Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Personal Finance and Personal Priorities
I'm going to talk about something a little different today. I had a wonderful lesson, nailed that shoulder-in on Pete, but this last week I finally got put on salary at my job, and so I have been spending a lot (too much?) of time on recalibrating my finances.
It's not a sexy subject. It's not very fun. But it is the single best tool at my disposal to influence my future.
No, seriously. It's more important than my career, or even my law degree.
If I find the perfect job in Seattle, and am lucky enough to actually get an offer, my personal finances can wreck that dream. Moving costs money, and in this market selling my home would take time. Right now, I could not afford to rent a place in another state or city and pay my mortgage at the same time. Would I be able to accept that dream job?
I would like to return to Japan and finish earning my fluency certificate. Right now, I have debts that I would have to pay at the same time as paying for living expenses in Tokyo. I already have plenty of student loan debt, and while I can do an in-school deferment while I am in Japan, I do not want to add too much to that while I am going to school there. If I were accepted into the program, could I afford to go?
I place a high priority on both travel and taking care of my horses. This means that, unless I am willing to sell them (I'm not), I would have to support my horses and myself as I wander about the globe, join the peace corps, or pursue language immersion. Can I afford to do both?
The current answer to all three of these questions is Not Yet. The only way that not yet doesn't turn into not ever is if I get my spending under control, work towards earning more, and save a significant portion of my income.
Unsexy. But so was studying for the bar. So was busting my ass mucking stalls every day during college so I could afford to keep Avalon at a boarding stable where he would receive quality care. So was spending hours a day memorizing kanji before and after class.
All those things paid off eventually. So will this.
I need to remind myself constantly that my daily decisions (especially whether to eat out or not) affect my long term goals. This is really true for everything in life: weight loss, riding, learning languages. I feel like I struggle with this far more often than I would like. I feel like a failure more often than I feel like I'm on the right track.
There's a blog called The Simple Dollar. The author is someone I greatly admire, and his philosophy towards money and priorities in life is something I really see the wisdom in. His priority is his children. That's not going to be my priority, but I do see how aligning personal finances with personal priorities leads to happier, more meaningful lives.
The trick is making it happen day after day.