We all have goals in our lives that we work hard to achieve. We all have dreams for what our futures could contain and what we could make of ourselves. We all want to have a better life tomorrow than we have today. We could all use a little help on the way to achieving those goals, whether that is from someone giving us advice about finances or someone giving us a reason to reach for more inside ourselves.
My Reasons Why
For the longest time, I had some real issues with controlling my spending. My shopping habits were almost completely out of control. I always knew that I shouldn’t be spending before I had it, and I shouldn’t be putting anything on credit without paying it off each month, but when you’re feeling down on your luck and, even worse, down on yourself, you end up doing anything that you can to make yourself feel even just a little bit happier. You may know that the good feelings won’t last long, but at the time you really don’t care, because you’re looking for anything you can find at that point in time.
What we are lacking in those moments is a reason why we need to improve our spending habits. It has to come from outside ourselves because you may not care much about yourself in those darker moments. Not that you don’t care about yourself, or your well being, but you don’t care if you’re sacrificing your own future for your own present. If you are having some darker thoughts and some issues caring about your own well being, please talk to someone about this. This post and this site isn’t the place to discuss those topics here, but I am very well qualified to tell you that your life has meaning and purpose, and our society definitely needs YOU!
Okay, so this got dark quick, but I promise it’s going to pick up and get back to the Feller style of writing now!
My Life Partner
In 2014, I had recently moved from my previous home and city of Mankato to my new home and life in the Twin Cities. I had finally shifted from the point in my life where I wasn’t making SHIT for money (despite working three jobs simultaneously) to a point where I had a reasonable income that provided me enough for my current life, enough to pay off my past debts, and enough to pay for some of my future. And what did my dumb-ass do to go out and celebrate this new life?!
I went out and bought myself a PS4, games, and controllers because I thought I deserved it. What did I do to feed myself now that I was a grown man? I went out to Moto-i on the weekends, anywhere that had sushi as often as I could, and Chipotle anytime that I left the gym. And no, I didn’t have a cheap gym membership in the strip mall, I got the expensive gym membership.
I really wasn’t thinking about my future at all at this time, because I didn’t know any better. I thought that contributing enough to my 401k to max out my employer contribution was enough. I thought I had the finance world by the balls, but in reality, I was hemorrhaging money and burying myself further in debt. And then I went out and bought myself a (used but still nice) Range Rover.
It wasn’t until a few months after moving the Twin Cities that I met my future wife. I knew the moment that I met her that she was something special; before I had even seen her face she had won my heart. Lucky for me, she wasn’t your average post-college grad out spending money on drinks and living the party life. No feller, she was a girl that was living that Mr. Money Mustache lifestyle! She was saving money everywhere she could and she inspired in me the goals of saving money where I could too. So I started paying extra money each month in my payments for everything, saving money on going out, and I did the unthinkable – I started bringing my own lunches to work.
And then what did my dumb-ass do? I went out and bought a sim racing seat so I could play computer games better. I have learned my lesson on that kind of spending now, thankfully, because I have changed my mindset about my spending. But having a reason to start saving my money for not just my life, but also to make the life of my partner better has really changed the way I approach saving and spending.
My Own Life
Another thing that picked up for me around 2016-2017 was my own self worth. I started to value my time, my health, and my mental well being more than I had in the few years that preceded it. I started to think about how much time I was dedicating to my job and my career, I started to think about how long I was going to spend at this job and what that really meant for my life. It was around this time that I was reading a lot of these early retirement blogs and realized that I wasn’t necessarily sentenced to serving an employer for 45 years before I was allowed to spend my time as I pleased. I started to realize that I was an adult and I could do literally anything that I wanted to. I started to think about what I would do if I had more time to spend as I wanted and that really made me start to change the way that I think.
Not that I wouldn’t want to work in some form or another. For a long time, I was working overnights at a group home where I would go into work, go to sleep (because it was an asleep overnight position), go home and do nothing. It drove me crazy. Sure, playing StarCraft was cool, because I was going to go pro, but I really didn’t enjoy not having something to do with my energy. I imagine that’s what retirement is going to feel like, albeit with more money, and I decided back then that I wasn’t ever really going to have the kind of retirement where I sit back and chill for my entire day, day after day.
This is important though; regardless of what I end up doing with my time, the ability to choose how I spend my time, and what value my time has for myself, is what is most valuable to me now. I don’t have that ability quite yet, but I believe that Future Cole has hopes and dreams that I may not realize yet, and it is for him (and Future Nikki) that I have started to think differently.
I realize that Future Cole isn’t really a partner in crime, but he is someone that I am mindful of, so I think it’s acceptable to consider him a partner in this journey. Also, if Future Cole ever gets a hold of a time machine, he will go back in time and invest in Google at the beginning and save it all in an account for us and make it available to me right now! He can send the details to me in email. Nothing yet, but I will keep the Fellers posted!
My life partner is the most important partner that I have, not only in terms of a reason to be smarter financially, but also because she can cheer me on and keep me headed towards my goals. I can’t begin to tell you how good it has felt having someone like that.
We also got ourselves a new puppy this year! He’s a lunatic and a total JERK who only bites us constantly, but he is definitely a driving force in helping me change how I think about money. Every morning that I leave for work and have to leave him behind, alone, I think about how little I want to spend money frivolously. And while I have been spending more money on him than what I really want to sometimes, I think he’s having a positive net affect on my spending mindset.
What You Can Do Today
If you haven’t figured out a good way to track your spending yet, I strongly recommend you start thinking about signing up for something to help you track your finances. Personal Capital and Mint are great, free, and they’re what I would recommend you use. I know that when my spending was out of control I was never bothering to look at my finances at all. Money came into my account, it went out of my account, and I never paused to watch what any of it was doing. Nobody is ever going to make it with that type of thinking.
Fellers, do you have any reasons you’d like to share as to why you want to start being better with your finances? Maybe something that helped you realize it was time for a change? Or maybe you have some suggestions or ideas of your own to share with people to help them get started? Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment and help others on their financial journey!