A Good Problem to Have
As someone who subscribes to and reads a dozen personal finance blogs, I have noticed something that many of those in the blogosphere would probably see as a wonderful problem to have. As both a hard worker and a diligent saver, I have been able to save the maximum retirement amount and the maximum SEP amount each year. I no longer meet the income level to contribute to a Roth, but you better believe I did when I was able. I also fund my 3 kids’ 529 plans every month. Educational charities and my kids’ PTA also get nice donations every year.
After doing this for a decade or more, I realize that I love the idea of saving the money. I have prepaid my mortgage so that I have only a year to go to pay off a 15 year loan in 8 years. I also have non-retirement assets that have experienced the ups and downs of the uncertain economy.
Poor me, right?
What astounds me is that for the first time in my life, I can do whatever I want, but I don’t know what to do. I never prepared myself for this day. After 15 years’ of diligent and careful saving, I find that the spending of money doesn’t provide the joy or happiness I thought it would.
Don’t get me wrong. The freedom to not worry when a car breaks down or I need a suit is satisfying. I love my house even more now that it is about to be all mine. My favorite luxury is actually using a service to do our laundry. For $1.00/lb they get it, wash it, fold it, and return it. I know it isn’t worth it, but both my wife and I hate doing laundry.
For all you savers, please pay attention — do your best to figure out why you are saving the money. For me it was always the ability to stop working early — something I coveted when I was 25. Now that I am about to turn 40, I realize that I like my jobs, and that I don’t do as well without structure in my days. So yes, I saved, but now what?
Here are 7 questions to consider in advance:
- What are you going to do once your financial moves come to fruition?
- What will you concentrate on next?
- What will make you happy?
- What will you do with the money?
- What aspects of my financial planning will be difficult to change?
- How have your priorities changed over time?
- And finally—how are they likely to change going forward?
I always thought I could turn off the saving, frugal, careful part of my brain once I reached a certain level of financial security. However, I am increasingly aware of the fact that if you pursue something diligently for 15 years, it becomes who you are.
Be careful in what you wish for. Please comment if you have experienced something similar.
Written by Joneps. He has no agenda or blog to promote—just a thought process he wants to get out.