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Today, we have a guest post from the Master Dukes of Dollars. Enjoy the read!
The Master Dukes of Dollars are the dynamic duo from The Duke of Dollars Kingdom. The two bloggers held court frequently, delving into lifestyle and personal finance discussions as they searched for ways to live an optimal life, eventually deciding to invite a global audience into their mindsets by establishing their own blog together. They believe anyone can build their financial kingdom – start building today!
It was Junior year of college and my bank account was empty just like the kegs at the end of college house parties…
Yup that’s right, typical college story – broke kid trying to fight his way through making payments for rent and food each month through on-campus jobs or internships. Most of the time, thanks to loan refunds and scraping by paycheck to paycheck, I could afford off-brand pancakes for breakfast, PBJs for lunch, and spaghetti or other cheap pasta recipes (with chicken or other meat options when they were on sale) for dinner.
A Thursday I’ll Never Forget
It was a normal Thursday for the most part – lectures, campus work, and assignment deadlines. But there was one huge surprise…
I had only BBQ sauce in the fridge and rice in the pantry.
Honestly, it didn’t even taste too bad. But the feeling of having no money in the bank with each bite tasted like vile fear factor challenges. That night as I laid in bed trying to fall asleep, the same question came up over and over and over again – How in the world can I not afford to eat!? How? HOW IN THE WORLD?
That night I promised myself that it would never happen again…plus, tomorrow was payday; it would all be OK.
Taking on the World
In the weeks, months, and years since – I’ve kept that promise to myself. During college, it meant all-nighters after working throughout the day to make sure that my grades would land me a good job. It meant practicing for an interview in front of the mirror in my room every single night, just waiting for the opportunity to show the world what a person can do when their mind is set on it!
Graduation day arrived and I was flabbergasted. I finally made it and my the hard-work paid off. For the last semester, I had worked almost full-time while finishing up a couple of last requirements to get that degree on the wall. Those 3 digit paychecks had turned to 4 and I felt invincible!
I remember those days vividly, being able to buy a beer at the bar or enjoy nice meals at a restaurant of my choosing. I could actually take a young lady on real dates now or buy the latest video games. The gaming computer I’d been dreaming about? No problem – it was the best gift a man could buy for himself after a very tiresome 4 years.
The euphoria eventually wore off but the feeling of taking on the world hasn’t faded one bit! The world is there for the taking with so many opportunities! I reflect and remember that although my promise had been kept; it was time to decide – what next?
3 Steps to Transform from Consumer to Saver
My career had a good start with a decent salary. I had a basic knowledge of the extreme frugal lifestyle and a hint of desire towards early retirement like Mr. Money Mustache. Student loan debt was there and it was time to get started on the future I now envisioned.
One of the important lessons I’ve learned so far in life, you can’t force anyone to change and guess what? No one can force you to change either. You have to decide what’s right for you and whether you are prepared to take on the challenges required to make that change.
Like the Rapper Fabolous once said in his song “Change You or Change Me”:
“You know what?
Everybody goes through some changes in life
Some people change for the better, some people change for the worse
But umm, some people need to make that change
You know what I mean? Change is good sometimes. You know?
Positive personal finance fundamentally changes your life. It reduces your stress. It grants you opportunities to knock off items on your bucket list. Through it, you can empower the people in your life.
But there is one small secret to incorporate that change into your character. A powerful why.
Eric Thomas’s Why
A powerful why is that one reason you can use to push through anything. For Eric Thomas, one of the top motivational speakers in the world, his family was the reason he was able to get up at 3am every day or not eat on days he was scheduled to speak. It’s how he went into Beast Mode and began putting up videos on YouTube every single Monday. He transformed the motivational speaking industry and revolutionized the social media platforms around his company, and his dream.
There’s only one person in the world who can decide what drives you to be great with your finances – you!
Decide Your Why
With that being said, here are a few suggestive questions to start your brainstorming:
- Do you have anyone in your life you would do anything for?
- What do you want in your life?
- Is there one thing that you can look back on your life and say, I did it?
Once you have decided – write it down!
“Life is a marathon, not a sprint”
Success comes in small strokes of a painting until you finally take a step back, look at the canvas and see a beautiful masterpiece.
The little wins quickly add up in the early stages of building your own financial kingdom. Those 10 dollars auto transfers each week to your savings account turn to 40 dollars a month or ~500 a year.
Compound interest turns small investments into large sums of money in your later days. The penny example always fascinates me – if you double a penny each day for 30 days – you end up with $5,368,709.12!
For me, coming from the rice and BBQ sauce dinner, a tiny victory was having a real dinner each night. I knew that saving enough for groceries each week meant that it was possible and since one of my whys was my promise, it meant studying at the library or reading a book on the weekends sometimes to keep hold of my precious dollars.
There are many opportunities to make small changes in your life, like buying off-brands at the grocery store or air drying your clothes. It might be eating out one less time per week then you usually do, or packing your lunch each day. You can be mindful to use only the minimum required amount of consumable products like paper towels, shampoo, and dish soap. You must make that decision, remember your why, and “do something”!
Tracking Your Mula
Rob recommends and both Duke of Dollar authors agree, sign up for Mint or Personal Capital. This goes right along with #2 above. Creating a budget takes time and also feels like a big chore right off the bat – trust us we felt it too :).
Instead, hook up your bank accounts and for 1 month just start taking a look at where your money is going. If it can be tracked, it can be measured; if it can be measured, it can be managed. This will give you a nice start point to list out your expenses when you decide on creating that budget in the future.
As the great Alex Hitchens once said, “you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been”
He might have been telling that to Sarah in the movie Hitch, but at the Duke of Dollar Kingdom, we have our own version of this quote:
“You can’t know where your money is going, until you sign up for Mint to see where it’s been”
Where Have These Steps Taken Me?
It’s been a few years since that life-changing night and ever since I have kept that promise to myself. The strong momentum all started with the three small steps above. Over time, following these guidelines has developed into chasing my own debt free adventure, investing gala, and early retirement dream.
Following most of the steps that are outlined in Rob’s “Start Here” page (I don’t have a mortgage, but strive to complete each of the other steps) – I have reached a positive net worth, traveled to different parts of the US and the world, journeyed far away from my meager desperation dinner, and I haven’t looked back!