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  1. Remarkable times, indeed. It’s easy to forget how much more difficult pretty much everything was a short decade or two ago compared to today, not to mention 100 years or more in the past. Privilege is an ever-decreasing barrier to success in all aspects of life, thanks to technology!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, IV. I don’t know where I read this, but it was an article describing New York City streets around 1900. There were horses and horse poop everywhere. Could imagine the smells during the summer? We don’t realize how good we have it.

  2. “…the disciplined with little can compete very successfully against the undisciplined with much. They can even hold their own against the disciplined with much.” So much truth here, Mr. G! Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Well, I read this a few days back but it seems I forgot to comment which is just as well because I popped back to tell you that you inspired me to stop being an idiot! So, I have been waiting for the start of the year to join the YMCA. During January they run specials so you don’t have to pay the initiation fee which equates to one month’s fees. Currently, for a single person, it is $43/month to work out at the YMCA.

    Now, I enjoy the YMCA because they have classes and I am the type of person that needs the motivation to get up and go. BUT, after reading this, I decided to start making use of what I have at my fingertips…the Total Gym (version 1.0). Along with using a Flowbee to cut his hair, my boyfriend also uses the original Total Gym for his daily workouts. At the age of 48 and no love handles in sight, I’d say it’s working quite nicely for him. I decided to stop waiting or the YMCA to give me a deal and get my ass down to the basement. Only one 5 minute workout in and the next day I am SORE!! By the time January comes around I may not even need the Y!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Forty-eight and no love handles in sight? Pretty impressive. Sounds like a keeper. And I hear ya about the Y. YMCAs around here are a great bargain. But they still cost more than heading down into the basement for the Total Gym or some body-weight exercises. I’m pulling for you, Miss M. If Hannibal can do it, you can do it.

  4. Our economy is built upon people believing they never have enough and need to spend more to reach the next level. Thankfully, I don’t follow their advice and that’s how we frugal weirdos get ahead in the markets. I think a fundamental shift has to happen in order for the masses to realize they don’t need all this stuff to get ahead, get by, or grow. I thought that may have happened in the last big recession, but it appears as a whole it’s back to normal or higher than average spending and debt creation. Good points in your post, if only more would realize how little they need.

    • Mr. Groovy

      “Our economy is built upon people believing they never have enough and need to spend more to reach the next level.”

      Oh, man, is that one awesome sentence of FI wisdom. Bravo, Kate. May I steal that quote from you? You are so right. When will the majority realize that it’s far better to be net-worth rich, free from work, and fake poor than it is to be net-worth poor, chained to work, and fake rich? Sigh. Thanks for stopping by, Kate. It’s always a pleasure hearing from you.

  5. For years I went to a gym spending $200 a month on a membership. I cringe now, but back then I thought that I needed that in order to be “in-shape”. For the past 1 1/2 years I have been working out in our home gym which I have spent about $10 on total (I bought a set of bands). Everything else was a hand me down or gift. We also do Insanity a few times a week. Let me know if you want to try it, we’ll gladly share. Body work exercises work for sure!

    • Mr. Groovy

      I love it, Mrs. WoW. For years I scoffed at workout bands. Then about five years ago I got a bunch of them to help me in my quest for my first muscle up. Now I’m a disciple of them. Nothing frivolous or wimpy about them. They’re a great arrow in anyone’s workout quiver. And thank you for reminding me about Insanity. My sister sent me the CDs a few years ago and I used to do the plyometric CD three times a week. Great freakin’ workout. Got to get back into it again. Thanks for stopping by, Mrs. WoW. It’s always great hearing from a frugal, body-weight exercise enthusiast.

  6. Fantastic! I use a somewhat similar analogy when I complain about private schools and all the baby einstein nonsense. Abraham Lincoln had what, a tree and some books?
    As for the physical exercise, body weight moves are great. Get a pull up bar, and if you get bored, add a 16kg and 20kg kettle bell to the mix.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I love the way your mind works, Cubert. Do you think a math book knows or cares if the eyes peering into it are attached to a person sitting in a spartan bedroom or a person sitting in the study of a palatial mansion? Books (and the internet as well) don’t discriminate. They disgorge their wisdom to anyone, regardless of his or her socioeconomic status. And you are so right about kettle bells. Who knew such a glorious workout can be had by swinging a ball of metal? Thanks for stopping by, my friend. Great freakin’ comment.

  7. Keeping up with the Jones’ just because someone else has more is a weird human condition. And on top of that, people do it with the biggest of big ticket items, house and car for example.

    I wonder how many years get added on to financial independence because of it?

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! Succumbing to car and house envy no doubt puts many additional years on one’s work treadmill. Very astute observation, my friend.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Couldn’t have said it better, my friend. Initiative and discipline probably has a success rate of 80-90%. Sloth and irresponsibility has a success rate of around 5-10%. Go with initiative and discipline.

  8. We do live in remarkable times! Part of this is strangely relatable to what I wrote today. Its not about the money, it’s about being happy for what you already have. If you think everyone has more (because of their privilege) then you’ll end up miserable. Period!

    I think the spirit of giving thanks is in the air. And for once, this video is not one I’ve watched on YouTube already, yay!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! I’m glad I got to introduce you to Hannibal. Great comment as always, Lily. We know money is important. But we also know it isn’t everything. Most of us have all the material resources we need to make something special out of our lives. And because most of us don’t, we sneer at someone else’s supposed privilege to make us feel a little better. Ego does so much to screw us up.

  9. Can’t disagree, Hannibal is a beast. All about the individual and how motivated they are. A fancy gym or DB class won’t help you if you are not willing.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Nailed it, Brian. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work. And trickle-down government doesn’t work. The only thing that truly works is trickle-down self. Work hard, invest in yourself, and stop doing obviously stupid shit–do these three things and you’ll do fine.

  10. It depends on how little you’re talking about, of course. A healthy, intelligent, disciplined person without major barriers can be very successful without a lot of starting materials. Throw in additional challenges like ill health, mental illness, addiction, severe poverty, living in an unsafe community, any of the myriad forms of discrimination that exist in the world, and you have a different story.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed. Providing you have a sound mind and body, the material barriers to success are small. Mental barriers, however, are another story. If you were raised by a dysfunctional family and came to internalize its unhealthy attitudes toward education, money, and life, you’re going to have a very tough time. With high-paying factory jobs now a thing of the past, there’s very little margin for error. You can’t be a financial boob or a lazy slug and expect to thrive.

  11. Totally agree.

    I remember interviewing a developer at my old company. He was a Biblical Studies major and a self-taught front end developer. One of the best guys we had on the team despite having no formal education.

    Sometimes you’ve gotta bootstrap it.

    I think that not only your comment about how much a 25-year old needs to save is relevant, but we should also think about how financial KNOWLEDGE is easily something you can do without any formal education.

    You don’t need to go to school to learn about 401k’s and IRA’s and IRR, ESPP’s, Roth vs Traditional…sure school may help but the information’s out there. It’s up to you to decide to consume it.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Great freakin’ comment, Dave. I had a coworker who was the same age as me and had the same position. But he was a millionaire by the time he reached 40. When I reached 40, I was still broke. The difference? He was compound-interest smart and I was SAT smart. He wasn’t dolt, mind you. Just not lawyer, doctor, or engineer material. But he learned from his father to pay himself first and invest in mutual funds. Like you said, “You don’t need to go to school to learn about 401k’s and IRA’s and IRR, ESPP’s, Roth vs Traditional.” And the beauty now is that you don’t need a financial sophisticated family to learn this stuff as well. Just befriend GOOGLE! Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

  12. Choices! You make choices and there are consequences to those choices. If you choose to spend your money on a gym membership, nice looking spandex work out gear, a fit bit, personal trainer, etc., you may not have the $309 a month to drop into an index fund. I am not judging as I have made my share of the wrong decisions and it is not easy to fight against the outside influences. Life experiences usually help you make better choices as you get older. That is the beauty of bloggers like you and the FI community. You document your experiences, good or bad, so that others con be guided to make better decisions.

    • Mr. Groovy

      “Choices! You make choices and there are consequences to those choices. If you choose to spend your money on a gym membership, nice looking spandex work out gear, a fit bit, personal trainer, etc., you may not have the $309 a month to drop into an index fund.”

      That says it all, FIways and Biways. When I was younger I fooled myself into believing that it was preferable to be poor, chained, and fake rich. But fortunately before it was too late, I learned life is much better when you’re rich, free, and fake poor. I love my crappy car, gymnastic rings, and pathetic workout gear.

  13. I firmly agree with this philosophy when it comes to trying life changes. For example, I also did body weight training when I wanted to get in shape. I wanted to make sure I had the discipline to follow through before investing any funds (I eventually did buy a floor model elliptical on fire sale). But materials or possessions rarely enable you to get something done. You gotta be scrappy!

    • Mr. Groovy

      “But materials or possessions rarely enable you to get something done. You gotta be scrappy!”

      Amen, sister! Couldn’t have said it better.

  14. We’ve been trained to think that “buying it” means accomplishing it. I’d love to know how much money is spent on fitness that is a complete waste. Unused exercise equipment, hardly used club memberships, etc. I think I will head out for a walk. When I’m done I will do some stretches and a few planks and sit ups. It’s all free and the fresh air is nice on the walk. Tom

    • Mr. Groovy

      “I think I will head out for a walk. When I’m done I will do some stretches and a few planks and sit ups. It’s all free and the fresh air is nice on the walk.”

      Genius, Tom. Push ups, pull ups, squats, and planks–total body workout that can be done anywhere. #stopmakingexcuses.

  15. Only $309! I wish I would have had that stat when I was 25 years old. Thankfully, I had that covered with my 401k contributions even though I was more focused on getting out of debt and didn’t think about investing until I was closer 30.

    My biggest takeaway from the post is “initiative.” Thankfully, we still live in a country with social mobility and the hard working can get ahead and live better than their parents.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Same here, my friend. In my youth, I easily spent $309 a month on just booze alone. What a waste. If I were merely half a drunkard, my net worth would easily be a couple hundred thousand dollars greater today. You nailed it, Josh. Prudence combined with initiative is a potent force.

  16. The answer is somewhere in the middle but in order to have your best performance you need to tell yourself it’s on you. Anything else gives you an excuse. Just remember to not judge others as a result.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed. My biggest gripe is that we seemed to have become a nation of chronic excuse-makers. And I can’t take it anymore. Sure, success has a lot to do with circumstances and luck. But there’s no excuse for not being worthy of success. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. I really appreciate what you had to say.

  17. Databases??? What is wrong with you??? LOL. Now I know what to discuss with you. Haha!

    This is great. Self discipline goes a long way.

    I wanna see a talking trash with Hannibal. Please?

    • Mr. Groovy

      LOL! Wouldn’t a Talking Trash with Hannibal be awesome! Perhaps one day I’ll head up to Corona, Queens, and show Hannibal my muscle up skills. If he’s sufficiently impressed, I imagine he’ll pick up some trash with me.

  18. Right now, I’m going through all of Code Academy’s web development courses. It’s amazing and I’m super excited to put it to good use.

    There is sooooo much information out there in the world.

    I was discussing with a friend yesterday. Traditionally, we are conditioned, through school, that we need education before we can take action. I agree, and we both thought that that’s not the case. That being said, with all the information out there, it’s so easy to get started.

    • Mr. Groovy

      That’s awesome, Erik. The information is indeed out there. What we need now is the credentializing industry to catch up. The computer field isn’t too bad. You can self-teach yourself SQL Server or C++ and then take a Microsoft certification exam. But what about engineering, management, accounting, law, and journalism? Are there certification exams in these fields that don’t require a lick of college? The BA credential is way to antiquated and expensive. I can’t wait for it to die.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Know HTML, CSS, and Javascript and you’ll rule the world. Through in PHP and MySQL, and you’ll really rule the world.

  19. In effect, our critical thought leaders have given the less fortunate all the intellectual cover needed to rationalize impotence and forgo some healthy soul-searching.

    Wow… powerful. You’re a great writer and that sentence needs to be on a t-shirt or billboard.

    As for Hannibal, yep, all you need is your body and gravity. It’s the Crossfit model but without the $140 monthly cost.

    • Mr. Groovy

      “It’s the Crossfit model but without the $140 monthly cost.”

      Nailed it, my friend. And this insight that you don’t need “privilege” to do well extends way beyond physical fitness. Here’s a link to an article in Fortune Magazine about a super cheap Ivy-League MBA. All you need is $1,000, an internet connection, time, and discipline. And yet people claim there’s no opportunity. Sigh. Thanks for stopping by, AF. And thank you for your very kind words.

      An MBA for less than $1,000

  20. Oh man that guy is a beast. The funny thing is I was in the shower today thinking that I need to start working out again. Haven’t been to the gym since the fires. I was thinking about buying weights, etc. when we move into the new rental. Now you are motivating me to use what I have and go from there.

  21. If there is a will, there’s a way. I’d say for 90% of people that’s true. I’ve been recently tempted to buy the latest fitbit with all the cool gadgets. But it’s $200-$300. I had to get real and ask myself if buying one would change anything about my current workout routine, which is fairly disciplined. The answer is no, but I was seduced by sexy ads for it. lol!

    • Mr. Groovy

      No, Tonya! Say it isn’t so. That’s another thing Hannibal didn’t need to get a great bod–a fitbit. Haha. I’m only joshing you. Yes a fitbit is frivolous. But it’s a one-time expense, and you’re going to use it. Besides, you’re kicking butt financially. Going off the FI reservation every now and then adds a little spice to life. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Tonya. Cheers.

      P.S. I spoke to some mutual friends of ours this past Sunday. Mr. and Mrs. WoW! Her and her husband are great. And they speak very highly of you. Were your ears ringing?

  22. “…the disciplined with little can compete very successfully against the undisciplined with much.”

    Wow, I’m glad we have thought leaders like you to compete with the mindless drone so many supposed “thought leaders” drivel to our society. Spot on with this post, Mr. G. Spot on.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, Fritz. Your kind words are much appreciated. Wouldn’t it be nice if our thought leaders really took the time to analyze the minimum resources necessary to achieve something? But rather than do that and give hope to the less fortunate, they’d rather score political points and tell the less fortunate their only hope is voting for the “right” politicians and giving more power to the government. Sigh. Have a happy Thanksgiving, my friend. And give my love to Jackie.