I'm sure some of you noticed – the last two weeks I have been a lot less active on M$M. My wife and I were taking a well deserved vacation in Jamaica, when we learned that her father had passed away.
Needless to say, things have been a little crazy since that day. We flew home, made preparations for the service, and have been doing everything we can to help get loose ends taken care of.
I debated for a while if I would even write this post because obviously it's a sore subject right now for us, but I think when you experience the passing of a close one, you gain a new perspective on life and your goals (financial or otherwise).
I want to share the real reason I live debt-free.
From a lot of the personal finance blogs or financial personalities you see out there, “debt-free” is this goal they want you to achieve so you can be happier or find “peace”. I think that stuff is fine and probably sells a lot of products, but happiness or peace haven't really been my motivators.
The truth is that most of my financial goals and perspectives came from being very observant of people who are much older than me. Millennials really tend to surround themselves with like-minded young people (totally understandable), but for whatever reason I haven't.
I enjoy spending time with people who are older than me, because it's like a glimpse into my own future.
I've seen people at the brink of retirement, people desperately trying to build wealth at the end of their careers, and specifically for this post: finances at the end of someone's life.
My father in-law was diagnosed with a disease called Inclusion Body Myositis about 8 years ago. I've known my wife for 10 years, so I was a full witness to what happens from diagnosis to passing from complications with this type of illness. It sucks. Really no other way to put it without dropping f-bombs.
He fought it every step of the way, and made it YEARS further than any doctor thought he would. It was pretty incredible really; I could only hope I would have that much dignity in the face of such a cruel disease.
Here's how this all ties in to my site:
My in-laws were never rich people, but they were savvy. They paid off their house much earlier than most people, were smart with how they paid off cars, and avoided debt whenever possible.
This was HUGE for them when my father in-law couldn't work any more. It was so important when he went on hospice and eventually passed. He left this world giving the gift of no financial burdens on his family, just straight-up assets.
That's why I do what I do. I drive a $6,000 car, not because I have to but because I should. I live a cash-based life because I want things to be easier for my wife and future kids when I pass. I'm terrified of debt – and I wish other young people were too.
Millennials don't see the world for what it is.
Even the smartest of my friends play with the loaded gun called debt like it's a toy because they lack perspective.
We pretend that we won't need the $50,000 we just borrowed for a new car because SHINY.
We borrow money for travel because we think the younger years of our life are more important than the later years (Hint: You will be the same person later, just older looking).
We finance the biggest house possible because 30 years is really really far away right?
We ignore our student loans because a politician promised to make them disappear.
We sit around at low paying jobs because “work-life balance” sounds better than “hard work”.
Remind yourself of this from time to time:
You will die eventually, and it won't happen the way you imagine it. It might be long and drawn out, and I guarantee you it will be massively expensive one way or the other. It's something we don't want to think about for obvious reasons, but you have to make it part of your financial plan.
Just to be clear – that doesn't mean you need a morbid outlook on life. In fact, it means the exact opposite. Be realistic about what life is, and try to enjoy the hell out of it. But for the love of everything good in this world don't be dumb with your money, because you WILL need it. Your spouse and kids WILL need it. It's one of the most important gifts you can give to your family when you are gone.
Don't borrow money for stupid crap, get real with life, and live financially for the future rather than the now.
Rest in peace Bill. Thanks for the $$$ lessons, we will miss you.