I heard this great quote from Denzel Washington: “Do what you got to do so you can do what you want to do”.
He told this to his kids to get them to do their homework before going out to play.
When you look at folks who have mastered their money, they do this. They do the tough stuff so they can do the fun stuff.
Debt makes it too easy to bypass the “got to do” but–beware–it completely derails the “want to do”.
If I had to say there was one thing that allowed me to retire early, it was that we built a lifestyle that didn’t required debt. We’ve been debt free since I was 40 and have not had any consumer debt (car, credit card, furniture etc.) since I was 24.
It is difficult to create your dream future when you are still paying for your past. But rather small sacrifices, made consistently will eventually allow you to reach your dreams.
How did we do it?
We didn’t spend money on crap we didn’t care about. We were very intentional about our spending or as Mr. Ms. Liz says, “we beat spending decisions to death”.
You have to be a bit different from those around you. If your life’s goal is to fit in, this part will be really tough. I wrote about my struggles in The Math is the Easy Part.
You have to find your balance between living for now and living for later.
There are a whole bunch of things we just didn’t do because we valued savings more than those experiences and things. I wrote about some specifics in Little Decisions Help You Reach Your Dreams.
If you have any consumer debt (credit cards, furniture etc.), do whatever you need to do to get out of it. Get an extra job and cut your expenses until you’re living on rice and beans. Put all of your extra money towards your debt.
The math says the Debt Avalanche method is the best way to pay off debt. But the best way is really the one that works for you. Just pick one: Debt Avalanche, Debt Snowball or Debt Bonfire.
Create goals within your goals and celebrate your success. Say you have $10,000 to pay off, celebrate when you get to $9,000 then $8,000 and so on.
Follow my 12 steps to a Kick A$$ Life. It takes you from your first emergency fund to debt payoff to retirement savings and investing.
I want you to save for your dream. Even if you’re not exactly sure what your dream is, save for it. I didn’t know I wanted to retire early until I really, really, really wanted to retire. Thankfully, I had saved for it.
Do what you got to do so you can do what you want to do.
Photo credit: Our fabulous tour guide on my iPhone in Lower Antelope Canyon near Page, AZ