A LIFE OF ABUNDANCE
April 5, 2016Follow Networthy on Twitter
Well, that was a… more extended hiatus than I meant to take from this blog!
It’s time for me to get back on the train and start making this blog a regular commitment again. Earlier in the winter I had some rough weeks and I got really burnt out. I was in the midst of it when I wrote my piece about managing my finances with low spoons. I got to a point where everything I did felt like work, up to and including Networthy. I just didn’t have it in me.
And then, my energy levels got back up again! But I still didn’t write. But here’s why:
I have been hustling my ass off.
This past year, I spent a few minutes every day to check in on Craigslist and see what might be out there in the money-making realm.I did a lot of weird jobs and learned a lot about what kind of work is out there.
Then one of the brand ambassador jobs I applied for turned into a permanent thing! I hit it off with the owner of a start up who was looking for someone to promote her all-natural cleaning products at a table in area grocery stores, letting people know that a local small business was now on the shelves. It’s a great job, and I have a real affinity for it! You have to be a little shameless to flag people down in the grocery store, hawk your wares and close the sale. And shameless, ladies and gentlemen, I have covered.
I now work between four and six hours a week, all after work or on the weekends, every week.
I also now pick up shifts bartending at my uncle’s hotel when he has big banquet events. It’s only once or twice a month, but I work hard for a whole night keeping the drinks flowing.
What’s great about these two gigs is the return I get on my time. In both jobs I’m well compensated (roughly $25 per hour for each), my work feels useful, and the people I’m working for understand that my priority is always with my full time marketing job. I’m not ever expected to leave work for them.
Speaking of my full time job, I’ve also made the choice to really focus on my career and push it higher. I’ve been taking on bigger projects, trying new things, taking classes to improve my skills and really trying to focus on making myself the most valuable employee I can be. I’m even looking into getting my MBA! And it really seems to be paying off as my bosses are giving me more challenging work and helping me to develop and see a path forward within the company.
What Hustling Has Taught Me
I’ve read on so many finance sites that the number one way to improve your financial situation is to increase your income, and I always went, “Yeah, sure, like that’s so easy.” So I spent the first few years of my financial journey focusing on lowering my spending, learning to stick to a budget, to shop cheaply, or to avoid shopping at all. And all of that was valuable. It doesn’t matter how much money you make -- if you are constantly inflating your lifestyle, you will end up in debt, period.
But I reached a point where budgeting started to feel punitive instead of helpful. You can only deny yourself so many things, can only optimize so far. When you’re living in an affordable apartment, conserving energy, driving tiny cheap cars and getting discount gas, eating at home, never buying clothing or trinkets, and you’ve already shopped around for the lowest utility costs… there’s just not that much more you can do. You save your extra cash and then, that’s it. You sit and wait for your next paycheck and pray for a bull market to make your investments grow on their own. I wrote about how impatient this made me and said “I want it now!”
Then I finally got the message: I needed to focus on my income.
Scarcity vs Abundance
In the finance world you’ll sometimes hear people talk about having an “abundance mindset” as opposed to a “scarcity mindset.” And this is what I needed to change in my life.
Someone with a scarcity mindset sees spending as a zero-sum game. You have X amount of money that you will ever make, and everything you do with that money must be urgently recorded and counted because you never know when you’ll run out. You’ll often find that people with a scarcity mindset will turn down opportunities to travel, invest or use their money in ways that would enrich their lives, because “you never know -- what if I need every cent for some emergency down the road!”
This is a valid mindset in many ways. For people who have experienced true poverty, or who have been ground down by low paying dead end jobs and who are constantly scrambling to pay the next bill, a scarcity mindset is about pure survival.
And four years ago, when I was living paycheck to paycheck, with $40,000 in debt and less than $300 in my checking account, a scarcity mindset was what I needed to cultivate. I needed to learn to limit myself, to say “I can’t afford this.”
But I’m not there anymore. I learned to cut my spending, I got my debt under control, I learned how to save for a rainy day. So the next step is to develop an abundance mindset.
Anything Is Possible
What that means is that you look at all the things you want to do -- travel, have kids, live in a beautiful place, own fifty cats, start a business, quit your job and try to make it on Broadway, whatever! -- and you say to yourself, “I can absolutely find the money to make that happen.” You teach yourself to believe that there’s always more money out there to be earned, that your income is a number you can control. You hear about an opportunity and you leap, because even if something goes wrong, you can always find a way to recover.
This is a privileged mindset, but it’s not one that should be exclusive to people with lots of wealth. Sometimes the difference between scarcity and abundance is only a few hundred dollars. It’s saying, “I’m going to find jobs to pay for a trip to visit grandma this year, and even to cover the lost income from the days I don’t work,” rather than saying, “I sure wish I had a job that had paid vacation so I could afford to visit grandma.” It’s about tenacity. It’s about resourcefulness.
So I’m back, because I’ve decided that I have the resources to both use my time to work all my jobs, and to write this blog. And because things are going so well right now, and I want to spread that sunshine around. If I can improve my net worth from negative $22,500 in August of 2012 to a positive $19,000 in March of 2016, if I can find great side jobs that work with my life and schedule, then you can too. Here’s to abundance!