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Home » Lifestyle Finance, Personal Asides, Personal Motivation

The Active Chaser vs. the Passive Spectator

Last updated by on July 22, 2014

Most of us want financial success, yet surprisingly few are successful at it. Why? What is the the defining characteristic of those who achieve financial success?

If there’s one thing I have learned over the years about personal finance, it’s that being in a position of financial strength rarely passively falls in to your lap.

Sure, there’s the occasional 1-in-50 million lottery winner or the increasingly rare inheritance benefactor (birth lottery winners), but 99% of us are going to have to actively chase financial success.

We gotta hustle and earn it.

Yet – most take a passive spectator approach to the things that impact their finances:

  • they pursue another’s career agenda for them
  • they pursue the easy job of least resistance
  • they accept the salary they are offered
  • they don’t show their worth and hope for occasional merit or longevity raises
  • they buy things they could easily make
  • they don’t optimize their budget
  • they are completely dependent on others and outsource projects versus learning to DIY
  • they save whatever is left over from their spending
  • they stay in the same job way too long
  • they don’t pursue side income or self-employment
  • they don’t put their savings to work for them
  • they retire at the standard retirement age because that is when you’re supposed to

Active chasers take a different approach:

  • financial successthey set their own career agenda
  • they challenge themselves to find better, more challenging, more rewarding, higher paying jobs
  • they actively negotiate their salary
  • they calculate and show their worth and use it to push for raises and promotions
  • they make things they could easily buy
  • they relentlessly optimize their budget
  • they in-source projects through learning to DIY
  • they set aggressive personal savings rate targets and cut the fat to get there
  • they leave jobs when they get too comfortable and boring
  • they embrace entrepreneurial opportunities
  • they put their savings to work for them
  • they retire when they want

It’s OK to be passive from time-to-time – we all are. And even if you consistently check all of the passive bullets above you could still be a mighty fine person and live a very fulfilling life.

However, if financial success is your goal, the more you can develop the qualities of an active chaser, the more likely you will achieve it. I’d also argue that the more active chaser qualities you develop, the more success you will have in other areas of your life as well: job fulfillment, health, fitness, hobbies, relationships, community involvement, education, etc.

Chase wisely, my friends.

About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • Tom says:

    The picture looks like a ninja!

  • Warren says:

    Of the items on the list, to retire at a certain age based upon the norm is the hardest to recover from and often the most fatal to one’s income. It is the hardest to recover from because it permanently sets the social security rate and other retirement income rates. It is probably the most fatal because just a four year earlier difference can cut the payments by almost a quarter.

    Have a job that you enjoy. 40 hours work a week enjoying what you do is a lot cheaper than going on vacation to get 40 hours enjoying what you do.

  • Warren says:

    A lot of financial considerations for retirement are too easily picked as good or bad, but most are really better or worse than other options in specific circumstances.

    Suppose you cook at home instead of going out and take the five dollars that was saved and put it under the mattress. Despite the loss in value due to inflation, you still have more at retirement than if you had spent the five dollars. The same goes for deciding to put in an extra hour of overtime when you don’t have to.

    There was a time when a significant number of people planned retirement savings like this: Buy a house, only the size you need, with a thirty year mortgage. Raise your kids and send them to college. All the while putting every extra dollar into paying off the mortgage early. With the kids on their own and no mortgage, the last twenty years before retirement would easily allow saving enough to retire.

    Another technique used by small business owners was to never rent but instead own the land and building containing the business. Selling the business and building and land at retirement funded much of the retirement. Years ago there were quite a few drive in movies. They were built on the outskirts of town where land was cheaper. So someone might have 1/40 of a square mile of land. As the town/city grew the land became more valuable and by retirement time could have a value well over a million dollars. Some of today’s self storage places have been created with the business plan calling for the later value of the property as the main profit consideration.


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