When Ms. Blue Ribbon and I were married we quickly fell into the American
Dream Trap. We got our mortgage, new (financed) car, and extra loan (because we could). Everything was just as it was supposed to be. We were even starting to spend more a month than we were taking in.
Having a Why
That’s when it happened, our turning point. Ms. Blue Ribbon and I had a baby, Mini Donut.
This was our catalyst.
I kept trying to make our current spending habits work. The stress and anxiety just built up and up. Not sure where to start I began talking to a really good friend about money.
Slowly we opened up to each other about our debt. He had a decent chunk of student loan debt and a car loan. He was attacking his student loan debt with all of his extra income. We would talk off and on every month discussing more and more until one day he sent me a link to Mr. Money Mustache. He was even kind enough to add the note, “Check out this crazy guy. I doubt this is really possible though.”
That is when it all changed. My friend was right, that guy was crazy…crazy awesome. This is what we needed to work and was exactly what I wanted!
From there it was Dave Ramsey, Budgets are Sexy, Afford Anything… the list just gets a lot longer. I formulated a plan for how to attack these bad habits and get rid of our debt. Once the debt was gone we would be off to the path to financial independence (FI).
While we are much better off now and have so much more knowledge about finances the important part is that we started the journey. It wasn’t until recently that I was thinking back to when we started all of this trying to figure out why.
Sometimes in life why you do something can be quickly forgotten. Especially when you get caught up in the journey.
Making The How
We were starting to lose our path to FI by letting our retirement contributions slip. When I realized we were slipping I course corrected and made a plan we could stick to. The plan was even a conservative estimate with us being able to quit by the time we were in our mid-40s.
I had to remind myself that my son set us on this journey. By remembering why we started it helps us stay focused on this path.
The other side is knowing what you are running to and why exactly I want to retire early.
My immediate reaction when others ask this is that I see other older software developers in the market that haven’t become managers or moved into the business side and they are either awesome or they just seem sick of it all. I’d rather not be pushing myself to learn new technologies and practices for another 36.5 years.
I have the how (meticulously planned contribution strategy) and the why (worried I won’t be able to keep up with trends) but I was still lacking the “what am I running to?”
By the time we are financially independent and able to retire early my kids will be much older. I won’t be able to just stay home with them, they’ll be in high school. If memory serves, no one wants to hang out with their parents then!
I realized what I wanted to run to the other day.
There is a major construction project happening on the highway near my work. I can go to a set of windows and see the massive trucks driving around. For some reason I found myself drawn to the windows regularly.
“Wouldn’t it be interesting to drive a dump truck?” (dumper truck if you ask my son)
That’s when it hit me. What I really want and I’ve always loved about life is trying new things.
Wouldn’t it be cool to work at a coffee shop for a while or a bagel shop? I could spend my retirement working odd jobs. (Think sort of like the show Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe).
Now armed with my how, why and for what I am even more motivated than before. I am so excited for Early Retirement!
What was your moment to strive to be debt free or financially independent? What are you running to if you do retire early?