Maybe you want to sit back in a lounge chair–on a beach in the Caribbean–reading a novel by your favorite author (with the requisite drink sporting a cocktail umbrella resting on a small table beside you). Or take your kid to the next Olympic games. Perhaps you want to own a luxury car or go on a Manolo Blahnik shopping spree a la Carrie Bradshaw.
You may, instead, want to help build schools in Africa, or visit the small town in Ireland where your grandmother was born.
One of the obstacles that many people face when they think of the life goals that they want to achieve is that they don’t know how they’re going to pay for them. This post is going to set forth three strategies for financing your life goals. The three strategies are the following:
- Think of a problem that you’re having that others share, and find a solution for the problem.
- Think of an alternative to money.
- Flip it.
Each of these strategies is explained below.
Think of a Problem and Solve It
One of the best ways to come up with the money that you need in order to finance your life goals is to identify a problem that you’re having, which others are having as well, and solve it. That’s what Bette Nesmith Graham did.
You’ve probably never heard of Bette Nesmith Graham, but she invented a product that we’ve all used at some point or another. Bette was a divorcee who needed to find a job in order to support herself and her son. She managed to find office work, but she faced a huge obstacle: she wasn’t a very good typist.
Bette came up with the idea of using tempura paint to cover up her typing mistakes. In her kitchen at home, she experimented with different ingredients she could add to the tempura paint in order to better camouflage her typos, and she hit upon a formula that worked. She called the product that she came up with “Mistake Out”.
When other office workers noticed what she was doing, they started buying “Mistake Out” from her. Once Bette saw how well received her product was, she tried selling it to IBM, but they turned her down. She then changed the name to “Liquid Paper” and continued selling it herself. In 1979 the Gillette Corporation bought Liquid Paper for $47.5 million.
Ask yourself the following two questions:
- “What problem am I having that others are having as well?”
- “How can I solve the problem?”
Think of Alternatives to Money
Best selling San Francisco author SARK—Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy—who has sold over 2 million of her books, went through a period of twelve years during which her books were rejected. During those twelve years she was a penniless artist. Therefore, she found ways to get what she wanted without resorting to money: for years, she lived on barter and trade. Here are three examples:
- When she first arrived in San Francisco around 1981 she made a sign reading: “Artist available for dinner” and sat in a chair in the lobby of the St. Francis Hotel. She was invited to dinner and offered a place to stay.
- When she was looking for a place to live she put the following ad in the paper: “Incredible house sitter seeks incredible house.” Three days later, she began house sitting in a four-bedroom mansion on Russian Hill. The job lasted two years.
- Later on, she traded her artwork for rent.
Keep in mind that at the end of the day, for most of your life goals, money is not your ultimate objective. For example, if you want to visit Italy, money is just the means you might be relying on to get there. However, money is not the only means at your disposal.
There are many things you can do to visit Italy, even if you have a limited amount of cash. As an illustration, you can get free accommodations via the CouchSurfing community. In addition, you can get very creative with Frequent Flyer miles, as Steve Kamb explains in this article. You can also follow SARK’s example and look for creative ways to use barter and trade.
“Flipping it” is a creativity technique that involves doing the opposite of the standard, reversing things, and flipping things over. The usual way to pay for a life goal is the following: you save your money until you have the amount that you need in order to achieve your goal. But what if you did things differently?
For example, when Elizabeth Gilbert wanted to travel to India, Italy, and Bali, she didn’t spend months saving up until she could afford the plane ticket. Instead, she pitched a book about her future travels to an agent. She got an advance for the book, and that’s how she paid for her trip. The result was the book “Eat, Pray, Love”.
As another example, Quirky, Inc, is a social networking site for product development. Basically, if you have an idea for a product that you think would be useful to others, you submit your idea to the site. The Quirky community–that is, anyone who creates an account for free at Quirky–offers feedback on your idea in the form of comments. The community decides which ideas will be developed.
Quirky, Inc. has a team of professionals that will get to work on creating a prototype of the products that the community decides will go forward. During the development of the prototype, the Quirky community gets to weigh in on every step of the process: your product’s design, name, packaging, color scheme, and so on. At the end of the day, you lose all rights to the product, but you get a percentage of the sales that are made.
That is, if you have an idea for a product you don’t have to go out and find a way to finance the process from the idea stage to placing the product on store shelves; instead, Quirky, Inc. does all that. Essentially, you’ve placed the burden of financing, product development, and marketing on someone else. And you reap an economic benefit from your product idea.
Instead of following the linear route of setting money aside each month in order to be able to finance an important life goal, ask yourself how you can flip it.
What important life goals do you keep postponing because you’re not sure how you’re going to pay for them? Apply the strategies above and get going on living your best life.
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