A journey of a thousand miles starts with a first step.
So, for people just getting started towards financial independence, here are 10 more baby steps on The Path to becoming a millionaire.
Re-programming our habits eventually creates incredible results. The magic is in the aggregation of marginal gains.
1. Have a taste testing
Rather than going out to a restaurant, why not get your friends round for a blind taste test party? These are fun and provide some interesting results.
Pick a tasty item like fruit & nut chocolate or prosecco or cabernet sauvignon or beer or mince pies and then buy all the different brands and own label versions from a range of stores. You can include Aldi, Lidl, Asda, Co-op, Tesco, Sainsbury, M&S, Waitrose and perhaps the Harrods food hall if you are really going for it.
Then serve these up with no packaging and no clue as to which is from which shop. Get everyone to provide tasting notes, rank them and pick a favourite.
Then sit back and enjoy the comedy as the lack of correlation between price and preferences is revealed. Your guests may be surprised…in a good way.
2. Eat what’s in the fridge
There are two ways to decide what to eat for your next meal.
The first way is to imagine a menu consisting of all the foods and all the recipes in the world. So, our imaginary consumer decides that today they feel like a Tropical shrimp curry with mango juice and champagne truffles with a side order of Fairy Dust waffles.
They then go out and get this brought to them at the Club Tropicana ShrimpshackTM restaurant or have it delivered by a servant on a scooter via the FoodClownTM app on their smartphone. Later, they throw away the uneaten food in their fridge.
The second way is to start with what’s in the fridge. You can eliminate food waste by seeing what you already have. And then eating it.
3. Shop like a drone pilot
As an unofficial Ambassador for Global Peace and Reconciliation, The Escape Artist has noticed that invading Third World countries is generally an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars.
The problem with putting a large military force in theatre is that it leads to collateral damage. Oddly, when you invade their country, the locals tend to get pissed off and start firing at their liberators. I know! Talk about ingratitude. It all gets messy and expensive quite quickly. Better to take out the few hardcore bad guys at long range with an unmanned drone strike.
The same principles apply when shopping. You never go to a shopping mall because that is enemy terrain where you don’t control the environment. Don’t get sucked in with boots on the ground. Instead why not sit at home with a nice cup of tea and unleash the deflationary power of the internet by calling in an Amazon delivery.
4. Calculate your investing costs
It has come to the attention of The Escape Artist that whilst many people are good at complaining about bankers bonuses etc, fewer actually follow through by sticking it to The Man where it hurts: in his wallet!
Well today I’m going to demonstrate how to calculate your investing costs. And then slash them. Take a look at the spreadsheet below. Note the difference in fees that you pay between traditional managed funds and trackers.
By including a column for the % fees charged by the fund manager we can see exactly what’s being silently and invisibly deducted every year. You can get this info from the fund factsheet: look for the % OCF / TER / AMC. Sadly this understates costs as it excludes their trading costs(!).
Plus don’t forget to add any financial adviser fees. Because they are extra…Yay!
5. Brainstorm a side hustle
Escaping the Prison Camp is much easier with a side hustle. Firstly, it reduces the amount required and secondly it provides something fun to do with your time.
The maths is simple. To get £10,000 a year of extra income from cash in a bank account is gonna take £2 million at an interest rate of 0.5%. But earning £10,000 of extra income per year from a side hustle or flexible job(s) is I think within the reach of almost anyone.
For anyone interested in this change, I’d recommend this James Altucher podcast and anything by Pat Flynn. After you’ve listened to a few of these, get a pen and paper and brainstorm some ideas for your own lifestyle business / side hustle / flexible jobs. Even better, do it with a friend and get the benefits of interaction and creativity.
6. Cut heating bills
About half of all UK households have never bothered to change electricity supplier. This seems a bit…errr…shortsighted given the large gap between the standard tariffs and the best deals and given that some of those householders are not millionaires yet. As our cheap 1 year fix is coming to an end soon, I’ve just moved us using the Moneysavingexpert cheap energy club.
Its currently the Autumn season for thermostat wars in many households. My children complain that the house is too warm and try to leave their windows open all night to lose heat. In contrast, my wife wants the heating turned up and the fires all on.
Meanwhile, The Escape Artist has invested in some advanced energy saving insulation devices called “clothes”. If you wear “clothes” in your house, its possible to turn the central heating thermostat down significantly. Personally I like to target the heating effort with a real wood fire (nature’s TV) in our living room and electric blanket on our bed. But that’s just me being a Southern softie.
7. Get the kids to walk to / from school
A while back we made a conscious decision to stop picking the children up from school in the car every day.
This means that every day they are now getting fresh air, a bit of sunlight and vitamin D, some gentle exercise and mental decompression time walking home after school. This is an example of the inestimable advantages of living a more natural life.
It’s obviously tempting to try to protect children from the world by providing them with their own presidential motorcade and bodyguards. But take a look at the size and shape of many kids: its sad to see people harming their own children through misguided kindness (e.g. sugar and sedentary lifestyles).
If children are eating natural food and walking to and from school, it’s almost impossible for them not to be fit and healthy (as well as more responsible and independent).
8. Cook for a friend
Sometimes you need to protect your stash from spendy friends.
A few weeks ago, a friend asked if I wanted to go for a mountain bike ride. I consulted my diary and saw that I’d be able to fit that in just about anytime.
He suggested a ride followed by lunch at a pub. The Escape Artist has a weakness for mountain biking followed by beer and food. But although I can afford it, it seemed silly to spend money unnecessarily.
Rather than say no and be a miseryguts, the trick here is to offer comparable hospitality without the cost. So I counter-proposed a free lunch with free beer…at my house after the ride. Which worked out just fine and no one got food poisoning. Compared to eating out, the cost is tiny and I think its a much more hospitable solution.
9. Stay in a Youth Hostel
How much would you guess that it costs to stay the night in central London?
Well, it probably depends on the location. So how about slap bang in the middle of The City, London’s financial district. How about opposite St Paul’s cathedral, design classic, resting place of Saxon Kings, Lord Nelson and one of The World’s finest monuments to human progress, engineering and generally getting difficult shit done in the late 1600s?
Answer: staying at The St Paul’s youth hostel costs from £16 (€18, $20) a night.
I’ll let you into a secret…The Escape Artist is no longer a youth! You may not be a youth either…but that’s OK, you can stay there anyway.
10. Do your first Parkrun
Warning: I think Parkrun may be a gateway drug to healthy living. It all starts innocently enough but be warned: one thing often leads to another. And before you know it, you can see your toes again.
It’s run by some very crafty and well organised people. By getting thousands of other people like you doing this, they’ve harnessed the power of social proof.
They hook you in with a gentle distance (5k) and a non-intimidating vibe. They cunningly provide a social network of supportive other people around you that don’t want to be fat and lazy. They trick you into lowering your guard by not selling you anything and providing a fantastic community activity for free. They lure you into nature and away from shopping malls, traffic jams and other clown activities…
It’s almost as if they were trying to make the world a better place! I’m sure there’s a catch…it’s just that I haven’t been able to find it yet….but don’t worry, I’m on to them 😉
You can follow The Escape Artist on Twitter here.