Thinking Bigger: Achieve Your Dream

What was the last step you took to work to achieve your dream? We’ve spent four long years paying off our consumer debt. Pinching pennies, reworking budgets, reducing and eliminating expenses and diagnosing the deep sleep reasons why we spent so many years spending above our means. We’ve worked hard. We’ve sacrificed. We’ve made progress, and lost progress. We’ve taken one step forward and then fifty steps back. We were reaching for our dream of being debt free. Kind of.

A couple of months ago I heard somebody say as they were talking about early retirement, “Make sure your working toward something, and not just working to get away from something.” What he meant was that as you’re working toward early retirement, don’t just make it about having the ability to get away from your 9-to-5 job. Instead, figure out what it is you would want to be doing with your life if money was no object, and then work toward that dream.

At the time, I thought it was a cool saying but didn’t really realize that it applied to our family. Until this weekend. I read a really cool article on Afford Anything. Totally inspired by Paula’s writing, I signed up for her email list. This is a big deal. I rarely sign up for anybody’s blog email list, not because I don’t love the blog, but because I have to keep my mind un-overwhelmed by my to-do list. Too many emails in the inbox completely overwhelms me. Reading blogs then becomes an obligation instead of a choice and I start to negate the positive benefits of the articles there. Instead, I have a list of blogs sitting at my desk each week and get to them when I can, leaving my inbox clutter free.

The only time I sign up for a blog’s email list is when I feel they have information to share that is largely outside of my realm of knowledge. Afford Anything is one of those blogs. You see, Paula is a successful real estate investor. Not of the Donald Trump magnitude, but just a girl like any other who had a dream and worked daily toward it for many years, making slow but steady progress. Paula and her partner, Will, now live full-time off of their real estate investment income and travel the world.

Spending the Time to Achieve Your Dream

Paula’s post, the one that got me thinking, said (and I’m totally paraphrasing here) something to the effect of this: Why are you spending hours working to learn how to save fifty cents when you can spend hours learning information that will change your life?

She was asking why, instead of working so hard for fifty cents, are we not spending hours learning how to analyze a real estate investment? Or studying dividend fund investing?

And she got me thinking. It’s long been a dream of ours to live off of passive income, but the time we’ve spent truly studying the different types of passive income has been minimal.

Instead of running toward our dream of passive income, we’ve spent much time running away from our debt. And while paying off our debt is an important and necessary part of our journey toward living off passive income, our learning techniques have been massively out of balance.

We’ve spent ninety-nine percent of our time learning how to save a dime to get our debt load paid down, and only one percent of our time looking at the different sources of passive income available to us. We’ve spent nearly zero time learning and developing an “achieve your dream” plan.

In the past four years, we could have been researching, learning and investing small amounts of money into dividend stocks, for instance. Or saving small amounts of money toward someday investing in real estate while studying real estate investing.

We’ve spent too much time running away from our debt and not enough time running toward our dream of living off of passive income.

This book is called “The granddaddy of all motivational literature”: Think And Grow Rich

This realization may be a no-brainer for some people, but for us it was a complete and total shock. We didn’t realize we’ve been living in crisis mode instead of success mode for so many years. And even though our debt load was really, really high, a simultaneous investing plan of say, twenty dollars per paycheck wouldn’t have made much of an impact on our debt load but given the market history the past four years could have made an awesome impact on our goal of living off of passive income.

So today I’m encouraging you to not just consider your dream, but to start taking small steps needed to achieve your dream. Figure out what it is that you want from debt freedom and then read an article or a book pertaining to your specific financial dream. Or your fitness dream. Or whatever dream it is that keeps you going at this frugal thing.

Keep pounding away at that debt, because every dime really does add up. Keep plugging away at your budget and living frugally and all of that other stuff. But balance the time you spend working on the frugality part of it with studying how you can start working toward your dreams. That, my friends, is true Fruclassity.

What are your dreams beyond debt freedom? What will you do with your life once you’re debt free, or are doing with your life now that you are debt free?

14 comments on “Thinking Bigger: Achieve Your Dream

  1. Great point Laurie. After our debt repayment we shifted our goals to building wealth. Our short term goal is to help our children fund college, our longer term plan is to build for our future once the children have moved out on their own. We still are in the planning phase, where to live, etc that may have a bit to do where the three children land themselves.

  2. Like you, I absolutely loved Paula’s post last week, Laurie! I think this is something I have been slowly picking up on over the last few years, but she really brought the point to fruition.

    And it’s not ironic that we took those first important steps toward getting our first rental property last week (we have financing in line and start looking at properties today!) It’s not always easy to “think bigger”, but it’s so exciting and worthwhile to work toward a dream.

  3. I know we’ve been in crisis mode for the past 2 years so trying to figure out what to do next has been a challenge. I love that you found that particular blog Laurie. She’s so right. It’s so annoying when you realize you’ve been tripping over the dollars to get to the nickels for such a long time. Thank God for wake up calls!

  4. I like most of her stuff, only most because I have zero interest in real estate investing. 🙂 But, I signed up for her emails after reading an excellent post about not being scared of investing. Not that I’m scared, rather I send that link out to co-workers and people who are getting into investing because she explains it way better than I can. Yeah that was a good post of hers and it’s easy to get caught up in what’s in front of you and not step back to see the bigger picture.

    I’ve tried rephrasing it to my younger colleagues to point out the same thing. It’s not about retiring early, it’s about the freedom that comes along with that. Say you hit 40 and decide you’re done with oil and gas because it’s not fulfilling anymore, but you can’t quit because your lifestyle is built around that paycheck. It’s a great paycheck, but now you’re stuck until you can get free of it. That’s a one-way ticket to Suck-town!

    Conversely, if you’ve been slowly saving the past 15 yrs, you can check your account balance and say, “Hey, I’m set enough so that I can take a lower paying job that’s more fulfilling because I’ve got a safety net built up already.” THAT is the power of saving early, and not racking up loads of debt or lifestyle inflation.

    I have a laundry list of things to retire “to”, but most will get sidelined by the demands of being a stay at home dad. Hahahaha

  5. I have also been moving away instead of moving towards. I like the clarity of reducing debt. I find it’s more challenging to combine it with savings – but we’re doing just that. While I get really encouraged by lowered debt numbers, I don’t get as excited by growing savings. I think my vision of financial freedom is still on the vague side. Sleeping in and not worrying about traffic would be a great start! (Two hours to get to work today in a snow storm. Ugh!)

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