My boyfriend and I were having a conversation about our future plans recently that sparked an idea in my mind.
We were suggesting things we could do in the future like buy a plot of land and build a house out in the country (on a lake, because Minnesota). But, we realized there were some things holding us back. The decisions we made in the past affect what we can do today and further out into the future. Some choices open doors for the future, while other choices limit future options.
Think about it.
If you’ve been working out, you’re probably in better shape than you were before you started. Your future self will be grateful as you’ll have less health issues in the future. I’m not the best at making myself work out, but once I get in the groove watch out! Since I quit my job and moved to Minneapolis, I’ve lost over 5 lbs, lost a few inches around my waist, and gained some muscle definition from 13/9/5 mile bike rides around the nearby lakes. My future self will definitely thank me!
Finances are another huge area. If you signed for student loans when you were 18, you have to pay them back after graduation. If you buy things you can’t afford on credit, you’ll rack up lots of debt. If you get a car loan that’s expensive, you’ll have less money to spend each month. Your future self will likely be cursing you as they struggle to pay down the stuff racked up so easily in the past.
I don’t have to curse my former self. I thank my former self instead, because I was fortunate to be able to save $200k in 5 years. My retirement is now taken care of, which I’m sure my 60 year old self will appreciate.
Lifestyle choices are another area. If you get locked into a certain quality of living it can be incredibly difficult to change. Buying more house than you need and stuffing it full of furniture and pretty knickknacks will make it tough to adapt in the future if you got laid off or had to move for whatever reason.
Make it your goal to set your future self up for more options, not less!
Now, lest you think I perfect (because I am so not perfect), I’m going to share some ways that I’ve ensnared my future self with my past decisions. They aren’t bad decisions, but they certainly limit what I can do now.
I’m enslaved by my cat, and my stuff.
I mean, every cat owner is technically enslaved by their cat. After all, we live to serve them. What I’m talking about goes deeper than that, though.
Because I have a cat, I can’t travel as easily as I could without a pet. When I brought that cute lil floof into my life, I took on the responsibility of providing for him the rest of his life. Cats can live to be 20 years old! Now, I can only live in places I buy or places that allow pets, which certainly is a bit limiting.
If I wanted to go travel the world for an extended period of time, I would have to figure out some one to watch him. This was easy enough with my parents, until I came home after a trip and found out he was no longer welcome in their house. Curious kitty + antiques is not a good combo. Jeremy from Go Curry Cracker would absolutely love it if I could travel the world with them and nanny for their son.…. but I can’t, because I have my cat. Another friend wants me to dog sit for her for 2 weeks in November.…. in Guatemala.… but I can’t, because I have my cat. (Sidenote: If you like the idea of cheap beautiful living while watching a couple of cute Great Danes and can spend 2 weeks in Guatemala, let me know and I’ll pass your info on to her!)
The cat isn’t the only thing holding me back.
I have stuff. A lot of stuff. I like having stuff.
I’m proud of my DVD collection. Of my book collection. Of my video game collection.
I have things I’m saving for the future — like my Lego collection for future kiddos. I have hobbies that take up space like stained glass and quilting.
My stuff limits what I can do.
I can’t live in a cheap studio. I tried that when I bought The Dingle House and wasn’t very happy with all of my stuff in boxes with no space. So I need at least a one bedroom place, and probably a 2 bedroom place.
I started out in a 3 bedroom house by myself and filled most of it with stuff. Now I am paying the price as I try to downsize.
Although, I will say I certainly have less stuff than I did when I lived in that 3 bedroom house. I’ve sold most of my big bulky furniture and gotten rid of quite a few boxes of junk and papers. I have more to go, but progress is being made!
Fortunately, I made some choices in the past that have opened doors for my future self (just in case you were feeling down from all the chains I’ve wrapped around myself).
I made choices that left me consumer debt free. For instance, I kept my old car instead of buying a brand new car on credit. If I had car payments, I would be totally stressed out and worried about keeping the car. But, since I paid for the car in cash outright in college, I have no car payment and thus one less worry on my plate.
I saved lots of money in tax advantaged accounts while working that let me quit my high paying IT job, move to a new state to be with my boyfriend, and take on lower paying but way fun jobs (like being a studio monkey for a local stained glass artist that I am having a ton of fun with!). I wouldn’t be able to function if I didn’t have that money in my back pocket that will percolate and become my phat retirement nest egg.
I’m also making good choices right now that will open more doors. The big one is.…
I’m selling my rental property! If you listen to the podcast, you got to hear the process happen in real-time which is awesome that we got to capture that moment while recording an episode. I’m tired of dealing with the house, the tenants, and the property management company. The trifecta, basically. I also have figured out the house needs almost $50k worth of work in the next 18 months or so. That list includes 2 new bathrooms, new exterior paint job, new gutters, and probably a ton of other smaller things that I can’t think of off the top of my head.
I promise I will write a longer, more in-depth post on the house selling process, but right now I don’t want to jinx it. I close August 16th, so wish me some luck!!! I need it!
Selling The Dingle House will let me be completely debt free again. I will no longer be obligated to pay $700 a month to the bank for the mortgage and up to $500 a month in utility bills. Not to mention the looming mountain of repairs needed will no longer be my problem thank the Lord for some small favors. I won’t have to expend mental energy on worrying on whether or not the neighbor is going to call the cops on my tenant for suspected drug dealing. I won’t have to coördinate the repair of shattered door frames from the raid, either, so that will be lovely too.
All in all, I see good things on the horizon and I shall strive to make choices that open doors for my future self (preferably without being kicked down by the metaphorical equivalent of the local police force haha). So the next time you’re making a big decision, think to yourself — will this be helpful or harmful to my future self?
Thanks for reading! What choices have you made that helped you? What choices have you made that harmed you?
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