Updated on 06.08.12

The Value of Climbing the Mountain

Trent Hamm

The last six years of my life have been spent grinding as hard as possible towards one specific goal. I wanted to be free of debt while owning my own home. Nothing more, nothing less.

Over that entire period, Sarah and I have been pretty careful with our money. We’ve given up expensive hobbies. What travel we have done in the last several years has mostly been visits to family members and friends. We’ve drastically cut back on eating out. We’ve found ways to spend less in almost every aspect of our life.

Several months ago, we submitted our last payment on our home mortgage – our only remaining outstanding debt for a long while – and found ourselves at the top of that mountain we’ve been climbing for more than half a decade.

It felt good, of course. But it also felt like an end to a very long journey.

Since then, Sarah and I have spent a lot of time talking about goals. What’s next for us? Where do we go from here?

The challenging part is that we don’t really have firm answers to those questions yet. We don’t have an overarching goal like we have had over the past six years.

We’ve talked about buying some land in the country and building a home on it, but there are quite a few reasons for us to stay put right now, with proximity to our social circle being a big part of that.

We’ve talked about career shifts, but we’re both reasonably happy doing what we’re doing right now.

We’ve talked about early retirement, too, but that’s something we would probably achieve in lieu of these other goals.

We’ve climbed the mountain and now that we’re at the top, we’re not entirely sure where to go next.

There is one thing for certain, though. It would be incredibly easy to fall back on our financial discipline right now.

Before this, we had a big goal pushing us forward and we were in worse financial shape than we’re in right now. Today? We’ve achieved that goal and we’re in the best financial situation of our adult lives.

The biggest arguments we’ve had for financial discipline are now gone.

What’s left to replace them? Habit. Over the past six years, we’ve become used to doing things in a way that conserves a lot of money and, now that we’re used to them, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to change them.

To put it simply, the biggest lesson of our financial journey is that you don’t need to spend a whole lot of money to be happy and, if you’re happy not spending money, why spend it?

I’m sure that over the next few years, we’ll find a direction in which to point our financial plans. Whatever that direction might be, though, we can be sure of one thing: the path we’ve already followed was about more than just paying off our debts. It was about figuring out how to live our lives in a sensible fashion.

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  1. Johanna says:

    If your current spending patterns require discipline, are they really making you happy? Why NOT relax the purse strings a little if there are things you want to buy and you can afford them?

  2. Johanna says:

    At some point, you need to stop climbing mountains and just sit back and enjoy being where you are.

  3. Johanna says:

    Also, have you considered making it a goal to contribute a bit more to your children’s education costs?

  4. Vanessa says:

    It would be incredibly easy to fall back on our financial discipline right now.

    Do you mean “fall back” as a positive or negative?


  5. Andrew says:

    Time to stop and smell the roses…or clip the coupons.

  6. Peggy says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!! It was tough, but now you can look back and say it was oh so worth it!

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