Money as an Excuse

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Thomas A. Edison

I often find myself using a lack of money or lack of the “proper” equipment as an excuse to be unable to do something.

‘Oh—I’d love to take up leather-working, but I would have to buy all the tools, and leather supplies and have a workspace…’

‘Oh—I’d love to create more music, but first I need a b c d e f g…x y z equipment…’

‘Gee—I’d love to take Seth Godin’s altMBA, but I just can’t afford the tuition right now.’

On and on—mooo. I’m like a cow in a field wishing for a cloudy day. It’s easy to distract yourself so much on what you can’t do right now that you are obvious to all the opportunities in front of you.

Lack of money or other resources can be limiting—for example, it’s difficult to start an online business if you can’t even afford to pay for a Squarespace or Shopify website—but limitations are an opportunity to think outside of the box and find a way around barriers.

Lack of money is an opportunity to think differently and more creatively.

This is a very stoic mindset. If X doesn’t work—what else can you try? What’s a way around this barrier? How can I turn this into an advantage?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #977

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Dumb Purchases

“Buy what thou hast no need of and ere long thou shalt sell thy necessities.”

Benjamin Franklin

I’ve bought a lot of dumb things over my life. Random souvenirs from dives and surf shacks from family beach trips. A hodgepodge of tv shows, movies, books and video games I vaguely if at all remember. 

I didn’t think they were dumb in the moment, but looking back it’s easy to notice how frivolous most things we want are.

But even so, it’s hard to separate what purchases will be worth it or not. Even today, there’s still a lot of things I’d love to buy that are likely dumb purchase. When I say ’dumb things’ I mean any purchase that ultimately wasn’t worth the price or time. Anything that didn’t bring me joy or meaningful experiences. And anything that didn’t provide value or memories over the long run. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things I owned (or still own) that I’m grateful for having. I’m grateful for growing up with Legos and I cherish all the memories I have with creating things or playing with my friends and family. 

I don’t play many video games nowadays (mostly out of lack of time), but there are certain games I played growing up I still think about and appreciate today. For example, the hours and hours playing rock band, final fantasy and a million other games with my cousin Cody during summer breaks. The countless hours and sleepless nights playing Halo with my friends. Or the games like Kingdom Hearts that have impacted who I am. I can think of plenty of examples in every type of purchase, from clothes to music. But I wouldn’t call these dumb purchase.

What’s dumb is all the crap I no longer have, barely used or eventually replaced with something else. I would so much rather have the money now than the random thrill I probably maybe could have got then. (With or without compound interest!)

Clothing and shoes come to mind. I love fashion. And with the right love and care, things can last for quite a long time. Looking good makes you feel good, so who knows how deep that effects the quality of your life. Maybe that new shirt you rocked on your interview did help you land that job. Who’s to say? But clothing wears out. Shoes need to eventually be resoled or replaced. 

I don’t know if I have a resolution to this. I’m not telling you to sell all your clothes and only wear jeans and white Hanes tee’s from now on. But one important thing to notice is how automatic and spontaneous most of our spending is. There’s often no room for thinking or prioritizing. Ohhh! Amazon is having a sale. Immediate purchase. Immediate delivery. (Which is why sales and scarcity are extremely effect sales strategies.)

Even a small delay from clicking complete order could help prevent you from buying something perhaps you don’t need (or something you want, but would rather put that money towards something worth more to you).

One great rule of thumb is to wait a day (or even a week) before buying something you want. 

The key is for us to invest in things that bring us joy and meaning in the long run, not just immediate desires that may fulfill you in fleeting moments.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #887

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The Currency of Knowledge

“Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.”

John Adams

“Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.”

Peter Drucker

Money isn’t the only thing that gets you far in life. Although an important component of any entrepreneurial or creative endeavor, you could argue money is the least important resource. (Blasphemy!)

Not to say that money is easier to come by — it takes a lot of work and skill to create money. But there’s no limit to how much you can make (There might be false limits or mental limits that cap you, but technically, if you think about it, you can make as little or as much as you want.)

Time, energy and knowledge, however, are more finite. There’s only so much time and energy we have to give. By the time you’re old enough to read and understand this, you’ve already given decades of your time and energy.

Knowledge has limits as well. There’s only so much we can fit in our brains at once, and the amount of knowledge we can obtain is in sync with our time, energy and finances. Knowledge also ‘has a half-life’. Some things are tried-and-true, but most of what we know will likely be irrelevant a decade or so from now. Real knowledge is the principles and patterns beneath a skill that allow you to learn and relearn to your curious heart’s content.

If you are in school or have a full-time job like me, there are only a precious few hours we have to give.

But here’s the things: knowledge is a powerful currency that we (who are lucky enough) have access too. Knowledge is free. Yes, there’s paywalls and cliques and a dozen other obstacles and distractions (which I’ll get to in a second), but our interconnected lives have leveled the playing field. There are truck-loads of knowledge out there online. A few ads later and you can watch how to build a business on YouTube. Through podcasting and TED talks, you can listen to conversations with the smartest people on the planet. We are all a few clicks away from learning anything we ever wanted to learn.

Knowledge is a powerful currency that levels the playing field.

And that’s me only thinking about individuals. When we create connections with likeminded people and/or build teams dedicated to building something purposeful, our knowledge currency multiples.

But. (And this is a doozie.)

In order to cultivate more knowledge, we have to stay focused and put away our distractions as much as we can. There’s a lot of people out there who are highly skilled at a lot of things that don’t add up too much. Not that being highly skilled is what life’s all about. (Some of the best things in life can’t be created by achieving.) But the question is, are your distractions owning your life?

You have the power to learn anything.

Now you just have to put in the time.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #863

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Your Net-worth is not your Self-Worth

Money is not something we typically talk about here in America. 
Well, that’s not necessarily true. If you’re making a lot of I­t­, people talk, sing, rap, and boast about I­t­. Some do I­t­ in a humble way, saying if I️ can do this, you can too. Others subtly show off their wealth with their cars and gadgets. But if you’re struggling to make ends meet, no one talks. It’s like a silence that hangs over the room, but most aren’t willing to stare the problem in the face. Most of us take our problems to the grave. You hope that maybe if you ignore I­t­, the problem will go away.

But of course, ignorance only makes the problem worse. 

Last year I️ went through a pretty rough patch with my finances. I’ve written a couple blog posts about my experiences, talking about how I­t­ was one of the best worst experiences of my life. I️ found myself unable to save or invest. I️ slept on a coach for 10 months to make I­t­ work. And as frustrating as I­t­ was, I­t­ was also an eye-opener. This kind of setback showed me a lot about myself, some good, some bad.

Setbacks teach you a lot about who you are and what you can handle. They can also show you incorrect ways your thinking and areas you need to improve.

I­t­ also showed me that my self-worth had become my net-worth.

Anytime my bank account went below a certain threshold, my attitude, energy levels, confidence, and happiness would plummet. And when I️ got paid, the heavy feeling of low self-worth would go away. 

I️’d trained my self-awareness enough to watch I­t­ happen, time and time again, yet felt powerless to control I­t­. I­t­ felt like there was so much abundance happening around me and online — but not for me.

All I️ wanted was to pursue mastery and create, but my sorry state of finances were telling me I️ wasn’t good enough. How can you help others when you can’t even help yourself?

I­t­ took me a while, but the answer came in three parts:

1. Believe things will work out for the better

Every time my bank account was low, money unexpectedly found its way to me. I️ didn’t have as much as I️ wanted, but I️ had just enough of what I️ needed. I­t­ was as if God (insert your own beliefs here) was showing me that things work out for the better when you believe and act as though they will. I­t­ was a powerful lesson for me about how needs gravitate towards you when you ask for them.

2. Let go of the expectations of what I️ think should happen

Doesn’t I­t­ always seem like the more you try the less effective you become? The more you try to beat your head against a problem, the more confused you become. It’s like digging a hole with a fork: you can do I­t­, but it’s going to take a while. Only when you let go of trying to control everything, the answer presents itself. The more I️ tried to control my situation, the less control I️ had over I­t­. By letting go of my expectations, I️ opened myself up to real opportunities to make a difference.

3. Share the story.

-Who doesn’t love rags to riches stories? They ­ motivates us and show us what’s possible. If she can do I­t­, so can I️. It’s okay to not have things figured out. In fact, no one has everything figured out. What you have is a unique story to tell that could change the lives of people facing their own setbacks and failures. Hiding your story out of embarrassment or fear is preventing you from making an impactful change in others. Share your story. Show your battle scars.

Your Net-worth is not your Self-Worth

Have you ever been to a grocery store and your card declines?

Ughh been there. It’s an embarrassing feeling. But you shouldn’t kick yourself when you’re down because you don’t have enough, you should be kicking yourself into action because you didn’t have the self-awareness of knowing whether or not you had enough for groceries.

If you find the number in your bank account is directly linked to how you happy you are and how much you love/hate yourself, it’s time to make a change.

How much money you have — or how much you lack — doesn’t define you. 

Self-worth comes from deeper things than money. We gain strength from staying true to our character, and putting happiness and wisdom over wealth.

There’s something to be said that the happiest places in the world are the poorest. That being said, money can enhance your passions and reach. Money isn’t evil, it’s what’s you do with I­t­. Do you control I­t­, or does I­t­ control you?

When you’re net-worth is your self-worth, everything you do revolves around wanting more. More stacks, more stuff, bigger stuff. And even small financial bumps in the road turns your hair grey. You’re always worried too. Worried its not enough. Worried you’ll lose everything. It’s a very unhappy way of living.

How do we decouple net-worth from self-worth?

To be honest, I’m still working on this.

One way I’ve found helpful is practicing poverty.

Practice poverty.

How would you live on $5 today? 

It’s easy to lose track of the abundance around us. Practicing poverty is a great way to keep things in perspective. Sleep in a outside in a tent. Eat beans. Go to work on your bike. 

Practicing poverty is something icons have done throughout history. Benjamin Franklin, Seneca… The more we can practice poverty, the less beholden we can be to our stuff and standards.

Practicing poverty also gives you superpowers. I­t­ turns you into a more capable, resilient person by showing you I­t­ doesn’t take much to survive today. If you can live off oatmeal for a week and sleep on a yoga mat, not much can phase you. If this is all I have to worry about, they taking risks to pursue creativity and mastery doesn’t seem that risky anymore.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

IG: @Renaissance.Life

Related Insights

“Money and success don’t change people; they merely amplify what is already there.” — Will Smith

“Self-worth comes from one thing – thinking that you are worthy.” — Wayne Dyer

“Let your dreams outgrow the shoes of your expectations.” — Ryunosuke Satoro

Happy Money :) — Life Principle #17

Like it or not, money (like health) affects every aspect of our lives.

But what is money anyway? It’s not the paper in your wallet, the digits in your bank account, nor the stacked gold bars locked away in Fort Knox.

Money is an idea.

 Money is information.

Money is the quintessential form of knowledge. I might not know how to create a website or make a cheesecake, but I can pay someone who does. Then, they can use that money as a way to buy shoes or pay for your car. We can use money as the medium to exchange earning into insights, and insights into earnings.

Money is exchange power.

When you have money you can reach more people. You don’t need money to reach people, a great story or skillset can do that all on its own. However, money does amplify your exchange power.  With it, you can travel around the world, open many closed doors, and (even more importantly to me,) create freedom of Time. For many of us, even the idea of asking for a day off at work sounds impossible. That’s what happy money gives you — flexibility and freedom.

Money is leverage.

When you have it, you can leverage others to support what you do, and rally behind your cause (for good and for ill) 

Life Principle #17: Create Happy Money. 🙂

The best place to start with happy money is on the opposite end:

Unhappy Money.

On the spectrum from homeless to Jeff Bezos, there are all sort of money problems we may have to deal with. When you have no money, it’s hard to think about creativity or even dream big because it’s impossible not to focus on the immediate issues. Anyone who has been through some rocky periods (meltdowns) like me with their finances will understand this firsthand. It’s hard to think about the longterm when you’re short term is screwed up and punching you in the face.

When you’re making some money, one problem is what to do with it? How do you use it effectively towards building a money machine? How do you save, invest, give and spend it wisely?

The closer we get to our money working for us instead of us working for our money, the happier our money will be.

Being born into money has just as many problems and potential landmines. Sure you don’t have to worry about your next meal, but you do the weight of your family’s money looming over you, casting a shadow
My family isn’t wealthy, but I’ve observed friends whose families are wealthy.  One problem is there’s the parent, the kids and the money. Their money is like it’s own living thing itself, and can either teach the kids how to be great with money or turn them into silver spoons.

When you’ve created something magical and or help a lot of people, you may be making it rain. Now everyone in their uncle wants you to give them your money. Actually, /no/. They don’t just want, they expect you to buy them stuff to fix their lives. What you earn suddenly becomes a communal giving spree. And if you’re wealthy you may end up surround people who love your money and tolerate you. Surrounded by yes men, you don’t know who you can trust. You also worry about losing it. It’s hard for a broke joke to lose $1000, It’s soul crush for a wealthy individual to lose a million (or worse). 

The worse part about unhappy money is spending it when you don’t have it or can’t afford it. From my experiences, using credit to spend money on things you can’t afford is one of the biggest stressors we can face in life.

It’s not that credit is bad, in some ways, it can be really beneficially. It’s the fact that credit + unaffordable lifestyle equals misery. The worst thing we can do is to go into debt to someone else. It chips away at our security and confidence. Slavery still exists around the world. If you owe someone money, you are a slave to that debt. 

Seeking money by itself is not enough. Money alone defaults to unhappy money. But when we turn our minds to pursuing happy money and focusing on the good that we can do with it, our financial lives (and beyond) will start to shine!

Here’s what I’ve learned about happy money so far (this list isn’t exhaustive, only what I’ve learned so far):

Happy Money

Happy Money is a Tool and Resource.

We must invest in ourselves. Use money as a tool to gain valuable skills and insights. Create a learning fund. Don’t regret buying books, courses, and experience that improve your life.  A pile of money at the end of our lives doesn’t really amount to much. It’s not about how much we have, it’s what we do with it.

Happy Money is a Mindset.

How much we make reflects the mindset we have about ourselves. The belief we have in ourselves directly effects how much we make. If we constantly talk down to ourselves and believe we not worth much, we’re going to sell ourselves short. However, if we do the opposite and believe that we are capable of earning more and learning what we need to in order to make more, we will.

Happy Money is a Tape Measure.

Money is the result of helping others and doing great work. The more you can impact others lives, the happier your money will be. When people lose sight of this and pursue wealth for the sake of wealth, they lose their ability to make happy money and create a meaningful life out of it. They literally and figuratively become a sellout. Happy money is a tape measure for how much good we put out into the world. The more you give the more happiness you will receive. 

Happy Money is Net-Positive.

 If you have debt, work on getting rid of it as soon as you can. Peace of mind is having money that’s net-positive. The closer we get to zero, or go past zero, the more anxious, worried and self-centered we become. 

Happy Money is a Lifestyle. 

Wealth isn’t built in a day. Happy money is a habit. The more your days reflect positive financial habits, the greater your wealth will be in the future. Take care of the essentials (food, shelter etc) and focus on making money a lifestyle. Your future self will thank you for it.

Happy Money is Compounded.

The more we can use time and compound interest to our advantage, the better our longterm will be. A penny saved today is a dollar tomorrow. Make time an ally and start figuring out how you can save, invest and use the incredible power of compound interest.

Happy Money is a Reflection of Your Values.

There will always be ways for us to cut corners or scam our way into more money. The money we make that hinders people is not happy money — its dirty money. Money reflects our values and our values reflect our happiness and wellbeing.

The more we focus on helping others find happiness and meaning (,whatever that looks like for them) the happier we (and our money) will be.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” — Henry David Thoreau

“Time is more value than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” — Jim Rohn

Money is not the only answer, but it makes a difference.” — Barack Obama

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” —  Henry Ford

How to Become Your Best Self

At the age of 25, Jim Rohn was down on his luck without a penny in his pocket. (Hmm… sounds familiar…) He was a hard worker, went to work early and stayed late. But no matter how hard he worked, he was still a broke joke. He didn’t know it at the time, but he was focusing his efforts on the wrong things. His life began to change when his mentor guided him with the phrase, “Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job”. The Art of Exceptional Living

By striving for your best-self, you are living within the boundaries of the question, “How can I become more valuable?”

Life isn’t about what you do for money. I can become a great barista, (I’ll be the guy who can paint butterflies in lattes) but that shouldn’t completely define me as a person. If you think it does, you need to consider that maybe (just maybe) you are bigger than your job.

You are multifaceted and complex being.
Being a barista is part of who you have decided to be. If that doesn’t resonate with you anymore, perhaps its time to try something else.

And if you want to do and be multiple things — you’re allowed. Despite what society tells you. You can pursue all that you love, not all at once, but you are capable of stepping into something new (for work or fun) at any moment in your life. Colleges were originally created to make well-rounded citizens. The Renaissance Life is about enabling others to be all they can be and creating a community around pursuing life and mastery.

Life is about all the things that you do that make you into who you are. 
Just as Aristotle said so long ago, “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

When you focus your time and energy improving yourself, you are creating your best-self life.

No one will improve you for you. You have to do that yourself.
I can show you how to play an instrument, but you are the one who has to pick it up and practice.

For the next odd sum of days, I’m going to be posting about the principles of living a Renaissance Life. To stay up to when the next post goes out, sign up for the newsletter here.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Related Insights

“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” — Jim Rohn

“Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins.” — Jim Rohn

“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” — Jim Rohn


I’m Taking a Learning Vacation — You Should Too

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”  — Walt Disney

Jan 18th

I could feel the stress flowing down my back,

like a waterfall too powerful to sit under without breaking you eventually.

I was zapped, emotionally and physically. And doing my damnedest to not tear up because of my current set of obstacles. 

There’s was a physical heaviness weighing down my mind. Pessimistic thoughts were attacking me at all angles. It took all of my effort to not let the negative thoughts take control of the driver’s seat, but their barrage was paralyzing me. When things get bad, my mind cops by going numbI refuse to let it.

The difficultly of finding new clients and work, plus the lack of physical energy to do so and the pain of an old injury was doing a number on me. A one, two, three knockout of setbacks that were feeding each other.

I didn’t want ‘tired, broke, and empty’ to be the title of my autobiography.

Something has to change!, I screamed within.

Jan 19th

My mind is more clear than it’s been for months.

I’m not making enough, but that shouldn’t stop me from creating and pursuing what’s important to me.

I’m still tired, but I feel good.

My neck hurts, but I can help it by moving more.

Why the sudden change? What gives Josh?!


I’ve decided to focus on the possibilities and benefits of my setbacks, instead of dwelling on the downsides.

I’ve decided to choose health first.

I’ve decided to take a learning vacation.

And I’ve the liberty of taking a vacation from myself. I’m free.

I’ve let myself out of the cage that I helped build.

Because believe it or not, I was holding the key.

Just as you might be with your own cage.

Often times, the only thing holding you back from opportunity is yourself.

We get in our own way.

Q: How are you holding yourself back?

FEAR of Failure? ha no problem. I’m on vacation, you can’t scare me.

Feeling Stressed? not anymore. Vacation baby!

Feeling Stuck? you’ve got plenty of time to unstuck yourself now!


Okay okay, sure — I’m basically tricking myself — I’m still working. Still looking for clients. Still connecting, writing, design and a bucket-load of other things.

But my mindset has completely changed.

I’m looking up instead of looking down.

I’m not looking at the problems, I’m looking around them.

The only thing that’s changed is my perspective.

I’m still doing the work. I’m not slothing around. I’m not just doing whatever the wind tells me. But there’s a massive difference in my mindset.

Now that I’m out of my own way, I can do what I do, but better and more effectively.


My Learning Vacation Itinerary

  • Hone my design & developer skills.
  • Mastery the Art of the Interviewing for my podcasts.
  • Redesign      (Jan 28th: check!)
  • Start a Mastermind circle organization: Avants.
  • Learn about money, selling, online business
  • Find new clients, and have fun doing it.
  • Connect with interesting people in my city (Chattanooga) and online. Be a part of something bigger


Set sail on the S. S. Learning Vacation. Are you on board?

Tell me what you think in the comments below

related wisdom

Life is not waiting for the storm to pass, its dancing in the rain.

— Vivian Greene

You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.

— Michelle Obama

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