Afford an Awesome Life

June 1, 2021

Several years ago, I went on a weekend road trip to clap and cheer for friends as they competed in the Iron Man. My running days are over but don’t you fret, I did complete a glorious 5K before my retirement. And, as long as we’re celebrating my running triumphs, I would like to share that I also have a sub 8-minute mile under my belt. Just one, but I’m nonetheless pretty proud of it. 

I was a sophomore in high school and unsure of what gave me the idea to set and work toward that goal, but I did. And ran a 7:51 mile. I was super proud of myself and my PE teacher, Ms. Helfrich, had to be shocked since my mile-time at the start of the year was over 13 minutes.

Anyway! The whole point of this post has not a thing to do with running. Let’s get back to the road trip. 

So, I drove to St. George, Utah solo and arrived late at the house a bunch of friends and friends of friends had rented. Only floor space remained for sleeping accommodations and even that was in limited supply. Tiptoeing my way in, I rolled out my sleeping bag next to I’m-not-sure-who and tried to sleep through the early morning departures of the athletes and their main support crews. Knowing very few of the people who remained, I felt like a homeless vagabond and took off fairly early myself. 

Why didn’t I just get a hotel room? 

  1. I hadn’t planned ahead and all the hotels were booked. Remember, I was just one of thousands of others who were in town for the Iron Man event. 
  2. I didn’t exactly have the money for a hotel. I couldn’t have paid for it out of my checking account; it would’ve been charged on my VISA credit card like so many things in my life between the ages of 18 and 33. 
  3. I wasn’t very good at recognizing what I needed. And what I needed was a place where I didn’t feel like a homeless vagabond:)

In case you’re dying to know what I did for night 2, I ended up crashing on the floor of a relative’s house. It was a much more pleasant sleep and stay, but I nonetheless still felt a little homeless since they also had family in town for the event. 

I can totally appreciate that some of this is just what life looks like in your 20s or early 30s. And some of it was super fun. And winging it really can lead to some awesome memories. But, it would’ve been more fun to choose it because it seemed like a fun experience as opposed to it being my only/best option. 

Sure, I was making enough money to live reasonably comfortably but there wasn’t real money for much extra. That extra stuff got funded on the credit card for which I paid a lot in interest. Good times, mostly for the VISA, Discover, and Chase side of the party :)  

Experiences like the vagabond weekend eventually got me thinking: “As long as I’m still single, I’d like to be able to live more comfortably.” 

It was this thought that led to me quitting my good job, moving to the Bay Area to re-tool my skill set at a web development boot camp. 

Which led to much better job opportunities. 

Which led to having more money to work with as I fell in love with budgeting and paid off my debt. 

Which led to having more money to put to the purposes I find fulfilling and beautiful in my life. 

(Side note: I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going about it the way I did. Fix your money first and make a plan for how to afford your next step, so that at least if you choose to do it with debt you have a plan for how to minimize the damage.)

For the first time I actually saw that with some adjustments and especially when debt-free, I could acknowledge and budget money for my needs and wants.

If I’d decided that it was too late and I should just settle in for the long haul at my current income level, I would have missed out on so much over these past 6 years! This is not to disparage contentment; no, I’m a rather big fan of it. The feeling you get when you appreciate what you have is priceless.

However, there’s a big difference between settling and contentment. And if I hadn’t done anything about my situation, it would’ve fallen in the former category. There are some wonderful things you can do with money and some things in life are only possible with money. 

You will save yourself so much stress and make better decisions when you understand all your spending, and get your money organized! You plan your money so you can plan your life.

And truth be told, I see now that I got into all my money messes with lack of planning. Case in point: I left home after high school with something like $200 in my checking account. And about nil in my savings. Where I’ve landed is basically a miracle, considering such meager or delusional adult-life beginnings; but that is a post for another time:)

And I’ve digressed a bit from where I started and want to wrap this up with a question:

How you are doing at taking care of you? 

Are you dreaming big and open to the idea that your money could be a vehicle for more intentional living and being able to invest in some experiences and things that will bring joy to your life? 

Ultimately, I firmly believe that the things that bring us lasting joy are experiences and relationships and knowledge. This girl loves books and learning and growth! But there’s nothing wrong with having some things that bring joy, or make life funner (I know, not a word) or comfortable, etc. 

How are you doing at affording a beautiful life? If not, I dare you to get on purpose with your money so you can. 

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