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A while ago, I was reading a personal finance book as a hobby. I’m a nerd like that and I have the glasses to prove it.

It regaled about how the rich try to keep the money they make.

Not make more.

Not invest more.

Certainly not stiff servers more.  

They’re keeping more than before to capture and retain their wealth.

Filled with Money has more words on the subject, “Don’t think you have to make six figures to be wealthy. While it helps, it’s not necessary.”

By third world standards, I’m rich.

In America, I’d state my claim with confidence that I’m middle class. A few layers below wealthy but being debt-free (except the mortgage) and being able to shovel 20% of my income to retirement accounts, I’ve had some success in keeping more than before.

Less Loans

While drifting through retirement statistics which I also do for fun, I read a sobering stat:

The average time to pay off student loans for a bachelor’s degree is 19.7 years.

That average is almost drinking age!

As I mentally circled that stat like a cat getting ready for a nap, I couldn’t help but reflect on my loan stats.

As far as college loans, I never took one out. I was offered enough times, but I wanted the loan-free dream and was willing to live near poverty to obtain it. Not a goal people splash across Instagram, but it was a way to get a firm footing in a land where I was already behind as a 22-year-old college student.

Of all the poor mistakes made, from ex-boyfriends to excessive spending, I’m fortunate that at 17.5, I chose to join the military.

It was a difficult four years with an abundance of tears, but the result was 20 years without school debt.

As with any decision that involves large contracts and comfort zone abandonment, it wasn’t a single decision but many that swayed this magnitude of a choice. I developed a pros and cons list that funneled emotions into a logical solution and one heavy pro was a free college degree.

Free sounded better than debt.

Still does.

Less Expense

I’m at the point where good medical insurance is more attractive than Ryan Reynold’s six-pack.

I’m all for a career that provides positive people, passion, and pay, but when medical appointments are more frequent than massage appointments, I’ve reached a stage in the adulting spectrum.

A stage where having good medical insurance is the difference between keeping more than before or not.

Medical visits are expensive like all things that require sanitation, expertise, and paperwork. Occasionally, they’re cheap or free with the annual visit, but any questions asked during the yearly visit will probably end with an appointment for something significantly more.

Medical insurance is how to keep bills at bay while saving more for another day.

Buy Less

My car is eight years old.

She’s a solid machine with 4-wheel drive for the current -14 degrees at my zip code. She’s stout with 85,000 miles of experience but lacking in heated seats and a warm steering wheel. She missing a touch screen but touts analog controls. She’s skipping fancy alarms when I cross into another lane, back up, or get too close to a parking lot pole.

She is more analog than a new key fob.

What she lacks in advancement, she pays in financial enhancement because she broke free of her auto loan years ago.

Instead of buying new, I continue to use a vehicle that is loan-free which allows funds to be put into something more fun or at least less draining.

Living Lighter

Less money spent on disposable and more money invested in reusable is keeping more than before.

For this household it includes,

  • Having reusable dishes, silverware
  • Reusable cleaning cloths and napkins
  • Composting
  • Eating food with less packaging
  • Turning off appliances when not in use
  • Buying secondhand
  • Eating in more than out
  • Participating in hobbies that don’t have a membership, subscription, or service fee

Small choices folded into daily routines. I leverage an accountability partner which is a handy way to capture others’ enthusiasm and motivation.

I drift towards easier ways to live lighter like turning off lights, investing in reusable napkins, and buying secondhand. Whereas, Mr. BuLL loves a challenge and dirt, which led to creating a compost bin in the yard. Along with less waste traveling to the local landfill, we use brown gold for our garden pots and landscaping instead of buying store soil.

A win is still a win, even if it smells like rotting meat.

Keeping More Than Before

I prefer keeping more than before than making more than before. As a government employee, I can’t storm into my boss’s office with an impressive array of graphs, charts, and Google scripts as to why I deserve a raise.

Instead, I have to apply for temporary assignments or another job. Decisions that aren’t a choice but more of a sharp resolution to remove all the things that make my life a rich reality. The cost of making more than before is a price I’m unwilling to pay.

So, per the rich person’s creed, I’m keeping more than before one dirt pile by cheap hobby by old car at a time.

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