Welcome back to another Motivation Monday- a (kind of) weekly installment of what I’m reading, watching, and listening to that inspires and motivates me!
Today I’m writing about a podcast episode that was one of the first pieces of the inspiration puzzle that led me toward creating this blog. This one podcast episode will likely spawn a few other Motivation Mondays because it led me down quite a few inspirational paths. But for now, I’m going to talk just about this one episode and delve into the podcast and the interviewee at later dates.
The podcast, Radical Personal Finance, is one of my favorites and, in this very early episode, Josh interviews Paula Pant, an entrepreneur, writer, investor, and experienced traveler. Listening to this episode was actually one of the driving forces behind my yearning for changing my lifestyle and pursuing this goal of 30 before 30. At the time of the interview, Paula was 29 years old and had made it to 29 countries and was planning her last country trip before her upcoming birthday.
To give you some context, Radical Personal Finance is a podcast available on Spotify and iTunes (and I’m sure other places) and it talks about personal financial goals, attaining financial independence, investing, spending wisely, and literally everything in between. The material really is true to the title- it is radical and probably mostly tactics you’ve never heard of before. It’s where I got some of my ideas for my Saving When You Have to Spend posts one and two.
Paula is the founder of Afford Anything, a blog about many of the same things mentioned above and her and Josh have a really enlightening discussion about finances and her traveling goals and experiences over the course of this roughly on-hour episode.
Now, based on the title of this podcast, many of the points of this episode were financially-based, but were also somewhat philosophical and pointed towards changing your lifestyle. I’ve been focusing a lot lately on financial topics, but I think it’s because I’m trying to show the simultaneous importance of money in travelling and its lack of control over your ability to see the world. By sharing all the little financial tips and tricks I find, I hope that it both helps you save a little more AND show you that there are ways to overcome even sizable financial obstacles to reach whatever goal you may have.
You Determine Your Budget
One of the first topics they cover in this episode is their mutual disdain for one-size-fits-all financial advice. They discuss that each person needs to determine their own budget based on their own goals and passions. For example, it is impractical to give the advice of “buy a cheap, used car to save on car payments” to both the travel-obsessed young city-dweller and the middle-aged, part-time, commuting, car-enthusiast. If you grew up memorizing car models and dreaming about the day you could have your own sports car more than you dreamed about what type of house you would live in, then that cheap car advice just doesn’t fit you. Josh says at one point “it’s your money, do whatever you want with it” (in so many words) and that it is not their job to tell you how to spend your money. Rather, as long as you are making informed decisions and spending on things that are truly important to you, then you’re doing the right thing.
I took this advice to heart because it’s often easy to fall into a rut of “well, couldn’t I be doing better things with my money than spending it on travel? Aren’t there better ways to invest it or more important things to save for?” But after listening to how they described it, I feel more sure in my saving and spending towards travel as it is what I am passionate about and I am making informed, conscious decisions about spending that money. (I have the same fight with myself every time I spend a little too much money on clothes as well, but that justification doesn’t stick quite as well in those situations.)
Luxury Consumption vs. Investing in Yourself
Their next point was really interesting to me and something I would have never considered. Reverting to their previous point, they talked about one-size-fits-all financial advice of “don’t do x-y-z” really isn’t applicable to everyone. For example, they discussed that so many advisers will tell you to in-source for home improvements tasks such as mowing the laws, painting your siding, etc.
Instead, they say to evaluate how much those tasks are worth to you and if it really is smarter for you as an individual to follow that advice in your personal situation. For example, say that you could pay someone $20 to mow your lawn, which will take them about an hour. One way to look at it is that you could save $20/month by doing it yourself. On the other hand, maybe you are a small-business owner or you work part-time and instead of mowing the lawn, you could take that hour per week and make $40 at your part-time job or spend that hour on the phone with a potential new customer and accrue a new account with them netting you an additional $500 for the month. In those cases, it clearly is a better move to just pay the $20 and use the time more wisely.
This is an example of luxury consumption vs. investing in yourself. By analyzing this spending and evaluating its benefits for you, it is not mindless luxury spending of paying someone to mow your grass for you, it is an informed decision to accrue you more income in the long run.
When looking at my traveling, I try to look at it as investing in myself as well, though without hard numbers to back it up. If we’re going literal, instead of traveling to luxury beach getaways, I’m investing in my world-knowledge and enlightenment by exposing myself to a variety of cultures and lifestyles. I may not be able to see a dollar-figure return on my investment, but I’m viewing it as more of an internal return ~in my heart~.
Create Your Own Job if There Isn’t One for You
One of the last points covered was Paula’s experience as a journalist during the boom of the internet. She relayed her experience of going to two different conferences within the same week: a newspaper journalist conference and a blogger’s conference. At the former, she described a dismal scene where attendants were wary of the internet’s affect on their business and how they pitied her as a freelance writer without a home-publication. Then at the latter, she explained the attitude reversal she experienced at the blogging conference: everyone was excited by the new writing frontier and how they could make it work for them. They even admired her freelance position because it meant she wasn’t pigeon-holed to one place and she could try her hand at a variety of things.
Paula took this experience and used it to mold her ideology that if you can’t find a job, quit crying about it and make one for yourself. Look at your situation and find the positives, find the things you can turn to your advantage.
I have a far-off goal of being a “digital nomad” as they call it, being able to travel and earn income off of what I am able to do on my computer. This can mean a lot of things for a lot of different people and I’m still trying out how to make it work for me and my skill-set, but her message was definitely motivating. She reminded me that there doesn’t have to be a position open for you to be able to do what you want for a living. Do your research, put in the work, and make your own source of income.
If you have an hour, give the episode a listen. Let me know what you think in the comments!