10 years ago today, I bought a house. And paying off that house has been the focus of our money journey for years.
There have been more ups and downs than I ever imagined. Several reductions-in-force at work, two unpaid maternity leaves, and so much more.
A few months ago, we made that goal our debt-free reality. While it seemed like our financial journey was over, we realized pretty quickly that debt freedom is just the start.
Investing on Autopilot
We’ve been investing–and maxing out our Roth IRAs whenever we could!–along the way. With the market drop, we aren’t quite there yet, but we were knocking on the door of CoastFIRE…and that’s not considering the pensions that both of us can collect–in theory anyway!
Though qualifying for a full pension with education in its current state feels like a Herculean task (or a fool’s errand), I’m fairly confident both of us will make it to the 20-year mark. (Somehow that’s only five years away for me!) Even that partial pension would be a fabulous financial cushion in retirement.
That means our investments are basically on autopilot at this point. We aren’t maxing out my 457 and my husband’s 403b, but we’re pretty close. We think we’ve found the balance between investing for later and living for now (and paying those damn childcare costs).
But this still isn’t the end of our financial journey.
Instead, we’re focusing on two big areas:
Looking at a Legacy
Like so many people, I originally looked at having an estate as something that only happened when you’re really wealthy. But everyone actually has an estate and watching a particularly painful divide in our family after someone passed drove home how important planning this out thoughtfully is. (They had a will and had very little money and it was still an absolutely gutting debacle to watch unfold.)
A lot of people try to DIY this process and be ultra frugal, but I find myself making excuse after excuse whenever I go down this path. So we’ve gotten recommendations for several different estate planners in our area, and we’re going to do everything from putting my husband’s name on our house (I bought it, so it says Penny Saves, a single woman, on the deed!) to naming guardians for our kids in our will and nailing down our plans as best as we can.
We really dragged our feet here because the people who would probably be the best stewards of our kids’ money can’t raise them for the next 15+ years. But we’ve basically navigated all the hurdles and just need to get some financial skin in the game to follow through and get this done.
It’s also worth noting that we much prefer to gift our kids money while we are alive. This is a just-in-case plan if we were to pass while they are minors. We hope to live long into their adulthood and find ways to support them financially as we go…before we go. (Dark humor, but true!)
Having an Impact with Our Money
Another part of our financial journey that feels lifelong is trying to have an impact with our money. Of course, we want part of that impact to be creating wealth and opportunities for our kids.
But we also try to see our impact on a bigger scale. Each month, we add a line in our budget for giving. This is something that we try to grow from year-to-year, and it is also something that we preserve even when slashing away at other areas of our budget.
We also want to make sure that we try to vote with our dollars as often as we can. While shopping small and local may have lost some of the mainstream coverage that was trendy during the pandemic, it’s something we’ve always valued.
As much as I love being frugal, we also say no to free, especially when there is a high hidden cost (time or clutter or material waste!). We aren’t perfect here by any stretch, but as we get rid of even more things and prioritize second-hand first when it comes to things we need and want, we can hopefully find better alignment between our money and our values.
Keeping Our Eyes on the
One of my favorite ways to stay motivated and to expand our financial journey is to read. While blogs may not look the same as they did years ago, I do still love to check in on my favorite money bloggers. I’m also still mostly always inspired by money Twitter and other social media accounts.
But there’s nothing quite like a good money book. I love being able to re-read different parts at different times. I can always come back to it as I move through different chapters of my own life.
To celebrate being debt free in under a decade and to honor where our money journey is going, I’d love to give away two of my favorite books that connect to our lifelong money goals:
I devoured both of these books when I first bought them, and I keep them in my small bedroom book collection so I can come back to them over and over again as needed.
To win, drop me a comment with one of your money goals and then tell me which book you’d like! I’ll choose a name at random over the next week and follow up by email. US mailing addresses only please!
So Tell Me…What’s next on your money journey?