This may be the single most important post I’ve ever written, and you’ve ever read.
The current message from the media when it comes to your personal finance decisions goes something like this:
1. Start saving money now to send your kids to college.
2. Pay off your debt as quickly as possible. (And don’t acquire any if at all possible, unless it’s to buy a house or car, and even then, pay it off as quickly as possible.)
3. Prepare for retirement by saving as much money as you can and investing it in mutual funds or maybe put it into an insurance product that will pay you tax-free in your later years.
People, it’s time to wake up! This advice no longer serves you.
I’m probably quite a bit ahead of my time saying the things you’ll read in this post, but this advice needs to change and the only way to start doing it is to start talking about the alternative.
Saving for college is a fool’s errand for the vast majority of the people in the United States. There are SOME situations in which saving for college is appropriate, but they are the exception and certainly not the norm our mainstream media would have us believe.
Paying off your debt makes a whole lot of sense if you are a wage slave and intend to be for the rest of your life, but if you want to pursue your dreams, work for yourself and step into the new economy to create sovereignty for yourself and your family, paying off your debt may just be the last thing you want to do, not the first.
And retirement? It starts now.
Imagining that you are going to be able to save enough for your retirement by working hard now, socking money away in the stock market and hoping it will be there when you are ready to stop working and move into the old folks home is a pipe dream for the vast majority of us.
So, what’s a new economy gal or guy to do?
Start thinking in terms of the real economy.
Instead of saving for your kids’ college education, invest in your own growth, now.
Learn how to start a business or expand the one you have, so you can create an income stream (a sovereign revenue stream) your family can count on for life, no matter what’s happening in the “global economic system.”
Learn how to do something or create something that provides value to the people around you and how to trade that value for the things you need now and you’ll need in the future.
Take the majority of your money out of the stock market and instead put it into assets that have real value, no matter what. And I’m not talkin’ Silver here people.
I’m talking about real value, things that you will need, no matter what. Like what?
- Clean food (non-GMO), clean water, renewable energy and ways to store all of it;
- Land, community, learning how to live with people, resolve conflict and get along with the people in your life and those you don’t even know yet;
- Shelter. And I’m not talking big ass fancy houses, unless you are turning it into a community house where you are re-learning to live multi-generationally’
- Strong, healthy relationship with your children or others in the younger generations.
These are the things that have real value, no matter what. After you’ve secured all of this, then you can gamble with the stock market.
And forget about paying off your debt. Yes, really. (Important note: I am NOT saying not to pay off your debt if you have a surplus of income coming in from a sovereign revenue stream you can count on to support you for life. Not at all. Once you’ve got that, pay back your debt, by all means! But, under no circumstance should you put paying off debt before creating that for yourself and your family.)
Start thinking instead about how you can leverage the credit system to support the real reason you are here now. And invest your credit in building yourself a sovereign revenue stream.
You aren’t here to go to work at a job you don’t even really like, so you can just scrape by paying your bills, sacrifice for your kids who won’t be grateful for it anyway and fill in the empty spaces of your life watching TV, biding your time until you can move into a retirement home and die.
You really did come here for a reason. If you don’t already know what that reason is, I imagine you can feel it tugging at you.
The lack of resources or the debt you must pay off before you go do that thing is simply the excuse keeping you from going for it. Because going for it is scary.
But, I can promise you this — not going for it will be scarier, down the road, when it feels like it’s too late (maybe it already does, but if you are reading this, it’s really not) or you are forced into going for it because the structures you’ve come to depend upon have shifted irrevocably.
This is the real economy. I know some of this sounds far out right now, but the lucky ones are the ones who can not only see ahead, but who can trust in themselves or what they see enough to do something about it.
There are people who knew before it happened that the housing bubble would burst, that the stock market would crash, that the tides would turn. I was one of those people (we sold our 2 bed/1ba house at the very height of the bubble for $650,000 — today the people who own it would be lucky to get $400,000 for it in the condition it was in) and now instead of keeping it to myself, I’m sharing it with you.
If you have questions about the real economy or anything I shared here, please post them in the comments. I intend to share a lot more about this in the future and your questions will influence where I take things from here.
Why is saving for college a fool’s errand?
What would be an example of an income stream you can depend on for life? It seems like any kind of income stream is ultimately dependent on what’s going on in the world. I would say instead shore up your skills that you can earn money (or trade or whatever) for life. If you have specialized knowledge (and you keep your knowledge current) you know you can always count on doing or teaching that whenever you need money.
We need a new economy!
My main question is how do I get there from here? Here is the real truth: I think exactly the way you do about all of this. Then I think ” maybe she’s crazy too?” – No one I know thinks like this. Back in 2007 I went out on a limb for the life you describe (sort of) and the limb broke. Now I am completely confused and afraid to make the same mistakes. The toll this took on me emotionally was really bad. With two kids still at home (now I have only one) I was completely paralyzed with fear. I did learn to live with the uncertainty of my financial situation and even learned to be happy despite. The only problem is I took a crappy J-O-B to catch up with the mortgage payments and now I don’t know how to go back out on another limb. I honestly don’t know how to make a move on this. What is worse is the confusion around so much information in front of me about ” how” to do it. I just end up confused as hell!!
An economy built on personal and individual value rather than corporate “winners.” I’m in. 🙂 I’ve heard of those who never made a dime of profit until they were 40 because they invested it in themselves instead. It made me feel good to read that. I’ve done exactly that – invested in my own personal growth all this time. Now I’m 35 and I have met my calling. My step into entrepreneurship just began last year. I feel it in my bones that I am on the right path to bring real value AND support my family in our life.
Also, what makes us believe that any retirement money we pitch in today will be there after the baby boomers use it all up…
And, higher education is changing. University has lost it’s edge. How many liberal arts grads since 2000 are earning a healthy income versus those who took an apprentice or trade…?
I’m with ya Alexis! Three cheers to the new economy! It all begins when we decide on personal growth (aka alignment with our body, mind AND soul.) When I started sensing my body’s sensations with joy, hearing my deepest thoughts without judgement and welcoming my soul’s emotions with compassion, THAT’s when I started to connect to my calling.
As something of a pioneer for the “new economy” I have to say that “real value” is still not the dominant priority for 99% of the western world. I have spent ten years struggling to uplift a values-driven economy and still don’t feel supported by even those who my efforts are designed to support.
On the contrary, those who are afraid to follow suit reject or judge my attempts for freedom and those who are pursuing their own sense of “freedom” often do so by compromising their values (like the other email today about “lies” to get people on calls) incorporating the dominant corporate values into strategies for success… I don’t resonate with getting into corporate debt as a general strategy (this is largely what caused our economic crisis and scarcity paradigm) but do agree with Laura’s comment about cultivating real “skills” that can be traded for real value.
I also think that there is a need for a new vehicle for those with skills other than business and marketing (artisans, healers, teachers etc.) to be able to get exposure and share their value with the world… something like a grassroots, cooperative Amazon for conscious goods and services. I have been working on different fractals of this kind of platform for years, and it is amazing to me how many people say they want to see something like that exist, and yet in all that time I haven’t had anyone else commit to teaming up to make it happen. Lots of false starts and people who want to steamroll it for their own personal gain or to prevent anyone from having personal gain, but I’m still working on manifesting that “dream team” that can take it all the way…
I like how Ali brings up “why are we here?” and I believe that if everyone were uplifted to share the value of their purpose with the world– without having to be indebted to someone in the process– we would truly be living in heaven on earth. One thing is clear though, we can’t use the same strategies that led us into this value-less economy to get ourselves out of it. It will take a paradigm shift rooted in trust in the infinite abundance of the universe, and the emergence of new behaviors that reflect a shift from short-sighted individualism to holistic benefits for all!
Great questions Laura. I agree. I have found that the only thing I can truly depend on and take ownership of is me. The income stream is not “out there” it is inside each of us. I had to keep asking myself (body, mind and soul) “What value do I bring? What makes my heart sing? What brings me great joy?” Finally I listened to the answers with curiosity, non judgement and compassion. No 401k is going to help me with that! Lol
Thank you for your poignant words – straight to the heart of the matter. I MOST love your “real value” list. Love it with all my heart! Thank you.
My husband and I are both entreprenuerial spirits and have been for all 13 yrs of our marriage. Though it has its struggles (and our 13 yr old daughter often wishes we had much more money and a bigger home) – what we “bought” through our simple life, focused mostly on our purpose and gifts, is a loving family life, a lot of personal self-growth work to help break family patterns/chains, and an abundance of love, music and joy with friends – along with organic food (still learning how to plant better ; )
I welcome more of this article – and like-minded lovers of the planet and the health of the human race. Thank you!
Erin http://www.TheCommittedCouple.com and studiosdio.com
I completely agree with you Ali. I *wish* my parents would have just given me the money they spent on my fancy college education. I do absolutely nothing with my Masters in Economics now days. I completely agree that racking up as much debt as you can to invest in yourself. Lenders don’t give a second thought to lending you $500,000 for medical school…but why should giving you the same amount for your purposeful business be ANY different? I am right there with you about everything you said in this article.
Make money living your Purpose. That is what I do and what I teach people how to do. I help women create a Business Plan based on their Life Purpose. Within 50 years, I see the idea of making money doing something other than your Life Purpose as being completely antiquated.
This has been my intuitive thought process for some years now, and I’m happy to feel like I’m not alone in my beliefs. Currently, I have no debt, because my home was part of my divorce settlement and I own my car. However, I’m ready to use credit to buy a multi-family building as my retirement account, much to all my friends’ chagrin. I believe the rental income would be sustaining as I’m now closer to 60 and recreating my career and business. But, how do you get credit when you don’t have a steady income?
Interesting ideas here Alexis. I like your holistic approach of focusing in the short-term on investing in oneself and developing money-producing assets (either tangible such as real estate, or intangible such as a skillset) as opposed to saving for long-term items such as retirement and college.
I think the caveat, though, is that pulling this off requires a significant amount of self-discipline, which I would imagine most people would not have. I wonder if this advice would serve well for most people for that reason…
I personally take your advice, though: I invest first in myself, so that I can build revenue streams and businesses that can provide wealth and happiness for my family and myself.