It Never Gets Easier Than Now

65 Comments

Every time I hear someone say “I’m too busy” to do something, a little puppy dies and I want to stab myself in the eye with a katana blade. I don’t think people realize how good we have it right now: We’re young, we’re only responsible for ourselves, and we can do basically anything we want. If you think about the responsibilities we’ll have in 20 years–or even 5–you start to appreciate that doing almost anything will never get easier than it is now.

Here are 9 examples:

Saving money is never easier than now. If you don’t think you can save 25%+ of your salary today, think about this: You have no one else you’re spending on. And while your salary will go up, the increase won’t be commensurate with your expenses–unless you start developing habits right now. Let’s think about some of the expenses we’ll face soon: insurance, a new home, homeowner’s insurance, remodeling, moving costs, a car, car insurance, car repair, medical costs, vacations, giving to charity, giving wedding gifts, giving birthday gifts, giving graduation gifts, a babysitter, diapers, baby formula, kids’ sports, and, finally, unexpected expenses. As Chris Yeh wrote, “Just this morning, I calculated that our monthly expenses are about 10X what they were when my wife and I were just a single couple living on our own, mostly due to our two bundles of joy.” If you think you’ll be able to save more in the future than today, you’re out of your mind. Read my site, read others, start a budget, and find a way.

Working out. We’re in the best natural shape of our lives. There’s a school near my place, and when I run, I see older men sweating like Patrick Ewing after only one lap. I scornfully lap those 72-year-old men over and over again. It’ll never be easier than today.

Eating fast food. With that said, our metabolism also makes it possible for us to eat the greasiest, most delicious food on earth without causing our thighs (or whatever) to show it. So maybe we shouldn’t feel guilty about enjoying that filthy KFC bowl.

Starting your own business. Here are some common reasons people give for not starting one “right now” that make me thankful I am not a dragon (my sigh would ignite them): “I’ll just wait until I save a little more money,” they say. Or “I just have to learn some more before I do it.” Now, most people won’t start their own companies and that is perfectly cool. But for those that want to, there’s nothing like learning by doing–and if you fail, what’s the worst that can happen at our age? You don’t lose your house or wife and kids. You go and…get a regular job. You can always go to the corporate world. Going the entrepreneurial route gets harder and harder.

I faced this exact situation when I was graduating from college: Google made me a great offer, the position was a nice fit, and the people there are really smart. Plus, the food is amazing. But I decided to go the startup route (to PBwiki) because I can always go back to the corporate side. The people at Google couldn’t have been more supportive.

Just hanging out with friends. It’s easier to go out with friends now than it will ever be in the future. Why? Because we all live in the same general area, live similar lifestyles, and have virtually no responsibilities to anyone else. “But Ramit,” you might say, “most of my friends live far away.” Even if they live on another coast, we have such few external responsibilities that we can take a weekend trip to most places. Also, on my comedy blog (Things I Hate), I wrote about the people in college who get “married” by only hanging out with their boyfriend/girlfriend. What a huge mistake. Your friends aren’t all boring and in serious relationships yet. If you have any married friends, have you ever tried hanging out with them? It’s like a giraffe trying to find a pair of lost contact lenses. Impossible. We’re young, our friends are young, and we’re all pretty available to hang.

Doing your own side projects. Holy christ, we have more free time right now than we know what to do with. “But Ramit,” you might say, “I work 12 hours a day and then I study for the GMAT and then I build houses in Guatemala on the weekends. You’re full of shit.” Let’s keep it real: We all have lots and lots of time we use for leisure activities–whether it’s watching The Hills (Heidi surprised me on Wednesday), working out, or whatever. The question is, can you track what you spend your time on and redirect it to something you care about? Something that will have an impact for the next 5, 10, or 50 years? The answer is yes. And we’ll only get busier in the future.

Taking risks in investing and life. I’m going to describe some fears we have about investing, but you can apply this to anything.

Don’t worry so much about losing all your money. Don’t worry about not having the optimal asset allocation. Don’t worry about your friends making more than you. Worry about not getting started. In my 1-hour talks, I ask young people our age about what would happen if we lost all our money right now. After a couple of inevitable gasps, most people admit that it wouldn’t really be that bad. Maybe they’d go live at home for a few months, get back on their feet, and go get another job. But what happens when you’re 35 with a husband, 2 kids, and a mortgage? Losing most (or all) of your money would be catastrophic. And if you’re 65 and spending your money on pills and bingo, losing your money can be a matter of life and death.

To get higher returns, you incur higher risks. And at our age, we have a huge tolerance for risk–even an appetite for it. And if we invest well for the long term, time can mitigate any short-term losses. No, I’m not telling you to lose all your money. You have to get educated and get started (see a list of all my articles). But if you let a fear of losing money deter you from investing, you’re losing the best years of compounding to turn a little money into a lot.

Meeting interesting people. You wouldn’t believe how many people are willing to meet to share advice and connections. I meet them all the time, and it’s not because I’m some fancy guy (I’m not). It’s because I’m young and interested. CEOs, VCs, and even small-business proprietors and teachers are so friendly. I think it’s because of 3 things: First, people love to talk about themselves, and I’m interested in their story. Second, people love talking to young people, both to share their experience and to stay connected to young people; for example, last week, I taught a business friend what “Benjamins” are. God I loved it. Third, people love knowing that your intentions are pure and that you got in touch to learn, not to inject some corporate agenda. Who knows what could happen if you just asked?

Traveling. You think when you’re 30, you’ll be able to take a weekend trip to New York, stay out until 5am, then make it back in time for Monday morning? No way. I’m not 30, but aren’t most 30-year-olds plagued with arthritic joints and incontinence? Heh, I hope I don’t get in trouble for that one. Anyway, traveling to visit (or live) in other places is unbelievably easy right now. To visit, it costs about $200 roundtrip to anywhere in country. To live, we pick a place, get a job, and it’s done. We have no one to answer to, and imagine the amount you can learn by living somewhere else.

Living in situations your parents would abhor. As we get older, we naturally demand a more comfortable living situation. When we travel abroad, for example, we can stay in hostels with no problem. When older people travel, they need a hotel. In college, we lived in like 150 square feet with 2 other people. Older people measure their homes in the thousands of square feet, and they have things like “dens” and “islands” in their “kitchen.” (Funny thing: You should have seen some of the parents’ horrified faces when they visited Stanford, where the dorms are actually really nice. And then to buy sheets (“linens” to them) at Target? Oh my god!) Ok, that went off on a huge tangent, but the point is that we can live in a way that older people cannot. So whether that’s saving on rent by living in a cheaper place, or driving your 10-year-old car, or just realizing you don’t need that much…it’s never easier than it is now.

Next week, I’m going to feature some interesting people and their examples of things that are easiest to do now. Monday starts off with Seth Godin.

But for now, think about it. Is this going to be just another blog article you read and then go on with your day? Or can you think of something concrete, right now, that you want to do because it’s easier now than it will ever be?

PS–If you liked this article, check out my table of contents, RSS feed, and newsletter.

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65 Comments

 
  1. Ramit – I like that you’re always able to put our age/life in perspective. It makes me want the next adventure!

  2. Ramit,

    Actually, when you turn 30, you die. Hasn’t anyone told you?

    Wishing we’d “stuck” at 29,

    O.H.

  3. Did you mean “katana” blade?

  4. Gah- I disagree about the side project for me. As of yesterday I was just hired at my 5th job (thats 5 jobs at the same time, I’m not getting hired and fired from places), and without taking on hours there I am work a minimum of 70 hours a week. So when, I ask, should I start my side project?

  5. I like this article. Thanks.

    The next thing for me is to start a business, spend two hours a day working out, three months a year travelling the world, meet bunch of interesting people, hang out with my friends on Friday nights, and save money!

  6. Mike, for god’s sake, quit 3 of your 5 jobs. What are you, a masochist?

    Blah blah you can’t afford to… learn to live on less… and start a side project… much better longterm financially than an 18th job.

  7. Love this post! I think about this topic a lot. I can’t believe how often young people will tell you that they’re “too young” to think about saving right now or they can’t afford it because they’re on entry-level salaries. I have no child, no mortgage, no car payment, when am I EVER going to have more money than I do now??

  8. interesting post. But yah, you’re in some trouble with the comment about being 30…I’m just riddled with arthritis at my old age..ha ha.

  9. Brilliant article Ramit. I’m off to KFC :D

  10. boy I really enjoyed this post—especially the part on hanging out w/ friends. I’m not sure how many friends I lost by acting that way, the only ones that stuck around are the close ones that won’t go away even if I tell them to.

    ack, can be such a dumbass at times.

  11. Nice post…if you fit the audience. I am under 30, but I have a wife and child. While I can vouch for a lot of the things said here, I can’t help but feel a bit left out. I manage to save 10% of my income for retirement and a bit more here and there, but I’d feel very wary of doing anything remotely risky (like starting a business)…especially considering I’m the sole earner in the family. Don’t you think there are times when you can’t afford to fail Ramit?

  12. Thanks Ramit, I have been following your posts these days. They really enligthen me!

  13. What a great post. This post brings back memories. I wish I had read something like this ten years ago.

    Be warned, though. All those great, expensive things like serious relationships, house, kid, might happen sooner than you think. Like, next year or the year after that. I was carefree only until age 24 and have been happily shackled in many ways for the five years since then.

  14. This was a great post. This has been on my mind this week since I turn the BIG 21 today! (I know I’m a dork for being on the net but I’m going out tonight, so chill out!)

    I was looking back because the summer is half over. (Sorry guys!) I looked back at what I have accomplished so far. I think I have done a great deal but at the same time, I feel like I could have done more by now. (Like you said, there is no easier time than now) Because in September classes start again and so do all those other things…

    I am happy though. I have started a few websites that I am happy with and they are making some progress.

    I can’t believe you turned down Google. BUT, I respect you more than ever.

    Everything you included in your this post is what I tell my friends and my girlfriend. However, the one thing I can’t overcome is the lack of money. While web businesses can be affordable, opening an actual store on Main Street is not. Any advice on that?

  15. heya ramit, a brilliant post. Just to know ur blog goes far…..im all the way in london england and read it regurlary, gud stuff keep it up!

  16. dude, the 30s are the 20s, haven’t you heard? there ain’t not incontinence goin’ on for another 50 years!!!

    Great post!

  17. Great post, Ramit. And I can certainly say that I’m not just reading this blog and going on. If it wasn’t for you, I would have no desire to start investing for quite some time. Now I can’t wait to start challenging myself to save and invest. I’ve just started budgeting money and keeping track of every single purchase I make so I can hit the ground running when I graduate next year!

  18. Gud Post, makes us realise many things

  19. Most of the things are good advice. A lot of the PF Bloggers are so obsessed with saving for old age they are missing out on life in the here and now. But, I’m 41 and I don’t feel like I’m old at all. You don’t have to stop doing these things just because you are getting older.

  20. Agreeing with moom. If you plan things well while you’re younger, you can live without burdens and obligations holding you down. Once the mortgage is paid off, you’re free!

  21. wow, this article is just right for me…I just spent the whole day doing nothing, watching tv, and seeing how unproductive I can be. That’s it, it’s on now, I’m off to change my ways…Ramit, I’m a believer!

  22. ahhh, actually I’m a 51 year old male, and I kick butt at the yoga center over the 21 year olds. Sorry, just the way it goes. The MORE you do yoga, the BETTER you get. :-)

  23. I’m a 51 year old (female) geezer who really enjoys your blog, but I have to tell you: the biggest lie perpetrated on youth (particularly women) is that everything is downhill after 30. What a crock! It just keeps getting better…it’s all in the head. Enjoy yourself!

  24. Love the post, Ramit. Especially the part about entrepreneurship. I started my first company when I was 23 and too young to know better. Sure, I had a million startup fears – no one would take me seriously as a young woman, I didn’t have enough experience, I had no money – but almost 5 years later it’s all good and best of all I love what I do.

    Looking back, it was the best decision I made. Then, I was too young to really feel the hurt of those first startup years – I wasn’t used to all the little luxuries, and vacations on deserted tropical islands (with great service staff) weren’t a necessity. Cutting back meant spending less on clothes. Now that I’ve got a mortgage, I’m not so sure I’d have the balls to wing it with a credit card and nothing in the bank.

    So here here! Ramit – and cheers to all the early 20-somethings out there: grab life by the throat and throw caution into the wind. Because you’re young enough to tuck tail and run home if it fails, and success means living the good life a lot earlier than our parents ever dreamt possible.

  25. Ramit! Thanks for the words of inspiration. Your blog makes me want to “grab life by the horns” and…your perspective is refreshingly laid-back and agressive at the same time…now if I could just start saving my money.

  26. Hey Ramit,

    My boyfriend just fwded me your article and I can’t begin to tell you how nice and refreshing it is to read articles about entrepreneurship and investing from a person that is OUR age. so inspirational. thanks and I look fwd to reading your future posts!

    Sena, MA

  27. Dude, you’re the shit. I’m motivated again. Thanks!

  28. Dude, I like your article, but what are 12? You talk about 30 year olds as if they are 50. I’m 29 and not married/no kids and neither are any of my friends. You may want to adjust your thinking about the age levels vs. life situation up a little bit.

  29. Hi. I just wanted to say that your comment about asking people that are already successful is the most important thing. I am a young extremely frugal dude. I was brought up in a broke but happy house and learned how to live on the bear minimums and save tons of cash while my friends rant and rave about their new cars and expensive apartments. I really like what you are doing and hope I can do something and help young and old alike wanting to change for the better.
    cheers, Paul

  30. well, its true but one more thing. life dont end at 30 and there is plenty of time to do a lot of things. have fun.

  31. I agree with you paul, new cars and high rent apartments may keep them happy for now, but 5 years from now they’ll be sorry why they didn’t save money!

  32. you sound pretty smart. you know what your talking about. if you ever need a lesson in ghetto survival maybe we can talk. its always good to know how to escape or prevent a street disaster. inland empire etiquite southern ca

  33. I earn minimum wage and have student loan debt. Does ANYONE here honestly believe I could save 25% of what I earn?

  34. How about 10%? Or 5%? Or even to start paying $5/week towards your debt?

  35. I’m currently paying $44/mo toward the student loans but they are negatively amortizing.

  36. I’m 57 yrs old and think that your article was spot on! Great advice for young folks. Don’t be afraid to take a chance and get started — the earlier the better really.
    We older folks do have a lot of bills and responsibilities, but we also have fun enjoying life — some things are more scaled back than before and some things were out of reach when we were younger. Also we really don’t care about going to NYC to party until 5:00 am — no great loss!
    Carry on.

  37. Thanks for this awesome post! I have been reading your blog regularly, infact your blog is THE only one that i read regularly. I like what you write about and the way you write it. You inspire people and i am one of ‘em. Your articles, call for action, spirit of entrepreneurship made me break the procrastination spell and gain some momentum and finally i started my blog too. Read “My First Post” – its about you.

  38. …….just turned 30…august 5th…but ya know what, i live half way accross the world in nigeria and its no different over here.everything concievable is achieveable these days and i must add that Its never gotten easier than now to lose your money to a young lad sitting in a cyber cafe somewhere in lagos…festac….so remember that part bout losing all your money,its not myth ya know,ramit is in the spirit…its never been easier to just watchit…cheers

  39. Don’t worry so much about losing all your money. Don’t worry about not having the optimal asset allocation. Don’t worry about your friends making more than you. Worry about not getting started.

    This was true in 2006 and all the more so today in 2009. If there was just one message that could be put out to 20 & 30 somethings, you’ve nailed it. The money you save and invest early on is the most valuable money you’ll ever see. Ramit, go you for hammering home this point in such a fun and engaging post!

  40. Brutally true. I’m 24, with a wife and a kid, and believe me, even a side project, much less starting a business is infinitely more difficult.

    I will say that the points about sound finances still apply. While it’s easier, in a more apparent way, to save money when there’s no munchkins running around, you’ll feel the benefit of the Sethi financial automation magic much more. The first step I did, after finding your site last fall, was to set up an ING account and max out how much I could save. Now, we have over 5k in a separate account, and the same amount in regular checking and savings as we did back then.

    The waste is easier to pinpoint when you’re flying solo, but embracing this kind of sound thinking when you’re married will have a more immediate impact, perhaps because couples with kids do have much higher expenses that can be pruned…

  41. Gr8 Post Ramit! Keep them coming :)

    Ankit

  42. I always enjoy reading your posts. This one in particular reminds me of a book called Choice Theory by Glasser.

  43. I’ve recently turned 40 and am reading this post and thinking, yup, didn’t do that when I was younger. Missed out on that. Wish I would have heard that advice 20 years ago. Everything that you’ve written is “spot on.” I hope that all of the twenty-somethings that read this take your advice and make decisions so that they aren’t sitting somewhere 20 years from now, wishing they would have listened.

    That said, I plan on using your advice as well. I may be 40, but it’s now or never and I am in the process of not continuing to make mistakes and live with regrets in the future. I hope that people of all ages will read your post and realize that it will truly never get easier than now, no matter what point you’re at “now.”

  44. this is a useful article, yes, but i don’t appreciate you jabs at 30 year old people, I’m 37, have done many of the things you mention in you article, setup my own company, travel around the world, failed and back to the corporate world, and back to startup mode, life doesn’t end at 30 or at 40, or at 90 it ends when you die, if you pretended to be funny, sorry but it didn’t seem to me that you were.

  45. roberto, you’re obviously a bit self-concious about our age, maybe its time to thicken the skin? lol

  46. You are so right. I have a 1.5 year old lovely daughter… now to pursue other interests is so much harder… but i am trying – by getting a bit earlier and going to bed a bit later than i used to ;)

  47. As always, I’m inspired! Thanks again Ramit! Time to enjoy my youth!

  48. Age doesn’t matter, I’m 46, just starting a couple of businesses, putting away money for my next life phase, for my kids schooling, paying off a house, taking care of in-laws. Who says you can’t have it all, whenever you want it?

  49. 30 y.o. just got out of physical therapy for my knee. Now I’ve gotta worry about incontinence??

    Seriously, great post! I’ve been stalling all week on getting started on a side project. After reading your post I got up from my computer and got to work!

  50. Ramit,
    you’re funny. I’ve made it to 44 years and still going strong thankfully. Arthritis at 30? Where do you get that from? We are as old as we feel.

    In all seriousness what you are saying is what I tell my friends each day, just go have fun and enjoy life.

    I just did a weekend trip to London dude, much less New York. And yes, I was out late partying despite only having about 3 hours sleep on the plane ride over. My blog details my escapades.

    Take action today folks – Ramit has some good tips here.

  51. i should have met you in my 20′s ramit…it really was a lot easier back then! approaching 38 in a few weeks…still, i take much of what you say into consideration.
    cheers.

  52. I’m 55. Things still won’t get any easier with age! (Corollary: you’ll never look any better than you do today. Unless maybe I lose that 10 pounds.)

    Carpe diem. And enjoy your life, starting wherever you are right now.

  53. One great thing that comes with age is caring less about what people think of you. Doesn’t apply to me because I have always been weird that way, but it is easier to ignore the pressures of cool cars, and expensive nights out because as you said, to you young folks we are all dead or incontinent after 30!

    32 next month and proud of it!

  54. Hi Ramit
    Love the post!! You are hilarious and very honest. I am doing some of the things that you talk about. I am randomly living in Munich Germany, spending all my money and working for free as I try to get a work permit (German beaurocracy is katastrophe). I learning a lot about entrepreneurship and meeting cool people from all over the world. And you are right that it is a good idea to talk to random older successful people and hear their stories. They love that. I met my boss in a beer garden asked him a bunch of questions and he offered me a job at his small start-up.

    Unforuntately I must say I did it all for love because I was hoping to get all those commitments and responsibilities like marriage and kids with a German guy I met on vacation. But now I feel better that I can say my reason is to have a crazy adventure when I am 28 and then hopefully go start my own company.
    Vielen Dank!!

  55. I am past the ancient age of 30 and approaching the “older than dirt” age of 40 (how did THAT happen?). I took my little sis to NYC for her college graduation present: she at 22 and me 14 years her senior. While I did not die, partying til 3am in Tribeca was a bit painful. :-) Keep up the good posts! Even us ancient ones can benefit – plus it gives me more ammo to launch at my sister, who is now 25.

  56. you scorn 72 year old men who are working out? jeez…

  57. Ramit, you are hilarious. Thank you for posting this. I am currently in high school and my dream is to get married in my early 20′s. But you are doing a good job at convincing me to have fun before settling down in the same routine.

  58. Kris, please please please do not get married in your early 20s (I’m 28, 4 friends of mine already had a divorce under their belts by 25). Like my mom says, people got married young years ago because life expectancy was 50s-60s….today we regularly live to be in our 90s. You’ve got all your life to be married. Plus, the person you are in your early 20s vs the person you are when you exit your 20s could be a very different person with different goals and ideas about life. just my 2 pence.

  59. Kris, please please please do not let your life be ruled by an arbitrary formula, such as “must not get married until I feel fully actualized as a 31-year old who put off growing up.”

    I’m giving Jefferson a hard time, but I think his/her advice would be better generalized: don’t come up with an artificial goal regarding organic processes. Shoot to get married when you have a healthy relationship with someone you love. Don’t pick an age (20, 30 or otherwise).

    You should, however, apply that mentality to financial decisions.

  60. I like this.

    Idealism (and perhaps egocentrism) that’s in touch with reality.
    Very inspiring!

  61. Thanks! You have managed to change my prespective.