I sometimes like to think that I am a disciplined, unwavering warrior with fortitude guiding my every decision. My logical brain analyses every circumstance in my day-to-day life and makes the best choice possible for my finance and future.
This may even seem how I describe myself right here on this blog. In a way, Pat the Shuffler is an impossible, perfect abstraction of a hard-working, good decision-making frugal mastermind.
But alas, it is not true.
I am the same lump of imperfect meat and bones that every human is. Good old Pat strives to be as close to Pat the Shuffler as possible in everything he does, but on occasion he does fail.
I am just as susceptible to taking the easy, more convenient route as everyone else around me. From time to time, you might hear me say something like:
Look at that – an air conditioner. It is super hot today so I’ll only turn it on for a few hours
I need something from the shop. It is cold and late so I’ll just drive right over there
Meanwhile all these little costs add up in the background to sabotage Pat the Shuffler from achieving early retirement.
The reality is that none of us have unwavering discipline and willpower all the time, so to rely upon that would be setting yourself up to fail.
But there is indeed a better way.
A way that I have been practicing for as long as I know. One that I was able to hone and perfect whilst living with my brother Jere the Shuffler. We were both marching to the beat of the same drum saving our money, paying $145 a quarter for electricity, bike riding around town and doing weights in our own garage.
My way or the highway
The key is to simply give yourself no option.
Do you know what makes it super easy to go without using a clothes dryer? Just don’t own a dryer. Ditto with an air conditioner. Jere and I spent 4 years living in houses without these modern luxuries, before we rented a place with them pre-installed. However by that point our habits were ingrained enough to avoid using them completely.
Some may say it is good to keep it there just in case, or to keep your options open for an ’emergency’.
Why would you keep something around to tempt you back to your cushy, high spending lifestyle?
Don’t be hangry
The next best thing is to make your important decisions when you are well fed, well rested and sober enough to apply critical thought, scrutiny and analyse your options. Then fall back to those decisions when you are presented with them in less ideal scenarios, allowing no excuses.
I have indeed lived in apartments for 2 years now, that have come equipped with a clothes dryer, and as far as I am concerned it does not even exist. Despite being literally at my fingertips on a daily basis, it sees no use from me. I am reminded of it’s existence by my flatmate on an at least weekly basis when he fires it up. An acceptable trade off to save a truckload of cash flat sharing. Yet, I do not use it myself.
But how can this be!?
I have achieved this seemingly unbelievable feat by simply coming to the conclusion that a dryer is a wasteful financial burden and an unnecessary inclusion to a happy and fulfilling life. While completely sober and rational, I ran through all the most extreme scenarios in my mind of when one may be tempted to use the dryer. I decided that there is absolutely no scenario I can envisage in which it is needed regardless of
- The weather
- How long my day has been
- My fatigue
- How much the clothes have piled up
- How many guests I have
- The size or awkwardness of my blankets
By simply taking no excuses, I never allow myself to slip into a routine of convenience that I would ultimately be unhappy with.
The truth is also that I do it this way because it is easiest this way. It is far easier to say no to something all the time instead of wrestling with an arbitrary line drawn in the sand by a determined and straight thinking optimist and then interpreted by a tired, stressed and time poor excuse maker.
Some may be strong enough to flirt with this line and come out ahead, but that is not me.
You essentially create the environment around you that gives you the highest chance of success, set yourself up to win.
This is not new thinking – the same has been said for ages when talking about dieting. The battle is won at the supermarket, not in your kitchen pantry. Simply not giving your tired and hungry self the option of unhealthy food will necessarily make you eat healthier.
We aren’t supermen and women, we are shufflers.
Shuffling away from the temptation to fail
Pat the Shuffler