I was at my book club a couple of weeks ago, and someone said something that stuck out to me and gave me some perspective. Or at least made me step outside my PF blogger persona and really try to understand how people who aren’t worried about/obsessed with money think.
Our book discussion started to focus around the topic of “keeping up with the Joneses” and what can or should make a person happy. I mentioned that I read personal finance blogs, and described what some of the trends are surrounding PF blogs (retiring early by saving and investing rather than succumbing to lifestyle inflation), and I mentioned that some bloggers state specifically that despite all that they are doing to pay down debt, tithing is still a line item (such as 10% of their income) in their budgets. (This is all kind of rambly, but I do promise that it made sense at the time in the context of the discussion!)
One of the book club members said, “Wow, people actually get that specific about their finances?” or something similar. And I thought back to about 10 years ago and realized that I too was not that specific about my finances. But something changed over the years.
Now, I know a little bit about this woman, but I don’t presume to know much about her finances. I know that she was able to quit working full-time to stay home with her kids, so she must have figured out their finances enough to know that her husband’s job could support that change in lifestyle. I also know that she has a part-time gig that is directly related to one of her favorite hobbies, but I get the sense that it’s more for her to get out of the house than to support the family. Perhaps she hasn’t had to worry about living paycheck to paycheck – or maybe she has. In any case, budgeting down to percentages is not something that she feels is necessary. Huh. That’s what normal people are like.
Whenever I feel a little discouraged about our finances (seems like other people in the personal finance blogging world got started a lot sooner being smarter about debt and saving), I try to remind myself that at least I am working hard at being aware of our debt problems and thinking ahead to being comfortable in retirement. My friend probably has a more comfortable financial situation than I do (though you know about books and covers), but I’m still glad to know that I have enough of a budget and awareness of our finances that I know where our money is going. Not judging – pointing out the difference between the kind of people who read personal finance blogs and/or blog about the topic (or perhaps just obsess about money, the way I did before I started blogging), and people who don’t use a budget or track their finances.
Pondering all of that reminded me that while I may be behind, I’m not aiming for Early Retirement (which is a thing, as you probably know). If I had started earlier, perhaps…. but I have a pretty simple financial goal.
My goal isn’t to have more money than I know what to do with. (Let’s face it, I’m pretty sure I’d always know what I could do with any money I have.) Just because I blog about money doesn’t mean I’m crazy, right?
My goal is to simply not have to worry about money.
- To have enough in retirement that I don’t have to worry about living hand-to-mouth when I’m 90.
- To have enough in the bank so that – heaven forbid – if there’s an emergency, we don’t have to put everything on the credit cards.
- To have enough to help my daughter pay for college.
- To not owe anyone any money.
- To not have to choose between buying certain kinds of insurance and paying down debt/saving for an emergency fund (or to not have to choose in general).
- To be able to give to charities – in both time and money.
To get to the point where we don’t have to worry about money, I think I need to be focused on our finances. Even if that is a little unusual out in the real world.
I don’t think the above goals are crazy things to desire. I also think we can get there. It’s hard to imagine being able to pay off all of our student loans while also putting money away into retirement and saving money… but it’s also hard to imagine not having enough money or being a burden on our daughter when we’re too old to work or make money anymore.
So, like my motto says… Keep going!
Thanks for reading!