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I graduated college in December of 2006 and started my first job at a bank in January of 2007. I had landed my dream job, the job I had wanted since I was a sophomore in high school. I was hired as an Agriculture Loan Officer, with the intention of transitioning to a Commercial Lender by June of the same year.
Our current president announced he was retiring so someone needed to be the bank’s network administrator and since I was the youngest person at the bank, I was it. Quite literally, I was hired as Network Administrator for a bank with $90 million in assets because I was the youngest person.
I look back and laugh. I also think how badly that could have gone because we’re talking about people’s bank accounts and I was the first line of defense to ensure they and no one else had access to their accounts. I would like to take credit that we had ZERO data breaches, so that’s good.
I did partner with an IT consulting company so I wasn’t alone. So here I was, just graduated college and I was a Commercial Lender and Network Administrator at a multi-million dollar company. I had made it!
New Money = New Debt
Getting this promotion also brought a nice increase to my salary which of course meant I needed a new car! I remember justifying that thought with, “I had worked hard so I deserve to have a nice truck!” That spring, I bought a sweet new Nissan Titan. It was beautiful. Silver with four doors, tinted windows, sweet stereo system and a loud exhaust. It was everything I had ever wanted. I was making money and still had money left over after paying all my monthly expenses.
So, like the great young adult I was, I had to figure out a way to spend that extra money; and it just so happened that my wife also “needed” a new car. I did what any good husband would do, I followed the lead of those commercials and surprised her with a brand new car. Saturn Ion with 18 miles on it. We were living like kings and queens. New cars, new jobs, new house…and new debt obligations.
I Loved My New Car, But…
Here’s the problem and it’s not what you might be thinking right now. We loved our newly purchased cars, but we loved brand new cars even more. A car is not brand new once you drive it off the lot and we like brand new cars. We loved the excitement of looking and test driving new cars. We loved the smell and feel of a new car. We loved the new features of new cars. Leather seats and steering wheel, heated and cooled seats, sunroof, stereo, apps….oh man, it’s taking me back right now.
The one thing I liked the most that every new car did for me was the way people would look and admire my newly financed vehicle! For the next seven years, we had a different car every six months. You read that right…14 new (sometimes new-to-us) cars in 7 years!!! Whoa! Every time, we would justify our purchase in some crazy way. We were addicted. Life was good and fun!
That was six years ago. I’m often asked if I regret going overboard on car buying and I don’t regret it at all. I wish I would have learned my lesson sooner than seven years, but I don’t regret it. I feel that my wife and I needed to go through that time in our lives. I feel that we would not be where we are today if we had not experienced what we did in our twenties. Luckily, we were able to get past that time in our lives and see our future differently.
No Going Back
We’ve come a long way and every day we have to make decisions to stay the course. Would I love to go out and buy the toys that our neighbors have — new cars, snowblowers, ATVs, snowmobiles, bigger houses, vacation houses, vacations every month, and more? Oh yeah, but I don’t need those things to be happy. Our lives are full of joy, but it took time to get here.
Regardless of where you’re at in your journey to financial freedom, let me tell you that it is possible. It can be done. We are achieving our goals and you can too. It’s hard work, but it’s so worth it. Make a plan and get after it.
We found the FI movement in 2017. Since then we’ve been on fire for FI. It took us a while to dig out of the hole we had created, but we are on our journey to financial independence. Here are some resources that helped us get started on this path. Maybe they’ll help you as well!
- Mr. Money Mustache: The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement
- The Simple Path to Wealth
- ChooseFI Podcast
- JL Collins Stock Series
- Millionaire Educator: We’re Not “Real” Millionaires