What Will You Do With Your Blank Slate?
Disclosure - This post contains an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Last time, we took a look at why it’s important to clarify our values first when we embark on our financial self-love journey. After all, if we still believe that ‘money is the root of all evil’ (which it is not and is clearly a limiting belief), we’re not going to be able to move forward in assessing what’s truly important to us at this time in our lives.
For example, a big part of the American dream is home ownership, right? I can tell you from personal experience that both of my home ownership experiences (buying and building) were pretty much a nightmare. I’ll leave the reasons why for another conversation on another day.
We’ve been indoctrinated with this idea that home ownership builds wealth, creates financial security and reduces financial risk in retirement. If we don’t buy the 4-bedroom, 4,000 square foot house with 2 ½ car garage on 1/2 acre lot with a 30-year mortgage, we’re not truly living the American dream. Um, no.
Even if it’s paid for, there are gray areas as to whether your residential home is an asset or not. The point, however, is that many more people today, especially since the economic disaster of 2008, are redefining what the American dream looks like for them.
I Ask You, What is Truly Important to You?Here are 3 examples of how movements started because one person or a few people decided to buck the status quo and redefine what it looks like for them.
We’ve seen the rise of FIRE (Financial Independence - Retire Early), which is now a huge movement. If you’re not familiar with it, the goal is to aggressively save and invest anywhere from 50-75% of your income so you can retire somewhere in your 30’s or 40’s. More power to those who are in that space. I’ll be 59 in September, so no FIRE for me, and I'm totally OK with it. Well, I kind of have to be (LOL).
Then, there’s the idea of a minimalist lifestyle, which the concept here is obvious. Two of the more popular blogs are Becoming Minimalist and The Minimalists, who are at the forefront of this movement. While I don’t think I can live in a space with just a bed, two books, one plate, etc., I have sold or donated a lot of crap over the last five years. To be honest? I don’t miss any of it.
And don’t forget, Noelle Hancock, the journalist who, in 2011, gave up her $95,000 a year New York City career to move to the Caribbean to scoop ice cream. At 31, she’d already had enough of the hustle and bustle. Since then, she’s written a book, *My Year with Eleanor, too. I say good for her!
The whole point of this is that, if you’re in your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s or beyond, and if you’re navigating a big transition right now, the rest of your life is like a big blank slate.
So, What Will You Do With Your Blank Slate?
And if you have kids, you’ve most likely been mom for so long that everything you’ve wanted, and that's been important to you over the years, continued to get pushed farther and farther on the back burner.
Start writing in all down. I know what you’re saying. “Geez, Patty, there you go again with that journaling thing.” But, it’s true. Nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific. Write it down and then start putting dates next to it, even if they seem completely unrealistic right now, don't worry about that.
It’s never too late, my friend. Imagine the next 20, 30, 40+ years.
What does it look like for you? What’s important to you?
You may not know that now, and that’s OK, especially if you’re in the middle of financial recovery. I'll never forget in the summer of 2014, we were sitting at the dinner table, talking about stuff and I was in a big rut. I was even toying with a food blog about coffee at the time. (My photography skills are sorely lacking and I was drinking way too much coffee for my own good).
My daughter, who was 13 at the time, looked at me and said, "Mom, what do you REALLY want to do?" And I no idea. While my 20-something self was headed for an advertising career on Madison Avenue, here I was getting ready to turn 54 years old and I had no freaking clue what I wanted to REALLY do. Fast-forward five years and here I am talking to you.
If that’s the space you’re in right now, you may still be in survival mode trying to get your feet and finances back on track. I get it, I totally do.
I want you to at least start thinking about this. What were some of the big dreams you had that got put on the back burner that are important to you now?
Here Are Some Ideas to Get You StartedVisit family far away whenever possible <--- this is mine
Travel to Europe <--- and this, too
Plant a vegetable garden
Plant an English garden
Buy a home or town home or condo
Pamper yourself with a massage
Decorate your home
Start your personal library <--- working on it!
Update your wardrobe
Go out with friends
Entertain friends at home
Move to a Caribbean island (hey, you never know)
Right here, right now. This is the time where you get to decide and choose how you want to live your life. Define what is important to you and then start designing your money story around it creating a life you love.
I’ll see you next time.
* Disclosure - This is an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Patty Gale is a Financial Therapist and the Founder of Fear.less Girl Financial. She believes money stories are not taboo and is passionate about changing the narrative and removing the stigma.