Financial independence, it’s got to be the sweetest feeling on Earth. Note that I didn’t say “wealth” or “financial freedom.” By financial independence, I simply mean that you work for a living and that you can fully support yourself. Sure, we would all like to be wealthy and financially free, and I encourage you to pursue those ends. Is that an excuse not to have a definable profession? No, absolutely not.
Sure, we’ve all heard stories about the “boy wonders” that developed the big dot-com out of their college dorm rooms or from their mothers’ basements. Guess what? The boy wonders are still boys to this day. Mark Zuckerberg is a fucking boy. Justin Bieber is a chronological adult, but he’s a little boy still. I’d take being a poor man over being a spoiled boy any day of the week.
Here’s what it takes to be a man: have a profession that you take pride in and take ownership of it. Develop high-level, marketable skills and own those too. They are keys to your kingdom; they are riches of a different kind. Quit wallowing in how much of an unappreciated genius you are and get busy.
Trade your skills for a regular income, then reinvest in your skills. When the time comes, ask for a raise or trade up to a higher-paying job. Wash, rinse, repeat. Stay out of debt and save money, because a rainy day always comes. Meditate on how you would like to play and in what ways you’ll spend your money wisely, while honoring the fact that toys and play are where the enjoyment of life is. You need them, just like you need a savings account and a decent woman.
Boy-men spend more than they make. The get into debt and get big car payments on fancy cars that they can’t afford in order to keep up appearances and impress people. A real man doesn’t give a fuck what other people think. When he sees a twenty-something cruise by in a brand-new Ford F-150, he thinks to himself, “that poor slob must have one hell of a car payment!”
Being a man means that you live as if you have no one else to fall back on. You don’t ask your parents for help even when they’re willing and able to, because one day they won’t be here to help you. That’s just the sad reality of it all.
Independence is the key differentiator that separates adults from children. When I use the term “man-boy,” I am referring to a large percentage of the male population that is not fully autonomous, may that be financially, emotionally or mentally. I’ve met many married men that have to defer to their wives for every decision that they want to make. There are men who have good jobs and pay for their own way in life but don’t save a dime for a rainy day. “When that rainy day comes, I’ll just ask my parents to bail me out,” they say.
Manhood can be defined set of actions and the emotions that come as the inevitable result of those actions. When I stress the importance of things like moving out on your own, cultivating financial independence, and participating in dominance hierarchies, it might be tempting to look at the dollar-signs at the expense of everything else. Sure, you might be saving money to live off of your parents, or ask them for help when you’re in trouble, but there’s a much deeper emotional cost at stake. When you are financially reliant on others, a “master-slave” relationship is formed and an emotional contract is developed. Often times this contract is unspoken and rooted in the unconscious arrangement of the deal. When you’re accepting money from people it becomes harder to say “no” to them. There’s an unspoken contract that they have the right to run your life. Thus, you are not fully independent and autonomous – remember that independence and autonomy are core features of manhood.
If you need help with learning how to manage your finances, and transform your debt into wealth-building, I highly recommend Dave Ramsey. Reading his books and watching his YouTube channel empowered me to completely transform my financial life for the better.
The one point of disagreement that I have with Dave Ramsey is his support of merging finances with your spouse and of traditional marriage in general. I would never tell you not to get married if you felt that it was the correct course for your life, but I would tell you to approach the institution of marriage with extreme caution. The divorce industry is very unkind to guys. I don’t see why any man should have to pay a woman he is no longer with alimony payments for life – it’s unjust and unfair.
In any case and with any type of relationship you get in to, I also disagree with the notion of merging your financial lives and bank accounts. Men and women should be autonomous adults. There will be expenses that you come together on and expenses that you will want to take care of on your own. When you share a bank account with your spouse, you need to have a discussion and a debate about everything that you want. The things that you want will be downplayed by her as “impractical” and “unnecessary.” Meanwhile, she will conveniently rationalize her own extraneous spending. “Sure, I spent $400 on getting my hair colored, you want me to look good for you, don’t you?!”
Contrary to popular belief, there are happy marriages and long-term relationships out there. Of the ones that I’ve been acquainted with, all of these relationships have a certain underlying respect for the individual autonomy of the other person. The husband gets his Harley and his Corvette in the garage, the wife gets to have her hair done and go to brunch with her girlfriends. To quote David Carradine from the martial arts film Circle of Iron, “you can tie two birds together, and even though they have four wings, they cannot fly.”
It takes years to build financial independence when you’re single, and only a few awful mistakes to ruin all of that hard work. Merging your finances or risking it all in a marriage are the two quickest and easiest means of destroying your financial future. I’m not telling you to never get married, but mind your business, mind your profession and mind your money with the utmost care. Divorced men tell many tales.