🎙 This episode has the power to change your life. Once you learn this, you can’t unlearn it and you’ll be seeing it everywhere. In this episode, I talk about opportunity cost and what that means for your finances. But I also talk about how it reflects what your freedom is worth. The financial choices you make have more than just a financial impact. And I’m not just talking about your carbon footprint. 🤔
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Hey, friends! And welcome back to Girl on FIRE, the financial independence podcast for independent women.
My name is Priya, I’m a Chartered Accountant, an analyst and the creator of Paper Money Co.
I’m also a fierce financial feminist and the host of this podcast. I believe that a woman who is in control of her money, is in control of her life.
This is going to be a quick episode and it’s also going to be a little bit different to what we usually do here. I’m still going to be teaching you stuff you need to know.
But I also want to give you some food for thought. And I mean like decadent chocolate cake because cake is still food.
Because money is always about more than just money. It’s security, it’s living comfortably, it’s freedom, it’s doing the things you love.
And being in control of your money is being in control of your life. I say that at the beginning of every episode, I’ve got it all over my pink website.
And we talk about money every week. We’re still talking about money this week, but what I really want to focus on this week is the part about being in control of your life and how you live it.
Girl on FIRE is about having the financial independence and freedom to live life on your terms.
That’s why so many episodes end with a passionate speech of how I want the freedom to live my life.
We weren’t born to be workers. We weren’t born just to pay the bills and die.
And sometimes, it can be easy to forget that. When we're busy earning money, budgeting money and investing money, it can be easy to forget why we’re taking control of our finances in the first place.
So, what we’re talking about today is opportunity cost. And we’re talking about what it really costs to live the life you want.
And what I really want is for you to listen to this episode. Give it a minute to sink in like a good hydrating serum for your skin. And then I want you to see it everywhere.
I want you to see it everywhere for the rest of your life. No matter what you do, or where your path leads. I want you to remember this.
But before we get started, I want to remind you to head to my website — papermoneyco.com/startinvesting to download your free copy of my Investing Starter guide
It’s totally free, you just need to enter in your email address and I’ll send it straight to your inbox.
It gives you a step by step plan to follow to get your finances ready to start investing, including working with a budget, building an emergency fund and paying off debt.
The sooner you can get your foundation set and get those good money management practices in place, the sooner you can start investing and building your wealth.
If you’re really serious about learning to master your money, then it’s the perfect guide for you, and I’d hate for you to miss out on it.
My online program Financial Mess to Money Success teaches you exactly how to implement those foundational strategies to your own finances. I hold my students’ hands and we work on their finances together.
But it’s not currently open for enrolment, so this is the next best thing.
As always, Girl on FIRE is about learning, so whip out your favourite notebook or journal and get ready to take some notes.
If you’re not into writing things out by hand, you can always find the transcript on my website — papermoneyco.com/gof29.
Okay, let’s dive in!
What is opportunity cost?
First up, what is opportunity cost? Opportunity cost is an economic concept.
And to understand opportunity cost, we need to take a step back and understand another fundamental aspect of modern economies.
Scarcity. Scarcity means that resources are scarce. There isn’t an unlimited supply of resources.
And in terms of economics, resources relates to labour, capital and commodities.
And because resources are scarce, it means that if a resource is being used for one thing, it can’t also be used for something else.
And this is where opportunity cost comes into play. Opportunity cost is the economic version of the idea that saying yes to one thing means saying no to another.
By saying yes to one thing, you’re giving up the opportunity to say yes to something else. That’s why it’s called an opportunity cost.
Because saying yes to something is costing you more than just money or time or energy. It’s also costing you the opportunity for something else
That’s super important, so I’m going to say it again. Saying yes to something is costing you more than just money or time or energy. It’s also costing you the opportunity for something else.
And that’s what this episode is all about. The opportunity to live life on your terms and with the freedom that you deserve.
Think of labour resources. You with your job — that’s a labour resource. You can’t be in two workplaces at the same time doing two different jobs at the same time.
You can have multiple jobs. Maybe you have a second job for the night shift or on weekends, or an after hours side hustle. But you can’t work multiple jobs at the same time.
Your time and energy can only be used in one job at a time. And if you want to work those extra jobs, it’ll cost you more of your time and energy.
Well, the same thing happens with all money in the economy including your money.
Your money can’t multitask. Each dollar can only do one thing at a time. If you want to invest $500, spend $500 and save $500 simultaneously, you need $1,500.
There’s no multiverse version of your bank account here. There aren’t infinite universes with infinite possibilities all occurring at the same time.
And we’re also not hopping around the timeline here either. We’re not talking about saving money now and then spending it in 2 months. We’re talking about what each dollar can do at each moment.
Just like with your time. At this moment you can either listen to a podcast or go to sleep, but you can’t do both. And even if you can get up to 88 miles per hour, you can’t go back in time.
So, opportunity cost is about what you can do with your resources at each point in time, there’s no going back to the future.
At each point in time, each dollar can be saved or spent, but not both. It can be donated or invested, but not both.
Saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else
By saying yes to doing one thing with your resources — your time, your money and your energy — you’re giving up the opportunity to do something else with it.
Saying yes to binging Dynasty on Netflix all night means saying no to a restful nights’ sleep. You can’t do both at the same time. Unless you have a Time Turner, but they were all conveniently destroyed.
Saying yes to eating donuts for lunch means saying no to a healthy lunch. You can’t have your donut and eat it too.
Saying yes to going to university after high school means saying no to entering the workforce and making money as soon as possible.
Saying yes to increasing your earning potential by getting a degree means saying no to partying all night and never studying.
The thing you really have to remember here is that you can’t do multiple things at once — not with your time or your money or your energy.
This isn’t Schrödinger’s Cat. The box is open and the cat ran away. You can’t have two realities at once.
Each dollar can only do one thing at a time. And by saying yes to spending money, you’re saying no to saving it or investing it.
By saying yes to investing money, you’re saying no to spending it, gifting it, donating it or losing it in the couch.
FIRE & investment calculator spreadsheet
But before we move on, I want to ask my Girls on FIRE for a favour. If you’ve listened this far into the episode then you’re probably enjoying it, right?
So, here’s what I’d like you to do next. Pause this episode for a few seconds and head on over to papermoneyco.com/podcastreview.
I want you to leave a rating and review for Girl on FIRE because it helps me provide better content based on what you’re enjoying the most.
It helps other women out in the internet wilderness come and find us as well.
And it’s also a great way to support this show for free, and for that I’d love to send you a little something to say thank you.
If you do that, I’ll send you a copy of my FIRE and investment calculator. Which, if I do say so myself, is pretty damn amazing.
It’s how I plan for my early retirement and my wealth. It shows me how my wealth is going to grow, when I can retire and how long my money will last.
And it also has a separate tab that takes Australia’s superannuation into account as well.
And you can use it to analyse companies and different investment options when you’re picking stocks too.
I’ve never actually seen anything like it before, so it’s pretty special. And I’m currently not offering that spreadsheet anywhere else except on my Patreon.
Not in my shop, not to my email list — it’s a ghost. So, this is kind of a money-can’t-buy type deal.
The only way to get your hot little hands on that spreadsheet is by submitting a rating and a review, taking a screenshot and tagging me in it.
That URL again is papermoneyco.com/podcastreview. I’ve made it nice and easy for you.
I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has already left me a review. I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you’re enjoying and finding value from this little show.
I might actually start doing listener shout outs and reading some of those reviews, because they just make me so happy.
So, go hit pause and do that right now. It’s okay, I’ll wait.
Okay, that concludes my little ad-break, so let’s get back to it.
What does opportunity cost mean when building wealth?
Now, why am I even telling you all this? What is the true purpose of this episode? Why does it matter?
It matters because you need to understand the true impact that your financial decisions have.
If every financial decision means saying no to something, you need to know what you’re saying no to. So, first, let’s look at this in terms of financial impact.
Saying yes to spending $100 means you’re spending those $100 instead of investing them or saving them.
You’re saying yes to spending and no to investing. But you’re not just saying no to investing $100.
You’re also saying no to the returns you’d make on those $100.
Let’s say you’d earn 10% returns per year on your $100 investment. That’s $10 of returns in the first year on a $100 investment.
So, when you say yes to spending that $100, you’re actually saying no to $110 dollars. You’re saying no to the investment but you’re also saying no to the income.
And I’m not telling you this because I’m trying to convince you to stop spending money and invest it instead.
Absolutely not. We’re almost 30 episodes in, you Girls on FIRE know me better than that. I’m not going to tell you what to do with your money or your life.
I’m telling you this because I want you to understand the true cost of the financial choices that you make.
Not just the financial cost but the non-financial cost as well. Let me share a personal example here.
I just bought a bunch of tarot cards. I bought a few different decks in different designs.
Why? Because I’ve always been fascinated with them and their beautiful designs. And how different they can look depending on the artist.
And I’ve always wanted to learn how to read them, especially because they work really well as journaling prompts. No other reason.
Am I investing my money? No. Is that an essential expense that I need to keep myself safe and healthy? Also no.
Is reading those tarot cards going to give me the next hot stonks so that I can make millions by Tuesday? No again.
Do I regret it? Do I feel like I wasted my hard earned money by buying tarot cards instead of doing something quote / unquote “productive” with my money? No and no.
Will Dave Ramsey approve? No. Do I care? Hell no. A big fat no to that one.
More than just financial cost
I spent money because I wanted to. And yes, I know that’s a very privileged place to be in. And I know that my parents worked their tails off to give me that privilege and I work my tail off to keep it.
But the point is that I had to choose what to do with that money. I knew that if I spent that money, I couldn’t invest it. It’s like every dollar stands at a fork in the road.
You can either spend it or you can invest it. And I decided that I wanted to spend it. And I was okay with that.
But here’s the thing I really want you to take away from this episode. Opportunity cost is about more than just money.
And that’s why I wanted to make this episode. We talk a lot about money — about making and growing enough money to live life on your own terms.
So, today I wanted to talk about the cost of being able to live on your terms. And what that really means. Because your time on this Earth is the most finite resource you will ever have.
You can make more money. But you can’t make more time. I think I’ve quoted Howard Stark on this show before but I’ll do it again.
“No amount of money will buy you a second of more time.” And I love that quote because it reminds me to live my life before I run out of time.
It reminds me that my time is more precious than my money. And I think about that quote when I pay for express shipping instead of standard shipping.
I don’t want to wait to play with my new toy. I want to enjoy it now. I’m like a child. I have enough stress and anxiety and responsibility. I just want to have fun sometimes.
I think about that quote when we buy pre-cut frozen vegetables, because who wants to spend their life helping cauliflower pretend to be rice?
I think about that quote when we travel with only carry on luggage because we don’t want to get stuck in the airport waiting for baggage.
I think about that quote when we order groceries online, even if they’re a few dollars more.
So, this episode isn’t about telling you to stop spending and to invest all your money instead.
It’s about helping you understand what your choices cost you. Because your choices often carry more than just a financial cost.
And over time, that will have a huge impact on your wealth, when you can retire and the type of lifestyle you live in retirement. It impacts your ability to live life on your terms.
What you’re saying no to when you say yes to investing
Every time you say yes to investing, you’re building your wealth. You’re growing your portfolio.
But you’re also saying no to working for the rest of your life. You’re saying no to becoming another statistic of a woman spending her retirement in poverty.
You’re saying no to shivering through winters because you can’t afford to turn the heat on.
You’re saying no to relying on whatever measly pension the government will give you in your old age.
You’re saying no to taking public transport after dark even though you feel unsafe because you can’t afford a car.
You’re saying no to your egotistical boss and you’re saying no to selling your precious time on this earth for a paycheck.
You’re saying no to living with illness or injury because you can’t afford medical care.
You’re saying no to letting your dreams gather dust on the shelf while you daydream about all the things you wished you could have done with your life.
You’re saying no to being dependent on partners or children to keep you afloat in your retirement.
You’re saying no to letting your birthday pass by unceremoniously because you didn’t have the money to buy yourself something nice.
You’re saying no to the patriarchal society that we as women were all born into. The one that taught us that we’re worth less than our husbands and brothers because our anatomy is different.
Are your financial decisions worth it?
I didn’t just say yes to buying tarot cards. I also said yes to a new hobby that I could have fun with.
I said yes to learning something new. I said yes to ticking something off my bucket list.
I said yes to taking action today on something I always wanted to do, instead of waiting for someday.
The last thing I want is to be an old lady, close to the end of my life, and realising that I ran out of time.
I want to look back and think that I had a good life. I was happy. It didn’t just pass me by in a flurry of work and stress and paying the bills.
I want to know that I lived my life on my terms, no one else’s. Not my parents’ terms, or my husbands’. And certainly not my employers’.
I want to know that I said yes to the things that made me happy and no to the things that didn’t serve me, whether they’re reasonable to other people or not.
And if that happens to be 5 different decks of tarot cards, then so be it.
And I’m sure you can relate to that. I’m sure there’s something like that in your life.
Something that most others would think is unreasonable but you said yes to it because you wanted to.
Maybe you said yes to a new hobby that seemed frivolous or expensive to someone else.
Or maybe you said yes to a romantic partner that your parents didn’t approve of.
Maybe you said yes to taking on student debt to go to college despite what Dave Ramsey and his parrots say.
I want you to think of those moments in your life, whatever they might be, where you said yes to something when the world around you was telling you to say no.
And I want you to ask yourself this: Was it worth it? Not to your parents or your friends or your partner. Was it worth it to you?
Because that’s really what I want you to learn from this episode. All your choices have consequences. They all have an element of saying yes to one thing and saying no to something else.
They all have a cost. No matter what the choice is, there’s always an opportunity cost.
This is your life. You only get one shot at this. And at the end of the day, it has to be worth it to you.
Next weeks’ episode
And that’s all I have for you Girls on FIRE today!
My challenge for you this week is to think about the cost of your financial choices.
On next weeks’ episode I’m not sure what’s coming up just yet. I said I would have a guest this week, but that episode is still in the pipeline, so next week is going to be like Christmas.
It’s going to be a surprise episode.
But as always, it’s going to be worth the wait so you’re definitely not going to want to miss it.