It just occured to me that the period of exploration to which I am transitioning would not have been possible without my savings. Since my first job at age 12 cleaning dead people’s medical equipment at my family’s company, I have put money away. I followed a philosophy that my savings should always be going up. Worst case, I allowed myself to break even, but never go in the red. When I went to college I worked at the computer lab and continued to put money away (I was fortunate not to have to pay for college, except the loans). When I went to New York City for my first job at a small startup, I somehow managed to live on $30,000 – and still add to my savings. I’ll never forget the $150 weekly budget I had to work with for non-fixed costs including both food and fun. I never knew why I was saving, but now this money is my salvation.
Saving wasn’t easy. I had to say no to many things my friends enjoyed. I had to watch every dime and keep a budget. I had to resist the temptation to take exotic trips. I had to put up with people calling me cheap. This was one area where I always knew myself. Looking at my peers, I didn’t understand how they could spend money so freely – even irresponsibly. As my salary rose (leaving New York helped too) I was able to find a middle ground, where I could live very well and still continue to save a reasonable amount. To this day I keep a weekly budget, and keep track of pacing in my head.
I owe this in large part to a 9th grade math lesson. I remember learning that savings put away between age 20-30 grew much more than money put away after 30. Little did I know this lesson would change my life. Another example that everything happens for a reason.
Starting in January, I will be going into the red for the first time. This is definitely new territory for me, and I have to admit it terrifies me. Depleting my savings was one of my biggest fears when considering this life change. 15 years of savings can easily be spent in a matter of hours. I can live well for a year, but then 15 years of work will be gone. This will be my motivation. I now know what I was working for, and I will do everything in my power to make this big bet pay off.