Grit and Patience: The Dynamic Duo for Success

I think Buffalo is finally out of its winter since more Spring-like temperatures have been frequenting her land for periods longer than two weeks.  This means that I won’t have to snowblow for awhile and I can ride my bike without two layers of pants and a facemask!  I’m still wearing the gloves, though.  Speaking of the electric bike, it’s been hauling ass back-and-forth to and from work for awhile since that last post…so much so that it’s been getting boring.

Typically when the bike commute gets boring, I’ll find a different route…but this has always turned against me because it either takes longer to commute or has ridiculous car traffic.  While it’s fun to blow past a long line of cars on the road, it can be incredibly dangerous if you don’t have your head on a swivel, darting eyes and a trust for nobody.  For my own safety and sanity, I’ve vowed to stick to my usual route that involves bike paths, a more direct route, minimal traffic lights and a wide-berth from cars.  So, how am I supposed to cure my boredom?

By listening (in one ear) to finance and self-improvement podcasts of course!

I’ll go over a few of my favorites in a future post, but this reminded me of something.  I want to Always Be Doing It.

What’s it?

It is whatever the hell I need to do to get better than I was yesterday.  It should be the thing that has the most dramatic impact, and It should be the most fun if at all possible.  It‘s how I’m doubling-down on myself and cutting out the bull so I can focus on what I want.  I want, for every minute I can, to be somehow moving forward.  I assure you that I’m leaving room for sleep, friends and quiet rest/reflection.  This isn’t just all about financial independence, saving money or coming up with ways to save or make a buck.  So what does this mostly mean?

Cutting out the ineffective things that soak up my precious minutes/hours…then replacing them with “productive” things.

When possible, combine activities.

  • Instead of sleeping for the 9-10th hour, or reading my phone in bed in the morning…I will go downstairs and lift weights 3x/week with guidance from Stronglifts 5×5.  When I don’t lift, I’ll do yoga with help from DoYogaWithMe.  In the case of weight lifting, I’ll listen to podcasts at the same time.
  • Instead of driving my car to work, I’ll ride my electric bike instead.  This cuts down on a lot of traffic aggravation, gets me active (in terms of moving limbs and being outside) and it’s damned fun.  Since it’s possible to listen to podcasts while I ride, I’ll listen to a nice selection that balances humor, finance and personal growth.
  • When I’m at work, I just work.  I’m lucky enough to have a boss that shields me from everything but working.  I take a nice lunch and kid around with coworkers, but other than that…I want to work because I need to get to a good spot to stop every day.  So, instead of checking Betterment, my Mint budget, Hangouts, my feed reader or any other thing that interests me…I’ll just work.  This is mostly accomplished with browser extensions that block my access and turning off notifications for generally everything.
  • Walking the dog?  Add in listening to a podcast.
  • Doing school work?  Again, I just work.  No dilly dallying.  Also, since the classes are of an accelerated nature, I don’t bother reading up on things that are not part of the assignments unless it has to do with my career.  Yes, the topics are interesting…but if I really need to know them, I can always look them up later.  In the class, with assignments pending, is not the time to drag your feet on learning what they require you to learn.

This leaves me with roughly 2 hours per day, on a good day, to do with whatever I please.  Usually, I’ll watch a show like Game of Thrones and then spend my last hour reading fiction in bed.  All work and no play really does make Jack a dull boy.  You simply have to relax, recharge, unload, and unwind.  I believe that preventative maintenance is essential to keep the train moving.  If I didn’t meditate, watch shows, read about the Gunslinger or have drunken Rocket League games with friends…I would have long gone off the deep end.  I need to stay grounded to remain myself.

This isn’t always perfect.  Sometimes I just have to go hard at school.  Sometimes work needs me there for 10-14 hours.  That’s life.  As much as I’d love to cram all my little activities into precious blocks, that’s just not going to happen and it’s taken me a lot of sitting and breathing to realize this.  The trick is to beat back those imperfections with patience and grit.

Also, what does any of this have to do with money?  This is a finance blog!

Well, I have a hard time reconciling that I’m not perfect with money.  Especially when I see such good things online.

  • I read online about how soandso got big returns while I just lost a few thousand in Betterment.
  • I save a couple bucks by price-checking at a few stores, but spend a almost $2k on a bed.
  • I have no ideas for a business, but know I just need to try a lot of things and not be afraid to fail.
  • Everybody else’s house value seems to be rising, while mine seems to be an endless money pit.  I should have continued to rent, probably.
  • It’s going to take me years for my electric bike to pay itself off.
  • I spent too much on fancy upgrades for this rental unit that I’m living in, just because I’m living in it.

All these things and more run through my head constantly, to the point where I often require myself to sit down, close my eyes and breathe.  Once open, I know that things are not that bad.  Curiously, throughout all these “blunders,” my net worth continues to grow.  I ended 2015 with $113,733.63 to my name.  Today I’m at $134,802.40 and increasing an average of $5267/mo so far this year.

But wait!  My day job only pays me $53,500/yr.  How can I be socking $63k/yr away?  For one?  Grit.  Gritty side-hustling, passive income and the unfortunate circumstances of war.

  • I stay the course with the rental, who has a permanent tenant giving me $650/mo.
  • The Post 9/11 GI Bill is paying me about $750/mo to go to school online at night.  Once I earn a degree, I expect my earning (read: saving) power to increase much, much more.
  • On top of paying for school, Uncle Sam believes this Marine deserves some money for reparations on account of injuries sustained during combat overseas in the amount of $1,300/mo until I’m healed up.  I’d have rather not been injured, but sure.
  • Various beer-money schemes, scripts and phones pull in close to $300/mo completely passively and the scripts continue to grow in earnings.
  • I eat cheap.
  • I live with my SO and split the bills.

Secondly?  Patience.

I’m not always going to be able to add to my beer-money schemes.  I’m not always going to have a clean house.  I’m not always going to have a positive net income for the month.  There are going to be rainy days figuratively (the hot water tank busts) and literally (I’ll have to drive to work like a common peasant!).  There are definitely going to be times when I even question the goals I’ve laid out for myself.

Throughout the time it’s going to take to amass an amount of money large enough to retire on, there are going to be several Presidents, probably a job change, major life events, a possible move.  Hell, there might be natural disasters and self-driving cars.

Everything is going to slowly happen…and I’m going to try to be patient enough to remain diligent in my plan.

What I can assure you, though, is that the trend is going up…and having grit will keep it that way.

What are your stories of patience and grit?


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