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That Was the Exact OPPOSITE of What I Want My Life to Be Like

Evil glares, loud conversation, irritable looks, and a plethora of canned goods. This is most definitely NOT what I want my future life to be like, but this IS what I witnessed yesterday.

I raided my cupboards and my fridge yesterday, only to discover that it was time to spend some more money on food. Off to Aldi I went, the land of $2.69 milk, $1.29 eggs, and $0.89 bread. It truly is a marvelous place. However, it seems that not everyone thinks so. The moment I walked through the doors my ears started ringing with old lady bitterness. “What are you looking at that for?! We don’t need it!” shouted the 70+ year old woman at her old, but seemingly capable husband.

They dressed poorly and were noticeably price conscious of every single item that they put into their bags. Their general demeanor wreaked of negativity and frustration. Their lives were obviously not as they had envisioned. Perhaps they thought that they would retire on the sandy beaches of Ft. Lauderdale and would be playing badminton with their neighbors. Instead, they were correcting the cashier on the final bill, making sure that they received every cent back that they possibly could.

I Want the Sandy Beaches

20140914 - sunny beachNow I truly have no idea what these people had experienced in their lives. Maybe they had a major medical setback that killed their beefy 401k, or perhaps their meager salaries didn’t allow them to save up for the future. It is all too likely though, that they lived from moment to moment, never thinking about the future, and now are left watching every penny that leaves their account, trying desperately to survive in this cruel world of life.

This is exactly the type of lifestyle that I am working hard to avoid.

By being frugal today, paying off debt today, and investing heavily today, my future should be bright. I won’t have to search for cheap canned food at a discount grocery store. I won’t have bitter disputes about nothing just because I’m unhappy about being broke. And, I most certainly won’t be tied to a single location because of my poverty.

In the future, I intend to let my money work for me so that I can travel and live without worries. Those sandy beaches will be calling my name, and instead of ignoring their luring song, I will be whistling along while running on the shoreline.

Do you ever think about your future? What will your future life be like?

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My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. I have already arrived at my future, and it’s not what I wanted.

    It could be worse; I still have my mental facilities, and I’m still capable of making a living writing software, although I’ve noticed that software is starting to require more mental effort.

    And the age discrimination in my field is getting more egregious every year. To counter that, I have shifted entirely to contracting, where the age discrimination isn’t quite as bad, and nobody is trying to force me into management. In another year or two, I plan to be earning a living in Internet marketing. I already earn a significant amount online, but I have not yet replaced my day-job, nor do I really want to, because I enjoy working in embedded systems software. Maybe I will start writing and selling apps.

    I have a bit of savings, although back in 2002, my 401(k) became a 101(k) because the company I had it with managed to hire a portfolio manager who significantly underperformed a blindfolded monkey with darts, and the stock market underperformed just sitting on cash. Fortunately, the only debt I have is my mortgage, which is currently costing me about one-third of the going rental rate in my neighborhood, and I have significant equity, although it is not feasible for me to pay off the balance anytime soon. I may be able to downsize and get a “tiny house” (or two) farther away from the Big City and come out debt-free, or at least close to it.

    There are other places in the world that I would consider, given that absurd state of the government in the US is actually making some 2nd-world and even 3rd-world countries relatively more attractive. First, though, I have to make a living doing something that is completely geographically independent.

    The one thing that has saved me from a future of eating catfood has been my wife. The best investment I ever made was paying her way to a master’s degree in Accounting early in our marriage, after which she became a CPA. She has nagged me over the years to stay frugal, and has contributed a 2nd income. She was the one who insisted on paying off the cars and keeping them in good shape, and driving them until they wore out completely. She was the one who insisted on paying off the credit cards every month (with one exception that lasted a couple of months). In the near future, we will be a one-car family. Shortly after that, we will forgo having a car at all.

    I admire you for paying off your mortgage, although I think that you could have arranged for an equally-bright future without doing that at this time. You have to live somewhere, and just refinancing at historically low rates (which I did) could result long-term in a mortgage payment that is small enough that it would be insignificant compared to food and utilities cost.

    I didn’t really intend for this comment to be so long, but you have touched on a subject on which I have given a great deal of thought.

    • Thanks for the excellent comment Howard! Don’t worry about the length – I think it may have been a more interesting read than my article! 🙂

      It sounds like you have an excellent year-to-year plan and I can tell that you have put a lot of thought into your future work and income source. Hopefully my articles will continue to inspire you to continue thinking about the future and to take action wherever necessary. Thanks for reading!

  2. We are another couple that the retirement years did not turn out as planned. We had saved diligently and invested and two major illnesses ate all the retirement after insurance paid. Three additional years were spent finishing off the frightening balance we were left owing.

    Our only debt now is a mortgage that we are lazer focused on eliminating. No one knows what may come knocking on their door during their lifetime. We did the best we could and unfortunately it was not enough. I am grateful that we pulled through with anything left after 11 more years of saving and living modestly.

    • Thanks for the transparent comment JD. I think this just illustrates the importance of living simply and saving often, because hard times will come to everyone. We just don’t know when they’ll hit. These stories inspire me to tackle my debt head on and to invest heavily in my future. Hopefully Murphy will stay far away from me, but just in case he does show his ugly face, I will keep pressing forward with my savings and investments.

  3. What a stressful way to live out your final years. I hope (and pray) that we have enough to retire comfortably, but give our debt load at the moment, and our age (mid 30’s), I’m extremely worried that we will be working until we are in a nursing home (that our kids would have to pay for). We are trying hard and making better choices daily, but I’m nervous.

    • That is a terrible realization to have Kirsten. No matter what your debt load though, I’m sure that there is a solution to pay it off and invest handsomely for your future years. If you would like help mapping out you future debt payoff, let me know!

  4. No-one can predict the future and even the best laid plans can go horribly wrong. I feel sorry for anyone who reaches their retirement years and finds it’s not what they had hoped for, but I think the numbers of disappointed people will rise rather than fall and my generation are going to be hit particularly heavily: we have a massive sense of entitlement, we spend money and rack up debt like it’s a competition, and none of us seem to be taking much notice of the crazy pace of technological innovation which is rapidly making people unnecessary in the workforce.

    • You have a great head on your shoulders Myles. In fact, you remind me of a younger me, only smarter and more world-conscious. You’re right – the debt loads are rising and people seem increasingly oblivious to the future implications of their credit purchases today. I fear that the future is quite bleak, but hopefully with our help, people will pay off those debts, beef up their savings, and become wealthy with both their time and their finances!

      • I love your optimism, Derek. 🙂

  5. I always though id move back Home to Hawaii until I found my cozy new house with an ocean view in SF. Now I think I’ll stay for 5-10 more years. Jobs are plentiful here and it’s awesome out in SF.

    Come on by!


    • Ocean views sound nice. 🙂 The closest I’ve been to San Fran has been San Diego. Maybe I will pay a visit someday. Can your home fit a 6’8″ body?

  6. Interesting… the first thing I thought was “They could be millionaires? And that’s how they got to that point – by penny pinching?” But I’m usually an optimist so I could be way off here 🙂

    • I suppose it’s possible, but I really didn’t get that feel. It seemed to me that they only had $35 in their bank account and needed to keep their purchase below that. It was pretty sad, and it is unfortunate that some people are in this position. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy writing on this site – to teach everyone how to NEVER end up in this situation! Thanks for the comment J. Money.

  7. I definitely think there are tradeoffs in life. Like you, I make some sacrifices today – saving as much as I can, so I can enjoy my tomorrows as I please. Of course many argue that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed so you should live today without sacrificing.

    • I sometimes do think that I sacrifice too much today, but honestly I’m just a very content person. I don’t feel the need to go to a bunch of concerts and sporting events, or go on lavish vacations. I just enjoy the blessings I have today, which includes my wonderful family. Having said that, I do plan on taking a nice vacation to the beach when my mortgage is paid off. 🙂

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