My interest in money goes back to the day I found How to Be a Billionaire at the library. I didn’t have aspirations to become a billionaire. That number meant nothing to me as a young teenager. I had never seen a thousand dollars. A million dollars would have been a gigantic sum. The draw wasn’t the the idea of a billion dollars. It was my curiosity of why some people become rich and others do not.

Any objective measure of wealth would not qualify me as rich. But I’ve figured out how to avoid the trap of making a six figure salary yet living paycheck to paycheck.

There are families earning $250,000 or even $500,000 a year yet do not consider themselves high earners or have much more than a 401k for savings.

On top of that, these half million dollar a year earners only end up with $7,300 to save towards retirement at the end of the year. I was able to save tens of thousands of dollars a year on way less than $500,000. It is the only reason I am to write this instead of working a 9 to 5 job right now.

As the old saying goes: it’s not what you make, it’s what you keep.

Trying to Keep Up With the Joneses

You already know you shouldn’t be trying to keep up with the Joneses. The Joneses are probably in the same boat you are. Making tons of money and spending it all to appear rich when they also cannot save $10,000 a year. This is a stupid game to play and you don’t need to play it.

This doesn’t mean you should live the barest of existences and have no luxuries. Who wants to live like that? You can pick 1 or 2 luxuries. What actually matters to you? I place housing and food as the top priorities so I am willing to spend on those. The rest of it doesn’t matter so I do not splurge on them.

The pressures to keep up and appear successful is strong. I completely understand it. But those who show off the most are often times worse off than you. They are just bringing you down if you let their boasting get to you.

Know what you want out of the money you are earning. I cannot imagine that your goal in life is to make $500,000 a year for 30 years so that you can have saved a little over $200,000. Maybe it becomes $600,000 if invested in stocks but that’s not a guarantee.

Ignore the Joneses. Focus on your money.

Not Keeping Track of Your Money

I started out as a horrible manager of money. Few people are naturally good at this. My adult life began with six figures of debt: student loans and credit cards. I was barely making any money and could not pay all the bills.

The one thing that started to turn it around for me was creating a budget and tracking how much money was coming in and how much was going out. Without this data everything else is meaningless. Flying blind is dangerous in an airplane and dangerous to your finances.

Thinking More Money is the Solution

More money is not the solution to your problems. Unless it is an incredibly large sum of money that simply cannot be spent in a lifetime. Maybe a Warren Buffet sized sum. And praying for that is not a strategy.

I may have been fortunate to have started making very little money. By the time I was making a six figure salary, I had solved my money problems. I grew my lifestyle a little bit as I made more money but never at the same rate my income increased. I had learned how to manage my money before I had any money so I knew more money wasn’t the answer.

People making $200,000 or more do not have a problem of not enough money. The problem is not enough knowledge on how to manage money.

How to be a Billionaire sits on my bookshelf. I haven’t opened it in years. I bought the book as a reminder of the curiosity I had as a child. To remind myself to continue learning about money. In the end, all the money in the world won’t make you smarter. Only education can.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve been through the journey and struggle of learning how to manage your money or if you think I’m just a lucky idiot!