Contemplating Seneca #85: Not Caught Off Guard

This week I started listening to the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast #1470 with Elon Musk. One of the first topics discussed is why Elon Musk is selling all his houses. What was his answer? Target vector. Huh? Apparently his houses increase his chances of being targeted by the outside. All his wealth, and he is looking at it as a burden. His plan for the future is to rent his lodgings.

As I listened to this I was reminded of Thomas J. Stanley’s The Millionaire Next Door. According to the book, the average millionaire is not the guy with all the flashy possessions. Instead, it is the guy who lives modestly and doesn’t spend his money on everything that catches his fancy. I read this book in my thirties, and it was a slap in the face of my twenties. Back then, I wasted all kinds of money on the wrong things. I was all show with no real financial substance to back it up.

There was another thing I was reminded of as I listened to Elon Musk’s interview. Check out these words from Seneca:

Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: “Is this the condition that I feared?”…If you would not have a man flinch when the crisis comes, train him before it comes. – Letter #18: On Festivals and Fasting

Practice poverty. Practice living below your means. Do this and if Fortune deals the dreadful blow, you will not face anything that you have not previously endured.  As Seneca says later in the same letter, “Let us practice our strokes on the “dummy”; let us become intimate with poverty, so that Fortune may not catch us off our guard.” Many of us have dealt with the hard times before. Hopefully, all of us have recovered from those times or are actively in the recovery process. The process has made us more resilient. But let us not forget that the hard times can come again. Wouldn’t it be better to prepare now?

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