What’s Left Behind

Whenever a person makes a significant change in their life, some things are gained and some things are lost. Ideally, the things that are gained outweigh the things that are lost, but that doesn’t mean that the exchange was purely positive.

When changing one’s life, there are some things that are left behind. During the process of changing our financial direction, we lost several things in our lives.

We lost friends. I was pretty tight with a circle of young professionals that would sometimes drink after work and sometimes engage in other expensive activities. Once I became aware of my finances, I was astounded as to how much this group was really costing me, so I inched away from it. I still stay in touch with a few people from those days, but most of the rest are lost to the mists of time.

We lost hobbies. I basically gave up golfing. I practically eliminated my hobby of collecting vintage baseball cards as well. I drastically slowed my acquisition of books, too, though I’m still a very avid reader. Sarah went through similar twists and turns.

We lost some “treats.” I stopped visiting the coffee shop and the book store, at least on any sort of regular basis. I stopped buying some kinds of food at the store, too.

We lost the content of many of our date nights. We used to go to the movies on a very regular basis, but this slowed to an absolute trickle. It was a really expensive routine.

Those things all exited (or largely exited) our life several years ago – and there are times when I sorely miss them.

I sometimes miss some of the camaraderie with those old friends. I sometimes miss going golfing on Saturday mornings. I sometimes miss those treats. I sometimes miss our “dinner and a movie” evenings.

Yet, I don’t really chase those things, at least not like I used to.

I have a great circle of friends right now. The friends I have now are fun, reliable, and pretty much up for anything we suggest doing. They don’t judge us or make us feel bad for being “cheap” – in fact, they’re all pretty encouraging of smart financial moves. My closest circle of friends are all in their thirties and all of us are homeowners with complete debt freedom. We have dinners with friends all the time and constantly plan social events.

I have a set of hobbies that I deeply enjoy right now. In fact, I have more hobbies than I have adequate time for. I might miss some aspects of the old hobbies, like the sight of a beautiful field of grass early on a Saturday morning, but I still have virtually all of the core pleasures.

I’ve relegated “treats” to an occasional thing, which actually makes them sweeter. Rather than going to a coffee shop every day and not appreciating it, I go once a month and really enjoy the visit. Rather than hitting a book store a couple times a week, I deeply enjoy a visit once every month or two. I enjoy them far more because they’re not routine. They’re special.

Sarah and I take a similar approach with our “dates.” With three young children, a date night is now a rare and special thing that we really appreciate. We get the opportunity to do “dinner and a movie” once a year and thus it’s really a highlight. If our kids were suddenly out of the picture, I really don’t think we’d go back to expensive dates on a very regular basis.

What did I gain from this change? I lost a steadily increasing debt load and gained a sustainable path to financial independence.

Are there changes I miss? Sure. Are there new things I’ve discovered because of the changes? Absolutely.

Are the changes worth it as a whole? A million times yes.

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