Whole Life Magazine

August/September 2012

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Page 28 of 51

Career Benefits of success track 've earned a lot of money in my life, but I've never had an extravagant lifestyle. I don't own a house. I've never bought a new car. I've never bought a new piece of living room furniture and I don't own a single piece of expensive jewelry. What I have spent money on was always intended to help me with my career. That was so I know that I can always earn money doing something I love. I leased a BMW when it was clear that cars mattered for making deals in LA. I hired a stylist when I realized my clothes were holding me back. I have tons of household help so my kids don't have a crazy schedule because of my work schedule. But I'm convinced that frugality is a key quality for a successful career. Here is why: Spending money is generally a distraction. We know this. That people use it as therapy, or to fill holes they perceive in their lives. But the psychic energy it takes to spend money actually distracts us from what matters to us. PayPal reports that people say they wish their significant other would spend less money on Valentine's Day. Enough said. Spending money is a vehicle for overcommitting. The people who do best in a bad economy are those who are flexible about the types of jobs they can take and the types of careers they can move into, according to Philip Oreopoulos, professor of economics at University of Toronto. This flexibility is specifically limited if you lease an expensive car, buy a house, run up credit card debt, or sign-up for a grad school program that demands three to five years to even get started in a given career, whether or not it's going to pan out for you in the long run. Spending money limits possibilities. If you invest in an expensive bicycle because you're planning to Frugality I How you use your resources has a direct effect on success do triathlons, you limit your ability to take off more time from work to actually train for the triathlon. In most cases, renting a house is better for you than buying one. If you buy a house, you cannot easily downsize, you cannot as easily relocate, and you end up limiting your earning power. Entrepreneurship is a safety net if you're frugal in your home life. Traditional careers today are un- stable, and while companies formerly provided safety nets for their employees, these days we have to create our own safety nets. The best way to do that is with entrepreneurship. But starting your own business is nearly impossible if you have high income requirements. Startups usually don't provide high incomes at the beginning. My friends who spend a lot more money than I do, the ones who have nice houses, take elabo- rate vacations and would not be caught dead in the clothes I wear to work, would say there's a compromise, that you don't need to invest everything in your career. They believe you don't need to give up all the luxury comforts of life, you can still have a good situation with both. For people who want to follow their passion, that strategy doesn't always work. Maybe it's my obsessive nature—I'm willing to make extreme tradeoffs. Becoming an expert takes a singular, daily focus, and I think I have that. But in order to do it, I have given up a lot. And I'm passionate about what I do, so even when I become more successful, it's hard to imagine I'll want to have less focus. Being an expert in something requires not just a spending frugality, it's a focus frugality. It's the recognition that spending money is actually a distraction from the passion at hand, so the less you spend, the less you're distracted. The good news is that works both ways: The less you're distracted, the less you spend. August/September 2012 29 —Penelope Trunk

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