Friday, September 11, 2020

Thank You, My 35 Year Old Self

People often joke that their pandemic life isn't different much from their normal life. In many ways, this is true for me, but not completely. Like many people, I've reduced my spending considerably: I haven't traveled anywhere this year; I haven't purchased any new clothes for myself; I've put my gym and massage accounts on hold until next March; I haven't purchased gas for my car as often; and I haven't signed up for any races (10ks/half marathons/marathons). In essence, all my savings are in the non-essential, "want" categories.  The spending on my "needs," i.e., housing, food, insurance and transportation (except gas), are all either flat or slightly up. 

To be blunt, I'm living a life without much fluff and fun right now. And it reminds me when was I in the throes of student loan repayment hell. In my mid-30s, I had a Come-To-Jesus moment when I came to the realization that I was drowning in debt. I made a commitment to attack my student loan and credit card debts the best I could. This meant implementing an austerity lifestyle which included, among other things, an $8.70/day food budget. I remember being holed up in my dark, 1-bedroom apartment day after day, pitying myself for not having any money for fun, travel or shopping. Boy, those were some depressing days.

And now, I'm in my late 40s, quickly approaching 50. My life has considerably improved since then: I have at least 1 year's emergency fund saved, ~$740k in my retirement funds, own a rental property and live in a nicely furnished 2-BR condo in a posh neighborhood. My net worth (including real estate) is now over $1 million. 

Unlike my mid-30s, I now have money to spend without digging myself into debt. But I've chosen not to spend for stuff out of my "want" categories to do a pause-and-reset of my finances. This is a conscientious choice; the Spartan lifestyle of my 30s was out of necessity.  This makes a big difference psychologically and emotionally. 

Ironically, frugality now feels like a luxury because I know the sacrifices will reap rich rewards down the road. Back in my 30s, I wasn't so sure the sacrifices would make any difference in my debt levels, which only fueled my anxiety and misery. Despite this, my 35 year old self soldiered on. So I am using this opportunity to thank my 35 year old self for taking that first step despite all of her misgivings, FOMO and jealousy. I hope to make my 65 year old future self just as proud.


Nd.chic said...

I'm so happy you're blogging again. I always read your blog before.

Shtinkykat said...

Hi there! I have been away for a long time, but in all seriousness, it doesn't feel long. How did I go from a mid-30s gal to a middle-aged woman pushing 50??? Time sure flies fast.