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Everybody has an innate “why.” There’s always a reason we do things, even if that reason is stupid. Since leaving college and striking out into the real world, my “why” has been constant. I have specific financial goals. Those, along with the rest of my values, drive me in everything I do.
My Financial Goals
Everyone craves financial stability, and I’m no different. While I learned how to write a check in 4th grade and got a checking account in high school, I didn’t pay attention to my financial life until college. During my college years I started using Mint, and used it all the way through August 2016, when I switched to YNAB and experienced true visibility into my finances.That switch let me think more broadly about my financial goals in life, especially when adding a spouse to the mix! 😉 My husband and I are working on these goals together because they’re joint goals.
Building Our Own Dream House
My parents built the house I grew up in. Ever since I was a child, I’ve always known that I wanted to do the same—design a house perfect for me (and my family) and built exactly how we want it.
Tim and I have spent hours browsing Pinterest together, looking at home blueprints, kitchen designs, bathroom layouts, decoration ideas, and pretty much everything that exists when you search for “home ideas” on that amazing time suck of the internet. We have a running list of things we want or don’t want in our home. Here’s a taste:
- One story, no basement. I don’t want to deal with stairs.
- At least a 4-bedroom. Master, 2 offices, and 1 guest or bonus room. Tim wants a theater! 😍
- Stove with glass-panel burners. Every apartment we’ve rented has the annoying coil burners with the drip pans, and they get soooooo dirty.
- In a location close to great hiking, skiing, and a body of water (lake or river).
Our list(s) are much longer than just those four, but you get the idea.
Building our own home will cost a lot of money. The trick for us is to find a piece of land big enough that we can have some privacy from neighbors and cheap enough that it won’t put us in debt for years.
We’d like to pay for as much of it with cash as possible, which means 1) saving, 2) investing, and 3) tickling those multiple streams of income into rivers.
Vacations When and Where We Want
I love traveling. Tim loves traveling with me. I’ve been a few more places than him (okay, a lot) and I want to share not only the places I’ve been with him but also new places together.
The list includes many European countries like Spain, Greece, Italy, and Germany. I’d also love to visit Israel—though I’d want to get better with Hebrew before that! Iceland is another dream destination, and we want to hit a few states we’ve never been to, like Alaska. I’d also like to visit Australia and New Zealand as an adult.
The financial piece of this is obvious again: traveling costs money! We’re reducing the cost somewhat with credit card points and miles (I paid $0 for 4 adult tickets to London for an upcoming trip) and strategically planning to keep the actual spend relatively low.
The crowning financial goal of my life, though, is achieving financial independence. This has grown into what’s called the “FIRE movement”, where FIRE stands for “Financial Independence; Retire Early.” I’m not necessarily interested in the “retire early” part, at least not by some FIRE standards. But financial independence means we live off our investments and don’t depend on a separate entity to provide a paycheck.
Probably the most well-known FIRE person on the internet is Peter Adeney, who owns and runs Mr. Money Mustache. He retired at age 30 before he and his wife had children. They’re the ultimate example of FIRE living, and readers of his blog know that he’s got strong opinions on FIRE and encourages everyone to pursue it relentlessly.
A big benefit for us in pursuing this goal is that we’re childfree—meaning that the average cost of raising a child from birth to 18, $233,610—is going into investments, savings, and building the life we want to live.
What Drives Me
Those are the “whats.” The “whys” are more important. Behind every “what you do” is a “why you do it.” This is true even for the mistakes we make and the stupid shit we do. But it’s more important to identify the “whys” behind your biggest goals and plans in life, because those things should remain constant and drive almost everything you do—not just that single goal.
Thirst for Freedom
I already live in the freest country on Earth, but this thirst is for a different sort of freedom. The freedom to do what we want, when we want to, without worrying about cost, time, or what others think.
My husband couldn’t care less what other people think of him, but my top fear archetype is “people pleaser.” This means I need to fight with my nature of pleasing others so I can craft a life where I don’t want to please anyone except God and my husband.
I know what bad health does to long-term satisfaction. People who are chronically unhealthy go through life feeling terrible, which affects mental health, life expectancy, and mindset.
Staying healthy doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. Healthy food lifestyle choices, at least in the beginning, look like they’re more expensive. But in the long term, if you’re spending on unhealthy food you’re paying more in healthcare costs down the line. I’d rather spend higher dollars on my low-carb foods now than waste thousands of dollars dealing with a health crisis caused by the standard American diet.
Making a Difference
I’m lucky and grateful that my company is generous enough with paid time off that I can dedicate a full week every year to volunteering at Panther Camp. Opportunities like this are another reason I pursue financial independence. What if I want to take two weeks, perhaps unpaid, to take part in advocacy events or join the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition?
Unpaid time off is only scary if you don’t have other means to fill that “pay gap.”
Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it gives us the mental freedom to pursue the things that make us happy; the things that fulfill us on a deeper level: making a difference in the world.
Giving is the highest level of wealth. Even if you don’t have much to give, giving something freely brings happiness and wealth back to you in return.
I’d love to donate thousands of dollars every year to the causes, missions, and projects I care about:
- My church
- Type 1 Diabetes advocacy, with Panther Camp at the top of the list
- Animal rescues, focusing on pit bulls and boxers
- Crowdfunding projects on Kickstarter
- Donating points & miles (and money) for students to go home for the holidays when they can’t afford it
That’s just a taste of the philanthropy that means something to me. Without the stability to afford it, these financial goals are just dreams.