I have a confession to make.
I was a bit lost after getting out of debt.
For me, the journey to financial freedom started off with me paying back nearly $100K in student loan debt.
I side hustled to earn more, I budgeted and dabbled in couponing to free up more money to devote to debt.
For so many years my finances (and my life) were defined by the debt that I carried.
After making the final payment in August of 2015 I wondered what was next…
The actual debt payoff was a bit anti-climactic because at the time my son was still in the NICU after being born at 25 weeks and 5 days, weighing 1 lb. 8.3 oz.
I was an emotional wreck at the time. So I made the last payment and kept it moving.
The next big goal was to save up a 6-month emergency fund and continue to contribute to my kid’s college fund and my retirement fund.
What I discovered during those next few months of being free from debt was that paying myself was not as exciting.
I know, it sounds crazy right?!?
There was something euphoric about seeing that debt balance get lower each and every month.
For reasons unknown at the time, I did not get that same thrill from saving my emergency fund.
I floundered for a few months and lost my zeal for the journey.
But the feeling was short-lived.
I quickly realized that I could live a little or a lot.
The whole point of getting out of debt was to lessen my dependence on my paycheck and have actual say-so over how I spend my time and my money.
I had to figure out what life after debt looks like for me.
Here’s what I came up with:
#1 Spending time with my family.
I’m married with 3 kids. After some really scary pregnancy complications and 3rd pregnancy, I realize, more than ever, the fragility of life. There’s NOTHING more important than spending time with those I love
#2 Working less.
I don’t want to spend all of my ‘good years’ stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on overcrowded highways. And working less will help me do more of #1 and #3.
Retiring in 10 years of less. So this is the new BIG goal that I am working towards- achieving Financial Independence so that I have even more time to really live life. No more Work.Spend.Repeat cycles for me. I won’t be waiting until my ‘golden years’ to enjoy a mythical retirement. I want to enjoy life and travel while I’m young enough (and healthy enough) to enjoy it.
Update (May 2019)
My new aspiration is to semi-retire. In October 2018 I was able to scale my work schedule back to 3 days per week. Basically I will continue to work part-time indefinitely while still saving for traditional retirement. I’ve opted out of the aggressive path to FI (financial independence) in favor of a slower journey. Semi-retirement allows me to work less now while still enjoying travel and time with my kids while they’re young. On the aggressive path to Financial Independence, I would spend the next 10 years working like crazy and missing out on invaluable time with my children.
#3 Traveling more.
I want to travel extensively while I’m young enough and healthy enough to truly enjoy it.
Visiting all 50 US States
Eric and I have done quite a bit of international traveling but there is so much beauty to see right here in the US. My ultimate travel goal is to travel across the country in an RV. We still have one child in diapers so we think it best to wait until our son is more independent before we tackle a cross country RV adventure. Hopefully one day it will happen! But until then I am slowly checking off one state at a time with smaller trips that are spread out over time.
Here’s where I’ve been so far.
20. Maryland (My home state!)
29. New Hampshire
30. New Jersey
31. New Mexico
32. New York
33. North Carolina
34. North Dakota
39. Rhode Island
40. South Carolina
41. South Dakota
48. West Virginia
Countries We’ve traveled to together as a couple:
**(Hubby traveled to Europe to play soccer while in high school, but I’ve never been).
Dominican Republic (Punta Cana)
Jamaica (Montego Bay, Ocho Rios)
Mexico (Cancun- twice, Cozumel)
Bahamas (Grand Bahama)
Canada (Nova Scotia-went solo without Eric)
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