An unwavering feeling of needing to do more, the inability to just chill for more than a couple nights in a row, a strong feeling of guilt for wasting time, it is a blessing and a curse to be aware of how present choices relate to future goals. While there are times that I wish I could just relax and play video games or go out every weekend, I know that by playing this long term game of investing in the future that my family will be able to avoid some of the real issues facing the majority of Americans. People in our own country have poor financial literacy and the feeling that they need to go to college in order to get a job that they hate doing day in and day out. It is going to be my long term goal to help others understand what “putting it on your credit card means” and how debit can either be good if it is used for an asset or very bad if it just feeds your liabilities.
It took me reflecting back on 2019 to realize that by eliminating inefficiencies and utilizing time, I have worked towards setting the foundation for a very interesting 2020. Having gotten engaged, bought a house, and investing time and money on my education has led to a much more confident young professional. It has also lead to me reading around 20 books this year which I haven’t read that many non-academic books in the prior 10 years, over 100 hours of continuing education credits, and a second job using a skill I learned in undergrad (unrelated to any course work).
In the field of physical therapy it is fairly common to take on an unrealistic amount of debt for the working salary. It is not unheard of for a person to graduate with their DPT and 100k in debt in order to earn a 60k salary. Something with that math just did not add up to me. This lead me to spend the majority of my 40 minute commute each day listening to books such as Rich Dad Poor Dad, The Automatic Millionaire, The Richest Man in Babylon, and many other books focusing on theory and actionable steps towards financial independence. While I grew up with the very same mindset of work hard now so that you can retire and live an awesome life in your 60’s, these books along with an interest in real estate investing have lead me to question that life plan. I am no stranger to hard work for the sake of hard work; ever since I was 16 I was working some sort of job. With experience being a fecal matter removal expert at a local horse barn, working in the service industry for over 5 years off and on, and now being a health care professional, I know what it is like to put in long hours for varying amounts of compensation.
Like many others though, I found myself saving and spending, spending and saving, and basically chasing my tail to actually develop any kind of wealth. I have gotten to travel the world, explore a variety of cuisines, and met so many amazing people. However, I always found myself with about the same amount of money in my bank account at the end of the year.
After a talk with one of my good friends at a conference I realized that he was giving me the same message my old chemistry teacher gave me in junior college, “you’ll never be great at what you’re doing until you realize what exactly it is you want to be doing”. While he didn’t use the same words, he gave the same advice of finding purpose in life and using that enlightenment to help others. I know I am still very green in the game of financial independence, however this year alone I have been able to save around $60,000 on our mortgage by having connections and understanding how money works, been able to get into a house in an appreciating market with the plan to househack for only 3% down, and begin saving a nest egg automatically by funneling my money into an account that isn’t as easy to access as my typical checking account.
As humans we are inherently lazy creatures. Who wants to budget and be frugal so that their $10 savings a day can amass to long term wealth? Very few people. Actually, most say they want it, but just like diets, workout plans, and strong budgets, most people fall off after a few weeks/months. Why? Because we aren’t meant to have to constantly make the right decisions. We are a being that forges towards the path of least resistance so that we don’t have to spend time making the right decision, but can talk ourselves into not feeling bad about making the wrong decision that feels good in the moment. How many times have you talked yourself into spending money on something you didn’t need or eating that extra piece of pizza even though you were full?
Financial wellness is very similar to physical wellness, most want to be better at it but few know what to do. Saving $10 a day is like doing 10 push-ups a day, eventually it will get you to feeling better, however it takes a lot of discipline over a long time to see any kind of change. What is proven is finding yourself someone in a similar situation and building a community of like-minded individuals to support each other through the tough times and celebrate the successes! I am tossing around the idea of creating such a group but I need to know if there is even an interest in something like this.
I will start off telling you I am not perfect and am not a financial adviser, however, I am learning and focusing on making the process easier for others. My goals for 2020 are to work 2 jobs and save over $25,000 through house hacking, automatic savings, and a little self-control all while planning a wedding and becoming a new home owner. If you would like to join me in the journey and gain knowledge into paying off loans, saving for your future, and other tips towards achieving that buzz word of FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) then give this post a like and I will shoot you a follow up message so we can talk about your frustrations and goals.
To wrap all of this up, I am gauging interest in a financial literacy and independence group. I would love to hear any topics you would like me to focus on moving forward. Most importantly I would love to work alongside you to figure out what we can do about our financial situations so that 65 doesn’t have to be a hard rule of retirement but just a suggestion that we can ignore if we so choose.
Thanks for taking the time to read this! I look forward to the opportunity to work together in the near future!
I am a new graduate DPT and am interested in personal growth and becoming a connector within my profession.