33rd Birthday Reflections

As I reflect on turning 33, the idea of retiring at 59 and a half seems so close, but so far away. Even though it’s 26 years away, calculations I’ve done continuing my current path are showing that I will only reach half a million. I’m not entirely sure half a million in the next 26 years will be enough to retire on. I know there are many others who won’t even reach half that and I can’t image retiring on that little.

But I’m also looking at how far I’ve come. I’ve been working my way out of debt and increasing my financial future since I was 26. I used to live with my parents. I used to work part time. I was almost $45k in debt.

Now in the past 7 years I’ve been living on my own. I’ve paid off well over $17k of that debt. I’ve paid off my first student loan of over $10k. I’ve almost paid off 2 cars. I’ve almost accumulated enough assets to have a positive net worth. I’ve intentionally upgraded my lifestyle, life skills, social skills.

I’ve been able to plan for semi-extravagant travel and vacations (in the US of course). I’ve started travel hacking and made plans to go beyond my comfort zone and go to more financial events. I’ve helped coordinated and lead local financial independence meetings. I’ve spent more times with friends and family. Took longer vacations and came to back to work not stressing about the work that I came back to.

Speaking of work, I switched jobs and careers. I’ve increased my salary dramatically. I’ve found work I wake up and enjoy going to. I come home without my shoulders tightened and just wanted to go to sleep early. I’ve increased happiness and lifestyle intentionally, upgrading to higher quality things and tools to solve my problems. I don’t mind chores as much with the right help.

I love to cook at home. I very rarely eat outside of my home. Except for planned social events, I rarely enjoy eating out. I love cooking and be creative. I find chopping vegetables and meal planning and prepping therapeutic. I found a new hobby. I love watching cooking shows and learning more about gourmet foods and restaurants. I love trying to imitate talented and famous chefs. I love sharing pics of food. I love trying to save money while elevating my meals.

I love feeling like I have a financial security blanket. I love having contingency plans. I love feeling like money is building up and I’m not living paycheck to paycheck. I love that I’m attacking debt in huge amounts. I love looking at the changes over time and seeing swings of THOUSANDS of dollars. The power of hundreds has less impact. I’ve learned to accept spending on quality and intentionality in higher amounts, rather than buying cheap things that need replaced rather quickly.

I love that frugality has become a fun challenge and not a side effect of scarcity.

I have some large goals for 2020 and beyond. I’ll have to see what has changed next year. Maybe I’ll be close to having my first $50k or $100k. Only time will tell.