I briefly mentioned about finances in my previous posts, but think it’s a good topic to discuss in more detail because most people, I found, didn’t really understand the idea of how I am living without of a stable-paying job.
Throughout my life, I read lots of interesting literature about financial success. Some familiar themes include “achieve financial freedom,” “live your dreams,” “never step foot in the office again,” “automatic millionaire,” etc. Even the titles of these books are just hilarious. It’s like seeing a really great headline in your Facebook newsfeed, clicking on the link, getting bombarded by a bunch of advertisements that shut down your iOS/Android browser and then when you finally read that article, you just feel disappointed and robbed of your time.
People are very attracted to stories that start with: “Lose 10 Lbs in One Week!” “Make Millions of Dollars Without Doing Anything!” “Mad Hair Loss? Grow Your Hair in One Day!” “Get Your Boyfriend to Marry You in 2 Hours,” and the list goes on.
People love that crap. And really, all of that is a false advertising to get you to spend money.
$10 isn’t a lot for you to throw out? It surely might not be, but brands who run on overnight-life-improvement headlines count on the NUMBER of people who actually fall for their them. And they make it affordable enough that you don’t feel bad when you actually spend that money.
But we are smarter than that, no?
Ok, back to money. When I first began working on Wall Street, I knew one thing: I have an opportunity to make a great salary. How should I handle it?
While my friends in the same industry were taking amazing trips, shopping, eating at upscale restaurants, attending $200/month gyms…
…I was in the office, saving every penny, cooking, running by the promenade, and going to a donation-based yoga studio. I was also sleeping in my living room which has no window, so that I could save money on Manhattan rent. There. I just told you my dirty secret. My life didn’t sound so fabulous in the end, did it? It didn’t and it wasn’t.
Logically, once a person achieves better-paying opportunities, he or she would want to step up their lifestyle. He or she will want to “live better,” now that there are means to buy better furniture, wear better quality clothing, get stuff that makes life more convenient, easier, more enjoyable.
This is exactly the point at which young people take the first step into what some might call a “rat race.” I don’t think it’s so much as keeping up with the Joneses, like it is with the natural need to EXPERIENCE better things. This is where it becomes tricky. It is a NATURAL and normal feeling to develop further. So, people end up taking out loans. They buy expensive things, homes, cars, luxury items, etc. They get really excited.
What did I do? I kept living the way I lived a few months before I entered my career. I DID NOT downgrade my lifestyle after college when I began working a well-paying job. I simply KEPT it CONSISTENT. Think of it like choosing to buy an upgraded phone. It’s not like you really need it, but it’s just considered “better” and you want to stay “relevant.” When everyone was buying iPhone 5S, I held on to my iPhone 4S. Just a tad longer. Not painfully longer, but just a little bit.
So why didn’t I upgrade my lifestyle once I began having the means?
One reason was practical.
I knew that I won’t physically have the time do be in a “nice apartment in Midtown” – and instead, I will be busy working late nights (10-11pm). I knew that ordering out or going to restaurants will cause me to gain weight (I became less mobile at a desk job, and felt weary about the additives in restaurant food that might cause me to feel an energy drain.) I knew that buying flattering clothing, to me, was much better than buying expensive clothing. Who was I out to impress? As long as my body was in shape, I was happy with everything I dressed it into.
Another reason was rational. I was at a volatile point in my life! I was switching to a different stage in life…and I KNEW that success takes time, so I stopped the need to rush it in such a soft stage. I knew that someday, I will need a good lump of money. And it’s always nice to have a cushion that me sleep at night. That no matter what happens, I will be fine in the finances department and can focus on more important things.
I hoarded money. I sacrificed short term, short-lasting satisfaction, with a LONG TERM goal that I knew will bring more convenience, happiness, and stress-relief.
Finally, I stopped obsessing over money. I got busy developing myself as a finance professional and mature person. I read a lot of news, articles, learned job skills, new strategies, networked, hung out with my team, learned about people, learned in-depth economics. I focused on things that were interesting to me. I made it a point to see my friends on the weekends. Sometimes it was as simple as walking around on the beach and drinking tea together. It was less alcohol and more sober connection.
And so, while I was developing myself and enjoying time with my favorite people, money was just coming in. So effortlessly.
So then, this happened. I reaped what was interesting to me at work, I learned enough of what I wanted, I brushed up on my analytical skills, I learned what I liked and disliked in my career. A day came that I felt ready to move on in my life. There, I felt, were some rough edges that I needed to polish. And so, I was financially, mentally, physically READY to leave my job.
And just like that, I created space in my life. I had the time to do things that I craved: writing, reading, thinking, communicating. And then happened this platform, Tetyana Live.
We, as a society, have better access to information than previous generations. In general, we are weaning off McDonalds and GMO-grown food because we are just more sophisticated. We are so much smarter than falling for primitive advertisements or letting FINANCIAL FREEDOM GURUS dictate how happy WE can be if we buy their book and follow their success model. Success means different things to different people!
But they all share one aspect: no success happens overnight.
I worked damn hard. (I loved it, but I worked damn hard.) What I put in is what was put out for me in return. I was rewarded for NON-microwaved and disciplined efforts.
If I can offer some unsolicited advice to you, here it goes:
If you want to live the life you always dreamt of, call your grandma, grandpa, parents, or your mentors and ask them WHAT THEY LEARNED IN THEIR LIFETIME. At the right time with these gemstones of wisdom, your life will take a drastic turn, and you too, will be ready to start a new and incredible chapter.