Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me That?
What I Wish I Knew At 23 - Wren's Age Now!
As I grow older and wiser, I often lament that we don't live in reverse and that wisdom isn't given when we are younger so it could have a more profound impact on our overall lives. Clearly we're meant to have lessons delivered via experiences. Why aren't we more open to hearing the advice given by people who have a few years under their belts that offer up a little life reflection? We could make it so much easier for ourselves! So here goes some unsolicited advice I want to give, called, "I wish I would have". Maybe it will resonate with someone reading this and give them a little stepping stone or pebble for an easier life!
"Wish I would have tip" #1: 25 year vacation fund.
Shocking, but true, you'll be 50 before you know it. How amazing would it be to be going on a vacation of a lifetime with no money out of your pocket?
I was Wren's age when her dad and I got married and we are coming up on our 25th wedding anniversary in a couple of months. I was having random thoughts as I fell asleep the other night, and a thought that had previously never occurred popped in. How much money would I have saved up for a 25th wedding anniversary trip, if I'd saved $20/month? When I got up in the morning I did the math. I mean really, how much would a measly $20/month have amounted to? A whopping $6,000!! What if we'd both put away $20? $12,000! That's nothing to shake a fist at, even if after 25 years most of us are in a more comfortable place than we were when we were 23, a cool $6,000 would be welcomed! If you truly had too much money by your 25th wedding anniversary and two weeks in Tahiti were an every year occurrence, you could give it away or offer to take another couple with you, or send your grown kids on a random, unexpected vacation, or donate it. Just the fact that you were able to stick with the plan would be something to celebrate!
So I urge you to save $20/month in an envelope and vow to never touch it for 25 years. This is completely separate from your life savings plan, your 401K, your Roth's, your car fund, your house fund, etc. This is solely a fund for an amazing vacation in 25 years. Married or single, it doesn't matter, just save it and see where you land in 25 years. It stinks our 25th is hitting this year because as of the other night we can't even go to Tahiti because of the p l a n d e m i c. I guess we'll settle for Florida or Mexico!
Twenty bucks a month is obtainable for everyone to save. I mean really, you could buy a few things at Goodwill and re-sell them, you could write a short book and upload it to Amazon and sell 5 every month, you could probably manage to buy and sell a few stocks for a $20 profit, you could pan for a little gold and sell it, you could make an Instacart run or two, you could sell something on Fiverr, you could mow a couple of lawns. You could even sell your plasma. You have options! Or instead of doing something extra to earn it you could go to Starbucks 3 less times a month, or drink less alcohol and save the money instead of drink it or wait for something to go on sale you've been eyeing and buy it then. The point is, it's not hard at all to come up with an extra $20/month. But just like everything else, it takes a plan, consistency and implementation. Those three words are the key to a more balanced life which brings us to #2.
"Wish I would have" Tip #2: Have a plan, be consistent and implement, implement, implement.
Life happens whether you're ready for it or not, so you might as well plan what's going to happen to the best of your ability. Now, life is going to throw some unexpected doozies your way, and no amount of planning can prepare you for that, but instead of just letting life happen to you, make life happen for you.
"Wish I would have" Tip #3: Spend more time with your kids. You will never say, "gosh, I spent too much time with my kids", but I can promise you, you'll say, "I wish I had spent more time doing ......... with my kids". I consider myself pretty lucky that I was able to be a stay-at-home mom for all the years my two were at home. I spent lots and lots of time with them, so for me, mine would be more of "I wish I had appreciated each moment more", but my husband definitely wishes he had spent more time with them doing nothing special, just being there. Thank goodness we didn't have cell phones back then for most of their early lives, because what a true waste of precious time. To be stuck looking at a screen of stuff that has no true meaning instead of interacting with the beings you are forming. So slow down and be present and just enjoy being with them. One day too soon, they'll be out of the house.
"Wish I would have" tip #4: Buy a house and move every 2-3 years.
The most important part here, move every 2 years, even if you'll only walk away with $10,000 in equity. You may have to start out on the wrong side of town, or a town over from your ultimate goal and buy a real fixer upper, but if buying is in your future, start young and keep moving. You'll be in your dream house in 15 years before you know it. If a recession hits like in 2008, you may have to sit for a few extra years, but once the market starts rising again, move!
I know, moving is hard and a pain in the butt, but if you do this, which we didn't often enough, you'll notice a couple of things. First, you'll accumulate way less junk than the rest of us because you'll be forced to keep it light for all the moves and second, you gain a lot of equity in real estate but you don't realize it until you sell. Great way to keep rolling it into the next deal. It's like starting with a small snowball and rolling it until it gets bigger and bigger.
I know a lot is said for having great neighbors and loving your neighborhood, but if you know you're not in your forever home, move. It can be hard to move away from an amazing neighborhood and neighbors, but life long friendships are just that. Life long; they're not going anywhere. Change is good and you always grow from it, and I've found, if they are true friends, they'll stay true friends even after moving. My hubby just went on a guys trip late last year with several guys, one of them being our old neighbor from Napa. Friends are friends, doesn't matter where you live!
"Wish I would have" tip #5: Start saving for each kid the day they were born.
I can't reiterate this boring old adage enough, but time flies by. Once again, do as much as you can, but even if it's $20/month, put it in a fund of some sort, buy silver, gold, stock or even just a $20 bill and let it stockpile. What a nice little gift you will be able to hand them when they turn 18 or 21 for college, a car, a house down payment, whatever you've been able to save is a gift for sure. We always thought we had time to get money saved, but it slips away. We thought investment real estate (different from moving your primary home every couple of years) was the answer for our college funds, etc., until we lost it all in 2008. Work with the time on your hands NOW with a little cash fund.
"Wish I would have" tip #6: Stay in your lane.
You can't and won't change a single soul by trying to force change on them. What you see is what you get, unless THEY decide to change, in which they won't need any help from anyone. The strength comes from within them and wherever they're drawing that strength from. Don't bother signing anyone up for rehab, don't interfere with someone else's implosion, because if that's the course they're on, you'll only delay it. You can't stop God's plan, whatever it may be. I dealt with this with my parents and I know we want to think we can help, but I'm telling you, you can't. Do what you have to do so you know in your heart you've done what you can, but know it will not make a difference and only cause you stress. The sooner you can let it go and let it run its course, whatever that may be, do it.
Whether it is a spouse, parent, child, sibling, etc., you can't help. I know that is not how we're conventionally taught to think and it seems wrong, but I've lived through too many examples to believe otherwise anymore. I can pray for the person, I can offer suggestions, but when I'm wanting something different for them more than they want for themselves, I'm the one that has ended up with the stress induced eye tick, all for nothing. You can't stop a speeding train on it's way to derailment. I can only imagine how hard and heartbreaking this would be if it was your child. I pray everyday to save my children from any and all addictions. Playing with fire. I pray for those parents experiencing this because there would be nothing worse to me than to have an alcohol or drug addicted child. Such a waste of what can and should be a beautiful life with small hiccups. Self-inflicted torture. If you are reading this, and are the one that has the alcohol, drug or other addiction issue. Stop, take control of your life and stop, nothing good will ever come of it for you. That I can promise.
I'm sure there are so many good things that could be added if you asked each person who has lived a good amount of years. There's bound to be tons of marriage advice and kid raising advice to be had out there, job and education advice, friend advice, etc. The wisdom at our fingertips from everyone we know is endless! We should make it a habit to ask our "elders" what are the things they would do differently if they could.
These are just the first things that popped up for me that I wish I would've understood and had built a plan around. Not everything may resonate, but I'm telling you, you won't ever regret saving or vacationing!