I think it’s important to focus on the life you want to lead in the future while you pay off your debt in the present. Otherwise, this website would have a different name:) Here’s a look at what I’m dreaming about for my life once I pay off the debt.
1. Own a House Outright: I’d like to own a house, a “home base,” as I’m calling it – mortgage free. I want a place to host friends when they visit from out of town, or to host friendly gatherings or holiday parties for my small extended family. It must be modest and it must be in a highly walkable neighborhood. Ideally, it would have some sort of income-producing addition – like a garage apartment. I think about this one a lot, and I tend to look at real estate listings and compare what I’m paying toward my debt to what I could be paying on a home. I live in a nice place now, but with a roommate. It all feels very temporary, and I want a home base to feel more rooted. (Update – July 2016: I purchased a house with a mortgage in April 2016. I’m not sure it’s “home base,” but it’s home for now, and I got it at a good price in this crazy market.)
2. Do a Thru-Hike: Of course, I’ve read Wild. I’ve watched Mile, Mile and a Half on Netflix. My goal this year is to hike in every metro park in the area. I think of that goal as a type of preparation for a thru-hike in the future. I’m not sure where yet, but I keep it in mind and think about it almost daily.
3. Travel: My current destination obsessions are Australia, Iceland, Norway, and the Galapagos Islands. I’d also like to do an volunteer trip where I help to preserve a national landmark – like with HistoriCorps or something. In the meantime, I watch documentaries on the places and read Preservation Magazine for inspiration.
4. Work from Anywhere: When I think about working from anywhere, I imagine myself in a chaise by a pool with my MacBook in my lap and friends sunning themselves nearby. I also think of sitting on my sofa in that “home base” I mentioned and my dogs hanging out nearby. I totally intend to have a pretty stellar back porch or deck from which to work, as well. Some of the work I do now is a stepping stone to this vision. I don’t want to be “location independent” as much as I want to be able to spend whole days at my home base and feel like I have more control over my own time. (Update – July 2016: Since paying off the debt that inspired this blog – in February 2016 – I’ve decided that I want financial independence. Instead of working from anywhere, I could be free to travel anywhere. My vision for life after work is currently taking shape.)
5. Own or Significantly Support an Animal Rescue: If I don’t start my own one day, then I want to be able to give copious amounts of money to someone who starts or runs an organization that keeps the canines from being executed. Felines, too.
6. Write a Book: I have three full ideas for manuscripts, as well as lots of notes, pages and outlines. I studied creative writing in college, and this has been something I’ve wanted for a long time. I’ve had to think long and hard about it as a priority, though. I would never have guessed that I would not have done it by now. But, I also feel like the ideas I have would have been poorly handled by my younger self. So, really, this dream is to write three books and all of them well. Whether or not they become published or popular, I’m not going to worry about. Or, at least, I’m going to work hard not to worry about.
And there it is. These are the dreams I cultivate while paying off debt. They’re pretty simple. Do-able. But when you’ve got debt to pay, sometimes they seem VERY faraway and out of reach. I’ve got to work daily to make them feel as if they’re in my grasp. Any advice on how to keep my eyes on these prizes is much appreciated.