Monday, July 02, 2012

Money Monday: July 2, 2012

Among the many things I keep thinking I should totally be better about are these sorts of posts – one of the many ways in which finances can be like dieting is that having something that keeps you motivated (and also honest) can really help you stay the course when you’re trying to accomplish something.

Which is actually a large part of my problem: I have a lot of vague ideas, a fistful of could and a pocketful of should and a side helping of would, but I don’t have a particularly clear-eyed vision around what exactly I want to do, or how precisely I think I should chart the course to get it.

This lack of vision tends to make it hard to actually get anywhere. Kind of like driving a car with the sunshield still up, you know? Where we goin? Dunno, but I think we’re getting there fast!

We’re actually at an excellent place in life to be having the sorts of conversations we need to have, too. Not only because we’re sort of between Grand And Sprawling plans at present (which is rather a problem that needs to be addressed), but because we are – whether we care to admit it or not – standing in the doorway to Middle Age.

(There. I said it. We are middle. frickin'. aged.)

(Well. Chronologically, anyway. Mentally…well, let’s put it this way: Fart. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! SHE SAID FART!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA! See? Maximum mental age: Fourteen, MAYBE.)

The way I tend to operate now is on an autopilot that was first set in place fifteen years ago – when we were newly-minted young adults learning just how hard this whole “being a grownup” gig actually was. We had six-figure dreams but only four-figure experience. We had lots of hope and energy, but not a lot of power in our jumps. We had tons of opinions, but not a whole lot of wisdom. And of course, we were desperately squeezing nickels hoping to transform them into dimes through sheer force of will.

But that isn’t where we are now. Now we are in our prime earning years. We are sailing into what we will undoubtedly look back upon as our best-ever earning years, the years when we were making the most money we ever made.

I could be wrong, but I suspect if I don’t get off my arse pretty quickly here and apply my experience in Such Matters to the question of how we want to leverage these literally golden years, I will be rather pissy with my younger self when we are sitting around in our Golden Years wondering why we even call them that, seeing as how it probably should be called the Once Upon A Time We Used To Have Some Gold, ‘N Now It’s Almost All Gone Years. (<= I very much doubt I will become less wordy in my old age. Just a hunch.)

The place I like to start for Such Things isn’t directly with dollars and cents and how many of them go to what categories – rather, I like to start by daydreaming a lot. This is actually a really fun exercise, because at this point in the game you don’t have to be realistic.

You don’t have to be sensible.

You don’t have to be all accountant-ish.

In Point Of Fact, the best way to approach this little task is playfully. Take yourself back to your childhood and play Let’s Pretend with yourself. Let’s pretend that we have all the time, money and talent in the whole wide world at our disposal…nothing is impossible, nothing is too big or too small, nothing requires too much pre-work that we haven’t even started yet, we can have, do or be anything we want

Well. What do we want?

Grab a notebook and a pen, and start writing! It doesn’t matter whether the thing is an object, a destination or an accomplishment. It doesn’t matter whether it is “silly” or “serious.” They don’t have to be all the same category, or level of difficulty – you can have “swim the English channel” next to “grow at least one edible radish.”

It doesn’t matter whether anybody else approves. It doesn’t even matter whether you approve – yet.

The point here isn’t to carve into stone all the things you will absolutely, without fail strive to and possibly beyond your utmost to have, do and be…it’s simply to give yourself permission to dream, to imagine what such a reality would look like for yourself.

Sure, ultimately we’ll go over this list and prioritize things and look at what steps are between here and there and all that boring sensible stuff.

But for right now…don’t worry about it. Just rough out what “reality” would be, if you got to decide on it.

It’s so easy to get so caught up in what is that we forget that we aren’t necessarily defined by it. Reality seems so…well, real. Finite. Defining. Immovable, and irresistible.

Living as we do within the boundaries of What Is, we can start to believe that we, too, are part of it. That we too are what we are, nothing more, nothing less, unchanging and unchangeable.

It isn’t really so. To our species has been given a terrible and profound gift – we do not have to be defined by the world we are born into, or have fallen into, or even have worked long and hard to arrive in, only to find that, eh, now that I’m here? It ain’t quite what I expected, ya know…?

We have this gift of imagining. Of dreaming. And daring to mold ourselves, so that we fit the reality to which we would like to become accustomed.

Whether the journey is across the street or across the world, though, we can’t get started until we have some idea which way we want to go…so!

Start scribbling, and don’t overthink things at this point. Let those hopes and dreams of yours talk without being interrupted with words like “but” or “if only” or “can’t” for a bit. Build some castles in the air.

Next week, we can start looking into how we can get some foundations under them.


April said...

Love this post! I am catching up on blog reading and was bowled over by this post. I am 43 and trying to figure this stuff out right now. Have been a SAHM since our 11 yr old came along. Now I am preparing to take the exam for my registered dietitian credential. After that it is part-time work I'm after. The DH has the other concerns under control. Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement.

Marty52 said...

Great post... we're just seeing our way thru the latest minefield and need to do some major saving since retirement is only 5 years away. Thanks for the though provoking post.