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Ask Dave

When Can We Start Living Like No One Else?

Angela asks Dave when she can start living like no one else.

QUESTION: Angela in Omaha asks Dave when she can start living like no one else. They’re debt-free including the house, their kids are finished with college, and her husband makes $47,000 a year. They have $750,000 in retirement accounts. Dave thinks it’s time for them to start living like no one else.

ANSWER: If you’re paying a price to win, what does winning look like and what does the math tell you that the calendar date is going to be that you’ve won? Because it’s a math thing. If you’re there, why haven’t we lightened up?

You’ve done ridiculously good. You’re unbelievably successful. It’s ridiculous. You need to go buy cars. It’s ridiculous. You go spend $20,000 on a stinking car. You’re millionaires!

You’re not quite a millionaire, but you’re getting real stinking close. That’s $900,000. So if you’ve got another $100,000 in something else, you are millionaires. You can afford a $20,000 car.

Don’t touch your emergency fund. You leave your emergency fund alone, but you need to go buy a nice car. You’re millionaires.

What’s happened is your husband got—and you got—in cheap mode and real intense and focused to get to where you are, and I’m telling you, you need to lighten up. The other thing you need to do is you’re probably not doing enough giving.

Here’s what I want you to do more than that: I want you to go to lunch with the kids that get the scholarships you’d like to give away. And I want your husband to go too. You need to feel your giving. It doesn't need to be distant and institutional. You need to touch it because giving and enjoying your money—a reasonable level of spending, in other words—are tied to each other because somehow, it’s hard to enjoy when you feel like you’re being . . .

There are three things you do with money. You invest it and save it so you have a quality future. You give it, and you enjoy it. You guys have only done one of the three so far. You need to gear up the other two in order to have a well-rounded, fun life. You are rock stars. You have done a fabulous job. Yes, you have lived like no one else, and yes, it is now time for you to live and give like no one else. I’m not saying get crazy and go spend $200,000 on something, but I am saying let’s loosen up the purse strings a little bit here. Let’s put a little oil in the machine and enjoy the ride a little bit more.

You completely win this argument. Now if we can get old tightwad to loosen up, you and I will have won.