In the age of blogging, it seems that the most outrageous or awe-inspiring stories often make their way to the top of the news, and for good reason. We want to feel inspired to do better. We want to be motivated to take action in our own life and potentially emulate the success others have had. Whether it be fitness, cooking, or even finance there’s nothing wrong with looking at the success others have had as inspiration. The problem comes when trying to live your life as others do if it’s not what fits you or your lifestyle best.
The “extreme money story”, as I call it, is a great example of this. I’m sure you’ve seen those stories of a family that paid off $200,000 of student loans and debt in two years by only eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And no one can argue that that’s not a completely awesome accomplishment, but this lifestyle is not for everyone.
Personally, I will never have an extreme money story. This is fitting for my personality as I am not an “extreme” person by any stretch of the imagination. I am a logical and strategic planner, and I love setting goals and working to achieve them but not at all costs. Here are just a few of the personal reasons you won’t find me making an extreme money plan:
- I love animals too much, and while they can be an added expense, my life would not be nearly as fulfilling without a menagerie of pets greeting me when I return home each day.
- I value good food and am willing to pay more for it. Whether it’s buying organic at the supermarket or going out to a nice brunch on occasion, these are things that I value for my quality of living.
- I enjoy working and would be intolerable as a retiree. Work for me is not just a means to an end. It forces me to learn and grow, and as a result I get great fulfillment out of the constant challenge. I look forward to retiring someday, and I am fairly certain my retired life will be even busier than my working life, but early retirement is not on my list of goals.
But enough about me… How about you? Each person is different and should try to adopt a financial strategy that best fits with what they are hoping to get out of their life. Think about what you know about yourself and your quality of life before you go ahead and implement such an extreme strategy in your own life. Here are some things to consider.
What Makes You Happy
Take a minute to reflect on yourself and how you want to live your life before making any extreme money plans. Are you hoping to be retired by the time you’re 35 years old? Is that the most important thing for you? If so, making extreme money plans might make sense… Bring on those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! On the other hand, would you be happy to keep working into your sixties if you knew you could have a job that you loved? In that case, maybe a slow and steady approach is more your speed. You could invest some money into education or taking a paycut to pursue your dream job so that you could live a happy life despite having to work instead of delaying your happiness until retirement.
Really sit down and think about what you know of your own personality and what would make you happiest. If you have a partner and/or children, ask them as well. If you’re on a course to retire at 35 but your partner is planning on working until his or her seventies, maybe you need to find some middle ground. Retiring to a beach house without your life partner doesn’t necessarily sounds like the ultimate dream.
Written By: Lindsay Dell Cook
Lindsay Dell Cook is a CPA, writer, and founder of Budget Babble. She lives in Philadelphia with her uber supportive husband, and enjoys taking their adorable mutt for walks or reading a good book while buried under a pile of cats.