Personal Development

Have My Financial Goals Gone Too Far?

February 1, 2021

It can be tricky to find a balance between “living for now” versus “saving for later”. I might be doing it wrong.

It can be tricky to find a balance between "living for now" versus "saving for later". I can definitely say financial independence has downsides. Let's get brutally honest about how I've felt this year. via @moneygremlin
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My mom is one of my avid blog readers and typically emails kind words about each new post (thank you for that). Therefore, when I saw she had emailed about my recent post I wasn’t surprised. Until I read it.

There were niceties for sure, but more so there was concern. She believed our financial goals were impressive, but worried that we were no longer living for today. My first reaction to the email was annoyance (sorry mom- it’s the truth). What we want to do is impressive! How could she not see that? We were trying to set ourselves up to have no financial concerns in life! Since when is that a bad thing?

However, I started to wonder about it more and more.

Have my financial goals gone too far?

I have not felt happy lately, but I also feel that it’s justified. I work in health care during a pandemic. We have to sign a document acknowledging that we are entering an outbreak area, and that we ourselves do not have symptoms that day. It’s not exactly a recipe for happiness. More specifically the current area I’m casually working requires a lot of improvement so I’ve been putting in long, stressful days. I often mentally take work home with me (and sometimes dream about it at night).

I work in a fluorescent lit office without windows, and I’m so busy that I rarely stand up except for the odd bathroom break. It’s winter here so it’s dark when I drive to work and dark when I drive home. I only see the sun on weekends.

I’m someone who loves being outside and active. How am I supposed to feel joy right now? Isn’t feeling unhappy quite normal given the circumstances? I’ve discussed this with friends and they all feel the same way.

Ok, so how does any of this have anything to do with my financial goals?

I’ve been feeling so blue that I’ve been thinking a lot about escape. I obsess over making improvements so that I’m not trapped living this way for decades upon decades. The answer in my mind has been financial independence. If I just have enough money in the bank then I’m not beholden to any job, and I can live however I want. I spent a decent chunk of time on youtube this weekend watching videos about families traveling the world long-term. It looks incredible. Pure freedom, adventure and family time. I long for it.

I’ll admit that’s brought out some peculiar issues though.

I’ve become borderline obsessed with my numbers and improving my financial situation so I can reach that feeling sooner. That entails earning more and spending less, which has actually taken me farther from freedom and adventure in my current life.

Have my financial goals gone too far?

Yeah, maybe they have.

I know my current lifestyle isn’t bringing me joy. Instead of searching for a way to remedy that now, what did I think I should do?

Buckle down, earn more, and spend less. Get to financial independence ASAP (even though best case we were talking 12 years).

I’ve been considering applying for full time positions I don’t even want. While my paychecks would increase it would also solidify that I cannot see sunlight during the week or be as active as I want.

I’ve considered whether we really “need” a honeymoon (we want to climb Mt. Baker) after we get married. Maybe I should skip it and put that money in investments instead?

My fiance is burned out from working overtime for so many years, yet our plan included him working one more year of OT once our first kid was born to solidify our finances. He was onboard and happy to do it (on paper), but I’ve never met a man more obsessed with kids. What would being away working extra hours during his first kids first year of life do to him?

I even went so far as feeling slight relief that COVID might prevent me from attending a good friends wedding (requiring a flight to another city), going on an epic climbing trip for two days with one of my best friends this summer, or taking a road trip back to visit family that I haven’t seen in two years.

Why relief?

Missing all of those plans would save me money.

Realizing and admitting all that to myself this morning felt like a sucker punch to the gut.

Saying it out loud actually makes me feel like a cheap dirt bag.

Have my financial goals gone too far?

Clearly.

The things I care most about in this life are my relationships (to humans and my dog), getting outside on adventures, and having the time and headspace to do the things that make me “me”. Yet I was willing to give them all up.

What good is money if it doesn’t buy happiness?

In some way I still felt like I was chasing happiness however. I would delay gratification now in pursuit of eternal gratification later. Isn’t that a good trade?

What if later never comes though? I work in healthcare… I’m well aware of the fact nothing is guaranteed.

Balance is one of the hardest things for me to achieve. I naturally go extremely black or white in my goals and struggle to maintain middle ground. Middle ground always seems like it takes too long to “get anywhere”. Maybe that’s ok if the journey is fun along the way though?

At the time of writing this I do not have all the answers. I still feel like pursuing debt freedom this year is a worthy goal, and not one I particularly want to give up on.

I’m willing to re-assess after that however.

I considered going back and deleting my post from yesterday where I discussed our goals, but I have decided to leave it. I think it’s worth sharing that even people who blog about money have changes of heart and sometimes need to radically re-assess what the heck (and why) they’re going after something.

Jim Carrey is quoted as saying:

“Depression is your avatar telling you it is tired of being the character you’re trying to play.”

We had incredible adventures last year that we both loved, but also both felt we spent too much money (and don’t want to need to continue producing the kind of income required to sustain it). This year looks like we might skew too frugal. Maybe I’ll discover the perfect middle ground in 2022.

Thanks for reading!

Have my financial goals gone too far?
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Have my financial goals gone too far?
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It can be tricky to find a balance between "living for now" versus "saving for later". I can definitely say financial independence has downsides. Let's get brutally honest about how I've felt this year. via @moneygremlin
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  1. […] I wrote in my last article, I was considering giving up a lot of things that make me happy today to rocket ship myself towards […]

  2. shojoba says:

    I have experienced this exact same thing, and received the same motherly feedback. 🙂 It’s hard to balance. When you’re not happy in your job, but don’t see that you’ll be happy in another one either, it’s easy to figure that making it a bit *extra* unhappy in exchange for shortening the ride is a reasonable trade-off. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. The things that have helped me “enjoy the ride” are (1) identifying the negatives that can be removed (i.e., trying to reduce the unhappiness quotient); (2) adding happy moments to every day (e.g., you mentioned those morning minutes with coffee… I do the same!); (3) doubling down on daily gratitude (easier said that done… still working on this myself!). Good luck — enjoying the blog and your thoughtful writing!

    • admin says:

      Thank you SO much!! Balance can be really difficult to find. I love your idea about doubling down on gratitude. There are so many parts of my life that I love… I need to focus more on those 🙂

  3. Cynthia says:

    Great post. I’m similar in that creating a new goal can make me into a bit of an extremist, where all my eggs go into one basket. “Oh, I do yoga now? Then I’m going to do yoga twice a day every day for maximum benefit!” That kind of thing. I’m in a different part of the FI journey so I can’t (won’t) provide any recommendations. Everyone’s journey is different. That being said, I think you will be very aware if and when your goals need revision. Our bodies always have ways of letting us know when something is unsustainable. Have you thought about creating “happiness” goals alongside your financial goals? Last year, I quit a full time job in a lucrative industry because it was sucking the soul and joy out of my life. I really had to weigh those pros and cons; the downside of losing that paycheck and maybe not finding another job right away versus my future earning power and my subsequent mental health. In the end, I chose myself over the job and it was definitely the right decision. My mental health has greatly improved and I realized that while it might take me a little while longer to get to FI, my life between now and FI can and will be happy and fulfilling. 🙂

    • admin says:

      Thank you so much! Massive congrats on recognizing that you needed a change and walking away from a big paycheque. So many people talk about it but never make the leap, so what you did takes courage. I agree with the body knowing- I can sense when I’ve gone too far with something I say I “need”.

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