You can start to feel Old Man Winter’s breathe in our neck of the woods. Today I busted out my favorite goose-down coat as I headed out the door this morning. I reached into one of its pockets and discovered an unclaimed $20 bill. Gosh, I love it when that happens.
I had that same feeling earlier this last weekend when I was catching up on my favorite blogs. I learned of a new resolution to our issue of having too much money tied up in retirement accounts that, in theory, couldn’t be touched without penalty until age 59.5.
The other day I was wondering what my life would have looked like now had I taken a different path right out of college. At the time, I thought about postponing my job search for a year to travel the world with nothing but my backpack and sandals.
I had visions of being like Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in the movie The Beach (the first half anyway) and wandering around Southeast Asia and beyond*. I probably would have ended up as one of those guys with blonde dreadlocks working odd jobs in farmer’s fields and cleaning hostels to try and scrape together enough money to fund my travels. This sounds pretty horrible to me now, but at the time this was my idea of a dream job.
See, the problem with “dream jobs” for most of us is is that they either have ultra-low pay, are highly unobtainable, or are some degree of both. Unless you have a world-class talent that can carry you to riches doing something you absolutely love to do, I suspect most of us are just average people doing rather ordinary things for a paycheck (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
This Spring I ran in a 5K race with some friends. I should clarify that I’m not really a runner. In fact, my high school soccer coach would joke that I was at the top of the sprint matrix, top of the bottom that is. I like to stay fit and running short distances is my quick and inexpensive form of exercise. I don’t train with a watch, so I have no clear understanding of my pace.
Come race day, I set out to pace myself with a friend who expected to run 9 ½ minute miles. This seemed like an okay pace to me. Within the first quarter-mile one of my shoelaces came undone, I had to stop and tie it while my friend continued. Once I started running again, I felt as though I needed to pick up my pace in order to make up for lost time. I ended up maintaining this faster pace for the rest of the race.
It was not until later that evening while I was reviewing race results online that I found out that I finished 3rd for my gender and age group. Yes, there were more than 3 people in this grouping…in fact there were 35 others. It turns out that I was running at an 8 ½ minute mile pace. Better yet, a few weeks after the race I received an actual bronze medal in the mail – a lovely and unexpected surprise!
I’ve come to realize that this race is a fair analogy to our family’s approach to saving and financial independence.