What’s Keeping You Financially From Living Your Dream?

What’s your dream? Close your eyes for a moment and think about what you would be doing if it wasn’t for the obstacles in your life. For me, I imagine myself behind a large mahogany desk near a large window, a stack of books near me, a cup of hot chocolate on the desk, and my laptop open as I write vigorously. I asked a friend what her dream was, and she described waking up as late as she wanted and then getting a long backrub.

Now, make a list of all of the things that stand in your way of fulfilling this dream. For most of us, our job interferes with it – we need the money that it provides to maintain our lifestyle. It also might cost a lot of money to fulfill that dream, too, on top of that money loss.

What did you just make? You made a checklist of things that you can be doing to live your dream. Is your job an obstacle? Look for other career opportunities or request some changes in your work schedule so that you have time for other things. Is money an obstacle? Spend some time evaluating your finances and you’ll probably discover that you have more money than you thought you did.

It’s also useful to make some financial estimates on each of these items on your checklist, just so you have some tangible dollar amounts to work towards. Would you need $100K to replace your salary and go back to school for a few years? Would $300K pay for a nice piece of land in the country on which to build your dream home?

Most of us walk a path in life that doesn’t lead to a dream; instead, it merely leads to just another day doing things that leave us closing our eyes and dreaming of something else. If this sounds familiar to you, try this exercise – and realize that your dreams are reachable if you start planning for them now, instead of sitting sadly at your desk, drinking another latte and dreaming.

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  1. Rob says:

    My dream: to live in Paris. Just a few more years of saving…

  2. Oz says:

    I lived in Paris. Here is a good estimate from the government :) http://www.ambafrance-us.org/visitingfrance/costs.asp

    Its a beautiful city. best enjoyed when single. :) Not as expensive as London but still quite costly.

    Good post. My problem is that I have a hard time seeing what I want when I close my eyes. I feel like my dreams are dictated by media, society etc. They are not original – beaches, pina coladas etc.

  3. wanda says:

    How do I know that in the x number of years it’ll take to get to my dream that I’ll still want it? People change over time, and their priorities change over time, and maybe I’ll regret having a thrifty and virtuous youth.

  4. Trent says:

    If your priorities change in a few years, then you’ll have money in the bank to live whatever your dream becomes. However, you won’t feel like your time is wasted now because you worked towards a goal rather than wandering aimlessly.

  5. My dream is to work for myself. No job or boss, but to make my own income.

  6. Mike C says:

    I agree with Trent’s comment. Dreams change and some are out of our own control. I started a 529 for my son when he was born and contribute monthly to it. He’s still a good 14 years away from college-age, and who’s to say whether he’ll decide to go to college. But it’s my dream to help him pay for it if he chooses to go. And if his dream is not in line with my dream, then I’ll take a 10% hit on my 529 withdrawal and have a nice bit of extra vacation money in the future.

  7. wanda says:

    I don’t know. When I am older, I will have many more responsibilities and obligations that will prevent me from doing the fun things- that cost money- that I have time for now. I would never get into debt, and I have several month’s salary socked away, some of it invested, but of course I could always save more. I’m just afraid that life is going to pass me by.

  8. Mission Debt Freedom says:

    What an awesome post! I just had a conversation with my wife the other night where I told her I felt like I was supposed to do something else with my life. I began college pre-medicine and have always had a passion for the medical field. Life got in the way of my dreams.

    I married, started a family and had to provide for them. So, educationally, I took the path of least resistance finishing up a business degree in two quick years after switching gears. Now I could never afford to go back to medical school. Schooling is too expensive, and my wife does not work so we depend on my income. Now if we had a couple hundred grand sitting around, sure we could do it! Maybe one day…maybe.

  9. Julie says:

    Great post! You need to determine what is important to you. When you are at Starbuck’s for the third time in a week, you need to ask yourself, “how does this fit in with my goals/dreams?”. If it doesn’t, you need to walk out.

  10. Debt Hater says:

    I am so excited to read this because it’s where my head has been for days. It feels good to know I’m not the only one thinking of it.
    I just wrote a long post about it myself.
    My dream: To be living in D.C. with my soon-to-be-husband, traveling the country and the world writing about social justice, health disparities and plain people doing extraordinary things in people’s lives. I want to raise my future children and spend time with my family without the obligation of showing up daily to a job. That’s what I want and I decided I’m going to go for it…

  11. Allen.H says:

    Great post Trent. It gets so much easier when you create a list of obstacles and start striking them off one by one until you reach your goal :)


  12. Moneymonk says:

    I love this post Trent!

    My dream is too live in the carribean. Only 15 more years of savings~

    Maybe less if my job relocate me :)

    Like you said a lot of people sit in their cubicle and just dream.

    Find out what is stopping start planning to take action!

  13. Angela says:

    Thinking of Starbucks, one of my dreams is to live someplace with a true cafe culture and spend hours people watching with a great cup of coffee. I do this in a small way now, but not often because the coffee is so expensive and the people watching here isn’t as great. May be I should do this more, or holiday more.

  14. Metal DAve says:

    I’m at THAT JOB right now, doing just that as I was reading this post. I’ve been coming to this site for a about two weeks now, and already my life has been changing for the better. Hopefully it changes even more drastically after reading this post.

    Thanks you so much!

  15. lvngwell says:

    I close my eyes and I see a craft studio. I am making polymer clay beads and cfrafting uniquie jewlery. I am in a big house with glass walls and plenty of sunshine. Out back is a huge garden of rits, flowers, vegetables, and a waterfall with huge fish living in the pond it flows into. I bake pastries, make candies and cookies, and decorate cakes. I experiment in the kitechen and craft new and delicious recipies to serve at the dinner parties I have for my freinds. We eat out in the garden on warm summer evenings as we listen to the splashing of the waterfall. OUt back is a shed where I refinish furniture and hand paint cast offs I find – remaking them into beautiful works of art that I give away to friends or sell. What a wonderful life! :)

  16. lvngwell says:

    Wow! I was so excited – look at all the typos!! LOL!

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