Sunday, December 30, 2007

Putting it all Together

The Old Man and I sat down over my finances today and went over what it's going to take to get me in a place I'd like to be, financially, by the time I'm 30.

He and Steph are my age and have two cars, a house, an IRA, and money in the bank. I had a great time traveling around the world and getting all these degrees, but the roaring twenties are just about done, and it's time I focused on getting some of the things I want to have in my 30s. A house, a garden, some money in the bank. Financial freedom. A place to put my books. It takes planning, and hard work. You don't just wake up one day living the life you want.

Boy, do I know that.

A lot of my whole "where" I'd like to do my life thing depends on if I still have a job in April, but if the job works out, the two year plan that the Old Man and I put together gets me a car in a year and a little house the year after that and pays off all of my staggering credit card debt in about the same amount of time. That's not factoring in raises or book/freelance writing money.

To be dead honest: it's not a fun budget. It is not happy in the least. I've been working with a budget that makes me happy and comfortable the last few months, but it's also meant blowing $400 on going out, eating out, coffee, books, and other misc. items.

This budget cuts out prepared meats, expensive cheese, most of the gourmet nuts I eat, and $300 worth of coffee and going-out money. Chipotle money. Ohhhhh... my Chipotle money.

It also means I'm putting nearly half my paycheck toward credit card debt. If I want it paid off in two years and I want a garden of my own, that's how it has to be.

I hate math.

At the same time, I'm ready to grow up, you know? Pushing thirty, living paycheck to paycheck, even if you're living quite comfortably, isn't worth it if you're still renting out a room somewhere and taking the bus at 30. It's just not the sexiest thing in the world, and not the life I want to have at 30.

It's a really tight fucking budget, dammit. There's going to be a lot of cabbage-eating and tuna fish the next two years.

You have to decide what you want out of life and take the steps neccessary to get there. It's not always fun, not always easy, and it takes a great deal of courage and discipline, but it's worth it.

I wanted to make a living as a writer my whole life: right now, I do. I wanted to travel around the world. I have. I wanted to sell books: I'm working on it. I wanted a house and a garden and a couple of dogs. Now I need to build that, too.

Pick what you want, and go there.

2 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

La Gringa said...

You never know when all your plans will just fall apart, though, which is why I admire you for doing the things you want to do rather than the things that are expected of someone your age.

I had a great job, a big fat 401k and zero credit card debt two and a half years ago.

I am now unemployed, have zero 401k, as I had to cash it out to live on last year when I couldn't get a job, and then put the rest of my life on credit cards to survive.

I'm tired.

I hope this year goes better, for both of us.

Kameron Hurley said...

Yeah, these next two years are basically me recovering from the job loss of the last year... I had a 40K job, $4500 in 401(K), and about 5K in credit card debt a year and a bit ago.

I could lose this job in April... that's a real possibility, but I need to have some kind of plan for the future - while still being aware that it could all fall out from underneath me in six months, six weeks, six years.

As Ian was saying when we went over my finances, if I was about 10K more in debt, two years of hardship wouldn't be enough to dig me out of it. I was about 10K shy of screwing myself for the next 5-10 years.

And, of course, I could still do that if this job falls through.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

Right now I'm planning based on a job and steady home situation. If that all falls apart, well, I know how to go back to living on credit cards and diet Coke.

I don't feel that I'm in a great place for somebody my age, really. I should have more of my financial stuff together. Probably should understand more about relationships (that's what you get for spending the latter half of your 20s dating, instead of the first half. But then, that's why I got all those degrees and all that traveling done up front), and be making more money, career-wise.

But... well, I'm OK with where I'm at. Never satisfied, but the choices I've made with what I've done and in reaction to what's been done to me, I think, have turned out OK so far.

Our choices are all half chance. I'm lucky to be here.