Defense

I had the most interesting conversation a couple of weeks ago with this guy named David. In excruciating detail, David was telling me about where he chose to have dinner on a recent trip he took in Texas. Since he was in Texas, he wanted to eat a nice steak, but didn’t want to spend too much money on it. He described it to me as somewhere cheaper than Houston’s but better than Outback. He knew the exact dollar amount he wanted to spend ($30) and found a restaurant suitable to his needs. On his drive there, he passed by a Waffle House and on a whim, decided to eat there instead. David excitedly told me about his greasy but delicious dinner at the Waffle House and how little it cost him. The price of his dinner was only $8 plus a $3 tip, or “the cost of just one side at the steak house” David described.

I only found this somewhat long and incredibly price oriented story interesting because of who David was. David was the founder and CEO of the company that originally hired me at my current job. The company was sold earlier this year and at the time of sale, had roughly 55 full time employees. David started the company about 10 years ago and organically grew it to produce an annual revenue of roughly $10 million. David also has an MD from Harvard, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is worth millions.

So why is a millionaire talking to me about his $8 meal?

I had no idea. When he finished, I said to him. “This is incredible. At where you are in your life, the way you talk about money is almost the exact same way I talk about money.”

His reply was “Yea, I have good defense.”

This was a reference to The Millionaire Next Door, a book that he had recommended to me last year. Defense refers to the ability to retain money, while offense refers to the ability to obtain money. While I knew that David had great offense, I was utterly amazed by his defense. To have the self control that he has at his stage in life was very impressive. I was reminded of how important saving money was, even for someone worth as much as David.

For most people, whenever their income rises, their expenses rise just as fast (or faster). Usually when people get bonuses and raises, they talk about how they’re going to blow it, not how they’re going to save it. Because, let’s be honest, blowing money is pretty sexy and saving money is very boring. However if you keep letting your defense suffer every time you up your offense, where will that leave you in the long run? The next time you get a pay bump, think about David and think about what a true millionaire next door would do. Then act accordingly.

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