As have many couples, I’m sure, Ms. H and I have professed to one another how we believe the other is the most important facet of our lives. And now with little Ms. Moxie, we have expanded our attention to include spending more time with her.
When we look at how we spend our time, though, I’m confronted with a simple, hard, cold fact: I spend most of my waking time at work. Yet I never say that work is the most important thing in my life. What is going on here?
Why do I say Ms. H. is the most important fact of my life, yet I spend most of my time at work? Well, and I think this may sound rather harsh, I’ve been lying to myself. Why I’ve been lying to myself is common.
Like many, many Americans I have believed in the endless cycle of buying things as way to fulfill my right to the pursuit of happiness. In the process of buying things, I’ve engaged in lifestyle creep: with every salary increase, I’ve increased my spending.
By essentially spending most of my discretionary income, I can only look to retirement when I am 65, 67 or maybe even 75 as the time I can spend with Ms. H. Why is this?
Without substantial savings as a result of living beneath my means, I have no stash of cash upon which to rely should I want to leave my job. Thus I cannot leave my job before I become eligible for Social Security.
And thus, what has been most important to me is my lifestyle, the endless cycle of buying and regretting and tossing, lather, rinse, repeat. My job has been a way to fund this most important facet of my life.
Fortunately I have seen the error of my ways and am now endeavoring to save as much as 85% of my discretionary salary. My goal is that sometime well before I am 65 or 69 ½ or whenever the government says I can draw on Social Security, I will be financially free to spend my time however I choose, which, in my case, will be with Ms. H. and little Ms. Moxie.
My goals and wishes are now in alignment. I say I want to spend more time with Ms. H., and now I am working to achieve that goal. There is no way in hell I will ever buy a 30,000 car. At my present level of expenses, that sum is the equivalent of not working for 2 years.
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather drive our thirteen year old Toyota or ride my bike and know that I can retire earlier than Uncle Sam says I can. My remaining time on earth is such that I’d rather spend it with Ms. H. than at any job, anywhere. Living beyond my means has really messed with my true lifestyle desires. So I’m grateful I’ve been able to figure some of this stuff out and can make different choices with my time and money.