Life after debt: What it’s like in the third stage of personal finance

I paid off the last of my debt in 2007, quit my day job in 2008, and have been working to build wealth ever since. As I wrote early last year, I'm in the Third Stage of personal finance: I've paid off my debt, built a cash cushion in savings, and am maxing out my retirement accounts. And after doing all of these things, I have money left over to spend on comic books and travel. I'm a lucky man.

For the past year, GRS readers have been asking me to write more about the Third Stage of personal finance. What's it like there? What choices does a person face? What sorts of things does she do with her money?

Though I've wanted to respond to these requests, I haven't.

  • For one thing, I've felt like there isn't a whole lot to say. Mostly, the Third Stage of personal finance is like the earlier stages, but without the debt. I'm still pretty careful with my cash, but instead of saving to pay off past purchases, or saving my emergency fund, I'm now saving for other goals — like travel.
  • For another, I'm reluctant to talk about some of my spending. It's not that I think I'm making poor choices — I'm not — but that taken out of context, some of the numbers look shocking. It's very difficult to put yourself in another person's shoes, after all.

Today, though, I'm going to write a little bit about the Third Stage of personal finance. I'm even going to share some actual numbers. All I ask is that when you see these numbers, you understand that I'm making conscious decisions to spend this money, and I'm sacrificing other things in my life to make the purchases I describe.

The Cost of Fitness

Tonight was Guys' Night Out. Or Geek Night. Or, as my sister-in-law calls it, Dragon and Troll night. Every month, my band of geeky friends gets together for some sort of activity. It started out as a chance to play Dungeons and Dragons, but it's morphed into an ever-changing variety of events.

Tonight, for example, we headed into downtown Portland to watch the Portland Timbers take on the Minnesota Stars. The Timbers are the local pro soccer team, for which I bought a pair of season tickets last spring. (I paid $435 for two general admission tickets.) We geeks didn't watch the game from the stadium, though; instead, we headed next door to the Multnomah Athletic Club. One of our group is a member, and he signed us in so we could watch from the club's balcony, which overlooks the south end of the stadium.

The Multnomah Athletic Club is amazing. It's posh — it oozes wealth. It looks like the sort of place where you might have to wear a suit and tie just to jog on the treadmill. Everything is dark wood and brass and wall-to-wall carpeting. The attendants at the door are in suits and ties. It's not a very J.D. place.

“Wow,” I said to Josh as we waited for the game to start. “This place must be expensive.”

“I knew somebody was going to bring that up,” he said. “It is expensive, but my parents have been members for almost forty years. It only cost them $700 back then.”

“$700 for what?” I asked. “Per month?”

“No, $700 for the initiation fee,” Josh said. “I think the fee is getting close to $10,000 per family now.”

$10,000?!?!?” I asked. “Just to join?”

“Yeah,” said Josh. “And there's a waiting list to get in. Plus, once you do join, dues are about $200 a month.”

My mind boggled. I was about to say, “That's outrageous!” when I realized: I'm paying $200 a month for my gym, too.

Whenever I talk about Crossfit and the amazing things it's done for my health, I always leave out the cost. Yes, I've lost 30 pounds. Yes, I've dropped from a size 38 to a size 32. Yes, I'm stronger than I've ever been in my life. But this progress has come with a cost: $200 a month, to be precise. You know what? It's a cost I'm happy to pay, and one I plan to continue paying. If this system is working — and it is — then it's worth every penny. If I'm not fit, nothing else matters. (But again, taken out of context, this expense would look ludicrous.)

So, I admitted to Josh that I was paying just as much as he was for a gym membership. (But without any initiation fee, of course.) We stopped chatting as the match began.

The Cost of Fun

We watched the Timbers and Stars play to a 2-2 draw in front of a large crowd. As the game wound down, I used my binoculars to spy my seats for next year. In 2011, the Portland Timbers will join Major League Soccer, and last month I spent $1410 to purchase a pair of tickets on the mid-field line. I'm eager for the season to start, and the current season isn't even over!

portland timbers vs seattle sounders

Walking back to my car after the game, I thought about that expense: $1410 for a pair of season tickets for a soccer club. A couple of years ago, I would have thought that was insane. I wouldn't have been able to view it as a justifiable expense, no matter how much I had in savings, no matter what sorts of sacrifices I made in other parts of my life. I would have condemned it as lifestyle inflation.

Maybe it is lifestyle inflation. But it's also an example of conscious spending. I love soccer, and I can afford the tickets. I'm meeting all of my financial obligations. When you've paid off your debt, saved for emergencies, and set aside money for retirement, whatever's left over is yours to do with as you please, right? In my case, that means that if I want to buy Portland Timbers tickets, I can. I have no regrets.

These are the sorts of things I think about in the Third Stage of personal finance.

The Cost of Travel

There are still financial dilemmas in the Third Stage. Being here doesn't mean I can afford everything I want. In fact, I'm always picking and choosing. (It's just that the things I'm choosing between are sometimes more expensive than before.)

For example, Kris and I just learned about an opportunity to travel to Africa in February. Our college has put together a package tour for alumni that includes visits to South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. It's a 19-day tour and it costs $5600 per person.

Well.

I've been begging Kris to go to South Africa for a l-o-n-g time. I've wanted to visit ever since I read Cry, the Beloved Country. (Jolie Guillebeau doesn't help by always reminding me that South Africa is her favorite place she's ever visited.) Kris has always steadfastly refused to consider a trip to South Africa — until now. She actually wants to go on this tour, and so do I.

The problem is that even though we're in the Third Stage of personal finance, $5600 (per person!) is a lot of money for a trip. Especially considering we've already shelled out a lot for our upcoming journey to France and Italy.

Can we afford to take on the expense of traveling to South Africa in February? And if we can, is it something we really want to do? As I drove home from the game tonight, I thought about it.

First, I considered how to come up with the cash. We've already funded our trip to Europe, so that's not an issue. I just need to figure out how to come up with $5600 by February. (Because Kris and I keep separate finances, she has to come up with her own $5600. That's not really going to be a problem, though. Remember: She's always been the responsible one, and she has tons of money in savings.)

I considered my options:

  • Last week, I canceled my Cycle Oregon registration. Cycle Oregon is a week-long bicycle tour of the state, and I've always wanted to do it. But after riding 100 miles in one day last month, I realized I have zero desire to bike 500 miles in one week. I'll be getting back about $750, which I could immediately set aside to save for Africa.
  • I could save up some of the money by going on a comic fast. I give myself a monthly comic-book budget, and if I were to reduce this to zero (or something near zero) for six months, I could accumulate a few hundred dollars.
  • I could borrow from my Mini Cooper fund. Yes, I bought a used Mini last year, but since then, I've been saving for an eventual replacement. The car is running great at the moment, so it's probably safe to pull some money from this account.
  • Similarly, I could borrow from my tax account. I'm not sure I've mentioned it before, but I have a separate savings account in which I save for taxes due in April. (Because I'm self-employed, I'm responsible for setting this money aside myself.) I could borrow a few months of contributions from this account, and then double my savings efforts in the spring.
  • And most drastically, I could conceivably borrow from my emergency fund. It sits at $20,000 now, which is more than ample for most short-term needs. If I drew it down to $14,000 or $16,000 or $18,000, odds are I'd be able to replenish it without a problem.

Plus, I could make sacrifices in other areas of my life: I could eat out less often, I could make better use of the public library, and so on. At its heart, this is the same sort of decision I used to make, but on a different scale. Instead of trying to scrounge up $500 per person to spend a week in Victoria, B.C., I'm now trying to find $5,000 per person to spend three weeks in Africa.

Again, is this lifestyle inflation? If so, is it wrong? And do Kris and I really want to spend this much money on a three-week vacation? I don't know, and I'm not sure how to find an answer.

Life in the Third Stage

These are the sorts of things I think about in the Third Stage of personal finance. Yes, we're still growing and canning our own food, still looking for cheap entertainment, still shopping at thrift stores, and still asking for discounts whenever possible. Now, though, these aren't techniques to help me get out of debt. Instead, they're the steps that allow me to spend $200 a month for Crossfit, $1410 for soccer season tickets — and maybe $5600 to travel to Africa.

I'd love to hear from other folks who have reached this stage. What sorts of things do you spend on? Do you sometimes think, “Man, ten years ago, I would have thought this was outrageous?” Do you still make sacrifices in order to buy the things you want? Do you still practice frugality? If you're in the Third Stage of personal finance, what's life like for you? (And if you're not there, do you find this sort of spending inspiring? Or is it intimidating? Infuriating?)

Note: As I was making my final edits to this article, I realized it's a sort of follow-up to June's post about the rewards of frugality and thrift, in which I described some other things I've been spending on recently.

Portland Timbers fan photo by Jenny Cestnik.

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ajc @ 7million7years
ajc @ 7million7years
10 years ago

Hi JD; somehow, I’ve lost your e-mail address, so I’ll comment instead.

Good Luck on your trip …

By coincidence, I’m going on Safari in Sept, JD. Some mates from Chicago sent me an e-mail and 2 hours later I’d booked business class airfare from Melb to Jo’burg and back.

They couldn’t believe that I could act so quick, but I built these sort of expenses into my Number even before I began ‘life after work’.

We’ll have to compare notes when you get back from SA 🙂

Adrienne
Adrienne
10 years ago

Whenever I hear that someone is “maxing out retirement accounts” a red flag goes up. Depending on how late in life you’re starting and how much it will take to sustain your lifestyle “maxing out” may not be enough.
I hope that instead you are looking at how much you’ll need to accumulate and feel you are on track with that.

Edmundo Braverman
Edmundo Braverman
10 years ago

JD, This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I wouldn’t say I’m at stage 3 yet (more like stage 2.8), but I firmly believe that travel is a must if you can afford it. Travel is by far the largest extraneous item on my annual budget. I live in Paris and have a family of 4, so I have to set aside $5,000 just for airfare to get back to see family in the States once a year. On top of that, we travel quite a bit around Europe. This summer alone, I ran with the bulls… Read more »

Kestra
Kestra
10 years ago

JD, I’d be interested to know how you decide how much to put away for retirement. Do you have a age in mind? I have a really hard time with “play” money because I’m really focused on FI. So any money I don’t spend now goes towards the general savings/freedom fund. (I am putting some towards big future travel, but that’s it really for fun money.) My husband is also quite frugal though he at least treats himself to coffees and computer games. I just feel that I value freedom more than stuff, or even most experiences right now. We… Read more »

Jane
Jane
10 years ago

I think it’s a bad sign that you’re even contemplating taking money out of your emergency fund or tax account – and what’s worse, the mindset that it’s only “borrowing” from these accounts and you’ll surely be able to get back on track by X point in time. I would strongly recommend not jeopardising your current financial security. If something goes wrong, and you can’t recoup the money as quickly as you thought, you’re up the proverbial creek without a paddle. I know some people will think this is pessimistic or that it’s overly-anxious to wonder “what if something goes… Read more »

sjw
sjw
10 years ago

I’m probably at the 3rd stage, we still haven’t paid off the house, we are on track for financial freedom, but still years away. But we’re working on finding that balance between lifestyle inflation, making purchases we can afford, and still enjoying them fully. Also saving for that uncertainty, financial freedom is still years away, and lots of things could happen to derail us. I often joke that it is easier when you’re broke, because then the decisions are obvious. You can’t have it or you need it desperately. Now I can have it (even a new Tivoli radio, cd… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
10 years ago

thanks for writing about this. i don’t think i’m at the same stage of personal finance (i’m 24) but i’m going through the same thing. i’ve always been very frugal and rarely spend money on things that aren’t necessary. until this past year… i got a great job, bought a house, am getting married next year, and we are going out of the country for our honeymoon. i’ve spent more in the past 6 months than i probably did for the past 6 years. but once i looked at my income and subtracted all my expenses and set aside a… Read more »

Mike Piper
Mike Piper
10 years ago

My own Third Stage conundrum is this: I have a finite amount to invest each year/month, so what’s the best way to divvy it up between investing in my business vs. investing for retirement?

Between Roth IRAs, my wife’s plan at work, and a solo 401(k), we’d be eligible to contribute over $50,000 to retirement accounts each year. So we’re not in danger of running out of tax-advantaged space.

To date, cash I’ve put into my business has consistently earned a much higher return that I could reasonably expect from other investments.

But it’s a lot higher risk.

Ken Marable
Ken Marable
10 years ago

Interesting to note that these purchase decisions you mention – gym membership, season tickets, trip to South Africa – aren’t “stuff”. They are experiences. Heck, I would even lump comic books as more experience as entertainment than stuff to accumulate. When given the freedom of getting away from debt, it’s nice to see someone focusing on experiences rather than accumulating more stuff.

I still have a ways to go before the 3rd stage, but I’m at least on my way. It’s nice to get a view from over there to keep me moving.

Michael
Michael
10 years ago

JD, have you paid off your house?

Just wondering what you mean by “out of debt”…

Regards,
Michael

Kristia@FamilyBalanceSheet
10 years ago

I tend to agree with @Jane on borrowing from your emergency fund and your tax fund. Once you start thinking that way, it will be hard to change course. That is a lot of money to come up with, but it sounds like an incredible opportunity and I am sure you can figure out a way to find the money elsewhere. We have 2 small children(4 & 2) so traveling extensively will be out of reach for awhile. I’ll have to live vicariously in blogland. I’m not sure what stage we are in. We still have a mortgage and my… Read more »

Craig Gonzales
Craig Gonzales
10 years ago

I’m 27 and still in the first stage – paying off massive college debt while trying to find purpose. While Crossfit is very expensive (in Singapore I am pay about 250$ / month), I think it is worth it. A healthy body leads to more positive things than negative things. Any money spent is actually money invested – in happiness, a long life, maybe even in lower lifetime medical bills. I don’t think spending money on Crossfit is lifestyle inflation – i think that if you find it necessary, then it is necessary. As for Africa, spending +5k for 3… Read more »

Brian B
Brian B
10 years ago

I hung in there until I read about Dungeons and Dragson…….. and now I have deleted my bookmark to this page!!!!

(just kidding)

JonasAberg
JonasAberg
10 years ago

I don’t know if I am really in the third stage since I have never been in debt. After I got a steady job I just started saving money and have never looked back since. I do have an emergency fund with about six months worth of expenses and I do save for retirement. I also have various “sub accounts” where I save money for trips, auto repairs, Christmas presents etc. One challenge I have from time to time is that I have to shift around money when I get new savings goals or priorities. Recently I found out that… Read more »

Steven@hundredgoals.com
10 years ago

Have you considered organizing the trip to Africa yourself? I’ve found that by making my own arrangements, travel is significantly less expensive than going with an organized group, especially through a school. I went to Argentina for two weeks for a college class and looking back, I think I got a great deal for the price, which was less than half what you’ll be paying for Africa. The one positive aspect of going on this trip would be that you are off the hook for any organizing and planning, which is nice. You just get to enjoy the ride and… Read more »

Passiivinen Sijoittaja
Passiivinen Sijoittaja
10 years ago

I guess you could call this lifestyle inflation, but hey, I think you’ve earned it! Money is meant to be used eventually, isn’t it?

Before I familiarized myself with the concept of conscious spending, I sometimes felt guilty after a night out, or after I bought something I really wanted. Now, I just use all the money I like doing what I want (after I’ve paid myself first, ofcourse 🙂 No more feeling guilty for spending money going out with my friends!

Rachel211
Rachel211
10 years ago

Wow – I didn’t realize that South Africa was disappearing after February! I mean, it MUST be if you are considering ‘borrowing’ from your emergency savings or tax accounts to go on such an expensive trip on the heels of another expensive trip. 😉

I suggest you stop for a second and read that section again from the view point of what you would tell someone who wrote that in to you.

JM
JM
10 years ago

When we reach stage 3, I’m looking forward to upping our charitable giving. We would probably have reached stage 3 by now except that we give 10-15% of our gross income to non-profits every month. In a world where most people live in danger and/or poverty, our family chooses to help others find food, shelter, and safety. We have no revolving debt, just other types of debt (mostly a mortgage) that are being paid down. We save for retirement. After charity, retirement, debt interest, and taxes, our family of 3 lives comfortably on $25K. Disclaimer: Please know that this comment… Read more »

Jay
Jay
10 years ago

Isn’t the point of an emergency fund that it is saved for emergencies? How is a trip to Africa an emergency?

You assume you won’t need the money and will have the resources to pay it back. Fair enough, but don’t we all assume that; and isn’t the point of an emergency fund to protect against that assumption?

Feels to me like you want to use it like a slush fund…

Sam
Sam
10 years ago

We are in the “third stage” too, no debt except the mortgage, good size emergency fund (although we are still adding to it), max out our retirment accounts, etc. Although I am happy with our progress, I find the third stage to be a challenge. Its like when you have lost 30 lbs., you look great, you feel great, and then you realize I can’t go back to eating french fries or I’ll be right back where I started. You have to maintain in the third stage. And I find maintaining not very exciting. Yes we are sticking with our… Read more »

Evelyn
Evelyn
10 years ago

It seems a little excessive to have two big vacations in one year – will you even be able to fully appreciate them both? Have you checked to see how often your alumni association puts together that travel package? If it will come around again in the next couple of years, why not just wait, and save up for it? It would give you time to research more, and build up the anticipation for the adventure.

ajc @ 7million7years
ajc @ 7million7years
10 years ago

@ Mike – you have to use as much cashflow as your business does NOT need for expansion into buying rental property.

You retire when 75% of your net rental income (after mortgage costs) supports your lifestyle.

If you’re too conservative/nervous, put 50% to 100% down. It’s how I built my first $7 mill. … except that I usually put 25% down.

katerina
katerina
10 years ago

I’ve traveled a lot in developing countries, including in Africa, and $5600 per person seems like a crazy amount to pay for three weeks. Paying for a super-expensive package holiday just doesn’t seem like a sensible idea. Also, I honestly feel that you won’t really experience the countries properly if you’re staying in fancy hotels and being shuttled around in air-conditioned jeeps.

Matt
Matt
10 years ago

Well, the blog is called “Get *Rich* Slowly” – not “Be a Miser All The Time.” As someone else said in the thread, money is there to be spent. If you have $20k in your e-fund, but you feel like $15k is enough for most emergency situations (including a prolonged spell of lowered income), I don’t see a problem.

PMT
PMT
10 years ago

I like to think I will always be frugal but certainly things I buy now I would not have considered several years ago. Just yesterday I bought a few components to add to my home automation and lighting (yea geek stuff for remote control lights). I can justify it now because I have no consumer debt and am saving on a regular basis. However, just because I splurge I still try to work deals. In fact I was able to find a certified set of equipment for significantly less but also get the salesman to give free shipping AND a… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
10 years ago

RE: The Emergency Fund I agree with most of your — it ought not be touched, if possible. That’s why it’s at the bottom of the list. And that’s why I want to look at all other possible sources of money first. I don’t like the idea of borrowing from the emergency fund, either. Borrowing from the tax fund doesn’t bother me as much because I know I usually have more than enough in that account on April 15. So, when I mention the emergency fund, I merely do so to spark this very discussion: Is it ever okay to… Read more »

lovinglife
lovinglife
10 years ago

I’ve been reading a lot of different blogs/forums lately regarding FI and “3rd stage finance ideas”, and I think one of the major factors that changes your perception of spending habits at this stage is whether you love your current job or not. A lot of FI forums seem to be driven by people who want freedom from their jobs, which is great espicially if your job is a life suck. But I’m like you JD I love what I do and plan on doing it for the rest of my working life. So I make sure I take care… Read more »

Meg
Meg
10 years ago

My face is pressed against the glass, eager to see what “stage 3” looks like. And, it looks great! I think it’s cool that you have the freedom to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Because really, what’s the point of saving if you never do *anything* with your money, besides use it just to live?

While this point will be out of reach for me for a while, it’s nice to see how others do it.

Laura in Atlanta
Laura in Atlanta
10 years ago

Go to Africa.
It will change your life.

Randy
Randy
10 years ago

I am not in the 3rd staage. I am in the first stage. But I believe you missed something in your thinking JD. The difference you missed was that you are in a position of choosing between WANTS. That changes everything in my mind. You no longer are choosing between want vs need. So I say go for the trip! Even if you borrow the money from your emergency fund. Is your income about to disappear? You are self employed so you won’t get fired! I would setup monthly payments and charge myself interest on the loan. That way I… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
10 years ago

You’re doing great. Since you’re self-employed, I don’t think I would dip into that 20K emergency fund unless you’re insured up the wazoo and positive that insurance money will kick in before you use the emergency fund up. Use that money for emergencies. It’s ok to dip in it for medical expenses or major housing disasters, short cash flow problems that will be resolved (like bank mistakes) etc. Then replenish as soon as possible. Optional travel is not a reason to dip into it unless you’re sure that you’ll be fine if you’re suddenly disabled. In terms of the question… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
10 years ago

@Nicole (#31)
Awesome example with your mattresses. For me, I cannot imagine spending $2500 on a mattress. Last year, we went to Costco to find an inexpensive mattress (but one we knew we liked because we’d slept on it before). It cost a few hundred dollars. But for your, that’s what the luxury of being out of debt and saving brings you: the chance to buy an expensive mattress. It’s a great example of “do what works for you”!

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
10 years ago

To everyone:
This article is generating a lot of comments. Unfortunately, a bunch of these are still being routed to spam. I’m about to leave for my morning Crossfit session, and won’t be back for a couple of hours. If your comment doesn’t appear immediately, it’s because the spamfilter trapped it. Have no fear, I’ll sort things out when I get back from the gym.

Sarah
Sarah
10 years ago

If the South Africa trip is a one-time opportunity (due to the relationship factors you mentioned) why not use the vacation money you’ve saved for that trip, and push back the Europe trip a little so that you have time to save properly for it? Relationship factors do go into these decisions, and your wife should certainly respect that you’re trying to be financially responsible. I would not take money out of the tax fund or emergency fund. Though it would probably be fine, it’s a slippery slope to start down. Travel is also pretty exhausting and can take a… Read more »

Jaynee
Jaynee
10 years ago

I’m still in the first stage – paying off all debt (except the mortgage). We’ve paid off 60% of it and hope to be done with the remaining 40% in the next 15-18 months. Once that’s done we plan on dumping every extra dollar into savings for 12 months as well as maxing out both our 401Ks. With any luck that’ll be around January or February of 2013. After that, we’ll be in a good shape and we should be able to become a single-income family (right now we both work) and continue maxing out my husband’s 401K. The one… Read more »

Amanda
Amanda
10 years ago

South Africa: I know my immediate supervisor and her husband went a while back and had a great time. Please see the video you posted for some of (their!) footage.

Techbud
Techbud
10 years ago

No where near stage 3 for me yet, but stage 3 sound very much like a fat kid on a diet, you really shouldn’t think of it that way. It more about changing your eating habits for life and keeping the weight off. Same with debt, you need to make the changes and stay disciplined for the long haul.

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
10 years ago

@Amanda (#36)
Ha! 🙂 They made quite a sensation with that video, didn’t they? It’s stuck with me for two or three years, and I was pleased to see I could embed it on GRS. Thank your supervisor for me!

ami | 40daystochange
ami | 40daystochange
10 years ago

JD: while you covered taking money from different existing pools/accounts and supplanting your monthly comic book fix, I think you forgot one option: creating more income. (ok, this requires a bit more time, but it might be worth considering). Given your audience, publishing a moderately priced e-book, creating a membership site/forum for the most rabid among us, leading one or more brainstorming/consulting ‘bootcamps’ for people seeking to get to the 3rd stage (or leave the first stage), etc. could help with raising some of the money required for your trip. Not that you need the advice. Sounds like you’ve got… Read more »

Crystal
Crystal
10 years ago

Before I even read the comments, let me say your story is inspiring. You’re doing all the right things with your money, spending it on what is important to YOU. I really love also that when you loosened your belt you ended up spending your $ on expierances like tickets and travel, and not brand name lables or other worthless things. What you spend $ on makes your life more interesting

Jason
Jason
10 years ago

DO IT! My wife and I are at about Step 2.8 (only debt is our mortgage which is very reasonable)and we just went to South Africa this year and spent ~$15,000 for the two week trip and it was worth every penny. We both would do it again in a heartbeat.

JakeIL7
JakeIL7
10 years ago

JD, Wasn’t it here where I read “You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want”? I think this describes the third stage (which I am in) very well. A better question regarding your possible SA trip is: What are you giving up to go on this trip? It sounds like you are just trying to find funding sources, not admitting that you’d be giving something up. In regards to the emergency fund comments, I agree with them. Yes, sometimes opportunities come along you can’t pass up and you decide that you gotta take it even… Read more »

Amy
Amy
10 years ago

Such a surprise to see the Minnesota Stars mentioned here!

(I’m hoping MN can pull off a win when Portland comes here to play next week)

Randy
Randy
10 years ago

I know you have a number of subaccounts for different goals, so why are you not doing the same for travel. By all means, feel free to travel to your heart’s content, but save for these trips like you have been doing for everything else. Check out oattravel.com- there are trips to S. Africa there in a similar price range, and they aren’t going anywhere. You may be convincing yourself that the college planned trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity when it is not. Remember how nice it felt to buy the mini when you had it saved… Read more »

Meg
Meg
10 years ago

I appreciated the comment from JM (#18). I had a similar response to this post. JD said: “When you’ve paid off your debt, saved for emergencies, and set aside money for retirement, whatever’s left over is yours to do with as you please, right?” I suppose–but I’m not sure I’d agree that one’s obligations are taken care of at that point. Perhaps one’s obligations to oneself are taken care of. But what about one’s obligations to the rest of the world? If everyone in the third stage of personal finance donated just a small percentage of their “leftover” money to… Read more »

Stephanie
Stephanie
10 years ago

As an east coast Crossfitter, and someone who just started my financial journey, I have a question about your crossfit, JD! Do you follow the paleo/zone diet at all, and if so how did that end up affecting your food spending? Have you been on vacation since starting, and how did that affect your performance and diet?

Jeremy
Jeremy
10 years ago

What is the goal of personal finance, if not to spend money on what matters to you? Bad financial situation: being required to spend money on things you don’t want (interest, late fees, etc.). Good financial situation: spending money on the things you want to (Crossfit, travel, comic books, what have you) We’ve got a long ways to go before that stage, but we have made some decisions with our finances that most people would consider “unusual”. If they’re in line with our priorities, though, and we’re still being wise about emergency funds and such, then I don’t see a… Read more »

ami | 40daystochange
ami | 40daystochange
10 years ago

Ooh, one more thought – 3rd stage is a great time to think about how to spend money to help other folks out. In other words, at this stage people may have the resources to make a big difference for the charity that aligns with their values and aspirations, so it’s a great time to develop a relationship with and support that charity. 3rd stage is a great time to think about making a mark and leaving a legacy.

Kevin
Kevin
10 years ago

JD, A couple quick points: I agree with the others in that I’m sensing a lot of justification in your post. I think if you were addressing this issue objectively, and it were a reader asking, you’d have a very different opinion. I would NOT “borrow” from other funds, because that’s still the same “borrowing” mindset that fostered a lifestyle that involved living beyond your means. I think you should postpone the South Africa trip. It’s been there for billions of years, it’ll still be there 2-3 years from now. But on another, more disturbing note, you’ve mentioned that the… Read more »

Sandy L
Sandy L
10 years ago

Africa is not cheap (I’ve been there twice), but it was life changing. You see people living in dung huts with their cows and it gave me an amazing amount of perspective. The things I stress about day to day don’t really matter.

I’m in stage 3. It is easy to fall off the wagon and get close to living paycheck to paycheck again. Preventing lifestyle inflation takes constant vigilance. We have a 1 big vacation/yr and 1 home improvement project/yr rule that we try to go by. When we veered off that path, things got hairy again.

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