I don’t know what it is about different life events (e.g. births, graduations, weddings, etc.) but they always give me pause to think about my own life, where I am, where I have been, and where I am going. Mrs. ROB and me recently returned from a wedding and I was thinking about finances, different milestones, and the like as I was walking our dog in the morning (I get a lot of thinking in walking with Spooner). Anyway, I have had a pretty good life. I have traveled to over 20 different countries, been to every state in the union except two, married a beautiful woman, have a job I love, bought a house, earned a Ph.D., published a couple of books and other items. Generally, people would say that you have accomplished quite a bit.
I think that is true.
However, I also feel like I am a decade behind everyone else. Maybe it is because I read too many personal finance blogs or maybe it is because I reflect on my own life and compare myself to others. Yes, I know I shouldn’t compare myself to others. Yes, I know each life journey is unique, etc. But you can’t tell me dear reader that you haven’t looked at someone else’s life and thought you are glad you are not them or wish that you had something like that. And I don’t necessarily mean money. I mean in a variety of ways. Here are three areas I feel like I am a decade behind in:
- Money/Investing. I came to the investing game really late in life. I didn’t really get serious until I was 33 when I got my first teaching job out of graduate school. I joked to my friends I was finally happy to have my own office, a 401k plan, business cards, and my own office and that is true. I spent my 20s racking up student loan debt, going to graduate school, and kind of drifting. I wish I could go back and face punch myself for some of the stupid financial decisions I made. If I would’ve started earlier or not taken out student loans I would be in a better position today. Most of my friends have paid their student loans. At 42, I still have 14 years left if I stay in the pace that I am. So I feel like my investing and my debt payoffs are a decade behind. I am just getting started. And it is only in the last two years or so that I became really serious about paying off debt. Better late than never, but I does feel a bit overwhelming to realize you could be somewhere totally different if you would’ve started earlier.
- Home Ownership. I didn’t own a home until I was 42. My ex and I did have a home in Atlanta where we lived, but the house was in her name and we only had it for a couple of years. It took me 10 years after I received my current position to pull the trigger on a house. Part of that was because of the instability to my marriage with my ex, but it was also because I wasn’t sure I was going to stay in the same place I am today. In fact, I still have visions of moving to other places, maybe a better position or closer to home or changing careers or traveling. All of my friends have owned homes for at least the last five years if not longer. I know home ownership isn’t for everyone and there isn’t any harm in renting, but I think about all of that money I wasted on rent and what I could’ve been building in equity in a home. Yes, the market took a downturn, but I am the type of person that would’ve been paying extra on the mortgage to build equity and greater wealth. However, I am a year into owning a home, while others are 10 years. Again, I feel like it took way too long to get here like I am too old for it or something.
- Family/Children. This is probably the biggest thing that I feel like I am behind on. I have mentioned the desire to have children on this blog a couple of different times, but I have never really explored it that much, which I plan to do in future posts. However, I am 42 and Mrs. ROB is nearer 40 and we don’t have children. We would like children. I have wanted to have a family for the past decade. I finally felt stable and mature enough in my early 30s that I was “ready” to have kids. But because of relationship instability, bad luck, and some other things so far that hasn’t arrived. I have friends whose children are teenagers and graduating high school. If we do have kids I will most likely be in my early 60s when they graduate from high school. My friends will be enjoying the life of being empty nesters, traveling, and working in their late 40s/early 50s and I will be dealing with a toddler. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want children. I do. More than anything. In fact, I would have to say that it is certainly at the top of my life goals. I mean if it doesn’t happen I won’t die or anything. But I have a desire (and Mrs. ROB does as well by the way…this isn’t just me…which was an issue in my relationship with my ex) to have children. However, when I look around and see others my age preparing for graduation and other life events I feel almost like it is too late. I am behind the eight ball. This should’ve occurred over a decade ago. And before you mention it Mrs. ROB and I are exploring a variety of options for kids/family. It is certainly a topic of conversation we have had, but the process is very slow and can be frustrating.
Now I know that I have led a pretty good life. I have accomplished a lot. And I am not dead yet. Not even close. The desire to write, teach, explore, and live life is still burning. So flame on. But I can’t help but feel in other moments of quiet reflection that I am a decade behind others. My circumstances are unique and life is a journey. That doesn’t mean, however, I don’t feel some pangs/desires for things to be a bit different.
Really, don’t cry for me Argentina. I am just having a bit of a reflective moment. I will achieve more goals and I hope to achieve more of what I outlined above. What do you think about these kinds of reflections/where you are in life?