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Stop Wasting Your Money and Time

I am amazed by the volumes of resources we waste every day. Being a financial guy, the first thing I noticed is how people spend too much money buying stupid stuff to impress people they don’t even like. We are living in a culture of fake it until you make it – you need to give the impression of success, and the way you do that is to project it through physical things and possessions. People buy fancy cars because they feel so self-conscious and believe the world is watching them, and they need to impress. But this is not only limited to money. People also waste an inordinate amount of time doing stupid shit – watching pointless videos on TikTok, scrolling through Instagram and being impressed by other people's perfect lives.

I want to break down the implications of both of these wasteful behaviors.

1) Wasting Money on Stupid Shit

The US leads the world in terms of the percentage of immigrants that make up the total population. A study from NBC shows that immigrants are financially more successful than native-born Americans. The reasons given are fourfold – they are strongly entrepreneurial, they work harder, they have less debt and they don’t buy stupid shit. They are savers and investors – they are not spenders. If you want to be financially successful, you need to earn more than you spend, and you need to invest the surplus into high-quality assets like businesses, real estate, and the stock market. The less you spend, the more you invest. Do not buy a fancy car, or a fancy house, or fancy clothes, or go on expensive lunches and dinners, or buy overpriced double skinny lattes.

Let us take a quick look at gym memberships. I am a huge fan of exercise and staying in shape. Gyms are a way that millions of people get into shape every day. The only problem with gyms is that it is a business model predicated on the belief that most members will stay at home. According to the website, 67% of gym memberships go unused. I am a fitness fanatic -I have done Ironman triathlons and run numerous marathons. I canceled my gym membership 12 months ago after coming to the realization that I was using it twice a month.

If you are paying a gym membership and not using it, you are pissing away a large chunk of change. The average gym membership is $50 per month. In my country, South Africa, that is approximately R750. If you invested this money into the stock market assuming growth of 10%, how much would you have after 20 years? The answer is almost R600,000 – or $40,000. That is a lot of long-term investment capital that you are needlessly pissing away.

If you are complaining about not having enough cash to invest, or not having enough money to live, take a couple of hours to understand how you spend. For each item, ask yourself if the spend is necessary, and if it is necessary, is there a cheaper option.

Here are a few examples:

a) Buying brand name products – generic/instore products are the world’s best-kept secret. When you go to the pharmacy and they offer you branded or generic, always go generic. Generic medication is not inferior to branded. Once the patent expires, other manufacturers duplicate and market their own versions of the drug. Since the manufacture of these generic drugs does not involve a repeat of the extensive clinical trials to prove their safety and efficacy, it costs less to develop them. Generic drugs are, therefore, cheaper. The same is true for house-branded food in the supermarket. Instead, of buying Kelloggs Corn Flakes, look to see if there is a local grocery store brand.

b) Shopping for Groceries when you are hungry – this is a no-brainer. Shopping when you are hungry is going to lead to overspending on unnecessary shit.

c) Don’t Focus on the Expiration Date of Foods

Too much good food is being thrown away every day. People take the expiration date as gospel. Before throwing food out, inspect it and give it a smell. If it is growing a beard and smells mankier than your gym shorts, throw it away. If not, bite into it like it is your last meal.

d) Check Your Banking Charges

Check what your bank is charging on your credit card, your savings account, and other services. Then you can shop around for cheaper options. When drawing cash from the ATM, make every effort to use your bank’s ATM, otherwise, you will be hooked with penalty charges.

e) Paying Full Price for Clothes

Retail is for suckers. With online shopping, it has never been easier to find sales. Before the internet, you had to physically go from store to store. Today the Google shopping feature enables you to compare prices quickly and find the best price. Cheapness is the new black, and if you want to take thrift to the next level, you can also consider second-hand clothing.

f) Ditch the Energy Drinks

Every wonder how Red Bull manages to sponsor Formula 1 racing, the most expensive sport on the planet? Energy drinks are overpriced. Everyone is tired and needs a boost – Red Bull knows this and has cleverly priced their product accordingly. So how about this for a wild and crazy idea - instead of forking out so much cash for energy drinks, sleep more. Maybe you should invest in a higher quality mattress, but do whatever you can to get high-quality Zs.

2) Wasting Time on Stupid Shit

Time is a valuable commodity yet most people are under the impression it is free. Here are some tips on how to get organized and waste less time.

  1. Make to-do lists. In this way, you crystalize what needs to be done. By writing this down, you are also able to better prioritize. You want to tackle the tough tasks first when you are still fresh and energetic.

  2. Avoid distractions. Let's say you need to write a blog on your laptop. Put your phone in the other room to avoid the temptation of opening YouTube and watching another music video. Youtube is my single biggest distraction – I am embarrassed to know how much time I spend on it.

  3. Remove the clutter in your house, office desk. If you are working from home, focus on cleaning up the mess. If there is a mess, and you are OCD, you will spend too much time cleaning. If you are a slob, you will spend too much time looking for stuff that you need.

  4. Don’t multi-task – multi-tasking means you are not doing anything properly. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing at 100%, and it is impossible to do more than one thing at 100%.

  5. Get rid of trash relationships – if you spend time with a person/people, and walk away thinking “that was a waste of time”, you know exactly what you need to do – cut those people out of your life.

  6. Spending too much time on social media – we all do it. Download an app that tracks the time spent on certain apps – it will shock you back into coherence.

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