I’ve been trying to think of a metaphor to describe one of my recent financial philosophy changes. This is the best I’ve got: Are you a farmer or a hunter?
For most of my financial life I was a hunter. I’d trade my time at work to acquire money and spend that money on what I needed. This isn’t much different from what a hunter does. Hunters head into the woods hoping to pull back a big animal, feed it to their family or sell some of it, and then head into the woods again with the same strategy.
Hunters can get better tools: better weapons, better gear, but hunters will never have a step change in their abilility to hunt. As a hunter you’re never going to buy a piece of gear that makes you bring home one hundred times as much meat.
This isn’t much different from salaried work. You can get more education, you can climb the management ladder, but you’ll almost never find your self earning one hundred times minimum wage on a salary.
Compare this to farmers. Farmers plant crops on land and, in a good year, reinvest earnings into more land. As a farmer it’s entirely possible to see a one hundred times increase in your earnings: upgrade from 50 acres to 5,000 acres, or get 1,250 acres and become four times as efficient at growing. It won’t happen overnight but it’s possible.
This website is my farm. Every day I make pictures, I write, I look at Google Analytics and figure out how people are responding to my work and think of how to make it better. Every article is a little piece of land: drawing someone in, leading them to hear my story, and hopefully pulling them to following along.
The richest people I’ve ever met don’t focus on making more money: they focus on growing a small pool of assets ever larger. They always spend wisely, buy as little as possible, and take every saved penny they can to buy something that will give them more money in the future.
Life isn’t about money. Having gobs of cash won’t make you much happier than having just enough. But money does help me feel independent and free, and I can tell you that it’s been immensely rewarding to restructure my life so that I can live on very little and earn some money doing what I love.
P.S. I’ve read a lot about finance in the past. My favorite book on personal finance is Your Money or Your Life. It’s a spiritual approach to earning and spending. If you want to manage money you already have the best book is The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing. My full thoughts on money and finance are here.