No one looks impressive holding a Super Big Gulp. Yet I do it. My substance abuse problem with Mountain Dew is unhealthy and bad personal branding to boot. When I cheerily call out “honey, I’m home!”, Woman is quietly disgusted with my cargo. Enormous sugar content, the highest caffeine of any soda, and a Gomer effect for good measure.
A “benefit” of my inability to think straight is that I am a long time 7-Eleven patron as that chain is perfect when jonesing for Mountain Dew.
And for people watching. 7 Eleven is great for people watching. Not as good as a Dead show, but still good people watching.
In a 7-Eleven checkout line you see peoples’ decisions playing out in front of you. The cigarettes, the pizza, the lottery tickets, the high-priced beer and my Big Gulps. These items are indicative of life-defining decisions and they all flow from how people use their brains. How people have trained their brains.
7 Eleven sells lottery tickets like crazy. I consider the lottery math for idiots. Put five bucks in the lottery every day and after 40 years you will have next to nothing to show for it. Put five bucks in the S&P 500 every day for 40 years and you will have somewhere north of one and a half mil. Easily over a million bucks. Yet people play the lottery.
Early in life your brain is trained by nurture, by how your family and friends expressed their thoughts, and then later other elements began to have effect, among them what you choose to watch, read or hear. We all have conditioned thoughts.
You might train your brain in regard to how you talk about your family and yourself, how you think about your job, the way you manage your money, and maybe even how to be a better listener.
Since I derided the lottery, I will stick with the money theme in terms of training your brain. Training your brain is about focusing on core goals, in this case thoughts and language themed on financial success. Sometimes expressing it verbally can self-motivate. One phrase I’ll use is “I’ll never have to worry about money because I always worry about money”. It pumps me up to verbalize the outcome of being careful with money- it powerfully expresses why I am doing what I am doing. Talking to yourself is a big part of training your brain. Writing it is might be even more influential in shaping what you think and do.
For years I would consider the value of a purchase in terms of that money’s value when I got old. For example, if call waiting on my telephone cost 20 bucks a month, I would reason: That is $240 a year, which would double every 7 years if I invest it. Ergo, when I am 65 that will be worth $8,000. Yes, at 30, my expectation was that I should invest that one year expense and it should grow to $8,000 by the time I turned 65. I would expect that $240 to double by the time I was 37, again by age 44, then 51, then 58, then 65. Five doubles. So, my $240, goes to $500ish, then $1000 then $2,000 then $4,000 and then should be worth about $8,000 when I am 65. And that is just for one year of not having call waiting! Apply that kind of thinking to your cable bill or monthly rent or brand of beer, and you can come up with many small items in your life where you can save 10%. But savings is not the goal. Poor people think about saving. Rich people get that way by investing. Open an account at Schwab or Scottrade and put money in monthly. Put it into an ETF tracking one of the major indexes. A little bit grows and doesn’t stay little forever. But you need to use the time.
Saving is not what I am talking about. Saving does not really grow in comparison to inflation. I realize that today’s million bucks will act like $400,000 when todays 30-year-old is 65.
Even more reason to get after it. Today is the youngest you will ever be.
So, money has to work. You work for money so make sure your money works for you. No vacations for your money. You take vacations but your money does not. Money gets no holidays. It must always be working. Hate idle money.
I am using big numbers because that is what you can generate if you are young. But you have to train your brain to think this way. You need to have the mental image of your money compounding over time. Imagine a hockey stick.
Now, what if you are not young? How old will you live to be? Most people reading this will live into their 80’s.
Does that data point make you reconsider your youthfulness? Someone fifteen years your elder will snort if you act old. Use the time you have left. Economic cycles are just that, cycles, but unless the first digit of your age is a 7, then you still have multiple cycles in front of you.
DO NOT adhere to poor people thinking of taking your age, subtracting it from 100 and thinking that number is your aggressive allocation. We don’t want wallflower money. We want money on the dance floor. In the game. On the field. If you save money in one part of your life to spend it in another, get ready to eat government cheese someday.
No government cheese for me please. The government dole is a conglomeration of hundreds of programs “serving”, many people with monthly government checks. An enormous number have done so for years without anything remotely comparable in production. We can’t legislate the poor into the middle class by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for to provide. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it. I am not a big fan of letting the tax tail wag the dog, but I implore you to use 401k’s and IRA’s whenever you can. You’ll be much happier in your old age living on that which you produced.
You can train your brain not just about money but other areas in your life. Albeit I focused on money the same tactics work in regard to treasuring your job and understanding the dignity that doing a job well brings. The dignity that a career brings, irrespective of your trade. Rare is the workplace that does not recognize a job well done. Just as you speak of yourself as frugal in your effort to control money you can self-describe as loving your job. Only a fool will expect others to respect his work if he does not respect his own work.
All facets of your life can be affected by training your brain. Training it by using the most positive, productive, fresh and enthusiastic terminology. If you speak as if you want to be employee of the month; if you ask others what the best employees would do in a particular situation; if you ask your boss during a review what you can do to be the best at your job, you train your brain and in the process, perhaps train the brains of others a bit too.
Language is a powerful tool. Feather into your conversation those themes you want to define your life. Your key to a well-trained brain.