Are You Moving Forward?

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I’m going to my very first funeral today. It’s actually a very strange experience for me. I’m still too young to have much wisdom, but one thing I realize more and more is that life is a marathon and not a sprint. There is so much you can accomplish in a lifetime without having to be some sort of superstar. As long as you live each day with a purpose in mind, one day you’ll look back and be amazed at all the things you have accomplished. The key is simply to keep moving forward.

So I ask you: Are you moving forward? Are you closer to your goals this month than last month? If not, why not?

Currently, my main goal is to achieve our dream future. We are definitely closer this month than last, but not as much as I could have. I need to start setting monthly entrepreneurial goals again.

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  1. Setting goals is good, so long as they are attainable within the price you are willing to pay. For instance, deciding that you need 5 million net worth by 45 may be an admirable goal. However, are you willing to work 80-hrs per week to attain that amount, get a divorce, and miss your kids soccer game due to ambition? I read a really good book dealing with this from John T. Reed called Succeeding. So, move forward to the best goals for you.

    As a side note, my wife and I have similar goals to you Jonathan. We are 29 and living in the bay area. We dont ever want to quit work completely, just scale it back to a level that we can experience the other good stuff life has to offer outside of a cube-wall.

  2. Definitely, I have lots of non-financial goals too, but don’t share them here. Balance is always important, but also making oneself more efficient is also important to me. I want to manage my time so that I get both more work done and playing done 🙂

    Mr. Reed is an interesting man. However, his refusal to sell books through a third party makes it very hard to find a reviews on his material, especially his real estate books.

  3. Sorry to hear the bad news. I wanted to let you know that you inspired me to track my net worth as a goal, and today was the first day I actually compared my net worth one month to the next (-1%, not bad seeing as how I got married last month.) Hey, that’s another goal checked off! Thanks so much for the blog!

  4. Financially, I’m moving there slowly but surely. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I have enough in savings and my CC debt interest rates low enough that I’m actually making more money on interest each month than I am losing to the CC companies. That’s a good feeling! This month is hitting me hard due to car and housing expenses all at once, so I’m only staying at the same place this month.

    As far as everything else, I haven’t a clue. I’m extremely guilty of not living the current moment in favor of preparing for the future instead. It’s an easy trap to fall into – if I sacrifice everything now, it’ll mean I’ll be happier in the future. Of course, I know that’s bunk. 🙂

    Your dream future goal matches mine almost exactly.

  5. My mother died at 57 and I am very aware that you may not live until retirement. Fortunately I’m fairly frugal by nature, so saving happens naturally now that I have a decent job (and thanks Jonathan for good ideas on where to put my money!). Money isn’t the key to happiness and should never be a goal in itself!

    I’ve never had clear goals (beyond finishing my education), but I’ve enjoyed my life so far. I am fortunate to have a job I love. My goal for the next ten years is probably finding a way to ‘give back’ – I’m well aware that I’m lucky.

  6. I propose an alternative: Live is neither a sprint nor a marathon, it’s a stroll.

    Both a sprint and a marathon imply a finish line – death is not my finish line (neither is retirement).

    On a stroll, you stop, contemplate, smell the flowers, help others, have some fun, etc.

  7. TallWes, nice analogy. Though I think for some a stroll is bit too leisurely. Having some goals I do think is important especially beyond the numbers. We’re obviously all here commenting on this blog because we’re at least somewhat concerned with money, but I think really defining what we want to do with money is so much harder, and also understanding we do have an obligation to give back when we’re in position that we can.

  8. Marathon may not be the best analogy I agree, but a stroll seems too casual. I think life should be at least a bit hard. If you don’t shed some blood, sweat, or tears, then maybe you’re not enjoying it all enough and challenging yourself. Or maybe I’m too competitive 🙂

    I agree, giving back is something I want to focus more on in the future.

  9. I’m moving forward slowly, but it’s forward progress, which is good. I managed to switch over my personal line of credit to my main bank, which will save me 0.5% interest per month, as well as any headaches as I tried to make payments on it by running to my secondary bank. Plus I’m off on my first “real” vacation in over 2 years, so I’m pleased about that.

  10. Maybe “mosey” is better analogy. It seems to mean move leisurely, but do it quickly sometimes.

    ?verb (used without object), -seyed, -sey?ing. Informal.
    1. to wander or shuffle about leisurely; stroll; saunter (often fol. by along, about, etc.).
    2. to leave quickly; decamp.

  11. I haven’t been tracking monthly my net worth — but maybe it’s something to start looking at. I know pretty recently (in November), I hit a new plateau in my net worth. My retirement account now exceeds my existing mortgage. It doesn’t really have a real significance — since I can’t cash it out easily — and it wouldn’t even make sense (I pay much less in mortgage interest than I normally make in my retirement account). But I like to think that I could actually own my house outright, which is now worth around $450K. Not bad — not great, kind of average for my area.

    Anyway that would sort of be my net worth right now, plus about $30K.

    But my real goal is to work part-time and/or work from home mostly. I seem to be able accomplish a lot of detailed tasks, but somehow haven’t been able move forward one iota in regard to this goal — I don’t know why.

  12. sfmoneymusings says

    I finally moved my low-interest WAMU brick and mortar savings to the online 5% APR rate! I’ve spent the last year since you posted it trying to figure out why my application was denied and fixed my mother’s maiden name to match the original.

    I haven’t been tracking my networth but definitely spending less than I earn and shopping a lot less. And I’m getting out there networking, meeting people and trying to enjoy so much of what SF has to offer.

    My biggest goal is career-related and so far I’m moving alone slowly. But I like that I’m taking small bite size chunks toward progress. It feels very powerful.

  13. sfmoneymusings says

    I forgot to add that sometimes life throws unexpected curve balls in your financial plans and you never reach them. My mentor died at 40 something … the day he had a heart attack he was supposed to sign his divorce papers. He was also close to his 401K vesting and 5 year anniversary and had planned on leaving his job … he never got to sign the divorce papers or receive the full vesting …

  14. I don’t know whether it’s a sprint, marathon, or stroll, but I do feel that the path is a long one (although seemingly less so as I age) and the progress forward is slow (at least for me thus far).

    One thing that has stuck with me has been a quote from one of my family members who was nearing retirement. He had this to say about his finances:

    “I’m not sure I won the race…but I definitely finished” (again, you get the “race” reference that people are often fond of)

    I think his intent was to suggest that although he is not exceedingly wealthy, he has done enough to provide him with a comfortable retirement.

    What’s important to me is that while I certainly am attempting to amass as much wealth as possible…my primary goal is to “finish the race” and have enough to meet my retirement needs.

  15. I’m trying not to pay too close of attention for the next year. I have some somewhat planned expenses over the next year, but it pretty much saps most of the money I’d otherwise be saving.

    What I’ve got coming up:
    1) finish paying for my wife’s Master’s (probably with saved cash)
    2) new child (we were originally waiting until after #1, but it’s a blessing that’s been stalking us for over a year now)
    3) Adding a nice used car to our household. It’s a family deal and tough to pass up.

    With all that being said, our cashflows are a bit tight. Not that we can’t have fun, but it may cost us some of the safety of a fully funded emergency fund (the basic e-fund will remain untouched).

    So if our goals are long-term, yes, we’re moving forward slowly. Our family is growing, our love will soon have a new name. My wife may finally have a shot at a job she’ll love (and maybe I’ll be able to follow when I find my career passion). We’ll have a nice (but used) car, big enough for everyone and their stuff when traveling. It’ll be worth more than we’ll pay for >1 year and we’ll have a spare when our other car needs inevitable work at the least convenient time for us. (I had rear brake calipers BLOW clean off my car with little warning).

    Short term, I’ve decided that everything is getting paid (in full), but the flows will be barely positive until at least October from my projections and probably a bit longer with all the changes in life at that point.

  16. minimum wage says

    I am a boomer with a dead-end minimum-wage job and negatively amortizing student loan debt. I am not moving forward, I am moving backward, and I expect destitution when I am no longer able to work.

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