Often we see financial freedom as the solution to all our problems, our ultimate happiness. But what happens if you get to the end of the rainbow and find there is no pot of gold there. That’s what me and Ben have had to deal with recently as we have both achieved our own versions of financial freedom.
Hey guys, Ryan here from onproperty.com.au, helping you find positive cash flow property. Welcome back to the final episode in our series on Money Mindset, where I’ve been sitting down with Ben Everingham, the buyer’s agent from Pumped on Property. Hey, Ben, how’s it going?
Ben: Hey Ryan, how are you?
Ryan: We’ve been talking about different things around money mindset. We talked first about our stories and some big ideas that changed the way we thought about money.
We talked about goal setting, some wrong ways that we believe to do it and some right ways that we believe to think about goal setting. We also did how to actually sit down and create a strategy for yourself and your investment properties. And then, we talked about staying motivated after the first purchase because most people gets stuck on that.
How do you stay motivated so you can actually move towards your goal? Now, we want to touch on something that both of us are kind of dealing with at the moment; is what do you do and how do you feel and what’s it like after you’ve achieved your goals?
Ben has achieved financial freedom through his property portfolio. Has a couple of successful businesses. I’ve achieved a pseudo-financial freedom through my business where I could work probably about a day a week and continue to earn enough money to get by.
And so, we wanted to talk about just our experiences in that just so you guys know what could be down the road for you and that it’s not all rainbows and unicorns like we’re led to believe by all the people that are trying to sell us something.
Ben: I just want to add to that as well. When we first started having conversations a while back, my cost of living were a lot less than they are now. If I was to stop working today, my investment properties don’t cover the base cost of my life because I’ve got businesses, I’ve got staff, I’ve got extra expenses that I didn’t have 2, 3, 4 years ago type thing.
I just want to put that out there as well because I don’t want people to think this is some magic bullet and things don’t change as well as you personally grow through things as well.
Ryan: Yeah. But really, at the end of the day, if you had to sell your businesses or get rid of your businesses and downsize, you could probably afford to be financially free through your property portfolio, right?
Ben: Yeah. I’d move my entire family into a 1-bedroom unit in Sydney and just chill out. We might survive.
Ryan: We’re definitely not in a situation where we’re hyper-rich or anything like that. But, I think both of us have just been going through like a turmoil that we’ve kind of experienced. Feeling like we’ve achieved what we set out to achieve, now what? Because the fact is, in my life, thinking about the fact that I achieved what I set out to achieve. I’ve got a stable online business that I’m running.
I don’t need to work in order to earn the income that I earned. I was just talking to my wife yesterday about it and it’s not super exciting. It’s more daunting than anything. Your’e like, “Okay, well, I’ve been working so hard. I’ve been putting in so much effort to get to this point. I’m there. Now, what?” You can’t just switch off and just do nothing. It’s been really hard for me.
We want to share this with you guys so that when you get to this point, which you inevitably will, you can remember this episode and think, “Okay, well, I didn’t have the feeling of glee that I thought I would have.” But, here’s the realism of it.
Have you had a similar experience? Knowing that you had achieved your goals, you’re more like, well, what do I do now?
Ben: Oh, man. When you’re first starting to try and achieve things, I think about it like this. This is where you are and this is where you’d like to be and when that gap is too far apart, you don’t feel congruent and you don’t feel happy in yourself. And then, it’s so weird, when that gap is eliminated, you almost feel just as awkward. I’ll be honest with this thing and I’ve talked to you about this personally a lot.
Both of us are in positions that we probably didn’t expect to be in as a result of a number of different things that we’ve been doing. There’s not just financial stuff, it’s all sorts of positive things going on in both of our lives. Families and stuff like that as well. It is definitely daunting. It feels uncomfortable to be beyond where you pictured yourself to be and life to be and a bit of a different situation than you thought it would be as well.
I’ve been struggling with this so massively and I still don’t have a perfect answer to where I’m trying to go or what I’m trying to do here. Because like yourself, I’m kind of grappling with that and I’ve got more than my basic needs being met right now.
Do you become a person that continues to just strive and you hear those stories of the packers and stuff that never switch off and then tend to they’re never happy. Or, do you go the reverse and just go this is more than enough and focus on contribution and time with the people you care about, which is the reason you actually do all this stuff as well. It’s really weird.
Ryan: But then, it’s so hard to do. I hope we’re not depressing everyone here, people probably listening to us going. Obviously, we have it great. We are very, extremely grateful for the lives that we do have. But, no one talks about this and says that at the end of the road, when you achieve your goals, everyone talks about it and they’re like, “Yeah, your life’s going to be the best life in the world.” But, you get there and you’re still the same person that you were.
You achieved your goals. You kind of don’t even notice that you’ve achieved it. Then you kind of got to re-assess your entire life and to say, “Well, am I happy doing what I’m doing? Do I want to stop work? Do I want to strive, like Ben was saying, towards something else?”
I feel like there is a danger for a lot of people, is that we spend so much of our lives striving for something better. Whether it be keeping up with the Joneses or whether it be trying to achieve our goals, our life becomes this striving. I know that I went through long periods in my marriage where I’d be so focused on my business, I would finish work for the day, but I’d be still thinking about my business. I’d be listening to podcast as I go to sleep. I’d be just thinking about it while my wife is talking to me and I was just like an absent-minded person.
It’s been very, very difficult for me to come away from that and to try and re-discover, “Okay, well, who am I actually? What do I enjoy that’s not business-related? How do I enjoy time with my kids and with my wife again?” Because I’ve been so focused on this striving. It’s so easy to just once you achieve your goal, continue to strive. But, really, for me, it’s been important to actually stop and to say, “Okay, I’m going to stop striving and try and re-discover who I am and be happy with the life that I have.”
Ben: You know, about a month ago, you know how on Facebook or social media, sometimes, it brings up a memory from 4 years ago or something like that? I was looking, this memory came up on my feed and about 4 or 5 years ago now, I ran a marathon with one of my best mates. He was one of the groomsmen at my wedding and we ran this marathon when I was in Queensland, he was in New South Wales for 9 months and we’d talk to each other while we were on our runs and stuff, like really did it together.
And I had this picture on my wall of this guy crossing the finish line to this marathon with is arms out, on his own doing his thing. We got to this marathon and I ran into the stadium at the Melbourne Cricket Ground after the 42.5K or whatever it is with my mate. As we got to that last lap, I can’t even remember physically being there or physically crossing the line. But, about 2 weeks after the marathon, we got this photo and I had my arms up like this running across the line on my own and he had one of my arms holding it up as we were going through it together.
At the time, it meant nothing to me because I was still in the “me” mindset. But, I rung him as soon as I saw the photo and I’m like, “Dude, I can’t believe that 4 or 5 years ago, when we were just little brats trying to do everything, that you were thinking about ‘we’ when I was just thinking about ‘me’.”
It’s kind of where I’m getting to now. It’s really becoming more about contribution and the “why” and the legacy thing, as opposed to just, “Hey, how much money can I make personally?” You know, “How can I maneuver this way or that way to achieve this?” It’s kind of this collective thing. I know both of us just want to help people not make some of the mistakes that we probably personally made ourselves.
Ryan: Something that was really interesting was – like, I’ve achieved my success through my business and my wife was saying to me the other day. This feeling of awkwardness that you have. She’s like, imagine if you spent 20 years building a property portfolio, some business empire or whatever and you then got to that point in 20 years and you realize, hey this won’t make ma happy. I think this is the core message that I want to get across to people, is that often, someone will sell you this idea that you need to be financially free to be happy.
But, when you achieve financial freedom, you won’t necessarily be happy. And so, you need to find that within yourself. That’s really what we want to get across. We don’t want to talk about ourselves in this sort of way. It’s really awkward for both of us. But, we just want to get across to you guys that maybe what your striving for doesn’t exist. It sucks to say that, but the happiness at the end of the road doesn’t necessarily exist. You need to find it within yourself.
For those who have read the 4-hour work week, there’s a story in there about an American guy who goes on holidays down to Mexico or something like that and meets this fisherman and he’s talking to him and he’s like, “What’s your life like?” and the guy’s like, “Oh, you know, I go out in the late morning, catch a couple of fish enough for me and my friends and then I hang out and after the noon, have a sleep and then go and play guitar with my friends at night.” and he was like, “Well, what you should do is you should fish for a bit longer, get more fish and then you can buy these boats, you can start this big business, and then at the end, it’s great because you can sell it.” and he’s like, “Well, what would I do after I sold it?” and he’s like, “Well, then it’s awesome.
You can just go fishing for a couple of hours a day, have a nap in the afternoon and spend the evenings playing guitar with your friends.” and so, I thought that was such a great illustration.
We often strive further than we need to go. We try for this big exit where we have all of this money and we can do whatever we want. But if we actually sat down and say, “Well, what do I actually want?” You can actually achieve it a lot faster. Yeah, I don’t know.
Ben: I 100% agree with you. Because there’s 2 things. One where you and I had a conversation before you started to talk about this and it was kind of like, “If I could sit down with my 20-year-old version of myself.” I did it completely differently to you did and we’ve talked about that before as well. I was really that guy that was just pushing hard. I was always pushing towards my goals.
It wasn’t ever comfortable. I remember my wife, a couple of years ago, after the Wolf of Wallstreet came out, bought me a ticket and a few friends to go see Wolf of Wallstreet talk when he was doing his tour.
He’s like, “What type of personality are you?” The type of personality he identified for me was I’m a bulldozer. I just see a goal and I just force my way into that goal. It’s like, that’s not a very nice way to live. Because firstly, you don’t appreciate the journey and secondly, when you achieve it, it’s kind of like nothingness because you’re already focusing on your next goal.
It’s kind of like what we’re both getting to now; is that living that lifestyle and being super happy on a day-to-day basis and grateful is kind of where it’s at. I’m kind of defaulting back to the person I was when I just enjoyed everything for enjoyment’s sake. As you said before, fully being present when I’m home and not having this craziness always racing through my mind about how am I going to get there faster and what am I trying to do?
Ryan: I think this is something people could do without achieving financial freedom. Rather than just being the bulldozer that’s strives for the goals, find out or decide what your end goal is going to be and find ways to incorporate that into your life already and things that you enjoy.
If it’s time with family, find ways to spend more time with your family without actually changing your current life and you might find out that it’s actually pretty hard to hang out with my family for extended periods of time because it’s a lot of work to take care of little kids or something like that.
I guess, what I’m trying to say is to try and find out early on if the goal that you’re striving for is actually something that makes you happy and something that you want. So if it is time with your family, then, find a way to take a week off work and just spend time with your family at home and decide, do I really want this? Try and get snippets of it within your life so you don’t get 10, 20 years down the track and you’ve achieved something that doesn’t make you happy in the end.
Ben: Definitely. I was speaking to this guy a couple of days ago in one of the strategy sessions and he said that – he was 74 – and had accumulated 10 properties. He owned all 10 properties outright and all 10 properties were giving him $450 a week income.
I was like, “Wow! That’s incredible!” Why have you booked this session with me? He’s like, “Because now that I’m here, now that I’m retired, I’ve got no idea where I’m going from here.” He’s like, “I had this goal all the way through my career.” He didn’t earn anything spectacular, he just consistently did the activity over – he said he was with Energex for 55 years, this guy.
I just stopped talking and just listened to this guy for 45 minutes and I told him in the first minute of the call that I couldn’t him because he was where I saw myself in the future, you know what I mean? I just listened to him and it was just fascinating. 2 years ago, there’s no way I could have sat there and just done that.
I would have been trying to do this with him or try and do that with him or thinking that I knew something that he didn’t. That’s just crazy. It’s not sustainable to be like that and to be so personally focused.
Ryan: Yeah. I think the realization that we’ve come to at the end of all this, and obviously, we’re still very young, is that less focused on “me, me, me” and more focused on how can we add value to people’s lives whether that be through business or through charity or whatever it is.
You can see the TVs behind me if you’re watching. I play this game called Super Smash Brothers Melee, which was released in 2001, and I play it competitively. And that’s one thing that kind of got me out of the business mindset, was being able to put my attention into a super old game. But, in terms of the community and stuff like that, I do a lot for that community in terms of hosting tournaments and events and bringing lots of TVs to events and stuff like that.
I’ve helped in that way and try and help with On Property and try and inspire people and help people that way. I know, Ben, you’re always trying to work with as many people as you can. You offer these free strategy sessions to people without being like a sleezy salesman or anything like that. You’re just like, “I offer this value and if people are interested in working with me, then great. Otherwise, I’m really grateful to have helped those people.”
I think what we have come to the realization is that we care more about other people and how we can help other people than actually me, me, me and where we are today. I think people can take that into their own lives straightaway.
Ben: Yeah. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still super hungry to do things.
Ryan: So it’s a food then.
Ben: I’m actually super hungry too. But, yeah, it’s not like any of that has been lost, it’s just the way that you get from point A to point B. You’re slowly shifting in a positive way, I think, for both of us.
Ryan: I think we’ll close off there. This is a super awkward topic that neither of us really wanted talk about, but we felt like no one was really talking about this on the internet.
We don’t really like talking about our personal circumstances much, especially in a good way. More than happy to share the stuff we do wrong and the mistakes we make, but when we’re try to say like, oh yeah, we do alright, it’s really embarrassing and not something that we really want to do.
The reason that we did this episode, the reason that we talked about this is to hopefully make you realize that there’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You’re not going to achieve financial freedom and automatically have this wave of happiness just flow over you. It’s something that you do need to create for yourself and you do need to find within your own life. And you don’t need to wait for financial freedom in order to get that.
Because I would hate for someone to listen to us and to strive for 10 years to buy X amount of properties and be financially free and then at the end of that 10 years, not be happy with where they are.
I would just encourage people to take a look at where you are. Take a look at the things that make you happy. And try a whole bunch of different things while you’re on this journey and see, “Do I want to spend that much time with my family? Do I actually enjoy golf as much as I think? Yeah, going on holidays is nice, but do I want to do that for an extended period of time or will that just bore the hell out of me?”
Think about your goal and what it is in the future and try and find ways just to test it out in the now and to see, “Okay, will that actually make me happy?”
Is there anything else that you want to leave people with today, Ben?
Ben: No, I think you’ve absolutely nailed it. I feel exactly the same way.
Ryan: Okay. Guys, if you want to check out this entire series on Money Mindset that we’ve talked about, head over to onproperty.com.au/mindset and I’ll put all the episodes up there.
Ben is a buyer’s agent and he does offer free strategy sessions to people looking to grow their property portfolio. So if we haven’t depressed you too much from this episode and you did want to sit down with Ben and say, “Okay, look, here’s where I’m at, here’s where I want to be. Can you help me fill in the gaps as to what is my next step?” You can get access to his offering up his time. You can book a time with him at onproperty.com.au/session.
Thank you, guys, so much for being a part of this series. I really enjoyed talking about something a little different to what we usually talk about, which is specific property stuff. It’s been really great to try and impart this unto you, guys, hopefully motivate you, not depress you too much.
We’ll leave it there today, guys, thanks so much for watching and until next time, stay positive.