How today's small money choices affect tomorrow's dreams

One small misstep. One slight miscalculation of where my foot was hitting the ground. That’s all it took for me to roll my ankle, breaking it, and send me flying onto hot asphalt. Now I’m in a clunky walking boot for 6 weeks in the middle of a summer heatwave while my fibula heals and who has time for that!?

As you’ve probably noticed, there are some “running” themes peppered throughout my site. I’m a runner, or at least I was until this accident. I’m trying to avoid reading horror stories of 2 year long recoveries, or no recovery at all, from other runners who have suffered a broken ankle. Instead of running freely, I now hobble around each day in my boot trying to be mindful of the stress that is being put on my body from an uneven gait and moving much less than I normally would. I’m still wearing my Fitbit, although I’m not sure why.

Missteps and money?

Here it comes… you can see it. There is a connection between my booted, broken ankle to a blog on financial independence.

I think of friends who are hoping to “retire” soon but won’t be able to because of the numerous financial missteps they’ve made. From leasing car after car, to taking vacations that are paid for dearly several years after they happen, to treating themselves routinely to fancy, expensive dinners. None of these choices by themselves are financially disastrous, right? But each of them by themselves is financially hobbling. And added together, financially crippling.

When it comes to money matters, the seemingly small choices are what make or break your ability to achieve financial independence. I hate to break it to you (pun thoroughly intended) but you have to pay attention to the details and you have to pay attention to the bigger picture of what your details live within. If you want to get really deep into a metaphor, it’s seeing how a group of saplings will turn into a forest, or not, depending upon the environmental factors at play. Shorter put: it’s seeing the future forest for the trees of today.

Thinking about the old-school kind of retirement may not be something you are into, but do you want to spend more time with your kid and less time at work? Or start your own business and work on your terms? Achieving those dreams doesn’t just “happen.” And achieving them without sacrificing your financial future also doesn’t just “happen.”

You have to do the opposite of a financial misstep. You have to make smart and small steps that will put you on solid footing for getting to those dreams. (I know, I know. Metaphor overload. I couldn’t help it.)

one step at a time

Every financial choice matters

Even those seemingly innocuous lifestyle choices. I recently shared with some clients how much money they would have if they got rid of their $700 a month car payments and invested that same amount each month. In 10 years they would have $145,000 and in 20 years, over $500,000, assuming an average return of 10%. They didn’t believe me. (Do you believe me?) They almost didn’t believe the calculator and the math. How could having a car payment equal such a big financial tradeoff? 

So here's your homework.

  1. Write down 2 to 3 dreams that have a financial component.
  2. Ask yourself where your financial reality isn't aligning with your dreams. 
  3. Identify one thing you can do differently to get you from today's reality to tomorrow's dreams.