The Most Important Thing You Can Afford Is Patience

To live your "dream life" optimize your finances not for retirement, real estate, or rhinoplasty but to afford oodles of patience. 


Living the Dream?

“No offense, Chris, but how can you afford to bounce between Cape Town and Vancouver, have two kids, and play beach volleyball in the middle of a Tuesday?”

Many people who’ve gotten to know me have asked me this.

Unfortunately, the answer is not that The Zag is more successful than it looks. I didn’t marry Mrs. Moneymaker, either. And we don’t have a secret OnlyFans. 

Here’s Kim and my combined net income over the past few years:

  • $49k in 2022 
  • $61k in 2021
  • $66k in 2020. 

We earn about half of Canada’s median income for working couples. 

If you were to tell my 10-years-younger self about his future, he would take a shot of Panamanian seco, shed a tear, and shake his head while staring off into the horizon, wondering where it all went wrong. He thought he/I/we had useful talents. I still believe I do. But my tax returns indicate otherwise. 

So how do I afford my lifestyle?

Credit cards!

Nah. Pretty much the opposite, actually. The reason I’ve been able to suck at making money for a decade and counting is that I’ve carefully planned my finances to be able to afford something other than retirement, a bigger home, or education for my kids (sorry, guys). 

Something necessary for anyone who didn’t luck into finding their calling from day one. 

Something many older people regret not having had enough of. 

Something overlooked.

Something boring. 


Warren Buffett famously said, “Nobody wants to get rich slow.” The same seems to apply to getting a rich life. Who knows, maybe you’ll luck out and get both!

Worth Pausing On

Maybe these quotes on patience will motivate you to keep reading work toward affording some for yourself.

There’s no rush to get started early on a never-ending task

Moxie Marlinspike’s Career Advice

No road is long with good company.

Turkish proverb I found in The Good Life

“In a world geared for hurry, the capacity to resist the urge to hurry—to allow things to take the time they take—is a way to gain purchase on the world, to do the work that counts, and to derive satisfaction from the doing itself, instead of deferring all your fulfillment to the future.”

Oliver Burkeman, Four Thousand Weeks

“Chances are it will take longer than you want it to—and that when the time arrives, you’ll be astonished at how quick it seemed.”

Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge

“Be not afraid of gong slowly; be afraid only of standing still.”

Chinese Proverb

“You should take your 10-year life plan and ask: Why can’t I do this in six months?”

Peter Thiel

“Impatience with action, patience with results.”

Naval Ravikant
Chris working on computer on his about page.

How Can I Afford to Write to You Today?

If not for the following unsexy six afforders of patience, I wouldn’t be around to type these words to you.

1. Squirreling

First and foremost, my savings from my corporate career. By the time I pretired in 2013, I had managed to squirrel away around $250,000. 

For reasons we won’t get into today, I was unusually fortunate to have been able to save so much so quickly. Even so, I could have—should have—had much more. Had I put my paycheques into index funds rather than bank accounts, my savings would have been worth about double.

[PSA: Get your cash working for you! It’s not that complicated or risky. Read Millionaire Teacher if you’re scared.]

2. Letting Others Make Money For Me 

I only finally got around entrusting my money to businesses run by people who are way better than me at making money (i.e, investing), in December 2013. Since then, the S&P 500 has gone up nearly three-fold. Somehow, my savings have grown even faster than that. 

3. Horseshoes Covered in Four-Leaf Clovers Up My Butt

(Way better than having sticks up there.)

Thank you, um… Ahura Mazda?

4. Staying Liquid

If I’d invested in a Vancouver apartment instead of the market, my net worth would have ballooned, too. My blood pressure, too, probably.

I would have felt tons of pressure to earn enough to pay my mortgage, taxes, maintenance, and whatever. I wouldn’t have felt the freedom to zag around wherever and whenever while experimenting with slow-to-grow businesses like blogs.

5. Not Worrying About the Worst

If all goes to hell for me, I’m confident that with the talents I’ve honed and the skills I’m developing, I’ll be able to land a good enough job to allow me to save up for more patience. 

And if all goes to hell for the whole world, I’ll be glad I enjoyed my time until then. 

5. I’m Cheap Efficient at Spending

As much as I suck at making money, I excel at not wasting it

Here’s our monthly family spending since 2020:

Chris' family's monthly spending breakdown.

Ten years of living on little income has taught me what’s worth spending on and what isn’t. While we don’t spend a lot by North American standards, I believe our quality of living is much higher than average. 

All together this adds up to my answer to the above question: 

Even in the face of inflating expenses, my paltry income cushioned by steadily growing savings can afford my family many more years’ worth of patience.

Patience For What?

Patience does not mean twiddling my thumbs (on a screen, probably), waiting for the divine Flip-Flop to descend from the heavens and tell me what to do with my life. 

I wouldn’t mind if that happened but in the meantime I’m using my precious patience to bumble and bushwack my way in search of what I’m capable of without feeling so rushed I can’t enjoy myself along the way. 

Next post, I’ll get more into this. I hope you can afford to wait until then!

Meanwhile, here’s something to ask yourself:

How much patience can you afford? And what can you do to afford more of it? 

Please share this with your favorite cousin who works too hard or spends their money on stupid sh*t that costs them patience. Or share it with your least favorite cousin if you think this whole affording patience concept is dumb. 

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👋 I'm Chris. Everything you read on is my fault. This site is like a gym for your comfort zone, full of challenges to make your status quo sexier. Join my 'Consider This' newsletter for a fun new challenge every 10 days. Try it!

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The Zag shares my adventures off of the boring beaten paths of life and ideas for finding your own unfollowable path.