As a young gal I was a big fan of the works of Robert Anson Heinlein. Mr. Heinlein was a prolific science fiction writer, and many of his characters shared the same characteristics – they were always “prepared to jump.” Typically his characters (both the men and women) held multiple university degrees, could cook, were excellent with firearms, and were always prepared to leave their current planet for a new one if everything went sideways. Part of being prepared meant having a stash of cash available (usually in multiple currencies) so that his characters could get out of town fast.
I’m not planning on leaving town, (and I already have an emergency fund to take care of that proverbial “broken water heater” that financial gurus always mention,) but I am almost 40 and thinking a lot about the future. I am starting to dream about what I want the next 40 years to look like. Plus, I keep seeing things like this:
The thing about dreams, though, is that they can easily get derailed by a lack of cash. How often are we afraid to take a leap of faith because of a fear about money? Whatever the dream is – starting a new business, going back to school, changing careers, travelling around the world – it all takes money. We have so many day to day expenses that dreams and ambitions get pushed to the sideline.
Like most people, I suspect, I have a whole list of things that I would like to do before I die. What I am trying to do is figure out what is going to be the most meaningful and bring me the most happiness. I honestly don’t know what that is going to look like yet. I do know, however, that having a stash of cash can’t hurt – and can only help. Perhaps all it will do is give me the strength and courage to take a leap in a new direction, but that is enough.
Now, I believe that people are very bad at focusing on more than a couple of things at a time. I have so much in my life that I care about – my relationship with my boyfriend, friends and family, my career, my volunteer work, my home, my dog, and just all around living. I also have one big goal that is taking up a lot of my attention – my weight loss. I don’t want to take anything away from all that. The weight loss is going incredibly well but I have goals yet to achieve.
So, after thinking about it the last couple of days, (Walking the dog is a great time for thinking!) I have a very simple plan. Over the next three months I am going to monitor my spending. I am not going to try to change it; I am just going to try to spend more time thinking about each purchase I make. I am also going to look for ways to adjust my budget a bit, make a little more room for savings. I’ve done this before, and I know I can do it again.
June has always been a good month for me to overhaul my finances. Hopefully by then I will have achieved more of my weight loss goals and have more energy to focus on it. (If not, I’ll push it back a month or two.) Ultimately, I want to be a little smarter with my savings and put a bit away, not as a “rainy day” fund, but as a “create a fulfilling life” fund.
When the time comes to jump into that new life – I’ll be ready.
Photo credit: Aza Raskin