At 24, I was printing cash.
I would send a file cash-money.pdf to the printer through our office Internet, and out would come thousands of dollars.
That’s how it felt. Every other week, a few thousand dollars would pour into my bank account and I’d feel a slight jolt of energy and be like holy shit, I’m rich bitch!
It still boggles my mind that I was able to convince about 17 or 18 of my friends to join me at Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn, where we racked up a hefty bill of over $3,000 (that was worth it, but primarily because my friends are awesome) on a random weekday in the middle of September. It was a special occasion, sure, but still absurd.
I would happily buy cabs from my friend’s apartments in the LES to my place in Brooklyn. Those are like $300 each, roughly. (Slight exaggeration, but they’re too expensive, especially in light of the fact that NYC has an incredible subway system.)
All of my friends were printing money, too, so buying rounds of shots, entries into expensive clubs and all of the nose candy to make your Friday night especially interesting wasn’t even a question. It was a way of life.
And then I quickly got burned out, felt really sad and depressed about my life a lot of the time and wanted to throw myself in front of a train sometimes.
(Even though, objectively, it was/is amazing and I feel privileged and like an entitled brat to even be complaining about it.)
The fast life is stupid and it won’t make you any happier.
Dr. Van Tharp is a snake-oil salesman.
Or, he must be, but I don’t know him personally, so I can’t say with 100% certainty. Maybe he sells regular oil, who knows.
In his book Trade Your Way to Financial Freedom, he writes about how anyone in the world can trade their way to becoming a multi-trillionaire simply by swallowing your pride (and your fear) and getting serious about trading:
I believe people get exactly what they want out of the markets and most people are afraid of success or failure or both. As a result, they tend to resist change and continue to follow their natural biases and lose in the markets. When you get rid of the fear, you tend to get rid of the biases.
I don’t know what he does now — I imagine he still trades, and he still works hard every day to make money by beating the markets — but I do know that the notion of day-trading and making your nut by predicting the markets and swallowing your fear is the stupidest fucking bullshit in the world.
(See,and and other equally horrifying tales.)
And seeing as I’ve read less about him than I have people who are, apparently, much less successful financially, I can only imagine he’s fallen off the face of the earth or given up trying to sell the dream of financial freedom through trading.
Most people sell the notion of freedom — financial freedom, job freedom, desk freedom, freedom from boredom, the ability to live The Fast Life — as an effort to boost their own coffers and sell you something that will help them achieve said freedom, because they want to be able to afford their own freedom.
i.e. You don’t feel very free when you’re making $500,000 on Wall Street and your boss is making $2 million and your boss’s boss is making $5 million. (See
Money will help you do things and live above poverty and not have to constantly worry about feeding yourself or your family (which is hugely important, and a huge privilege if you don’t have to worry about that and I’ve been absurdly lucky in my life to even have the capability to write about it), but if you’re constantly trying to measure yourself up against others, it won’t buy you freedom.
How Can I Be Free to Do What I Want?
I think that’s way more important than:
- How can I make a shit-load of money?
- What can I do to get reservations at the hottest restaurants in town to impress my friends?
- What’s it like to stay at the Hermitage in Monaco?
I believe that true freedom starts when you stop trying to measure up to the expectations of others. When you stop trying to impress people in your inner-circle, buy things just to stand out and do the things that other people want to do just so you don’t upset people. When you start to, instead, focus, strictly, on doing things you enjoy that move you closer towards your goals.
True freedom is when you realize that none of those material things will make you noticeably happier even though people will try to convince you that having a sick Audi R8 and a hot wife and being able to afford the most expensive scotch at every restaurant you eat at, will.
(And that, in fact, if South America is any indication, that you’ll be much happier with less.)
True freedom is when you come to this realization:
“When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and you’re life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” — Steve Jobs
Because, again, the fast life is really stupid.