Hey everyone, it’s Finance Fridays again. Today is kind of a short post which is more about the “feelings” of Finances rather than dollar signs, saving, and expenses. Today we’re going to talk about “Comfortable”.
Basically, there are a lot of levels of wealth. You can find different takes on this, but the basic gist of it is when you’re first starting out at building wealth you worry about everything. “Can I afford this?” is a question you ask yourself over and over again. Don’t get me wrong, you’re still putting away money into your 401k and planning for retirement. However, in the back of your mind, there is probably some level of concern about whether you’re “ok” or not. Usually student loans cast a pretty large shadow at this stage of the game.
Then as you become more stable in your job you might not question yourself so much anymore. When you go out to dinner maybe you don’t really look at the prices anymore. Then above that when you plan your vacations somewhere you don’t look at the prices anymore, you kind of just decide where you want to go and where you want to stay.
There are a lot of variations of this. If you want, just google “levels of wealth” and you’ll find a lot of different takes on the concept.
However, in my post today I’m not really concentrating on that. Today, I’m simplifying the concept down to one thing.
“Are you comfortable?”
If you remember, I describe the 3rd year of medical school as perpetual state of discomfort. You only spend a few weeks at a time in completely different areas. After these few weeks you begin to feel a little more confident, maybe even a little comfortable. Then the rotation ends or something changes and you’re back to being uncomfortable again.
This is kind of the same for finances… at least it is for me.
In general, after finishing medical school, residency, and fellowship, I started my first job, but our student loans loomed larged.
As such, my wife and I make reasonable salaries and I’d like to believe our jobs are pretty stable. However, even with all that, and with putting away money every paycheck and our retirement plan going as planned… you would think we would feel ok, right?
For the first 5 years after we finished fellowship, I worried about our finances all the time. I always played out the worst case scenario in my head. What if either of us lost our jobs or became temporarily disabled? What if there was some medical issue in the family? Could our finances whether that storm? Of course, I planned the best I could and set aside the amount of money which I thought was reasonable.
However, even with all that planning, I still worried about things. How could I not? Our 401ks had just gotten started. We had very little equity in our house. Everyday it always seemed like we were teetering on the edge, especially at the beginning.
However, as the years went by, the amount of discomfort has lessened. Our 401ks are looking better. Our jobs are as stable as they can possibly be. Our house has some equity it now.
So… you’re comfortable?
I wouldn’t say we’re comfortable quite yet… but at the very least, we’re not uncomfortable anymore.
However, I think that’s kind of the goal — being comfortable.
I want to reach that level. Anything more than comfortable is probably too much for me. I don’t think I’ll ever be a person who plans a family vacation and doesn’t look at prices. That’s just not me. To be honest, I probably won’t just order food at a restaurant without looking at the prices either. That’s just not me.
However, I do strive for a time when I don’t worry so much about finances. I think that time will only come after our student loans are gone and/or my children are both in college. Prior to that, I think I will be not uncomfortable, but not quite comfortable yet.
Additionally, being “comfortable” isn’t quite at the level of being able to retire early — at least not for me. I think it will probably coincide with the ability for my wife to retire early, or me to go part-time, or both.
I think striving to be “comfortable” is the level of wealth I want.
It’s not quite early retirement and it’s not having so much money that I don’t look at prices anymore.
However, it’s probably enough for me to consider going part-time.
Right now though, I’m at the “not uncomfortable” level.
Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.
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