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When the debts are gone, what do you use to keep yourself pushing forward?

February 20th, 2014 at 09:51 pm

The title is probably a question most people wish they had, but as I was looking at my latest paycheck, I realized I don't have the pleasure I once did when it came to seeing each paycheck, taking the numbers and entering them into my custom spreadsheet, and watching myself come closer to, and then passing, each goal.

I don't remember each one, but here are some I worked towards, and kept me motivated to keep coming into work.

* Get to where more of my mortgage payment went to principal instead of to interest
* Build up $20,000 in CDs (that was good only when CD gave you real money)
* Have more in my retirement accounts & savings than all my debts (mortgage / car / whatever)
* Have more in my retirement accounts than my mortgage
* Have more in my savings than my mortgage balance (I sense a trend here)
* Have all my debts paid off
* Have more than $400k in my retirement accounts (That was for late 2015 and I already passed it!)
* Have more in all my savings and liquid accounts (brokerage / DRIPs / etc...) than my yearly take home amount (I realized today I was past that as well)

Now I am at the point of "now what?". Any financial goal I make now really is long term. Dividends come to mind. Watching my dividends grow is soooo slow (It takes $10,000 to add just $400 to a yearly dividend amount - assuming 4% dividend which isn't likely). So using dividends as a short term goal isn't the best.

So I don't know. Not complaining (how can I?), but I don't want to be doing the same thing "just because". Intellectionally I know this is probably the best thing to keep going forward at the job for now (and probably until I can retire with a pension).

But still having something short term to work on knocking out would be a help. Do I want to make it "I want to have more than two years of take home pay"? That seems sort of arbitrary. "Have enough to buy XYZ car"? Well... I'm not a car guy, so that's no incentive. "Have enough for a cross country trip"? While that sounds interesting, that's a nebulous amount, and anyway I doubt neither I nor my girlfriend can take enough time off to make that happen. So for those that have gotten past the owing money point, what short term goals do you use, if any?

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Just some run-on items for the year to date:
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On non-financial areas so far this year:
* I have been able to easily take time off to take care of my girlfriend during medical issues
* My car is running well
* I'm keeping up with my daily exercises.
* I had physical exams so far this year for people over 50 and everything came out great (you can fill in the blanks there!).
* We even spent a couple of days in Florida in January having a good time.

In other financial areas I have:
* Sold on ebay over $150 this year. Half of the sales were hers, mine probably gave me a profit of $50 after expenses.
* Another $20 of Half.com sales, and $50 of sales on Craigslist. So I'm getting items out of here I don't need (though there is plenty more of that).
* Shoot, I even upgraded some of my clothes for cheap already this year (great estate sale three weeks ago).
* And we've been getting great things for extra cheap at Goodwill outlet stores this year. (and already resold some)

10 Responses to “When the debts are gone, what do you use to keep yourself pushing forward?”

  1. snafu Says:

    You've done a terrific job of managing your finances, Good on you. Will you share your methods on SA to help the rest of us as we need motivation to get to your level? Have you read The Automatic Millionaire [Bach]?

    What is your plan for retirement? Do you have any hobbies or interests to develop which supplies motivation? Would you consider taking a course and learning about something of interest now that finances are so well handled.

  2. wowitsawonderfullife Says:

    Great idea Snafu. Take up a new hobby. Do public speaking on paying off debt. Support a non profit.

  3. ceejay74 Says:

    Kind of a cool idea from wowitsawonderfullife -- if you feel your retirement is secure and right on track, maybe you could work on saving up money for a large gift for your favorite cause/charity/college. It would be a big thrill for them and a big philanthropic achievement for you.

  4. Single Guy Says:

    snafu, the plans for retirement are very very nebulous for now. Hobbies I have and while I could spend more on them, I don't really need to for now, I have enough (toy trains and sports cards). In the last year I may have spent $100 on them at most. Maybe there will be travel with the SG girlfriend, in fact probably. We can only do so much right now as its not easy to get up and leave for weeks. That trip to Florida was an unusual situation, shouldn't happen again.

    As for learning, not sure what I would do. I learned another language once, don't want to do that again. I took a class and learned woodworking years ago, I've built all the furniture I need. Perhaps a dance class with the SG-GF if she ever moves here. I did teach all day computer seminars years ago while I was unemployed - I don't want to get up in front of that many people again. And my current job is working on computer systems that are for people that help others, so I am sorta burned out in that area as well.

  5. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    What about saving to take a sabbatical from work? Maybe do some educational / missionary (not necessarily religious) traveling for six months.

  6. Single Guy Says:

    Well lets see... I taught at a university in Portugal for 2.5 years in the early 90's when I really had no money (and didn't get paid well at all). Errr... nope, I did enough of that, and got that out of my system too. It was a great experience, one I hope never to go through again!

  7. baselle Says:

    You need a gold-digger, Single Guy. Big Grin

  8. MonkeyMama Says:

    I've actually felt this way in the past. We were very goal oriented early on in our lives, and had an extreme financial focus to deal with the high cost of living. So, when we moved somewhere significantly cheaper (before we were even 25), it was kind of, "Now what???" We kind of floated aimless for a bit. & then decided retirement was really our *only* savings goal. So, we have broken it down into smaller pieces and celebrated milestones along the way (most the ones you mentioned). Our current goal is $500k in retirement. We are a long ways away from this, but it just seemed the more you have the faster it grows. So it was a mid-term goal between "short-term" and full retirement goal. I take it from this post that this goal could get kind of boring as we approach it. Big Grin The last few years have been kind of "boom, boom, boom," on the big milestones. As the snowball picks up speed, rolling down the hill, so to speak. So I can see that being a letdown as we move past all this. The $500k is like a 10-year goal.

    That said, I can't totally relate, because we have small kids and so we have a million built-in short-term challenges to deal with in the interim. (I think as we age we will have to find other ways to direct a lot of freed up energy).

    I think sometimes we just need a reminder that life is a journey (& the destinations along the way aren't always that exciting, compared to the journey).

    If you love personal finances, I'd keep learning and growing and would consider more aggressive (Sooner) retirement plans. Not that you even have to retire earlier - but "prepare for the worst" type stuff, which is more my focus since I do really enjoy working. Or focus on fine tuning the retirement plans - set a date and countdown, etc. (My parents retired unexpectedly and without a lot of choice, WAY before they had planned, but they have done very well and so my retirement thinking has done a 180. Which makes me feel there is always more to learn and fine-tune). If you are not that into the finances, and happy to have everything in the background, then you will find other avenues for that energy, with time.

  9. Tabs Says:

    Congratulations for the great work! Seems like you are in a good financial position. Have you thought about maybe looking into charities that you may care about? Like kittens and puppies? Perhaps help donate to animal shelters. What about cancer research? Or public radio? What about orphanages? They are likely to be a good tax deduction as well.

    Also, do you feel that your $20k is enough as a six month (or even one year) emergency fund safety net? If so, that's great, but if not, it would not hurt at all to expand that.

    Also, I'm sure you are aware that as we age, our healthcare expenses do rise, and would you say you have anticipated that rising cost? If not, that's also worth looking into.

    Otherwise, as others have said, perhaps what you could do instead is to share how YOU have been a financial success to the rest of us! Big Grin

  10. Single Guy Says:

    Tabs... I look at the emergency fund as the savings, CDs, brokerage, and Roth IRA. The first two I can cash out any time, the brokerage too (though it will take a few days to liquidate), and the Roth IRA you can always take out the contributions without penalty. I don't know the exact amount (due to a one time roll over into the Roth), but it is around $50k that is contributions. Add that all up and I have years worth I can access if needed.

    I do know that healthcare expenses will rise, that is why I am working on staying healthy as long as I can. I workout 5 times a week, and I changed my diet a number of years ago. I'm not perfect, but I try to improve where I can. If I retire from this job, I will be able to get subsidized health insurance, or if I marry the SG GF, she has good insurance too. Either way should cover me enough not to worry too much.

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