A recent post on ProBlogger asked us what we would do if we only had one month left to blog. It’s an effective psychological trick used to reveal priorities and gain focus.
It forced me to reconsider how I would use my time and resources carefully to position an asset (a blog, in this case) to give me the best long-term returns without any future input.
Note that this isn’t the classic “live for one more year” exercise. That often leads to last-wish kinds of answers, like giving away all of our money or making peace with family. In this scenario, the asset has to live on for a long time after we remove our input.
It made me wonder about money and how we could best use this exercise to think about financial priorities. The whole idea bears a remarkable similarity to the concept of creating a truly hands-off passive income stream, what some say is an impossible dream.
A month seemed like too unreasonable of a time period for a realistic approach, but what if we instead asked:
“If you knew you could only spend money for the next year, what would you do?”
After the conclusion of the one-year period, we have to be able to survive, presumably at a fair degree of comfort, for another, say, 50 years. And assuming we’d like our world to continue, we need to think beyond that time period for our kids, their kids, and so on.
Is it doable? How would it change what you buy today and throughout the next 12 months? What would it take not only to survive, but to get what you want out of your own life and the life of the generations that follow?
It’s as much an exercise in preparation as it is priority-setting. Somehow, we have to get ready for what’s coming. What’s the best approach?
Here are a few of the things I would do, considered in the context of a hierarchy of needs:
- Survival is the first priority. I would consider the basics of life: food and shelter. How could we make smart purchases to become more self-sustaining? Can we plant a food garden in the back yard? Could we harvest natural energy from the environment, recycle our trash products, or modify our homes to operate more passively?
- Comforts are not necessary expenses, but they fulfill our desire for pleasure, entertainment, and a certain standard of living. What would we purchase or accumulate over the next year? Would we purchase a larger TV, or spend the money on sports equipment? Would we buy a lamp for the living room, or a 10-year supply of laundry detergent? The choices would be difficult, but I would focus on items that provide long-term benefits and the most “family value.”
- Wastes are different for everyone, but there are many things which we can often eliminate and still maintain the same standard of comfort. These might include excessive drinking, eating out, and similar activities. Without buying power, you’ll either have to stock up on your liquor or find a way to make it yourself! These would be easily to eliminate, especially with the extra motivation of a one-year limit.
With a one-year ticking clock, every purchase decision is suddenly brought into question. And it’s most likely the same question every time: Will we need this and/or will it enhance our life in some way?
I propose to you that it’s the same question we should be asking now, without doomsday looming on the horizon.
Our quality of life will thank us for it.
What are some of the things you’d buy in the next 12 months?
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