There comes a time in every life when the inevitable strikes. You might see it coming; you might not. It will change everything for you, and its effects are always permanent.
I’m talking about that universally dreaded moment: Trying to explain to a beloved Normie why you made the unfathomable lifestyle choice to spend less than your income.
You might start by asking if they would spend all of their daylight “on the clock” if they had a million dollars. Of course, this will be met with skepticism: You’re the middle class, where do you think you’ll get a million dollars? Keep dreamin, kid!
You might move on to the extraordinary benefits of retirement accounts, tax savings, and compound interest. You know, the basics of how to become an eccentric millionaire. This, too, will be met with skepticism: You won’t be able to use that stuff until you’re old and gray,1 and don’t you want something to do while you’re young enough to enjoy doing it? Don’t waste your youth – you can’t buy that back!
You might then try to explain that spending does not equate to happiness, but by this point your audience is probably pretty tired of your bullshit youthful enthusiasm.
I suggest the Deathbed Perspective.
Somewhere along the line, you’re likely to hear that there’s no point in saving – we can all die tomorrow, so why not live it up today? This is the Normie Deathbed Perspective.
There’s one obvious problem with the Normie Deathbed Perspective: The average life expectancy in developed nations is now well over 70 years. That includes the unfortunate reality of young, early deaths. If you make it past your infant and childhood years, you’re very likely to live to see your 80s! So, already it’s a bad bet to literally live every day like it’s your last, pacing your spending only so that if you die before payday you’ll bounce your last check. And to a thinking Vigilante, making life-altering decisions based on the possibility of an uncommonly early death is a bit like saying “I once saw a pedestrian get hit by a runaway car while walking on the sidewalk, so now I only walk in the middle of the road.”
But more importantly, there’s a wildly important lesson to be learned from re-framing of the Normie Deathbed Perspective. Instead of wondering “Why not get maximum spending today in case tomorrow never comes,” ask yourself to consider your Deathbed Perspective as a Vigilante: If you’re lucky enough to experience your final moments in a bed, surrounded by loved ones, would you be happy looking back on a lifetime full of “the worst day of your life” to pay for that spending?
Would you want a lifetime of long, drawn-out weeks performing tasks you dislike in exchange for the opportunity to punctuate each week with a tiny, under-rested weekend of enjoying things you actually wanted to do – if you still have the money and energy to do them?
I didn’t think so.
We spend much of our lives concerned with what others think of us, our actions, our belongings, our appearance. So much of our lives trying to fit in, to keep up, and to get “stuff” that doesn’t necessarily reflect our most rationally selfish desires. But our utmost duty should always be to ourselves:
A unique and lucky human trait is that death has a way of making us all think about being selfish. And selfishness is the key to changing the Deathbed Perspective.
A final note for your best Normie friend: If you’re reading this and Elon Musks’s internet satellites haven’t been launched yet, odds are pretty good that you live in a place with favorable conditions for wealth-building. You’re not in the middle of a jungle, the middle of a desert, or under the rule of a ruthless dictatorship that cuts off contact with the rest of the world.2 You’re lucky. Wherever you are, you can earn money and choose to save it, taming the Hulk in your favor. Wherever you are, rational thought makes a bigger difference to the life you will live than any other single factor. Here, your deathbed moment is largely within your control, and determined by which Deathbed Perspective you accept. Take advantage of that.