An article from the ginger bread house

‘Its not death a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live’.

-Marcus Aurelius

There’s got to be something said for taking the blog of someone who just sprayed himself in the eye with screen cleaner seriously. In my defence it’s was quite difficult to see (now impossible) which way the nozzle was facing. Gently formulated to burn like matches. Who needs coffee when you can self medicate with a shot of Isopropyl directly into your cornea every morning. Goddamn.

I have no idea how to segue that opening into a coherent follow up paragraph. Until recently segue wasn’t even part of my vocabulary. Embarrassingly I used to think segue was spelt Segway and that it was a proper noun that became a verb. Like when you Xerox something. Do you keep the capital in situations like this? I sense someone rolling his or her eyes at me for my lack of correct Englishness. I still feel confident that I can recover and salvage a long meandering tirade from all of this…

I’m drinking white pomegranate tea. It’s supposed to be super good for you. But mostly it’s a hot drink substitute for coffee. I’m trying to cut down on my stimulant intake. I have this ideal concept of self where I exist in this perfect mindful state, free of extraneous influences. Its good to have goals… even if they are unlikely to be totally achieved or fully realised.

This is coming from quite a dark place. Back when I was fighting I’d start my day with two crushed up Ibuprofen chased with a Red Bull and a double espresso. And that was just to get myself out of bed and into the office. Usually by 10am or so I could feel the rotation of the planet and the gentle hum of the universe expanding at sixty nine kilometres per second.

I’ve come a long way, but towards the end of last year I found myself slipping and needing that caffeine crutch again. The problem is I really like coffee. I’m not one of those crazies that take it to the n’th degree. (At least I think I’m not…) For the most part I like my coffee in a disposable cardboard cup with a plastic lid. I know, I’m espousing heresy on such a massive scale I should expect the coffee inquisition banging at my door momentarily. (Possibly accompanied by a crowd of rabid company advisors and fund managers carrying shepherds crooks) ‘Jo, we’d like a word please’.

In my utopian society it would all be ‘Bean there’ or ‘Motherland’ as the java of choice. There’s a Mugg and Bean on my road though and while I rage against the big franchises I have quite a good relationship with the barrister at my local. (When Tasha’s sold out I was inconsolable for weeks) ‘Now we’ll never be able to eat there ever again!’ he would cry.

Editors note – Jo has since been back to Tasha’s. But always endeavours to wear a ridiculous moustache disguise and dark glasses, lest he been seen by the haut monde proto hipsters he sometimes wishes he could emulate. They’re as judgemental as fuck.

Anyways. I’m trying to drink one coffee type drink per day. (Trying being the operative word) For a while I made it bulletproof coffee. Instead of butter I’d use coconut oil. It’s supposed to do something cognitively for you. Then again I often imagine my mind as a single hamster wheel. Only the hamster is dead. Fortunately the wheel hasn’t stopped turning just yet, so I can still dress and feed myself without missing my mouth. (Some might debate the latter) Coconut oil isn’t going to do anything for him anymore. The hamster I mean. Except maybe make him smell a little more tropical.

So about a week ago this work of Satan, I mean financial article, snuck into my feed. I don’t know how it made it. I’ve actively blocked news websites from my laptop with a Chrome extension, so even in a moment of weakness it saves me from myself. (EWN, News24 etc.) I can only compare the quality of their journalism, to the microbial bacteria that live in the water, that collects in the little plastic container that holds your toilet brush. I’m not even going to venture into the comments sections of these rags, sufficed to say, it’ll do nothing but nurture your misanthropy.

Anyways, this article… They appear every year around this time. Usually written by a CFA, who then gets to put their contact details at the bottom of the article. (So they can dry penetrate you and then post coital rip you for a Will and an RA) They usually have some clickbait subject line, like ‘2017, your year of financial *insert positive adjective here* ness.

It was the usual schlock. I mean I understand where its coming from. Only this CFA had done a calculation about what your daily take-away coffee is costing you per year. I don’t remember the exact details. In fact I’m not entirely sure what a Serious or Mothercuppa™ cost these days? Thirty Rand? I normally just swipe.


Stegosaurus used for scale.

So the end result was a figure of nine thousand Rand something… and wouldn’t it be better to have nine thousand Rand extra at the end of the year?

Personally my response was to grab the emergency crucifix I keep in the draw and load  up the revolver with silver bullets (these occasions do present themselves). ‘Hell no, get back to your coven, you left your cauldron on boil, you twisted mean old hag.’. ‘And be quick about it before I send you back to the hot place’.

Self denial. Its on every financial plan. I’m not saying it doesn’t work . It does work. But what a miserable way to get to your destination. It’s like having the all the bounty and splendour the world can offer at your feet and picking fiscal veganism. But each to their own. If flagellation works for you, who am I to say different.

The biggest problem I have with these sorts of articles is that they address the cure, rather than the root cause. Imagine a fat person. Or a smoker. We ridicule them (behind their backs) for poor lifestyle choices. And when they are suffering from their choices we say ‘Well, two packs of Marlboro, three Big Macs or whatever, will do that to you’. ‘Take some responsibility for your life you fat fuck’.

If you’re in a position where you have to cut coffee out of your life to fix things you need to realise one important thing. You are a fuck-up.

Yeah, I’m not going to sugar coat this for you. You fucked up. And admitting this is the only way you’re going to get to where you need to be.

Which is,

‘Unstuck, unfucked and unleashed’.

I wish this were my quote. But its not. It’s Ryan Holiday. (He’s amazing)

Personal finance is just that. Personal. If you overspent in December, it’s your fault, no one else. You don’t just accidentally overspend. ‘Yeah, but my car broke down or whatever’. Okay what about you emergency fund?

You know what happened to ancient Homo sapiens when he didn’t have enough food to last the winter? He died. Now we just get debted up. And somehow we think that’s okay. It’s not okay. It’s not okay to be a fuck up. Stop doing it.

So wait… I shouldn’t practice self-denial in my quest for financial freedom?

No that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying don’t be put in this position in the first place. Don’t get to the crossroads where you have to make these sorts of decisions. Be reasonable with your life. There are extremes with everything, and neither extreme is a very good place to be. Stop eating Big Macs before you get the point where the Fire department has to cut you out of your own apartment.

When did we as Homo sapiens stop practicing reason and logic in every decision we made? Was it when the world went out of its way to give us safety nets? Sure those nets keep us from falling. But they also weigh us down, keep us from moving and eventually they suffocate us. Ask anyone who has a mountain of debt. Ask them how awesome it is. Ask the guy who hung himself in his garage or gassed himself in his car.

If you’re going to take your life seriously and ergo your finances you need to recognize, that from the start,  it’s all on you. And you alone. People can help you on the journey, but ultimately every decision is yours. Don’t be the person that has to give up Grande cappuccinos because they can’t afford it anymore.

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