Books we love: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big – Scott Adams

One of the books that had a really big impact on me was a book by the cartoonist behind Dilbert – Scott Adams.

The book basically goes through his various failures, how he overcame them and ended up being wildly successful.

Along the way he espouses a few principles that are particularly relevant for those of us seeking to become financially independent.  The one that resonated the most with me is that…

…one should have a system instead of a goal. The system-versus-goals model can be applied to most human endeavors. In the world of dieting, losing twenty pounds is a goal, but eating right is a system. In the exercise realm, running a marathon in under four hours is a goal, but exercising daily is a system. In business, making a million dollars is a goal, but being a serial entrepreneur is a system.

In FI terms saving more than you spend is a system.  Trying to save a specific figure is a goal.  Both have value but the system results in long-term habits that consistently move you forward.

For our purposes, let’s agree that goals are a reach-it-and-be-done situation, whereas a system is something you do on a regular basis with a reasonable expectation that doing so will get you to a better place in your life. Systems have no deadlines, and on any given day you probably can’t tell if they’re moving you in the right direction. My proposition is that if you study people who succeed, you will see that most of them follow systems, not goals…

For me, this book was really valuable as it reinforced the importance of mindset. I’m not naturally frugal and have had to work at it.  However, being frugal has become a system in my life and now I get a buzz every time I choose not to waste money.

“Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous pre-success failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do. The goals people are fighting the feeling of discouragement at each turn. The systems people are feeling good every time they apply their system. That’s a big difference in terms of maintaining your personal energy in the right direction.”

Definitely worth a read.  Try your local library!

Millionaire Habits

I read this post from Budgets Are Sexy recently and I thought the habits of millionaires that were outlined applied to us Kiwis as well.

8% shopped at Goodwill stores

I just bought 2 nice jackets at the Dove hospice shop.

20% used coupons

I use coupons when I can find them.  Especially if I’m buying stuff online – I always do an online search for discount codes for the retailer.

64% said they lived in a modest, middle-class home

Hmm, I live with my in-laws in a very big house.  Think I fail on this one.

28% mowed their own lawns to save money

Yep, don’t pay anyone to mow my lawn and don’t think I ever will.

44% only purchased used cars

I’ve never bought a new car in my life although my last car was only 3 months old – I still got close to 20% off the sticker price so I was happy.

19% managed their investments themselves – they do not use financial advisors in order to save money


60% said they were frugal with their money


I’m definitely improving on this one.  My wife has always been super frugal and I’ve been the spender but now it is very rare that I will buy something that I don’t need.

81% used credit cards that offered reward dollars — this way they could get something for free

I definitely do this.  I look with envy at the US credit card hackers as we have very few opportunities for travel hacking etc. in NZ.

And lastly, 41% spent less than $3,000 on their annual vacation

I’m not sure about this one.  Is it per person?  Then I’m ok.  If it is for the whole family then I probably spend more.

How about you folks?