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More Thoughts on the Third Stage

October 18, 2010

It is a relief not to have to worry about money all the time. I remember when I was living paycheck to paycheck, it was stressful. Would an unexpected bill come in the mail that day? Would our electric or gas bill be higher than normal due to extreme weather? What if my car breaks down on the way home from work? Having a savings cushion for those little things that pop up really does make a difference.

I’ve also found my thoughts wandering to other topics now that it is not so occupied with that stress. It’s like is was in survival mode before, waiting for the next infusion of cash so I could get by. I thought that was just the way it was, after all that’s how the media portrays it. Earn and spend your way to a full life.

But that’s no way to live. Like I mentioned previously, it is not only stressful, but it also did not challenge me to think beyond myself and my own little problems the way I do now.

Once I got past the cycle of living for the next payday and began to get comfortable, I started to think about where my life was heading. I realized money and stuff weren’t making me happy, despite marketers that say otherwise. I started to look at what did make me happy.

Obviously family and friends are at the top of that list. But also high on the list is doing work that matters to me and challenges me, not just working for a paycheck.

It took a little while to figure that out, however. At first i was tempted just to try to find a job that paid the most money, save up as much as I could as fast as I could and retire early. But I realized, after a few meetings with clients of my own, that I do like the work I’m doing – most of the time. Sure there are times when I’d rather be doing something else, but even the most passionate of us has moments like that. Right?

So my attention turned to getting the most out of my current profession – Certified Public Accountant, while figuring out how to make it flexible enough to spend more time with my family if I so choose.

I really like sitting down talking to people and figuring out ways I can help them or their company – either by decreasing their taxes, planning for their future, or helping them run their business better.

Most people probably think accounting is all about number crunching, sitting in a room somewhere by yourself with a calculator and a pad of ledger paper. A computer does most of the number crunching these days. Accounting to me is one part knowledge and one part relationships.

My challenge is finding clients of my own that I can advise and grow with. As a natural introvert, it is hard for me to walk into a room and just start talking to people.

One part of my current position I don’t like is that during the slower time of year there is little to do some days. I’ve requested more time off in lieu of a raise, but so far the powers that be declined.

Adding it all up, it seems my best course of action is to build up my own client base with enough revenue that I will either a) have the pull within the firm to eventually work the schedule I NEED to rather than the schedule someone else WANTS me to or b) that revenue could eventually replace my salary, in the form of my own small accounting practice where I answer to no one but myself.

I’m giving myself 3 years to accomplish this goal. 3 years is a long time, but building up a reputation and enough connections to develop that level of business takes time. This will also coincide with my son going to Kindergarten, and for some reason I just think it would be cool to be around when he gets home from school.

Five years ago, I would have thought this was impossible. I was so dependent on someone else for my paycheck, the risk of even thinking about going out on my own was not on my radar. By getting rid of my debt, living frugally and learning about what really matters, I now have a new challenge I can work towards.

I’ll talk about my plans in more detail in future posts. I’d love to hear your input about what changes you’ve made in your life as a result of being on solid financial ground.

 

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