Sick of Reading? Watch This Video, Instead.

A few months ago, a startup videography team from Florida came knocking on my door.

Mike and Lauren are a young married couple living in Sarasota, and in their spare time, they’ve started hustling:

They’re under contract for their first rental property, devised a plan to retire by 2018, and they’ve launched an awesome YouTube channel about money, travel and financial independence.

They threw their friend and cameraman Ryan Parker into their backseat and cruised seven-ish hours to Atlanta, unwittingly instigating a road trip worthy of a Will Ferrell sitcom. Along the way, they encountered a language barrier, a surprising chemistry lesson, and a $22 parking spot. (Eek!)

Check out the hilarious video of their road trip — it’s classic.

They arrived in Atlanta relatively unscathed, and Will and I spent a day filming and interviewing with the trio. Their final product is pretty awesome — it’s a five-minute snapshot of my path to ditching the cubicle, creating a nomadic lifestyle business, and investing my profits into creating a stream of rental-property-income. You can check it out here:

(If you can’t see the embedded video, this link will take you to YouTube directly.)

While you’re there, check out the rest of MikeandLaurenTV — where they’ve created some fun videos on backpacking Europe, and (if you’re nosy) they’ve also exposed their Net Worth.

“What Do You Mean, You’re Not Frugal?”

During the interview, Mike asked a darn good question, which I’ll paraphrase here:

You don’t focus on the “frugality” side — you focus on the “earn more” side — but you save a huge percentage of your income. Whaaa??

Yep, that’s true. I’ve described Afford Anything as an anti-frugality blog, and yet I saved 77 percent of my income last year, and about 50 percent the year prior. Although the phrase “anti-frugality” is obviously tongue-in-cheek, I should probably clarify that position. Let’s roll:

#1: Frugality is a consumer-based mindset. Yes, you’re paying less than otherwise — you’re harnessing sales and deals and discounts — but you’re still thinking about consumerism, about purchasing and buying and shopping.

I’d like to spread a message around creating something awesome, rather than consuming for less.

#2: You can’t penny-pinch your way to wealth. If you earn $21,000 per year, as I used to, you simply can’t save enough to maximize your 401k and IRA contributions. It’s mathematically impossible. The only way to max out those retirement accounts — plus have enough money leftover to buy investment properties — is by upping the “earning” side of the spectrum.

Frugality is necessary but not sufficient.

#3: Abundance trumps scarcity. There are two ways you can choose to view the world. You can choose to think: “Money is limited; I need to clutch onto every cent.” Or you can think, “There’s more money flowing around the planet than I could ever possibly need; I only have to invest a small sliver of this in order to create a sustainable stream of passive income that can support me for the rest of my life.”

(Wow, that’s a run-on sentence. But you get the idea.)

#4: Your time is your most precious asset. And the best use of your money is to spend it buying time.

And the most sustainable way to purchase time is by setting up passive income streams (rental properties, index funds). Which — again — leads to a mental focus on investing, rather than on clipping coupons.

Lifestyle Inflation is Fine (Really!)

I’m certainly not a cheapskate:

  • I don’t clip coupons.
  • I don’t make my own laundry soap.
  • I don’t rip dryer sheets in half.
  • I don’t send away for “free samples” so I can avoid paying for shampoo.

These tiny expenses are not going to “move the needle” — not even over the accumulated span of, say, the next 45 years.

Likewise, I spend lavishly on lifestyle inflation:

– I used to drive a 23-year-old Corolla. It cost $400, and I paid cash.
– Now I drive a 6-year-old Civic. It cost $11,000, and I paid cash.

– I used to wear glasses. Cost: $200/year.
– Later I upgraded to contact lenses. Cost: $500/year — more than double.
– Finally I upgraded to LASIK. Cost: $4,000 (lifetime).

– I used to sleep in hostels, sharing a bunk-bed in a room stuffed with 4 to 10 strangers.
– Now I usually rent a space on AirBnb — although sometimes I’ll couchsurf, or stay in hostels, or treat myself to a nice place.

You know what? I’m totally satisfied with my lifestyle inflation. I don’t want to wear eyeglasses, drive a 23-year-old car, and sleep in a cockroach-infested dormitory bunk-bed next to 9 strangers.

And that’s totally okay — as long as I’m (first and foremost) debt-free, saving for retirement, and investing.

My “anti-budget” is shockingly simple: First, pick your desired savings rate. Choose 20 percent as a minimum, or 50+ percent if you want to ditch the cubicle.

Skim your savings from the top. Spend lavishly and without apology on the rest. Lifestyle inflation is fine, as long as you’re taking care of the essentials first.

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14 Responses to “Sick of Reading? Watch This Video, Instead.”

  1. Dave LaLonde
    24. Jul, 2014 at 10:53 am #

    I like how you have this different mindset compared to the norm of saving and frugality. I think what you got going there is very radical, nice job!

    • Afford Anything
      24. Jul, 2014 at 11:40 am #

      Thanks Dave! One of the many reasons why I started Afford Anything is because I got tired of seeing the same-old, same-old advice rehashed on every other money-management website … and I believe there’s a better way to live.

      • Dave LaLonde
        24. Jul, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

        Well it’s definitely helping! Keep it up! :)

      • Dave LaLonde
        24. Jul, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

        Well it’s definitely a great alternative to live than being cheap! Keep it up!

  2. Mike and Lauren
    24. Jul, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Thank you so much for having us! We had a great time chatting with you. You’ve had a big impact on us.

  3. Andrew
    25. Jul, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    Ramsey always says the #1 gainer of wealth you can control is your income. Seems you follow the same a very similar strategy.

    Enjoy your page and when on Stacking Bennies.

    • Afford Anything
      27. Jul, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

      @Andrew — I love Dave Ramsey; I’ve learned a lot from him. :-)

  4. Ericka
    27. Jul, 2014 at 2:09 am #

    raise the income is so important. I like that you allowed this nice couple to film you. really get park shot as well.

  5. Alexis
    28. Jul, 2014 at 7:03 pm #

    I think living like this is actually a better choice of living compared to constantly clipping coupons. You are paying a little more for what you want, but also getting a more luxurious option. I actually enjoy wearing glasses but if I do have enough money for Lasik, I’ll one day get the operation done.

  6. Maurice @ CornerTrader
    30. Jul, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    I like this idea of anti-frugality indeed. Though I’m a frugal person, I liked this blog post thoroughly. Yes, frugality means we don’t overspend. While doing this I sometimes cross the boundary and slash some of my necessities too, which is surely not a healthy practice. I appreciate the idea of stressing more on earning rather than living with cost cut. However, I believe there must be a balance in that. While overspending is definitely not good, curtailing expenses too much is also not a good sign. It can be summed up like this. While we open new avenues for earning more, we should also live our lives to the fullest, keeping a tab on over or unnecessary spending.

  7. Kayla @ Red Debted Stepchild
    01. Aug, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

    What an interesting and unique perspective. I love this! It sure is a different way of thinking than what most PF blogs promote. It does make sense and maybe after I get my debts paid off I can afford to think more this was as well, but until then I’m going to continue to budget every penny!

    • Afford Anything
      04. Aug, 2014 at 12:17 am #

      @Kayla — I wholeheartedly agree that paying off your (non-mortgage) debt is Priority #1, especially if your debt have a high interest rate (anything above 7 percent). Being in debt is an emergency — it should definitely be your top focus. After you pay off your debts, then you can think about investing! :-)

  8. Ricky
    06. Aug, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

    I’ve thought over the whole frugality debate myself and decided I’m in the middle. Like you, I don’t view spending in terms of consumerism or being frugal in general. I buy the “best-bang” product. You get what you pay for, until you don’t. In other words, the cheapest item is rarely good quality or may even be unsafe or unhealthy. Spending a little more will get you a better overall product. But, rarely is the most expensive item any really better.

    I liken it to cars as the best analogy:

    Chevrolet Spark – one of the cheapest cars on the marker. Okay, it gets the job done, yeah. But, its also unsafe in relation to all of the SUVs on the road, and it is a pretty cheaply made car.

    Chevrolet Cruze – only 1.5-7x the cost of the Spark, can be owned for surprisingly cheap, very well built, better safety features, low cost of ownership.

    Chevrolet Corvette – more than 5-7x the cost of the Cruze for only a gain in performance and body styling.

    So it might make sense to pay 1.6x the price of the cheapest option to get the Cruze but it will never make sense to pay 6x the Cruze to get the Corvette when the utility value of all three vehicles are virtually the same. You aren’t gaining enough from tier 2 to tier 3 to warrant the purchase.

    I apply this to EVERYTHING, within my financial capabilities. I’m not going to go in debt to buy the Cruze. But if I can afford all three, I’d pick the Cruze every time.

  9. Arn
    16. Aug, 2014 at 1:57 am #

    Great video. Very impressive growth of income in a short amount of time. Is your % savings, 70% of your total take home pay? That is incredible. I have a new goal! Thanks for sharing.

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