How Bad Do You Want It?

by J. Money - Published November 24, 2014

extreme sunset biker

One of the very first questions I ask all my money coaching clients is “what are your goals?”  Quickly followed by “how bad do you want them?”

The first one is an easy one because any of us can rattle them off at any point (have a million dollar net worth, retire early, be the #1 personal finance blog in the world!), but the second one is the one that matters the most.

Most people want to become a millionaire or never have to work again in their life, or hell – have a banging body – but very few care enough to actually pull them off in the end. It’s not that they don’t know how to reach them (save a ton of $$$, invest it smartly, work out/eat healthy/work out even more), it just takes an extreme amount of willpower to pull them off. And, frankly, most of us don’t have it.

Extreme goals take an extreme amount of effort.

At least in the amount of *time* we actually want to achieve them. All of us can become millionaires in our lifetime and retire at some point if we continue staying on top of our game, but most of us think of “dreams” in terms of awesome $hit happening right NOW. And preferably without lifting a finger (why do you think the lottery is so popular?). You don’t hear people saying, “I wish I was a millionaire…. in 40 years” Or, “I’m gonna buy my dream home/car/vacation…. when I turn 70!” All do-able stuff, but not as motivating as reaching these goals sooner.

I got a random email last week that reminded me of this. I’d never talked with this person before, but he had a lot of questions he wanted answered and I was feeling a bit chatty (ie. I was drinking beer).

Here were some of his questions and my answers:

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How were you able to save up so much/month? I’m referring to this specifically: http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/net-worth/

I aggressively poured money into Roth IRAs and my 401(k) when I had one (I literally maxed it out to $16.5k every year, and some of those years my company matched me  too). I also cut out all debt besides mortgages, saved all my extra money every month, and hustled hard to bring in more money every month outside of my normal 9-5 job. So, pretty much I just worked my ass off :)

I’m not sure how old you are so I’m not sure what types of jobs you held in those early years, but putting away $3,000-$7,000/month is a lot of money for anyone even if you are living at home. How much money from your paychecks were you saving and how much of it was from your investments?

Here’s a list of all the jobs I’ve ever had that I can remember: http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2012/10/all-30-jobs-ive-ever-done/

I haven’t lived at home since I was in college 10+ years ago. I just hustled as much as I could to bring in money and then invest money. When I was maxing out my 401k I literally had a paycheck of like $90.00 every two weeks until it maxed out and I lived off my side hustle money. It’s extreme, but it was great to do when I was able to (I can’t now because I have kids and I’m self-employed).

Also I started investing in 2008 which was when markets were low so that also plays a part as well. Not as big as earning the money in the first place (since you can’t make money without investing first) but it was definitely a variable.

Holy shit, $90 every 2 weeks!? You really were going after it hah. Out of curiosity, was there any reason why you were that aggressive? I’m totally with you in that I want to be financially free and all that, but 90 every 2 weeks seems extreme. Was there anything motivating you in particular? You must’ve given up going out, going on trips, etc… to do that.

Yes, I wanted to hoard as much money as possible so I don’t have to work for the rest of my life :) Plus, my employer was matching 100% of it all and I wanted to make sure I got it while times were good (the company later cut the matching and then soon after completely went under). I did have to give up some parts of my lifestyle, but it wasn’t that bad because I had savings and just pulled from that to cover expenses for a while. Plus, my side hustle at the time (this blog) was also generating income. Which is another reason to have something on the side going on if you’re trying to reach a goal faster!

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I’m not always extreme with my money…

The reason I haven’t accomplished goal #1 yet – becoming a millionaire? I haven’t been very hardcore about it. I can be as lazy as everyone else at times, and I tend to hit the turbo button in spurts. Like when I find something incredible to take advantage of such as my ex-employer’s 100% 401(k) matching . I would have been a DUMMY to not max that out. That move alone will be paying dividends for the rest of my life – quite literally.

The reason I’m not retired early yet? My kids. Haha… Just kidding. My wife! (Somebody stop me!). Truthfully, I just haven’t done the things I need to do to get there. Am I relatively good with my money? Sure. Do I invest it? Yeah. Am I trying to shave expenses wherever I can? Of course. That’s what I’m doing with the Challenge Everything project.

But with all that I still don’t come close to the numbers I need to get to in order to not worry about money for the rest of my life. I ain’t no Extreme Jacob or Mr. Money Mustache, I’ll tell you that much. You have to be pretty extreme to live off $7,000 a year! Which goes to show I obviously don’t want it *that* bad despite what I may say and think to myself … I mean, I want it, but my actions are saying I’m okay with waiting much longer to receive it.

And the same holds true for making this blog the #1 spot on the planet too. I very well know the tips, tricks and SEO maneuvers to help get it there faster, but a lot of them suck ass and just don’t jive with my mojo here. I do enough of them to help this site grow and to be happy with my success, but I could be doing a lot more with my efforts if I was indeed racing to grab that ultimate spot. You get what you put in, right?

In fact, this guy asked me about my blog too (in case any bloggers are interested):

How did you go about getting your blog popular and how do you make money?

I just poured my heart into it and tried coming up with things other bloggers weren’t doing. And of course it helps that I’m super transparent and my style is different than most too, though that also hurts me (I had 5 people unsubscribe to my blog last week cuz they said I cursed too much – hah! And with “sexy” in the title it also can be an obstacle, or even blocked at certain locations). I also love networking and community, so I made a point to become friends with other bloggers I liked as well as all my readers too. I’m really big into commenting and interaction which have all played a part.

And don’t forget I’ve been going it for almost 7 years now – it’s not like it was an overnight thing.

RE: The money – here’s how I make it now on my site. The game always changes though and there’s tons of stuff I don’t do as well that I could to make more…

Remember, extreme actions yield extreme results

It doesn’t mean it’s the only way to accomplish a goal, but it certainly gets you there quicker than taking your time. I think of my friend Maria who killed $157,000 of debt in 3 years when she got on a mission, or people like retired blogger Brad Chaffee who wants to pay for a house in all cash. Hardcore goals require hardcore action.

I’ll leave you with the last question this guy sent me… I think it sums things up perfectly.

For those out there who just simply don’t make enough or have loans or in grad school, how would you tell them to start preparing for future savings? Most my friends unfortunately aren’t in the position to put away any money, so when they ask me for advice, I have no idea what to say.

Well, there’s only two real ways to grow your wealth – earn more or spend less – so ultimately it comes down to how bad someone really wants it. “Simply not having enough” isn’t an answer (or true). There’s ALWAYS more someone can do, it’s just they don’t prefer to do it. Whether that’s taking on more jobs (or a better job), cutting expenses, giving up a car, moving to a new area, taking on roommates, etc etc. Now it’s not always easy, or fun, for that matter, but it’s certainly *do-able*.

So I’d tell your friends what I tell all of mine – how bad do you want it? If they say “bad”, I give them a short list of stuff to try and leave it up to them. More often than not it’s usually the last time they bring it up ‘cuz they just don’t care enough to make it happen. It’s not for everyone, ya know?

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[Killer sunset pic by Zach Dischner]

Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MMD November 24, 2014 at 5:33 am

You were only bringing home $90 per paycheck while you maxed out the 401k and Roth? Man – you did really want it! Plus that 100% didn’t sound too bad either.

I can totally identify with a lot of what you’re saying in here. I spent most of my 20’s working up to a full IRA and 401k. My wife and I are completely focused on this goal of being done in 10 years, and it really does help to shape the way we earn and save in some many parts of our lives.

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2 J. Money November 25, 2014 at 8:52 am

It’s amazing what happens when you attach a goal to your actions like you guys are doing. Really changes the whole mindset than just “I want more $$$ because it’s more $$$!” Haha… It took me 30+ years to realize it’s more than just $.

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3 Jason @ Islands of Investing November 24, 2014 at 5:58 am

And the third question – what does your wife think about these goals?? And how badly do you want to stay married? :)

Like your comment above, I’ve (jokingly) said the same thing before about how much easier it would be to retire early without my wife and daughter! Occasionally my wife suggests I probably wish I was alone, but of course my family is worth more than everything in the world combined, which I keep telling her!

To me the question of how badly do I want it really comes down to what am I prepared to sacrifice. Often I don’t realise exactly what I have to give up, until I start comparing all the goals and circumstances in my life, and how they will be impacted by going after one major goal. I might think I really want to quit my job and start a business, but am I prepared to sacrifice the current pay check, the opportunity to invest that extra cash in the stock market, the additional stress it will create with my family? Ah, probably don’t want it that badly then…

I don’t think I’ll ever make it into the ultra-extreme camp, but I know for sure there’s always so much more I can do to achieve my goals if I really want them badly enough.

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4 moneystepper November 24, 2014 at 6:09 am

Great post and a nice top up for the inspiration. I have very similar goals to you and I want it BAD! I have a vision of being financially free and enjoying a steak and good glass of rosé on the balcony of my future house in the South of France.

If I am ever flagging, this one goal always gets me back on track…fast!!

My fiancée and I have a monthly budget meeting where we look at our investments and every month we check how much closer we are to that goal. Over the past two years, we have both doubled our net worths each year (we still measure separately as we are actually racing to get to individually be a millionaire before the other!). This acceleration in our financial position is basically a result of how badly we both want this one goal!! :)

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5 J. Money November 25, 2014 at 8:56 am

HAH! A friendly competition never hurt – I like that ;)

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6 Shannon @ Financially Blonde November 24, 2014 at 6:44 am

This reminded me of when I wanted to lose weight and a friend told me that I wasn’t losing weight because I didn’t really want to. I thought he was being mean, but years later, I realized that he was right. Once I got serious about losing weight, I did and nothing else got in my way. It’s the same thing with any other goals, if we want it bad enough, we can make them happen.

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7 Mrs. Frugalwoods November 24, 2014 at 6:50 am

Yes! I’m all for this. I seriously believe that if you want something badly enough, you’ll become a frugal weirdo; you’ll save as much as you want; you’ll learn to herd goats, etc, etc. It’s just true. There are always extenuating circumstances (like illnesses) that prevent people from achieving and I do understand that.

But for the vast majority of us, it’s all about just doing it! People ask me how we’re able to save as much as we do and while sure, there are tips and tricks, the core essence of my answer is that we really want it. It’s kind of just that simple. Woohoo!

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8 J. Money November 25, 2014 at 8:59 am

Yeah, illnesses are no joke… I feel like I always need an asterisk after most of my posts to include that :)

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9 S L November 24, 2014 at 7:50 am

I did take my first step to challenge everything: I cut out my cable; which, included with a special when I upgraded my internet, cut out $130 dollars a month, I think – I will know next month. Now, I am adding back $8 for huluplus… and if that works well enough I won’t be going and investing in an antenna (or building a neat DIY one for cheap). Right now I love what I do, I am comfortable, and am looking for easy ways to increase my net and savings. So, I don’t want it BAD, but I want it *grin*

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10 J. Money November 25, 2014 at 9:01 am

Rock on! Give yourself a break and then move to the next bill and see what you can do :)

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11 Jon @ Money Smart Guides November 24, 2014 at 7:56 am

It’s all about sacrifices. What are you willing to give up today for what you want in the long term? Some people are OK with giving up cable. I’m not. But I do walk to a lot of places – the grocery store, the gym, etc to save on gas, regardless of how hot or cold out it is. To some, this might be too much. The key is figuring out what you are willing to sacrifice to reach your goals.

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12 Adam @ AdamChudy.com January 28, 2015 at 8:48 pm

I canceled cable until I realized how much money I spent going out to bars to watch college football and basketball games and it completely negated (or was worse) than the incremental cost of the cable + internet package. The ESPN’s are the last thing stopping sports loving cord cutters.

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13 Kristy November 24, 2014 at 7:56 am

I’m with you….we want it but maybe not bad enough to cut everything out. Still, we hope to hit a million in 4 years, the year I turn 40. As for early retirement, we are shooting for 55. Both kids will be out of college by then and hopefully the house will be paid off.

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14 Natalie @ Financegirl November 24, 2014 at 8:00 am

“Most people want to become a millionaire or never have to work again in their life, or hell – have a banging body – but very few care enough to actually pull them off in the end.” <– YES. This is what T. Harv Eker talks about in "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind". If you "want" something – that's just not enough. You have to commit and give your all if you want to accomplish your goals. This is why I write about intentional living and goals with finances. A huge part of becoming financially successful is understanding how to live intentionally (create goals and implement supportive systems and habits to help you achieve them). And personally, I'm only getting out of student loan debt because of my weird commitment to it. People think I'm so weird for not taking vacations and not upgrading my 06 Civic. Especially as an attorney when the standard of living is expected to be so high. You have to define what success means for you and do weird things to accomplish your goals.

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15 J. Money November 25, 2014 at 9:03 am

I didn’t know you were an attorney?? I always thought (assumed?) you were a financial planner, haha…. Which I think is a compliment! :)

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16 Kathy November 24, 2014 at 8:07 am

If only I could be as disciplined regarding my weight as I am with my finances. It is so easy for me to save or not spend but if I pass within 100 yards of a cupcake it is calling my name, taunting me.

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17 J. Money November 25, 2014 at 9:04 am

HAH!

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18 Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life November 24, 2014 at 8:31 am

I find the things that I want badly are often at odds with one another. Take being an actress, but still wanting to earn a sufficient salary. So for me, it’s a lot about finding new, innovative solutions, because I really do want it ALL- BADLY!

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19 Chris @ Flipping A Dollar November 24, 2014 at 8:45 am

Awesome. I’m not going to be fully funding my 401k but we are paying down the mortgage quicker because I don’t believe in the purely mathematical calculations. Not having a debt over your head is intangible but is worth a TON. It’s like when someone has surgery to fix an overbite or something like that. You just don’t realize how much of your brain was focused on it until it’s gone!

And my eBay side hustle is helping us fund the house appliance replacement needs so we’re able to throw extra $$$ into the mortgage. Definitely a win!

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20 J. Money November 25, 2014 at 9:06 am

I’ll agree with you on that every day of the week… Emotions are huge w/ money, so I’m always a fan of working on the goals that EXCITE and MOTIVATE you more so than pure financial logic. If you’re not passionate about something the odds are you’ll burn out before even reaching your goals.

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21 Jen @ Jen Spends November 24, 2014 at 9:19 am

“I very well know the tips, tricks and SEO maneuvers to help get it there faster, but a lot of them suck ass and just don’t jive with my mojo here.”

That made me LOL! That’s how I feel about blogging, too.

I can’t be jealous of people who accomplish extreme goals because, yes, I know that they put in extreme effort to get there. I am not a person of extremes at this point in my life. Especially with kids, I feel there needs to be a good balance between reaching goals and giving them a pleasant childhood experience. Future success can’t buy back lost time.

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22 Brian @ Debt Discipline November 24, 2014 at 9:31 am

We had to find the balance on the aggressive button when we paid off our debt. I wanted to go faster, but my wife reminded me with the family in tow we had to find the happy medium.

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23 Mark November 24, 2014 at 9:33 am

Having enough for retirement is a critical goal, but I try to help people to remember not to be so focused on it that they forget to have fun now. Retirement is a huge let down for many people because they find it incredibly BORING. So as long as you are having fun on the journey toward retirement and have a plan for what your retirement will consist of, you should be good to go.

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24 Dee @ Color Me Frugal November 24, 2014 at 9:54 am

Awesome! Your story of the $90 pay checks reminded me of when I heavily ramped up my retirement contributions at my last job. I tried to put 100% of my paycheck into retirement. They wouldn’t let me because “you’re not allowed to put more than 50% of your paycheck into retirement in any given month.” Why do they make such stupid rules? What’s it to them if I put it all in retirement and live off Ramen and water? I wasn’t (hubby’s job was paying all our bills so we didn’t need my paycheck for expenses). But still.

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25 J. Money November 25, 2014 at 9:08 am

Haha…. yeah, I would have put in 100% too but I was also capped. I wonder why it’s different between places? Maybe has to do with taxes or something?

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26 maria@moneyprinciple November 24, 2014 at 10:14 am

Yes, baby, I’m ‘hard-core’ :). Thing is, as I’ve said before, I woke up one morning and thought: ‘Enough is enough. I’m going after this debt for reals.’ The more people told me it can’t be done, the more I thought: ‘Just watch me!’

I don’t do extreme frugality, as you know Jay; I love life too much. I also think that if I’m good at making money, it’s only fair to pay someone to do my garden or clean my house. For me, it is the possibility to rest in the ways I like (reading, running and writing); for the people I employ it is a livelihood. I have a lot of admiration for what MMM and ‘extreme’ Jacob do: I just think that there are other ways to reach the same goal :).

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27 SavvyFinancialLatina November 24, 2014 at 10:56 am

I tend to be pretty aggressive with goals. I have tunnel vision and concentrate on the end goal. Over time I have found my aggressiveness can be blinding and that I can only accomplish so much at a time, which means I have to limit my goals. I’ve also realized I need to slow down and enjoy life because sometimes I concentrate so much on the end goal, I forget about the present.

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28 Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom November 24, 2014 at 11:50 am

So true. There are dreams I have now, but I’m not killing myself to get there. I think we haven’t really pegged down what we really want our future to look like. So for now we’re just trying to get into a position to have more flexibility and opportunities. Once we figure out what we truly want, I think we’ll have more fire under us.

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29 Mrs. Bug November 24, 2014 at 1:17 pm

$90 paychecks in insanely awesome! The fact that the company matched 100% is even more insanely awesome! I also totally agree that if you want something enough, you find a way to make it work. We want to travel the world, so we are willing to work our asses off now and save more than the norm to make it happen. Great post!

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30 Tawcan November 24, 2014 at 1:41 pm

If you really really really want it, you’ll be able to achieve it somehow. Having a plan to achieve your goal is important.

While achieving your end goal is important, it’s important to remember to have a little bit of fun along the way too. :)

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31 Kassandra November 24, 2014 at 2:23 pm

We humans are capable of doing incredible things, when we really want it. I have done some things in life that most people aren’t willing to do in order achieve specific goals. I had the desire to become FI in 12 years or less and with DH on-board, we are committed to living on 50% or less of our incomes to accomplish this. Is it hard? Strangely enough, not really because I don’t feel like I am missing out on life. In fact, I have never lived better than I do now.

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32 J. Money November 25, 2014 at 9:09 am

Aww yeahhh, work it sister!

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33 EL November 24, 2014 at 2:39 pm

How bad do you want it? That’s a loaded question. I think people want many things, but taking action is harder to do. I want to save as much as possible so that FI will be closer than 60. Being a slave to the work force is ludicrous.

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34 Martin November 24, 2014 at 2:45 pm

A common expression in wrestling is — are you willing to do whatever it takes? Most people can try their best or put in some effort. But who’s willing to do whatever it takes?

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35 J. Money November 25, 2014 at 9:11 am

Yeah, and even if you ARE willing to do what it takes in wrestling and other crazy competitive sports/jobs/etc, there’s always other people wanting it even MORE. So in a way you *have to* give it your all just to compete! Same with business too… Always someone else hustling harder and smarter than you out there…

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36 Darrell November 24, 2014 at 3:03 pm

My goal is FREEDOM, and I want it bad. I could get it sooner by redefining freedom, which, in my book…is a beautifully complex, personal balance between “I can do anything I want” and “within reason”. I can live off $7,000 a year and be free now (well, probably not with my gaggle of kids) but it wouldn’t afford me the freedom I truly desire.

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37 Kayla @ Everything Finance November 24, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Great answers! I’m so glad you shared some of this with us. Whoever this was asked some good questions :)

I’ve got goals, but like you said they take some extreme effort. While I do want to become debt free, I’m obviously not as extreme about it as some people are. I still spend money on things I probably shouldn’t. But you know what? I like my lifestyle. Yes, I have scaled it back and I probably need to scale it back some more, but I’m never going to one of those uber frugal people…

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38 Done by Forty November 24, 2014 at 3:28 pm

“The reason I’m not retired early yet? My kids. Haha… Just kidding. My wife! (Somebody stop me!).”

Too funny! I’m kind of coasting financially these days, or at least I feel like I am. I’m happy with our savings rate and the numbers we’re putting away, so I don’t feel like pushing much harder. Of course, this means I won’t be getting to my goals at any faster of a rate…so I guess I’m all right with that?

Somebody (Financial Samurai?) wrote that if you’re coasting, you’re going downhill. Maybe…but what if I like the ride?

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39 Jason @ Islands of Investing November 24, 2014 at 7:34 pm

I know I picked up that phrase from Financial Samurai, and it’s really stuck with me. I even referenced it in my last post. I’ve felt a bit like you DB40 in terms of coasting, and was always OK with that – don’t they say that being content with what you have is the quickest way to happiness? All depends on what you value in life I guess.

But now that I’ve gone and bought this new house I definitely need to start climbing up that hill again, and I’m pretty excited about it. I’m starting to realise I do value achieving new things and making an impact on the world and the people around me. Guess we did want that house pretty badly!

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40 J. Money November 25, 2014 at 9:14 am

I think you HAVE TO stop and coast every now and then. Maybe not for long periods of time, but you need times to just “be” and relax in between goals and hardcore-ness. And I guarantee Sam is doing it too. I don’t think you can be super successful going non-stop 24/7.

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41 Even Steven November 24, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Sometimes that’s what it is, just wanting it more and doing what it takes to get there. I want it, just taking some time is all. Benzo see ya, Credit Cards so gone, Student Loans, so close to curbing you, doing what it takes.

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42 Kim O. November 24, 2014 at 8:30 pm

I had to laugh at the hard body part. I remember when I was in grad school I was a hard core fitness fanatic. I was eating so clean and was a lean, mean pull-up machine (and upper body strength was not my strong point). ha! Well, years passed and while I still worked out, it wasn’t as hard and I decided I wanted to enjoy good food. Six months ago I started working out hard again. This time I refused to not enjoy things like ice cream. How bad do I want that “hard body” again? Not enough to go back to fat-free, no carb, spinach tortilla wraps that I convinced myself I liked years ago. :)

Yeah, but sacrifice to achieve goals, especially financial goals is more than a daydream or desire. Positive thinking and energy is all well and good, but the proof is in the determination, the doing, the discipline, the disappointment, the dusting off. and doing it again. Going through that right now. It’s hard when you don’t see tangible results. That’s where faith comes in. It’s always good to read other stories because it helps to know so many go through the same thing and success is possible!

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43 Prudence Debtfree November 24, 2014 at 11:29 pm

“How bad do you want it?” Not enough to sell my soul, but I definitely want financial freedom and a successful “side hustle” to help get me there. I believe I’m willing to do what it takes – barring the soul-selling. It’s a matter of figuring out direction and figuring out where the lines in the sand need to be drawn. I don’t find the navigation towards my goals easy. I think some people really do have more clarity of vision – quite apart from their desire to achieve.

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44 A Frugal Family's Journey November 24, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Great post J.Money! Love the quote “extreme actions yield extreme results.” It not for everyone but those who have gone down the road…in the end, are generally always thankful they have.

Also, thanks for the humor in the middle with the reason you are not retired yet. I know you’ve meant it to be humor and you probably wouldn’t have it any other way, but the reality is it would probably be much easier without some of the variable that come along with having a family. just saying. :)

AFFJ

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45 J. Money November 25, 2014 at 9:18 am

Haha…. for sure :) If it weren’t family it would be something else though, ya know? Everyone has things they love that cost a pretty penny – hobbies, travel, companies, the list goes on…

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46 Dividend Mantra November 25, 2014 at 1:20 am

J$,

I agree 100%

I was interviewed in a podcast not long ago, and I was asked something along the lines of what’s really important to those just starting out down the path to FI. And I basically said you have to want it. You have to have that desire. Otherwise, you won’t get there. You’ll get what you want. If you don’t truly want it, you won’t do everything within your power to get it…and you’ll likely fail.

Great stuff!

Best regards.

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47 J. Money November 25, 2014 at 9:19 am

You know it, brotha. And the truth is it’s okay to want other things too. Those who aren’t addicted to money like we are have other addictions like sports, hobbies, etc… So they just prioritize that instead. (But if only they realized financial independence can get them all that AND MORE forever and ever!!! ;))

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48 Kemkem November 25, 2014 at 4:40 am

I took out the maximum 401k loan that l could after the financial meltdown. I went for an aggressive repayment plan, and reduced my contribution from 15% to 10%. My paychecks were pitiful for the next 3 years till l was able to sell a rental property for a small profit and pay off the rest. I wanted to get out of debt very badly. Now if l could only do the same with my diet, and losing weight :-) .

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49 Elle November 25, 2014 at 7:41 am

Loved the post! Every decision comes with a cost and everyone has to decide if they are willing to pay it.

When I made it a goal to pay off my credit card debt before the wedding, I was determined to get rid of those. The high interest rates was motivating me to make them go away. All my intern money and side projects went to paying it off.

When we decided to pay off the car loan early, we sat down and looked at ways to trim expenses and started sending snowballs, snowflakes, whatever we could. It felt great. again, seeing the interest rate pushed us us to get rid of it.

Now that we’re working on the student loan I have to admit we haven’t been as aggressive with getting rid of that as we’ve done in the past. We send in two extra payments a month, but we’re not rushing to get rid of it. (Though we got half of it paid off so far.)

I think part of it is the low interest rate so we don’t feel that it was as urgent as the other debts. Right now our money is going towards the baby fund. Once our little one arrives and if we have left over, thinking we can take that and knock the loan down enough to re-motivate us to just get it done.

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50 J. Money November 25, 2014 at 9:23 am

I would say baby trumps student loans at the current moment :) I almost spit out my coffee at ” if we have left over” though, haha… those boogers never stop surprising me with how much $$ they soak up…. and who knew two of them would cost more?? ;)

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51 Natalie @ Budget and the Bees November 25, 2014 at 11:23 am

You are absolutely right that if something isn’t happening for us, we most likely need to look inward for the reason. It’s so hard to see our faults when we want something (that bangin’ bod or a huge bank account) but can’t quite seem to achieve it. It’s easier on our self esteem to place the blame elsewhere. I’m guilty of it. But I love the way you explained it because I was thinking the other day about a related topic and how a person needed to take some self responsibility. I couldn’t find the words to make it not be offensive. So go you for laying it all out there like this. You said it perfectly.

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52 J. Money November 26, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Hey, thanks! That really means a lot actually. I’ve really tried hard over the past few years to focus on the way I say things as I know how easily people can get offended… Sometimes I fail and people unsubscribe (hah!) but I do try my best. It can certainly get tricky at times (like last week’s debacle w/ Anton and his lies all over the internet, ugh…)

http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2014/11/the-millionaire-liar-next-door/

Took me FOREVER to get my true thoughts out while at the same time being careful!

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53 Joe November 25, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Well, you have to find a balance. Extreme actions can’t last long. Life is a journey so you need to enjoy it now as well as later. The problem is most people just can’t look ahead into the future so they are putting too much weight into living it up today. You can go extreme for a few years to get a good head start, then you probably need to step back to moderation.
Anyway, good job guys.

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54 Michelle November 25, 2014 at 6:15 pm

I have such a hard time with taking ownership for why I have not met some of my goals. I know that it is my own self, I just need to get my act together.

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55 Joseph Hogue November 25, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Great post.

Putting away that much right away is commendable but its hard not to get burnt out when you’re living on $90 a week. Fortunately for the client, he put away so much that he can probably slack a little and still be ahead of where he needs to be because he started so early.

I save and invest regularly but I think people get too hung up on an early retirement. So you save a ton and sacrifice your whole life to retire at 45, then what? Sitting drunk on the beach gets old after a while. Find something that you enjoy doing and in which you can make a little money. Be happier and don’t worry about retirement.

Oh, and J$ some of us appreciate the realness. Keep it up.

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56 J. Money November 26, 2014 at 8:58 pm

I think that’s the whole missperception with early retirement actually – that once you reach it you’re just chillin’ on the beach or being lazy. It’s hard to imagine that someone smart enough to have reached E.R. would then do nothing with his/her life. People like that stay connected to the world, just not necessarily for pay (although most people I know who are “retired” still get paid, it’s just they’re doing stuff they love and because they WANT TO vs HAVE TO).

In other words, it’s more about Financial Independence than it is “not working.” At least that’s my opinion of it.

And since I know you like it when I keep it real, I figured I’d share ;)

(Also, for what it’s worth, you can reach E.R. without sacrificing too much… It may take a little longer, like in my situation, but I wouldn’t say I’ve ever really sacrificed much on the path so far… It’s amazing what you can be happy with when you commit to a goal)

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57 Harmony November 12, 2015 at 7:35 am

Absolutely brilliant answer!

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58 Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank November 26, 2014 at 4:11 am

Most of the time, people get lazy when they don’t get immediate results, which hinders them or make them blind from fulfilling their dreams/goals. As a matter of fact, it is really hard to stay on top or get motivated at all times. But, having smaller goals is trick in here. Seeing these fulfilled one after the other is really motivating. If you want it so bad, you’d better be a planner and strategic.

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59 Adam @ AdamChudy.com January 28, 2015 at 8:55 pm

People always get really excited at the beginning of any major project (saving money, getting in shape, etc) but the people who stick it out get the results. I can’t ever say enough about consistency. Showing up really is half the battle.

But showing up often is more than just wanting it, it’s having a very actionable plan and taking steps to reinforce your goals. I think that’s why the FI community does so well and people find the graphs of increasing net worth and declining liabilities so compelling. It’s the visual reminder you need to stay on track.

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60 J. Money January 31, 2015 at 3:30 pm

All true stuff as well, good sir. Anything that helps keep your eyes on the prize adds to the motivation!

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