How do you fit everything into one life? (And how do you pay for it?)

It seems like no matter where we are in life, we are waiting for something else. Generally, two things are holding us back from that “something else”. Time and money. But what if we weren’t in debt? Could we pursue the dream job we so desperately desire but can’t afford to take because it’s risky? Do we get mad at our past selves for bad decisions that put our future selves in financial straits?

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I struggle a lot with forgiving my past self for getting into so much debt as I told y’all in It’s All My Fault. I know what you’re thinking. “But Erin, you’re amazing! You’re pretty and smart and witty and I accept you as my god.” I know, I know. But sometimes it’s hard to not get down about the fact that I have so much debt to pay off because it’s holding me back from doing things that make me happy. Like having a job where I get to look out the window or moving to Munich.

While it’s hard to deal with how long my debt payoff will take, the time is going to pass anyways. And a year from now, I would have wished I had started today.

How do we find balance in a place that encourages putting work above all else for forty years, then if you make it out alive, you can enjoy your life once your body and mind are in the midst of decline? (Whoa, that was depressing.) Even if we rebel against it, is it realistic for all of us to avoid the rat race? No, it isn’t.

Sometimes it feels like our options are

  • (a) being miserable but with fat savings accounts and the acceptance of society or
  • (b) enjoying your life but barely scraping by and ostracized by society for being lazy.

How do you find that balance that allows you to look back on your life with no regrets?

I think it is crucial that we figure out what we love and we do it. Whether that means it is your day job or something you do on the weekends. Work is not the most important thing. It’s not even in the top five (unless it’s your passion). It’s probably number six for the rest of us because food and shelter is still really important. As is Internet.

I guess that all we can do to create the life we so desperately want is to really look at our lives and prioritize what is important – from both financial and emotional standpoints. If you are mindlessly spending in an attempt to fix something that makes you miserable, you need to focus on cutting out that thing. Whether it be a job or person. Because spending on material things is not the solution, it’s a quick fix that doesn’t last. The truth is, most of us aren’t in need. Survival is not something the majority of us have to worry about. We have the ability to create the lives we want so one day we can look back with no regrets.

As for me, I’m going to continue to plug away at my debt while still not depriving myself of life-enriching experiencesI also pledge today to actively work towards my professional goals and dreams and not accept the status quo. I truly believe I can create a life worth living and come out ahead financially. I guess we will see…

How do you find balance between work and play? Do you ever get down on yourself for going into debt? What’s one positive change you could implement today to start living the life you dream of?