This is an open letter to the two men I love most in my life, my father and my best friend. You don't love your jobs, you're not following your entrepreneurial dreams, you don't spend enough time with your kids, and you're stressed about money. And if this letter can help either you, or Inc. readers who face these same challenges, I would be honored.
You know what? It's not an open letter--it's an intervention! I want you to know that I've found the answers to every single one of your financial and life challenges, and they come from a guy with a mustache. His name is Pete Adeney, he goes by Mr. Money Mustache (MMM), and he's got the best damn money blog in all of the internet.
MMM is one of nine wise men who taught me to put my life ahead of my startup. He has a couple million readers, and when they follow his teachings for a couple of years they achieve financial freedom and can do whatever the hell they want with their lives--without salary stress. For example:
1. quit their jobs and start a company (why you're reading this in Inc.)
2. quit their jobs and travel for months
3. quit their jobs, retire, and spend their time with family
4. quit their jobs, retire, and focus on hobbies they love
5. quit their jobs and find a job they love independent of salary
6. not quit their jobs because they love their jobs but never stress over money again
I know this because I accomplished items 1 and 2 five years ago, and MMM accomplished items 3 and 4 10 years ago at age 30 on a middle-class salary without any major financial windfalls. And he doesn't live in a van down by the river; he lives an upper-middle-class lifestyle in a beautiful house in a great neighborhood. I know this because while on a three-month cross-country trip, my wife and I campervanned in his backyard (naturally), and when we woke up, he fed us bacon and eggs in his stylish, self-built, midcentury-modern house while sharing his philosophy.
Financial freedom within 10 years requires three mindset shifts:
Mindset Shift No. 1: Small changes to your spending habits will have zero negative impact on your day-to-day happiness, but the money you save will break you from the bonds of salary slavery, which will have enormous impact on your happiness. MMM says it's "not about being cheap, minimalist, or extreme. It's about using logic and science to design a slightly less ridiculous than average lifestyle in order to live more happily."
Mindset Shift No. 2: "Happiness comes from many sources, but none of these sources involve car or purse upgrades." Yes, Best Friend, your new European cars bring you happiness. But that $1,800 per month you average on leases will cost you $273,682 over 10 years (invested in a 7 percent annual average index fund). That'd get you two years closer to financial freedom, which would make you much happier. Drop the luxury car leases and get a pair of super reliable used Camrys for $20,000.
Mindset Shift No. 3: Recognize that you are in control of your life and you can "choose your own adventure." You can choose where to live, where to educate your kids, when to shop, and how much to spend.
In fact, life's one big game of "choose your own adventure" in which our inner voice is the narrator. As kids, our inner narrator never steered us wrong. "I want to go outside and play." "I love science." "One day I'll be an astronaut."
But as grownups, our inner narrator says, "I want to work late tonight." "I'm OK with 90-minute commutes." "One day I'll retire." How'd our inner narrator get manipulated? Through external voices.
Subtle yet strong, the external voices--marketers, mothers, or mates--are so damn constant that we feel like we had no choice in the matter. "If I don't work late, I'll lose my job and we'll lose our beautiful home, our luxury car, and our resort vacation."
But here's the crazy thing: You totally have a choice in the matter. You can block out the manipulative voices, revive your inner narrator, and truly choose your own adventure.
Dad, Best Friend, and Inc. readers: These three mindset shifts aren't easy, but once you make them, life gets easy. And if you're thinking, "Great for you, Slava, but do you know what San Francisco rent costs?" Or "How am I supposed to do that with three kids in private school?" I'm happy to help you figure it out answers to these tough questions. Talk to me. I'll respond to 100 percent of tweets.