The original $100

You ready for the backstory?  Here it comes.

*spoiler alert* there are some feelings

This story of how I came by the original hundred dollars is, on one level, short and not that interesting. (In a nutshell, I sold something I owned and didn’t need anymore. Quick, call a publisher!) However, what it is in reality is a small part of a larger story. The thing I sold led me down a path of thought, reflection, actions and realisations that provided the inspiration to kick this whole thing off.

So here it is: I made the original $100 by selling a tent that I had had hanging around for years but hadn’t used very much.  In fact, I worked out that in 12 years I had stayed in it a total of two times. It had cost me about £80 back in Scotland in 2007, so by now each night in it had cost me about the same as a night in a basic hotel room. For the record, it was an amazing, super tech, lightweight little hiking tent. It was beautiful and I loved it for what it was, but I just didn’t need it anymore.

At the same time I was coming to some early-middle-aged realisations. At nearly 36, I found I was no longer interested in a super light, gnarly camping tent that I couldn’t sit up in and had to basically limbo dance out of. Frankly, I’m too old for that shit. I also have a couple of young children and no family babysitting network in the country I live in, so the chances of getting away for hikes during which I could even pitch it were slim to none.

So having come to terms with that I got rid of it, and began looking for its replacement; researching tents that could accommodate my son and I and eventually my daughter too. Ideally something comfy and spacious that I could pitch by myself quickly because, as any parent knows, pitching a tent with two under 5s on the loose can be pretty hectic.

Then something happened which made me reconsider what I was doing.

My wife interjected as I was explaining to her the merits of various different tent models I’d found online, and she gently reminded me that, in fact, we already have a huge and excellent 10 man tent in the shed, and that Charlie my eldest would very soon be old enough to help me pitch it. (It is all but impossible for one adult to pitch, and that’s why I’d written it off as an option for camping trips with Dad)

And I think that this is where the first realisation hit me. My plan at this point was to take $100 that I had just made and, essentially, piss it away on something I didn’t need, and worse, pretty much already had.

I reflected on why I have spent my adult life feeling, for want of a better word, poor. I considered that I’ve never had a long period of unemployment, I figure I’m not a total idiot, and I know I work hard. I have a degree. I have references. I have skills. I have all this stuff that should, in my mind, add up to “success”, and though I’m not 100% sure what success means, I like to think that at a very basic level in the system we’re in it means having some money in the bank.

I did some quick sums and concluded that, though I’m in no way rich, I’m certainly not poor. It would be utterly misleading of me to say so. What is true, however, is that I am simply TERRIBLE with money. Just appalling, to be honest. Whenever I’ve had it in my life, I’ve spent it, and I’ve also made some really bad decisions with store and credit cards. And I’ve spent it all on what?!?! When I break it down, not that much, really. I don’t have a lot to show for over 20 years earning. In the last few years in particular, on paydays after I have given my wife what we’ve agreed on  for mortgage, bills etc., (Have I mentioned yet that she’s the smart one?) I’m then left with what I like to think of as my pocket money, my spending money. And guess what? It’s always spent. Long gone before the next pay arrives. And on what?

Honestly? It’s spent on stuff. I like stuff. Stuff I’m convinced I need but then I don’t get the use of and eventually get rid of, making a gradual and constant loss over time. The rest of it goes on a combo of food and drink and good times, pretty much. (DISCLAIMER! I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all or that I’m going to live or advocate the tee-total hermit life or anything.)

I was starting to think, could there be a different way? Could I learn to make money work for me? Can anyone? Can you truly start with a little and turn it into a lot? I am here to find out.

So I’m trying to change the way I understand money, and the value I put on my own time. I’ve only ever made money by equating an hourly rate to the skills the industry I happen to be in thinks I have. As well as trying to learn about business and the basics of buying, selling and investing, I’m trying to change the habit of a lifetime: pissing every last cent of my money away. The money I make from this project is not for spending on nothing; it’s exclusively for growing and reinvesting in the original $100.

To sum up, let me go back to where we started here – the tent. Instead of blowing my $100 on another one, I’m trying to make that money grow so that ultimately, my kids will be better supported in the future; so that they can follow my example and grow up with a healthier respect for money and where it comes from than I had. (But don’t for a second think that we’ll be missing out on camping trips along the way!) I also hope that as part of the journey we can enjoy exciting things that I’ve always wanted, which will be probably be temporarily ours as I continue to buy and sell and reinvest. I’ll be writing a wish list of items I’d like to buy and sell in the future, but you can guarantee that it will involve caravans, camper vans, convertibles and jet skis!

I know that might sound stupid, but a big part of this journey will be enjoying things along the way with the people I love most, because they are the real reason behind all of this, and everything I do.

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