While visiting, he noted how clean and organized our work area was. He huffed and shook his head:
"When I was down here, it was never this slow. You got it easy. You're lucky."
The fact was, we'd been busting our arses and worked hard to get our work area clean. What Alvin saw was something magical to him.
For people like Alvin, they take an hour to do a 20 minute job. They work in 1st gear, constantly. They drag their feet and wait for others to initiate complex tasks. Back late from lunch, regularly. Talking continuously. His work quality and quantity was always adequate, and nothing more.
So when Alvin sees progress made, it must be due to external factors. In his zero-sum gain world, either the work load has to decrease, or more people need to work to progress. Individual effort is not a factor. In his mind, Alvin is already giving "his best".
Financial progress is no different. And our society is full of Alvin's. For most folks, the only way to get ahead is for bills to magically shrink, or for some big promotion to plop money in your lap. Otherwise, you're giving your "best effort", right?
You've heard all this before, so I'll keep it short. Your fancy cup of coffee is no different than Alvin running his mouth. Both have costs. Waiting to make tough choices has it's costs. Alvin bought lunch regularly... do you?
Lie to yourself. It's only a $5 cup of coffee. That trip to Mexico is only $4,000. It's just that the world is unfair and conspiring against you. That's why you can't get ahead. And anybody that has cash or assets is just "lucky".
You make your own "luck".
I've never made more than 65k annually, yet our household assets are in the top quintile of United States earners. Not bragging, just a fact.
I will slap anyone in the face that says I am where I am because of "luck".
My grandmother was a Depression-era survivor. When she passed, she left my wife and I enough to put a down payment on a small house. She was not lucky. But she understood how to manage limited resources, like food and money. I learned that from her.
My parents were not that frugal, but still knew how to live within their means. My dad was a mechanic who worked 12 hours a day running a tiny garage in a small town. He invested what he could, but still treated my mom well. When all that asbestos got to him (lucky man), he left us some more money. It sits in a managed stock fund. I rarely touch it. Lucky me, when you do that, it grows. It's there if we need it. But we won't. Because we learned how to live.
Yet, the above-mentioned assets only make up less than half of my net worth. I also got real lucky putting money away in 401k retirement funds since 1990. And NOT touching it. All the while, living within our (meager) means. Not refinancing our house every 2 years to pay off bills. Driving older cars. Our last trip to California, we stayed with relatives. My wife and I slept on the floor, on an air mattress. That was not luck. That's a choice.
Yep. Lucky me. Born with that silver spoon in my mouth. If that's what you wanna think, go out to lunch with Alvin. I'm passing that spoon down to my kids. They can choose to do what they want with it after my wife and I are gone. But they know not to rely on luck.
I honestly don't care if anyone is rich or poor. What I can't stand is folks complaining that those that have assets only have them through some unfair advantage. Life is unfair. Just ask my grandmother who was beaten by an abusive husband. But she never gave up.
Have you given up? Or have you just never really tried?
Just waiting to get lucky.