Everyone loves a rages to riches story. I’m not sure this would really qualify as one. I’ve never lived in rags, nor been any of the things or experienced any of the things associated with being poor. I’ve lived a pretty middle class way of life always over extending myself and living beyond my means. I always heard that you have to live the life you want, well that only works for so long. As I think about where I’m at currently, I can’t help but wonder where I’ll be this time next year. However, to fully appreciate where I end up, I think you need to understand where I started.
I’ve always lived a fairly middle class existence and I always dreamed of having more than I had. Not really wanting to have all the expensive things in life and shop at department stores and spend an insane amount of money on designer items, I just wanted to be comfortable. I want to be able to buy what I want, and when I want it. I also don’t want to have to really think about money, I never thought that was asking too much. I also always knew the only one who was going to get me there was me and I have to work hard for what I want.
I had a game plan to achieve my goals, anyone who is remotely successful has a game plan. For a project for class in high school we had to write some answers to questions and where we would be in 5 or 10 years, essentially a letter to our future self with where we would be. My game plan was to go to school and become a lawyer, I’d study psychology because the major interested me and I thought it would help me in law if I understood how people think. While I was going to school and working full time I was going to get my paralegal certification so I could start getting experience and make a decent living to pay for law school. I was going to go to law school in Berkeley where I would end up living in Cali with my current boy friend at the time. Well you can tell by reading this, that is not how things turned out. So what happened to my road map and my perfectly planned life, well life happened and I realized I didn’t have it all figured out. Also it was all so much harder than I ever imagined.
Looking back I realize it didn’t have to be that hard, I could have achieved that goal and those dreams but honestly those dreams died long ago. I realized it was not what I wanted and I’m happy how things have turned out. I used to think a lot about the past and how I should have done things differently. I also thought a lot about the future and tried and planned how things would be. Now I’m starting to just live, set a goal and see if I get there. Life is a lot more enjoyable if you just live in the moment.
Now the question remains how did I achieve this level of Zen in my life currently. Anyone who knows me, knows I’ve never been like that. I’m always wound a little tight, trying to figure multiple things out at once. There have been a few life changing events, realizations or epiphanies for me. These have changed my life and redirected my path and helped me get to where I am today. The first was definitely when I was turning 25.
My 25th birthday was the hardest birthday for me thus far. Thirty wasn’t Â even a blip on the screen like 25 was. To me that was the age where everything was figured out, where you finally started to live your life and start your career. Almost like the game of life. I had been checking the things off in life you needed to be successful and have the perfect life. Go to school, marriage, house, job/career, animals, big move and thoughts about babies. Sounds perfect right? Well it would have been but it didn’t all come together. I dropped out of college, I sold my house to move but we ended up in Arizona and not California. I am married so that was one thing I felt accomplished at, which almost made me feel worse that nothing else was where I wanted it to be at. I was working at a call center which I didn’t enjoy. I was living with my parents, my husband, my two dogs and a cat in a 10×10 room because I was just trying to figure out my next move after taking such a big step by moving. I was so upset, 25 was when all this should have been figured out and I should have my degree and be starting my life, not starting over.
So I did what anyone with a quarter life crisis does, I figured out what my path was going to be to get what I wanted, which was to live comfortably. I knew my current path was not going to get me there. I quit my job, worked as waitress so I could go back to school and have more flexibility with a school schedule. I eventually graduated, got a new job where I could progress and excel. I bought a house. My high school reunion was coming up and I was talking to my sister about it. I had to re-evaluate my place in life. I was about 28 and she said something along the lines of, you aren’t where you want to be. However, I felt I was. I wasn’t where I thought I’d be as in a lawyer living in California making tons of money. I was however, moving up in my company, had accomplished some goals and saw my life back on track for being comfortable and not having to worry about money. For the first time in my life I didn’t live pay check to pay check. I couldn’t have whatever I wanted but I definitely got more than I had before. I have two beautiful girls and a few promotions and life was great.
Every time things are going well life hands you some challenges to see how strong you are. My husband lost his job, he went back to school and we had a single income for over a year. I stayed strong and made it through as hard and challenging as it was but we survived. The only problem was I never changed my lifestyle or gave anything up. This helped put us in huge debt. With the challenges at home and work I was extremely stressed and overwhelmed. I didn’t really know who I was. Shopping helped ease the frustration but it wasn’t enough, I needed some changes. I was struggling with who I was, I didn’t even know anymore as I was just doing what I needed to, and just tried to accomplish the goals at hand. Finally, I decided to make a change and got a new job, two actually. The first was selling insurance where I saw the potential of reaching that lifestyle I dreamed of where I wasn’t worried about money. The other was a job to pay the bills and help alleviate the stress from work. I did both these jobs for a year. I kept telling myself to fake it till I made it. There were days I was super stressed and upset again but overall I was happy again. I started realizing who I was Â again. I filled my phone saving inspirational quotes, I remembered all the past self help books and what they had done to get me where I was. I wasn’t really faking the happiness, possibly the motivation but overall I was happy with rediscovering who I was and being the person and mom I needed to be.
As I’m writing this, I’m pretty happy with the path my life is on and the turn it has taken. We finally have a two income family and a plan to pay off the mistakes we made in the past. I still have a major shopping problem but I’m trying. Last year for my birthday I got to go indoor sky diving. I think last year was discovering life and learning to let the stress and frustration of the past go. This year for my birthday we went to goodwill on half price Saturday and bought a few things. I love the hunt and search for deals and you can definitely find some gems at goodwill. On my actual birthday I’m having a party, the first in quite some time, but it will be while playing bingo. I also have a major gambling itch. So I’m trying to learn to work with the things I enjoy but not breaking the bank. I’m no longer super concerned with money and being financially comfortable, all that comes with time, dedication and patience. Patience is something I’m learning. I’m rich with a great family and the real lesson in being happy has been to just be happy. Let go of the past, set a goal for the future and live in the moment to achieve your goals. Little changes and things done today will have a major impact in the future it just takes time for it all to happen. I’m not a patient person and this is a super challenge for me. I’ve learned to accept that and focus on being more willing to wait for things. I also learned I suck at sales and am giving up my dream of financial freedom with the help of selling insurance. Now I’m hoping that my writing can be that conduit. I know that it will take time and a lot of work. However this is the first time I feel really comfortable and excited with my career choice and how things are going. I’m okay with this decision and I’m curious what my next birthday will be like. I know now that this year I have everything I need and I couldn’t be happier. I’m truly rich already.
That post if you suffered through it, was a Â draft I wrote around September 2016. Â I was definitely on the right path and have be working hard this past year towards my goals. Â There have been hiccups along the way and I haven’t accomplished everything I wanted. Â But I am not where I was last year and that is a good thing. Â I’ve actually stopped buying things and focusing more on needs instead of wants and impulses. Â I pay the bills and set an amount we have to live off till next pay day. Â I bargain shop and eat at home. Â I am Â doing things I have never done before. Â All the lessons I should have learned but never bothered to pay attention, because I had it all figured out after all. Â Well now I know, I don’t have anything figured out. Â All I have are things I want and the only way to get what you want is to create a plan and set a course. Â If you fail, it is probably because you didn’t stick with the plan.
Well as I write this, it is almost September again, a year later. This year I am going to celebrate my birthday doing one of those escape rooms. Â Something I have wanted for awhile. I cannot wait to invite my friends and hang out for the day. Â I am going to get it by having a garage sale the week before so I have extra money to pay for my fun day. Learning to save and wait to do something till you can afford it, or making extra money to get it, these are the things I have learned this year. Â It is not fun and I don’t always do it, but I will. Â I am going to continue to work towards my goals, being financially independent, healthy and published. Â I may not achieve all of them by this time next year, but I will accomplish one of them, I just have to stick with the plan.