Monday, May 30, 2011

Financial Plans?

The other day, someone asked us to come to a financial planning meeting, where we'd get our finances analyzed, a forecast prepared, and additional advice regarding investing, etc - for free. So, because we  1) like the idea of free financial assistance from a trusted source, and 2) wanted to help this person, we said yes.

Now, I know I'm not a very exciting person. Ask my roommates from college. I studied. I played sports. Then, instead of eating or sleeping, I studied more. Stress was my constant companion. Well, when you're that involved in an affair with your GPA, you rarely have time to spend money. Hence, I didn't budget because I didn't spend. In fact, I came out of college with $0 in debt.

My parents are also extremely frugal. When gas was $0.87/gallon, we'd drive around to different grocery stores to save 10 cents on meat - an exaggeration, but not by much! My parents are great examples of living within your means. I've learned the distinct difference between needs and wants - I've known that since I could write my name.

I have regrets - not playing more in college, not relaxing and most importantly - I took myself too seriously. I'm a lot better at this now, but mostly because I married someone who helps me identify when I'm about to start down that path, and that pattern has led to a change in behavior. Thankfully!

But, I don't regret being financially responsible.

-Cue Financial Planner-

He looks at our numbers, drools over how much my company contributes to my 403(b), and loves how much we've done - we have no debt, etc. Great.

Then, he asks us about our dreams. [Remember, I'm a pretty dull person, apparently.]

I look to Tyler. He mentions that we'd like to start a family and own a home someday. [Please notice the word, someday.]

The planner begins to drill us - what about travelling all over the world? What about this, that, and the other things!? His son is traveling Eurpoe with his wife, he speaks 4 languages, and he's interning with the State Dept. in Albania or something.

I don't have much to say. I need more advice on investing, not saving for a trip to Europe, amongst other things.

Anywho, the guy eventually breaks my silent streak. He tells me I live in a box. [He isn't the first one.] I said thank-you. He's shocked. I mention to him that I believe in being financially responsible first and foremost. I have dreams, but I know that they're not the most important things in my near future.

He asks what they are - truthfully, I'd give anything to be a National Geographic photographer. Ty's an anthropologist - as he travels, wouldn't it be great to be a photojournalist for National Geographic!?

He grins, because he thinks we're getting somewhere.

In the end, he brings the discussion back to owning a house. [In my world, I would like to own a home within the next 10 years.] I once had a co-worker who told me that if I could, I should only take out a mortgage that was 2x what we made anually. The financial planner says, "Is your box even going to have windows?!?" [I love windows. And, that struck a nerve.]

I came home and cried and cried and cried.

What's wrong with me?

Now, this may sound a little self-serving, but I don't think that anything is wrong with me. I refuse to live like the other 98% of Americans. I don't want to keep up with the Joneses [did anyone else see that movie!?]. I mean, it'd be fantastic to live a lifestyle without worries. Oh wait! Being financially responsible allows me to do just that. However, that doesn't mean that I can just up and purchase anything, go anywhere at anytime - that sort of thing. Remember, I am somewhat intelligent - I know that debt will come knocking on my doorstep quickly [grad school, kids, eventually achiving my dream of owning a home, etc].


The kicker is: I would really die to visit the Myan ruins, the underground city in Jerusalem, travel through Italy, visit Ukraine, and backpack through all of Europe.

The difference is - I can do all of those things, but I don't have to do them now. I don't need those things.

My Ultimatum
I told the financial planner that I was an 85 yr old woman in a 25 yr old's body.
I plan on living frugally. I want to help those around me.
I don't need a new house tomorrow.
I don't need a $10,000 credit limit.
I don't need to travel everywhere before 40.
[even if I would love to]

I have a plan for my life.
I receive constant guidance for that plan.
From someone who knows what will bring me true happiness.
This plan is not the same for everyone.
That's why I live vicariously through so many of you.

I'm so grateful to friends who travel.
I'm so grateful to friends who experience life whim by whim!
I am not jealous; I don't disagree with that lifestyle.
I understand that the plan for you and for me are inherntly different.
Just like we are all different.

I don't particularly love it when others,
namely financial planner dude,
can't get their heads around that.

So, ultimately:
At the end of all things, I don't think that God is going to say with scorn,
"Why didn't you travel all over Europe?"
"Why didn't you buy that enormous house?"
"Why didn't you get a new car every year?"
"Why didn't you spend more money that you made so that you could impress others?"

I think that God will ask me:
"What did you do to build up my kingdom?"

And, I realize that the answer to that question is going to differ for everyone.

I find myself not knowing how to wrap this 'entry' up.
I just know I am trying to do my best.
That's all my dad ever asked of me.
That's what I'm going to try to give,
and this is a motto I could live by:
"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that."
[HP #1]


The Ellis Family said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Ellis Fam said...

Krista, you poor thing. That would be hard to sit through. I'm a dreamer and I often make Mark feel bad because he is more like you and would rather save at this time in our lives. So I have relented to agree with him and try to help us save. But we will get around to my dreams eventually, maybe it wont be till the kids all move out or till we retire. But we have made a commitment to each other, to stay fit and healthy so that we can still have the energy to do all those things. I want to be able to hike the Alps and walk across the Great Wall of China and defend myself in Mother Russia... So again, theirs another way you can save for the future. Sorry for the novel comment, but hey, you love novels. :)

The Ellis Fam said...

Sorry that deleted message was from me. I was in Mark's google account and thought you might not know who that was.

jalene said...

well, i'd agree mr. financial planner guy didn't handle that the best way. you know what makes you happy and you guys are SMART! if saving and going on a fun trip makes you happy then do it! if saving up for a house or kid or both and it makes you happy then do that. or do both!! that's the great thing. you can choose. and that dude shouldn't expect you to choose things that may make him happy... i'm more like you. i save and save and save and freak out when we have to use it for something *cough* kidney stone *cough*. but lincoln on the other hand would love to get new phones and got on trips before we have kids. we have to learn how to balance each other. and he helps me realize that it's okay to spend on those types of things sometimes... of course, all within moderation. ;)

MacMui Mom said...

You go girl!!! The only way I ever saw the world was mostly becasue I went places for work. I think keeping you priorities in place is excellent. Staying out of debt and in control is the best!! You rock!

Daryn N said...

Usually when I look at blogs and see a bunch of words and no pictures....I skim over it and skip it :) (I'm extremely A.d.d) Haha. But I read this whole thing and I loved it. I agree with you completely. Good for you guys!

missriss said...

I thought I commented when I first read this but I guess not. I completely agree with you and I am rather shocked that the financial advisor didn't.