we seem to be in the minority among those we follow on twitter in not attending fincon, though we hope everyone who is going has a wonderful time and learns a ton (all the better if you want to share what you learn!). we wouldn’t rule out going to a future fincon, but still don’t see ourselves as “real bloggers,” and so the idea of spending big travel bucks for a blogging conference is just not where we are right now. for those of you who are attending, what got you over the hump and let you see what you’re doing as real blogging, and made it feel like something worth investing in? we’d love to know! along the lines of investing in your blog, something we are considering is a new layout for the blog, to make it more easily skimmable, and we’d love your feedback here or on twitter.
Pondering a new blog theme. What do you all think? Prefer a prettier home page, or prefer more actual blog text? pic.twitter.com/KZKH9BjAvP
— Our Next Life (@our_nextlife) September 15, 2015
and then there was this one:
Still at it… How about a more drastic change, but with excerpts from the posts. Thoughts? pic.twitter.com/d5aumbXoXr
— Our Next Life (@our_nextlife) September 16, 2015
update: as you can see, we flipped the switch! we were loving everything about the new theme (gazette in wordpress, possibly the best free theme ever — though we may one day pay for chronicle or hermes, our second and third choices), and we got too excited to hold back. enjoy!
now to today’s topic…
mrs. frugalwoods recently wrote a post that triggered something for us: in it, she talked about how glad she is to be writing now, given that she had always wanted to write, but also lamented that it took her so long to get started, and she feels like she lost that time. we can definitely relate to that latter sentiment in a lot of areas of our lives — wishing we’d picked up a number of sports earlier in life so that we could do them more fearlessly now, or, most obviously, wishing we’d figured out our early retirement plan at a younger age. because, the truth is, we could easily be retired by now if we’d just figured things out a few years sooner. and reading blogs by people who are planning to retire by age 35 or even younger can for sure sting when we know we will be 38 and 41 when we retire. it’s easy to wonder: what all could we have done in those years if we’d gotten an earlier start?
this type of thinking is insidious, and doesn’t help anything. it makes something amazing and inspiring — early retirement, and the notion of freedom — into a competition, a race. it’s neither of those things. it also instills a feeling of failure for not doing something sooner, when the very fact that we are doing it at all is downright kick-ass, and a major success by any measure. even if we’ll be “late” early retirees, we’re still retiring waaaaaay earlier than average.
any days of freedom each of us can eke out before age 65 should be considered a victory. so while we may lament on some level that we aren’t retired by now (we’re currently 36 and 38), we’d much rather go with the “better late than never” way of thinking, and be grateful that we found this path at all.
learning the joy of “better late than never” through health
i’ve had another experience with “better late than never” that illustrates this point on a non-financial level. for years, starting in adolescence, i had a bunch of weird medical symptoms that were seemingly unrelated — migraines, restless legs syndrome (it is a very real thing), peripheral neuropathy (tingling in my feet and hands), chronic stomach pain, skin rashes. for years — nay, decades! — i went to an army of specialists to try to get to the root of these and other problems, and would often leave with a prescription for some new medication, but no answers, and no sense that these symptoms were related. then, about 20 years into my search for answers, i finally got it: celiac disease, a serious gluten intolerance and autoimmune disease. of course i was relieved to have an answer after all those years of trying to figure things out, but i also felt frustrated that no one had thought food might be the culprit in all that time. no one ever referred me to an allergist, and even my first gastroenterologist had not thought to explore this avenue.
while i was frustrated initially, very quickly i felt super lucky. i had my answer at last, and all of my symptoms — every single one of them — could be resolved by avoiding some foods. i didn’t need surgery, i didn’t need medication, i didn’t need any sort of gene therapy or dialysis or who knows what else. i just had to alter my diet, which came with a serious learning curve, but wasn’t that big a deal in the end. if i had stayed frustrated that it took the doctors so long to figure things out, what would that have gotten me? plenty of bitterness, sure. and a lot less appreciation for how much better i was starting to feel. so now, three-plus years post-diagnosis, my overwhelming feeling is one of gratitude.
- gratitude that i feel about 100 percent better on all fronts
- gratitude that i don’t need any ongoing medical treatment
- gratitude that i got the answer i was seeking
- gratitude that awareness of cross-contamination and gluten generally are on the rise big time (though gf products are crazy overpriced — which doesn’t help our grocery budget)
- gratitude that i have a supportive spouse who is willing to eat gluten-free at home (except for beer — he’s not an animal!)
applying the joy of “better late than never” to finances
we spent a good chunk of our 20s blowing money, though if we hadn’t, we also wouldn’t be together. we could choose to be frustrated at ourselves for wasting that money and not getting on the early retirement path sooner, but what would that get us? it sure wouldn’t make us retirees at this moment! choosing to be frustrated would just make us sad or angry or bitter, and perhaps even less motivated to move forward. instead, we choose to enjoy the memories of that time, which we call our “baller years,” and reminisce about the fancy meals we ate and unfrugal travel we embarked on. about the expensive cities where we lived, and the many rounds of drinks we bought for friends. sure, if we had found the early retirement path sooner, we might be retired by now, but there would be a trade-off as well: we wouldn’t have those memories.
we’re not advocating wasteful spending. but given that wasteful spending is part of our past, we are choosing to see the positive in it: the fun that spending bought us, the great memories, the big city life, the beautiful travel, the time with friends. it’s a part of our lives that we wouldn’t trade.
so now, even though we see others “ahead” of us on the path to early retirement, we feel nothing but gratitude:
- gratitude that we found some helpful blogs and books that showed us that early retirement is really possible
- gratitude for the incredibly supportive community of bloggers and readers who keep us motivated to keep optimizing our spending to accelerate our savings
- gratitude that we will be able to retire while we’re still young and able-bodied enough to do the outdoorsy stuff we love
- gratitude that we found the path at all, regardless of how old we’ll be when we get there!
and if we ever feel like we were late to the early retirement party, we just remind ourselves: better late than never!
do you ever feel like you’ve gotten around to doing something late? how do you overcome the frustration that would be natural to feel? do you feel like you’re late to getting your finances order or planning for some major life goal? please share!