Beating the 1%: Make It So Money Doesn’t Matter

Make your life as independent as possible.

I’m going to be blunt here, you probably aren’t going to be rich.

There is a scrambling, grasping desperation consuming our society; which twistedly accompanies a deep contempt for the ephemeral group evilly considered, “The Top 1%.” In short, we hate them and try to become them all in the same breath.

As for the hate, that’s probably between you and Jesus (or Buddha/ Mohamed/ [insert pious figure of choice here]. But as for the striving, let me lend some insight…

There is a loose concept in economics called the Pareto Principle which I can bastardize here to say, “Most everything that happens comes from places where it’s already happening.” That is, people who are already making money will continue to make more than everybody else.

And if you think you are the exception, you have to realize that if we were all the exception then we would all be equal and nobody would be rich and most of us would be right back where we are coming from [insert deep breath here].

Or, to try and explain using a complicated euphemism: while a rising tide might raise all ships, it also covers the beach…

But there is a better different way:

Let’s say you spend a week in the BWCA on a lake that has 2 miles (10,560 ft) of lakeshore. There is only one campsite on the lake and for most of the week, you don’t see anyone else, except those that are traveling through or day tripping. Now before we continue this narrative, let’s do a back-of-the-envelope calculation to see what it would take to own this lake outright.

A look swims in the middle of Frost Lake in the BWCA.
Frost Lake, BWCA

Assuming this lake was for sale, at $400 per foot for lakeshore property it would cost you $4,224,000 to buy it. Let’s further assume that you don’t have the money upfront so you finance the entire thing at 3% interest for 30 years. All this taken into account yields a monthly payment of $17,809, finally translating to roughly $594 per day. And since we aren’t figuring taxes or insurance, and assuming a low-interest rate, we can assume this is a low-end estimate.

So, if you wanted the same BWCA experience (except you get to OWN the lake) it would theoretically cost you $4,158 for the week. Again, all this is make-believe since there is no such thing as buying a lake for the week.

The overall point is that you won’t pay near this amount for the traditional week-long BWCA experience, even if you rent top of the line equipment and meal packages from an outfitter, your cost will be far, far below what it takes to own this body of water and its surrounding forest.

Annie and Luna lake side in the BWCA.
Round Lake, BWCA

So, why is this so cheap? A few things to remember: 

  1. Our tax dollars finance the preservation of these locations, by pooling public funds we can administer and care for outdoor places. 
  2. Natural systems have the ability to maintain themselves. Trees, animals and the water cycle are pretty much doing their own thing. This is in contrast to buildings, utilities, roads, and equipment. 
  3. Value (like beauty) is in the eye of the beholder. Since you are reading this blog, odds are you like nature. Which is lucky for you since nature is cheap. Take up a sports car hobby, heavy shopping, or a hard drug habit and you will find yourself in a different situation…

In the end, try expanding this concept to other facets of your life; i.e., weigh the options carefully and choose the greatest value. If you need a few ideas consider the following: Clean food vs. doctor visits, cutting back expenses vs. getting a higher paying job, working post-high school vs. jumping into college (and student loans).

Whether you’re in the top 49% or the bottom, you might never make it to the status of elite. So, you might as well figure out how to make your life as independent from the system as possible. 

This post was written by Nick Schmitz, April 2021.

Nick sits in canoe and Luna swims in the water
Subscribe poster

Leave a Reply