Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to sit down with an old acquaintance and discuss the paths that our lives have led. My life has led toward that American dream of two parents, two children, and a nice house with a white picket fence. His life has went down a much different route.
First, he’s made a conscious decision to never marry and never have children. He wants to make all of his own choices without having to worry about how his choices will affect the entire life direction of other people. Second, he is quitting his job when he’s thirty to become a fisherman. His lifelong dream has been to fish for a living, staying out on a boat in the ocean for a month seeking large catches.
It’s obvious that we are headed in very different directions in the coming years. He’s headed down an individualistic path; I’m headed down a path that is filled with family. He is headed down an entrepreneurial path, whereas the closest I get to individual entrepreneurship is this blog. We have vastly different goals and vastly different plans for our lives.
He was quite happy, though, because his plans were coming along well. He estimates he will be able to make a down payment on the fishing boat and all necessary equipment sometime between his 29th and 30th birthday. He’s doing it by scrimping and saving right now; he’s working a nice paying job that he views solely as a means to an end to his fishing and he’s living much like he did when we were in college.
Interestingly, we’ve come to the exact same conclusions about personal finance principles. It all comes down to one simple thing: if you spend less than you make, you’ll get ahead. Period. Because he’s doing it, he’s moving towards his dreams; because I’m doing it, I’m laying the foundations for where I want to go with the rest of my life.
We agree on one other thing, too: once you figure out what you truly love, you should make it the center of your life and everything else should feed into it. For me, the moments that I love the most in my life are when I’m playing with my son, and I’m already dreaming of more children and eventually grandchildren. My family is what I truly love, and thus they’re the center of my life, financially and otherwise. I’m engineering my finances so that I can protect my family and they can thrive – and so that I can be the most available and best father that I can possibly be. His true love is fishing – you can see the glint in his eye when he talks about the boat that he wants to buy and when he tells stories about fishing with his father and running along the docks.
No matter what you’re doing, no matter where you’re at, two things hold true: figure out what you love and follow it, and spend less than you make. If you can follow those two basic principles, you’ll be just fine. I know my friend will be; he’s doing both, and soon he’ll be standing on the deck of his boat with a stocking cap on his head, a big goofy grin covering his face.