My goal was never to have all the money I could get my hands on.
On the other hand, I’ve never solidified my financial goals. Up to now, it’s mostly been about what I don’t want, rather than what I do:
- I don’t want more rooms in my house than I can use
- I don’t want to have to hire a security firm
- I don’t want to go to fundraising dinners for politicians
- I don’t want people around me who only like me for the luxury I share with them
- I never want to do any “shmoozing”
It’s things like that which I’ve long associated with wealthy people. Maybe these are stereotypes that only happen in fiction, I couldn’t say. More realistically, I’ve only had one (not)goal for many years: I don’t want to be in danger of being homeless. That’s not a productive goal. I think it’s time I change my thinking.
Flexo has written about different types of goal-setting in the past, which helped me start germinating ideas subconsciously over the past few months. Here’s what I’ve got so far for my long-term goals:
- I want moderate luxury: a perfect example of this is our living room TV. I bought a used HD projector ($900) and a cheap 92” screen for $75. I hung the screen myself for less than $10, and we’ve had an enormous gorgeous high-def TV for years. I don’t need a separate media room or surround sound. What we’ve got is great.
- I want to eat breakfast outside: I want enough time in the morning to be able to make myself some eggs and bacon, coffee or tea, and take it to the backyard to enjoy. Usually this is only possible on vacation. I think in order to do this every day, I’d need to work from home.
- I want my evenings and weekends to myself: I know too many people who think about, and perform, work during non-work hours. I’ve always felt this is indicative of a management flaw. The people at my current business tell me I work faster than anybody else, so that may also have something to do with it.
- I want lots of open space: I’ve always lived in metropolitan areas, so I probably don’t have it in me to switch instantly to farming, but I like to think that by the time work slows down for us, we’ll at least have a kind of subsistence farm situation.
For many months, excluding one huge setback last fall, my only goal has been “get rid of the credit card debt”. I’m still going to do this, but a recent salary cut decided for me that my plan of paying off $1,000 a month won’t work anymore. After adjusting our budget, instead of $532 leftover per pay period, I have about $228. So, new plan: save the leftover salary money. It’ll either grow in a bank account, or go toward home improvements (including my wife’s increasingly impressive garden), or upcoming vacations. You know, things that improve the quality of life. Things that I’ve been ignoring for far too long.
And I’ll take half of whatever I earn from my freelance work to gradually pay down the pesky credit card. It’ll go a lot more slowly, but hopefully that will encourage me to do more, better work in my spare time. That will hopefully lead to a situation where I can work from home, in a place with lots of open space, and a backyard I can eat breakfast in.
Published or updated April 7, 2009.