Back when I was in graduate school I had someone ask me what I wanted to do with my degree upon graduation. The person who asked me this question was someone who seemed to have everything figured out. His question caught me off guard. I didn’t want to say “I don’t know”. I, too, wanted to appear that I had everything figured out. So I totally made up an answer.
I can’t remember exactly what I said, though it went something like this:
“I want to use my education to help people; to help people get out of debt.”
He looked at me and said, “Wow, I’m glad you have it all figured out, I have no idea what I want to do.” His honesty was refreshing and I felt guilty for not saying something similar instead of making something up.
Back then I hadn’t ever heard of the term financial independence. My mindset was still in the mode of ‘make money to buy more stuff’. After that discussion I started to question how it would even be possible to make money helping families get out of debt. I could get into debt consolidation or other related field, though the more I thought about it the less interesting jobs in that area sounded. I didn’t give this conversation much thought for many years, though it remained in the back of my mind.
It took my wife and I about five more years before we had an awakening of sorts to get off the financial treadmill. Even though I didn’t have any clue what I was talking about during that conversation several years back, it makes me wonder if there was something deep down that came out when I answered that question completely off guard.
I believe that we are all put on this earth with a purpose. I have come to realize in my older age that my purpose is to help people think differently about money. I want to help people see that there is a true freedom in being debt free and financially independent. I’m not exactly sure how I will end up fulfilling this purpose though something tells me in time it will become more apparent.
One of the reasons why I’m on this pilgrimage is to ‘walk the walk’ before I can ‘talk the talk’. Before being able to teach people about financial independence, I first need to experience it myself. I mean, who am I to give advice on financial independence when I’m not even financially independent myself?
In a few days I’ll be making another mortgage payment which will get my remaining debt down to about $36,500. By the end of the year I’m hoping to get the balance below $30,000 with a full payoff sometime in 2018. I’ll then be shifting my focus from aggressive saver to an aggressive investor.
I’m not sure exactly how I’ll fulfill my purpose, though something tells me it starts with this blog. Even if nothing big comes from this, it will be fun to look back on it one day and relive the journey.
When we started this journey we were on a single income, still accruing student loans, and nearly $200,000 in debt. We’ve come a long way and I can’t wait to begin the next chapter soon.
Financial Pilgrimage is a blog dedicated to helping young families pay down debt and live financially free by sharing our personal stories, the stories of others, and financial tips to improve your family’s finances. Mark is a husband of one and father of two and calls St. Louis, MO, home. He also loves playing in old man baseball leagues, working out, and being anywhere near the water.