Your Financial Life Script
What’s your financial life script look like? For many people, it goes something like this:
Grow up, go to college, get a job, buy a car, get married, have kids, buy a bigger car, get a better job, manage debt, send the kids to college, retire (or work forever if you can and you hate the idea of retiring.)
Of course there are variations for everyone, but in general that’s a pretty typical financial life script.
Stick with the script?
Now scripts can be great. They can give you something to refer to if you’re just finding your way, and they can provide guidance — especially if they happen to map out the path you want to be on. If you’ve always dreamt of life in the suburbs with a nice house and a 40 hour work week, followed by a nice retirement, well, you’ve got a ready-made model in the typical financial life script. (Although I’d recommend paying off debt, not just managing it.)
But it’s important to remember that you don’t have to stick to the typical script. There’s no one out there who’s going to tell you that you’ve flubbed your lines, or berate you for not doing things the “right” way. (And if there is, who says you have to listen to them?) If you’ve got dreams of being an entrepreneur or joining the Peace Corps, find a way to make it happen. You can do things differently if you want.
Whatever you choose — the traditional route, something really unusual, or something in between — be purposeful about it. If you’ve never thought about what you’d like your finances to look like across your lifetime, now’s the time to do so, even if you start out with very broad strokes.
You don’t have to have set numbers like “I want to have 3.42 million in investments by age 62” in order to write things out. It’s thinking about the future that’s important. Just spend some time imagining what you actually want, instead of automatically following along with what you’re “expected” to do. Then think about how you could make those things happen financially, and what the alternatives might be if you change your mind along the way.
Remember that it’s not so much a script as it is a journey — and that it’s your journey. Make it a good one.