26 July 2022

Recipes for Financial Freedom & 고추 두부 | Sailor's Log No. 22.07J04

What is a recipe beyond a list of equipment with instructions? If a recipe (along with some practice, or what I like to deem the “doing of a thing”) is all that’s needed to, theoretically, create some thing or complete some goal, then why do people seemingly refuse to follow the recipe toward wealth? Or is it that everyone—literally everyone—has been misinformed, misguided, misled? What then is the recipe for Financial-Freedom/Wealth-Generation?

That’s a question that most people refuse to answer, in my experience. And the reason, in my experience, why most people do not answer the question is because they simply do not know the answer. Unless you know someone who is truly wealthy, truly financially free (and no, the Kardashian/Jenner Klan is not financially free, remember this), truly raking in more money than they can spend, then why would you take anyone’s advice on how to become truly wealthy, truly financially free, truly raking in more money than you can spend? It’s pointless to listen to someone who is NOT rich about how to GET rich. Ya hear? 

My point is that I’ve been given a recipe or two over the course of my life, thus far, and for the most part, I’ve lucked out that the lists of equipment/instructions that I’ve been given have mostly worked out. The frustrating part is that I’ve actually received very few recipes from my parents. They’ve essentially taught me very little beyond what’s required to “enter the kingdom of heaven,” etc. And so, I’ve found it difficult to acquire recipes toward Financial-Freedom/Wealth-Generation, etc. 

I did, however, receive a starter recipe for Financial Freedom about ten years ago that my bodybuddy/lifemate and I have been using and following for some time now, about ten years, and so far, it works. The recipe, in fact, is more of a Prelude or the foundation upon which the recipe for Financial Freedom may be built, because every person is in a different economic reality, in a different environment with vastly different life-experiences, thus, the personal financial recipe that we've created for ourselves could have only been created after our relentless pursuit to accomplish the Prelude recipe over the past decade. And honestly, it is so simple that it’s not really much of a recipe at all. It is, nevertheless, the only thing that a person needs to know, accept and then DO in order to reach even the slightest semblance of a possibility toward true Wealth.

And the Recipe for Financial Freedom is as follows:

  1. Spend less money than you make from your job. 

You know, it’s the same kind of recipe that underlies physical health: eat real food and move your body, and yet, the willing are so few. The problem with this recipe is that it is only the first step before you can even start the real steps toward Financial Freedom. If you cannot do this one simple thing—first and foremost—you will never be truly wealthy, truly free. Sure, someone can win the lottery, inherit money, etc., but that’s not wealth generation. Wealth generation, in my book, is creating a personal financial strategy that then frees you from being someone else’s Exploitee, which then frees you to create a professional financial strategy in the form of a business, i.e. entrepreneurship. For it is only through the Vehicles of Capitalism—a business—that true wealth may be generated within a system of Capitalism. Are you starting to get it?  

Back in 2010, my bodybuddy/lifemate and I started our first joint venture (he had directed/produced a feature-length film in college, and I had had many-a small businesses as a young entrepreneurially-minded child) called Twigim. It was, in its idealized glory, supposed to be a build-your-own eggroll fusion food truck/mobile media center. We had this vision to sell concessions out of the truck, while the truck itself also projected “film as art”-type productions around the city of Denver. We never realized this full iteration because the first iteration of the business taught us enough to know that we did not want to actually do this with our time.

The first (and only) iteration of Twigim was a food stall with an Asian-fusion eggroll menu (1 for $3 or 2 for $5 back in the summer of 2011) at our local farmers market, the Old South Pearl Street Farmers Market. We set up our tent every Sunday after prepping food at our local commissary kitchen all day Saturday after working full-time temp jobs Monday thru Friday. Twigim never would have made us enough money to quit our jobs, nor would it have made us rich. These were two facts based off of the sheer time it takes to run a small business like this that made us realize we did not want to build this type of Vehicle. For adults, the payout for the hours worked in a business like this is not worth the time traded to make it happen. Thus, this is the type of business that most high schoolers should create and operate. It’s easy enough, because, for a high schooler, the time spent would be worth it because they don’t need to make the kinds of profits an adult needs to make in order to fund their adult lives. 

Thus, by the time a person enters college, s/he/they ought to be able to run a business (get started here!) that now requires less time from them but brings in more cash. In this idyllic scenario, this particular high schooler may never have to work for someone, be someone’s Exploitee. Instead, this particular high schooler would enter the adult world as an employer, a boss, the next generation of millionaires. 

And so, we learned a lot from our summers working our little Twigim stand. And then we learned the hard truth as we began to rise through the entrepreneurial ranks by learning how to become real estate investors. During our real estate investing journey, we learned that we were broke-ass poor, and this was at a time when I was making about $50K/year (in 2012). We not only learned that we were poor. We also learned that because we are poor we really have only one option toward wealth generation, and that option was wrangling in our own finances, lowering our expenses, and paying off consumer debt. Honestly, the entire process required us to overhaul our entire life, and so we did. We were young and agile, so we did it. We ditched all of our worldly possessions (selling my car covered all of our consumer credit debt, but we are both still encumbered by student loan parasites), packed five suitcases, and moved to South Korea, where we taught ourselves what money is and how to manage it.

In reality, the entire process took about three years to really get the hang of before we felt truly comfortable with the new process. By 2016 we were humming along and taking the first vacation—of many to come—that was wholly financed in cash that could be spent outright, guilt-free. It was an awesome feeling, and we’ve continued to chase that feeling ever since. In 2018, we flew our first international flight in Premium Economy. 

Today (after a grueling history of trying and trying again and again), we are at a point in our personal financial strategy where we both only work part-time jobs (three nights/week) doing menial labor stocking shelves as overnight crew for a national grocery retailer, jobs that we both entered at minimum wage, jobs that have also given us incredible insight with which to write a report on livable wages in these United States, which will hopefully progress me toward my longer-term goal of one day being a presidential cabinet member, etc. In short, we tightened our expenses down so tight that we can comfortably afford our current lifestyle with income at the level of poverty and nothing more, and we live in the most expensive “luxury” (and I use quotes, because if you know, then you know) apartment building in our city (granted, the city in which we live is not exactly the hottest spot in these United States, but it was named the best city in the country not too long ago, so there’s that), so there’s that. The other four days of the week we spend running our company(s), ideas, and plans. We are finally so close to liftoff, i.e. no longer being exploited by anyone but ourselves, that I can finally taste it. And honestly, it tastes good. Delicious, really.

But the sad reality is that what we’ve discovered by living on a dual income of about $30K/year is that this is not a livable wage for a single adult. Sure, they could live in a not-expensive apartment, but they would not be able to own a car, and they would have to work six days a week. We’ve given up a car for the “luxury” of our apartment, because we do not think that individuals should “own” cars, and we work from home more than we work a job (1.2 miles away from our front door), and so, the comfort of our living situation vastly outweighs the need for private transportation. We each bought bikes in early 2020 (mine for $100 new, his for $60 used), and the mediocre, read bad, public transportation here is free due to circumstances that are related to the state's public transit relationship to this city, etc. 

Nevertheless, our rocket ship took about a decade to build. So, there’s also that if you’re over thirty and just now reading this, realizing that I speak the truth, and thusly, want to follow the recipe.    

I understand that I am speaking to a privileged group of consumers who are employed, housed, and flush with disposable income. To be making more than enough money to survive in this country (anything over $4K/month as a single adult) and to still be in debt, bouncing on zero, or living paycheck to paycheck is the fault of the spender. You are not a victim of systemic poverty, nor are you a victim of anything other than your own ignorance. This is why I degrade you and call you stupid, because to be making so much money in a country of such great wealth and to be a willing economic slave in this situation means that you’re the idiot. On the other hand, to suffer in systemic poverty does not mean that you’re an idiot, instead, it means that the country in which you’re systemically poor does not care about you as a full human with fully human needs. It’s a different tragedy of a whole other kind. And so, obviously, I am not speaking to those who are trapped within systemic poverty, because, to be trapped within a system of poverty means that the entire system needs to be overhauled, and that’s a light that will never illuminate the end of this United Statesian Capitalist Tunnel. Sorry, truly sorry.

But those of you who are simply living beyond your means, I have zero sympathy. You’ve dug your own debt grave trying to “keep up” with whoever seems to have the most. And this “seemingly rich” sorta spending is one that I will never be able to wrap my mind around. Why?, why in all of Ladybug’s good greenness would anyone, anyone, want to “seem rich” as opposed to actually BEING RICH? I will never understand this. Because to “seem rich” one must spend all of their money on things that “signal wealth” (remember, the Kardashian/Jenner Klan?), but what the truly wealthy understand is that in order to BE WEALTHY, you must HAVE MONEY, and so, if you spend all of your money, you will not have that money. Duh. (And no, I’m not speaking about the kind of debt/credit that business and companies need, i.e. capitalism,  in order to thrive, this is not about that.) When you trade your money for some stupid-ass thing, say, a TV, then that means you now have a TV, instead of money. Duh. Good luck paying your bills with that TV. But the even more heinous crime is that most of yuhs spend money you DO NOT HAVE on this shit, digging yourself into consumer debt, the worst, most god-awful kind of debt there is, because it’s the kind of debt that nobody needs. It’s a trap, a prison of your own making. 

Ugh ... the tedium.

Thus, I’ve included the recipe to the lunch that I make and consume in the video that used to accompany this post but that’s totally unrelated to the content of this writing. 

Until next time:

고추 두부 (Gochu Tofu) a Recipe

  • tofu

  • soy sauce

  • gochujang

  • vinegar (rice, white, apple cider, etc.)

  • sugar (white or brown)

  • diced onion

  • minced garlic

In a bowl, mix ½ C soy sauce + ¼ C gochujang + ⅛ C vinegar + 2 T sugar, then add ½ C diced onion and as much or little garlic as desired; chunk about a pound of tofu into one-inch cubes; marinate in sauce overnight in fridge; next day, over medium heat, dump tofu and marinade into pan; sizzle over medium-high heat for about ten minutes, or until the sauce is sticky as opposed to liquid. Enjoy with fresh rice or whatever you find to be delicious. Probably also delicious cooled/cold on a salad.