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“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” – Benjamin Franklin
It’s typically the flashy new ideas that garner most of our attention in our current information-saturated age. The wisdom laid down by our predecessors is often buried under strata of clickbait*, memes, and “disruptive” concepts that are meant to turn our world on its head but rarely do.
One piece of wisdom is the quote above, which appears in Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanack”. Franklin first published the Almanack in 1732 and published new editions for the next 25 years. Franklin rose from a modest background and died with a net worth of approximately $43.5 million. Along with his impact on history, this is plenty of reason to heed his advice.
Taken at face value, this advice can be broken down to mean “go to bed early, get up early, and it’ll do you good”. I do, in fact, follow this advice by going to bed at 10pm and waking up at 4:30 or 5:00 am every weekday. I find that this practice is essential for several reasons:
1) I have quality time to myself that is otherwise non-existent as a husband and father of a toddler (along with a 60 hour+ work week)
2) I can get to the gym while it is least crowded and nobody needs my attention
3) Waking up early builds and maintains discipline
4) It forces you to more consciously manage your time
However, this is not about the myriad of reasons you should wake-up early. The focus is on the “healthy, wealthy, and wise” part of the quote that has left an impact on me. Wise, to me, is not memorizing a bunch of pithy proverbs or a wall full of degrees but rather learning new skills and becoming more useful, self-sufficient, and learning how to learn.
Every decision I make is run through a filter. Will it lead to greater health? Will it make me more wealthy? Will this make me wiser? This is best illustrated in the Venn diagram below:
Not only do I strive to make decisions that are individually accretive to my health, wealth, or wisdom, I try to “maximize the synergies”. I don’t want a decision to be healthy but cost me wisdom or wealth. Ideally, a decision is something that adds to all three categories. Though achieving all three at once is difficult (anything worth your time is), I frequently make it at least a “two-fer”. Running your seemingly banal and boring everyday decisions through this filter is extremely useful. If a decision does not contribute to any of those three categories, the obvious answer is to not take that course of action.
Aside from my goal to FIRE (financial independent, retire early), I’ve also got high expectations of myself in terms of my physical fitness. While I can no longer spend two hours a day lifting weights like I did in college, I’m actually now stronger than when I was 22. This has come from learning over time what works and what doesn’t work for my body.
Most people who have attempted to get into shape or are maintaining a state of fitness are well-acquainted with protein shakes. Most are made of whey, some are made of casein or egg protein, and others have more exotic ingredients. Almost all of them taste mediocre at best. All of them are overpriced, which directly conflicts with your goal to become wealthy. How do you remedy this?
First, let’s look at what my pre-FIRE shake looked like and how much it cost:
Please note here that I typically include two servings of protein per shake (beefcake!). At two shakes per day (4 servings total), my shake habit was setting me back $1,343.70 per year. My Money Multiple tells me that this costs future me $10,480.87.
I have been working out consistently (and downing shakes) for 18 years, which is more than half my life. I’m not going to do the math there because I’m having a good day today. The coconut oil is added because I’m following a ketogenic diet (high fat, moderate to high protein, low carb), and the creatine is added because it is one of the few supplements actually shown to help with muscle gains and strength.
Now, how does my protein shake look like now that I’m on the path to FIRE?
One thing that is immediately obvious is that this shake has two additional ingredients, stevia and cocoa powder. I added both because the protein alone is very bland tasting. However, this step is optional if you want to save even more money. Also, notice that I purchased the whey isolate protein in bulk: 44 pounds or 20 kilograms! This is an entire year’s worth of protein, but costs about one cent per gram. Most protein is around three to four cents per gram. With Amazon Prime, the shipping was free. This particular protein also happens to be 90% protein by weight, as opposed to leading brands having an average of 80% protein, at best. Many companies load their powders with fillers and sugar, which I have no use for.
Another thing that pops out about my new shake formulation is that it is almost exactly half the cost of my previous protein shakes. I never would have thought to create my own shake by buying ingredients in bulk prior to getting on the path to FIRE. My new shake costs me $674.02 per year, or $5,257.33 according to my Money Multiple.
But wait, you say, you should be saving that money and investing it? I disagree. Each shake costs me $0.92. How much does lunch cost you? Even cooking at home is likely to be more expensive than this simple shake. Because I have specific nutritional requirements, this is the most cost-efficient (and time efficient) way for me to get the right ratio of nutrients. Rice and beans won’t cut it for me because carbs are the devil.
How do these protein shakes relate to the Venn diagram above? By nourishing my body, they make me healthier. By consciously saving on the cost, I’m becoming wealthier. By learning to break the traditional mold of buying pre-made shakes in 5 lb tubs every month, I’m learning to be more self-sufficient and resourceful (wise). For me, this is an example that meets where all three factors converge.
What are some examples of changes that you’ve made in your life that fit the characteristics above? What are some of your favorite FIRE life hacks? Share the knowledge and wealth!
*Yes, that is a clickbait-y title. The irony is not lost on me.