Jeremiah Rogers

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Treat it Like You Earned it

Bangkok, Thailand. May 2014.

What do you do if you find $100 in the street, win $100, or inherit $100 from a dead relative?

Most people I think would blow the $100 on something fun. I actually think that’s the wrong response and it’s one I stopped doing a few years ago.

We tend to assign values and incentives to money. I’ve found that when I don’t make much money I get very frugal but when I make a lot of money I start to spend it freely. If I work really hard to earn money I want to reward myself, and if I get an unexpected bonus I also want to reward myself. To me this seems like the wrong approach, because found money isn’t actually any different from money that was earned.

A few years ago I started to treat windfalls as if they were just incremental income. The most I’ve ever inherited was $1,000, but any time I have found money, sold something I wasn’t using, or otherwise come across unexpected income almost all of it has been saved.

I feel like each dollar I earn should go toward furthering my goals in life (happiness, learning, and sharing). So each dollar that comes in — no matter how it comes in — gets allocated according to those goals.

Today if someone gave me 100,000 yen in the streets of Tokyo my plan would be this: spend 300 yen buying myself an ice cream and save 970,000 yen for future expenses.

Just because I find money in the street or sell a few prints isn’t an excuse to start blowing cash. So I don’t do that anymore and haven’t for years. It’s helped out my net worth a lot and might be helpful for you as well.