective in our lives certainly helps a lot, and that's why I can't wait to get out there and travel some more again soon.
When in doubt, just try and find the right balance as always.