This week, I was exposed to Shelter‘s new campaign. I love what Shelter do and I saw how much they help people. However, their latest campaign bothers me. In a nutshell, it says that money-saving “hacks” will not really help people and that the government should take ownership. One (promoted) tweet I saw said “You could cancel your Netflix account or the government could make housing more affordable”. So you can either take ownership of your financial life or wait for someone else to solve your problems, I’m sure you can guess which side I’m on.
The message of the campaign is “someone else should solve your problems” and that’s a horrible attitude for life.
2 types of people
There are two types of people in the world (and in our marriage)- those who accept the rules and those who try to change them.
Lazy FI Dad- accepts the rules
I accept the rules, I don’t have the energy or will to change them. I try to learn the rules, understand them, use them to my advantage, and generally play my cards to the best of my ability within those rules.
Several examples that I shared with you are:
Saving NI by understanding how NI works
Getting the government to pay £2,000 per year per kid towards childcare costs
How to get full child benefit even if you earn over £50k
How to eat out for free (mystery dining)
As you can see, I love those “hacks” and they can save you a lot more than just the price of your Netflix subscription. Also, you can benefit from them just by knowing that they are available and legal (within the rules).
However, people like me very rarely leave their mark on history.
Lazy FI Mum- changes the rules
Lazy FI Mum loves changing rules. She fights against injustice and doesn’t take the rules as the final say. She did a bit of politics when she was in university. Lazy FI Mum changed policies within her current employer. I’m sure she will keep changing the rules wherever she goes.
The world needs more people like her (Lazy FI Mum, I didn’t say the world needs more of you, god help us all. I said people “like” you). These are the people who change things, hopefully for the better. If everyone was like me, nothing would change and that’s not good.
That’s why I understand where Shelter are coming from. I’m all for trying to get the government to help people (who are really) in need. I also love what Shelter do, I do. I just don’t think that fighting for your cause and taking ownership of your life are mutually exclusive.
It is important to mention that Lazy FI Mum 100% takes ownership of her own life, financially and other.
She doesn’t sit all day whining that the rules are unfair or wait for someone else to save her (unless there’s a spider around).
Blame others vs take ownership
Let’s just assume for one moment that the government is to blame for housing prices. Let’s also assume that Lazy FI person can’t afford to own his own home currently*. What would be more beneficial for Lazy FI person- to blame others or take ownership of his finances?
Should Lazy FI person fight for government action? perhaps, I don’t see the harm in that, as long as it’s legal.
Should Lazy FI person spend all day crying about how life is unfair and remove even the slightest trace of responsibility from himself? Hell no! That’s a horrible attitude that will get him nowhere.
Blaming others for everything might make you feel good momentarily, but it usually won’t get you far.
We all get dealt different cards in life (which is what the whole “privilege” discussion is about). Can we change that? usually not. The best that we can do is play our cards to the best of our ability. That’s taking ownership.
So Lazy FI Person can’t afford to own his own home. Owning your own home comes from having enough money to meet the market price of a property.
Can Lazy FI person control how much houses cost? I doubt it.
Can Lazy FI person control how much money he has? Hell yes, this is what my whole website is about!
If you want to increase how much money you have, you need to save and invest more. We’ll leave the “invest” part aside for now and focus on the “save” side.
It’s simple maths- you either earn more, spend less, or do both.
Now, I know this is a lot harder than it sounds but I’m sure you can agree it’s possible.
Most people find this part of the equation harder, at least in the short term. Most people have a paycheck that doesn’t change that often. However, you can get a raise by asking for it, getting a promotion, or moving companies. You can also get a side hustle or a second job.
Is it fun to have a second job? probably not. Is it more fun than not affording your housing costs? I think so.
Unless you’ve reached the bare minimum of your expenses (I highly doubt it), there are ways to cut your expenses.
Some ways will save you more and some will save you less. Some are easier to implement and some are harder. It depends on how much value each expense adds to your life and how much you need the extra money. This will be different for everyone, that’s why it’s called “Personal finance”, it’s personal.
One way to save money is… well… cancelling your Netflix subscription. Will it make a huge difference in your finances? probably not. Are there ways to save more? probably. Will lots of little savings result in big savings? It probably will.
Our monthly results
Every month, I post our monthly results. I share with you our savings rate, the change in our net worth, and what’s happening with our life.
Every month I repeat (under “real change”) that three factors affect our real net worth:
- Our savings rate
- Market performance
I also repeat that as market performance and inflation are out of our control, I focus on our savings rate. It’s the only part I can control so 100% of my effort goes there. I don’t see any benefit in wasting time and energy on things I can’t control**
Take ownership- Summary
You can keep fighting for government change but, please, don’t remove responsibility from yourself. Take ownership of your life and improve your situation. No one cares about you and your family more than you do, not even the government.
It’s funny, it seems that you need to take ownership of your finances before you can take ownership of a home***
* Should everyone own their own home? Is owning property a basic human right? That’s a whole other discussion. I know that housing also means rent, not just owning. If you can’t afford your rent, you should take action and ownership of your situation even quicker! Either save more or move somewhere cheaper (or blame everyone else, let’s see if that helps).
** No, Lazy FI Mum, I know I don’t control you (I don’t want to). I’m also happy to waste time on you. “Spend time”! I meant “spend time with you”, I swear!
*** Yeah yeah, some people inherit a lot of money or earn huge amounts. As I said, we get dealt different cards in life.