Remember George Bailey as a kid? All he wanted to do was be a grown up and travel the world. Remember the grown-up version of George Bailey, stuck in Bedford Falls, and resenting his family because he didn’t get to travel the world? Remember how he was constantly worrying about money and bills? Remember how he thought he was worth more dead than alive? As we move from childhood into adulthood we realize that our plan for our life doesn’t necessarily execute the way we dreamed it would when we were kids. We can learn a lot from George Bailey!
“I wish I had a million dollars. Hot dog!”
Let’s face it, most of us in the personal finance community are chasing after this exact thing. Don’t deny it. And, that’s not a bad thing. I think most of us are high-functioning, well-rounded individuals who realize that a million dollars isn’t something to covet in order to be a fiscal hoarder or to brag to our not-so-well-off friends. We’re chasing that million dollars (or some variation thereof) to set ourselves free from the shackles of the traditional retirement trajectory. Who said we need to work our entire lives, spend all that we earn, only to “retire” with our best years behind us? When the young George Bailey muttered those famous words, he was speaking for ALL of us. He wanted freedom from Bedford Falls. He saw Bedford Falls as the traditional retirement trajectory. He wanted to be different. He wanted more.
What I Really Wish
This year has been a whirlwind year for us at Mad Money Monster. After nearly committing financial suicide with the purchase of a large home early in the year, we cooled our consumer jets and decided to hop on the frugal path to early retirement. I always had a love for frugality but sometimes I have been known to fall off the beaten path. After canceling the housing contract, we awakened The Frugal Force within both of us and decided we wanted more out of our lives than material things. We want freedom. The housing collapse commenced during the summer. After starting our FIRE, we got serious and canceled cable, started analyzing every single purchase, started a personal finance blog *ahem* and, oh yeah, got engaged! Mr. MMM proposed in July and we were married in October. We had the best time planning our frugal, but fabulous, wedding and honeymoon. We finished our honeymoon and slid right into the holiday season. Please pass the turkey!
Stepping back and looking at the big picture made me realize that reaching the big goal of early retirement probably won’t be as fun as the journey. I’m having the time of my life challenging myself and my family to live a more frugal and genuine lifestyle. It’s quite rewarding to see our accounts climb higher and higher from a few small changes.
However, what I have realized is that none of this matters if everything else is not in order. Thankfully, my friends and family are all in good health. We have been able to spend time together and enjoy each other. I know life will deal tough blows, but for now, we are on cruise control. And, that, feels wonderful. The true reward is a happy and healthy family, and friends who would take your phone call at 2am. If you have that, you already are a millionaire.
“…And To All, A Good Night.”
Regardless of your million dollar path, remember that life is about the journey. Don’t hate your current life because you’re still working for “The Man” or “Woman” 🙂 Don’t resent your path in life because it isn’t the one you envisioned for yourself when you were 18. You are exactly where you want to be. If not, you would change it. Like the enlightened George Bailey we see at the end of the Capra’s film, know that your life, as it stands today, is also wonderful. I hope all of our readers are enjoying their family and friends and all the season has to offer.
Happy Holidays, Mad Money Monsters!
How Has Your Life Been Enriched In 2015? How Do You Measure Success?
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