This is the inaugural post of my wife, Mrs. Buck.
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.
In our 20s, we knew that we should save money, so we started our financial training. We didn’t train with a watch or for a specific pace. Maxing out our retirement plans seemed like the easiest path so that is where we began.
At that point, we lived in Chicago with all of the great things it had to offer: good restaurants, fun bars, fancy shows, and expensive cab rides around town. We spent some money going out, but avoided the pitfall of getting too crazy too often. We had friends that would easily spend hundreds of dollars every weekend in entertainment and dining.
When Buck and I got married, we made sure we could pay for our wedding without going into debt. Yes, we had several friends that went into debt to pay for their wedding and/or honeymoon. Before we knew it, we had my student loan paid off, our car paid off, and we had enough money for a down payment on a condo in the city.
We maintained this financial training for 15 years. We’ve been monitoring our net worth for a while, and we knew that we were doing pretty well given our age. Early on, I recall asking Buck over and over again when we would know that we had enough saved. At that time there were very few financial blogs really speaking to the numbers behind financial independence. That landscape has obviously changed dramatically.
Recently when our net worth hit seven figures, it occurred to me that even though we trained without a watch and without a clear pace, we were definitely on the podium of financial independence. Yes, it may only be a bronze but at least we’re on the podium! We still have some work ahead of us if we want to move up to the top spot.
Hitting the $1 million milestone, and consistently staying above it with the daily swing of the stock market was a lovely and unexpected surprise akin to my 3rd place medal. We’ll need to implement a more deliberate training regimen if we want to move up on the podium. Better fix my shoelace, and get running…