So I guess this is where my inner tax-accounting-business geek comes out. I can never seem to bypass those "I paid off my mortgage" type articles, but they need to be written about personal experiences. The generic ones are just too . . . generic. I enjoy reading how others have paid off their mortgages but there's something that always bothered me when I read these and I couldn't quite put my finger on it until a few weeks ago.
I've found myself trying to get into travel blogs but most of them read like instant magazine clips. Too generic. And I have no desire to backpack, sleep in a hostel or live off a small budget in Southeast Asia. I do find it fascinating when travel bloggers discuss how they saved up funds and then quit their jobs in order to travel full time. (Something I could never do.) Now, most of these people are also full time bloggers. I was reading one such blog post last week. The blogger happened to be in her mid-twenties, single and childless at the time she was saving money in order to travel full time. Some of the commenters noted "yeah, try doing this with two kids" or "but it was easy for you because you didn't have to pay rent" and so on and so forth.
What I've come to realize is that it's all relative. Reading exactly how Joe Smith budgeted his paycheck in order to pay down his mortgage may be inspiring but no one is going to be in the same exact scenario. Same goes for those saving in order to travel full time. (Again, how does one travel full time?) It's all relative. What's interesting too is the thought (assumption, maybe) that disposal income means that you are really good with your finances. Disposal income could just mean that your income is greater than your expenses. Is one with expenses less than income necessarily smart with finances? Possibly. But that doesn't mean that those with little to no disposal income aren't smart with finances. Sometimes it just works out that way. Living (rent, mortgage, property taxes, property insurance, health insurance, dental insurance, car insurance) is expensive.
My two greatest long term financial concerns right now are the girls' college tuition and my retirement savings. I used to have very specific thoughts on college expenses but now I realize (in my middle age maturity) that it really is a parenting decision and not everyone is going to view it in the same manner. Rich and I, despite having two very opposite college experiences, wholeheartedly agree on how we would like to handle this as parents. As for retirement, I do still have thoughts on that. Going back to the travel blogger who outlined her expenses - there was nothing allocated in her budget for retirement savings. And I get it, I made the same mistake in my twenties but I think (hopefully) that I've somewhat made up for it. It would be interesting to read how full time bloggers are saving for retirement (if it all.) I, personally, really want to retire one day and not look back. And I don't want to be 60 when that happens.