Right around the time I started writing this blog, I was discovering so many new interests and hobbies and I realized that time had become a more valuable currency to me than money. Having a demanding full-time job while also being able to engage in all the things I love requires some fancy time management skills.
For years, I didn’t give much thought to how much time I was spending making a living. The hours spent at the office, the time getting to and from the office, and getting appropriate clothes for the office required me to plan my life around my job. The other parts of my life like relationships, community activities, and hobbies got whatever crumbs were left over. I never questioned this since I assumed that my purpose was to make a living and pursue all the trappings that go along with it. I always thought that responsible people work hard at their jobs and one day, when you’re too old to work anymore, you can enjoy yourself using the money you’ve been setting aside for decades. Whether you enjoyed your work was immaterial and such questions were best left unasked.
But now, I’m asking those questions and many more. Recently, I reached a major financial goal – I paid off my student loans which at one time had grown to more than $100,000. This debt was a monkey on my back for decades and it had become part of my identity. It had also become a convenient excuse to avoid pursuing cool and unconventional opportunities in life. I would often say, “Well, if it wasn’t for this mountain of debt and the big payments, I could afford to do ___________. But, I need to keep plugging away at this because it pays well.” It took a lot for me to admit that, in reality, I probably missed those opportunities because I was afraid of trying and failing and because my life had become comfortable in the corporate world.
As with many big goals, reaching this financial goal for me was somewhat anticlimactic. I reached the goal, did a little happy dance and then started thinking about how I would achieve my next money goals. What’s my next goal? A new car? A big vacation? Nope! My next goal is to become more mindful of money and what it can get me when it accumulates. While it may be true that money can’t buy happiness, it does buy freedom and that’s pretty damn close to happiness in my book!
I don’t spend a lot of time writing to you about money or budgeting because I don’t make these issues a big part of my life. “Frugality” was always kind of my F-word. I don’t enjoy working from a mindset of lack. I prefer a mindset of abundance where anything is possible. I am lucky that I’ve never been into flashy cars, big houses, and fine jewelry. I’ve always preferred to spend my money on more subtle luxuries and memorable experiences. For example, when we remodeled our current home, I bought expensive linen sheets and bath towels. Only I know how much they cost. They get softer and more beautiful every time I wash them, and they are indestructible. Wrapping myself in those towels after a shower or snuggling between those sheets makes me feel RICH in a way that sitting in traffic in the latest luxury SUV and wearing designer sunglasses never could.
Now, I’m thinking about building savings since more of the money I earn belongs to me. I’ll be examining different ways to save money while still splurging on the luxuries that are most important to me like local and organic food, buying from businesses I believe in, a beautiful garden and a fine glass of champagne on the patio. I hope I conclude that a little frugality can coexist with everyday decadence even if it means adjusting your definition of what decadence means to you.