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Nine Year Review

Near the end of 2008 I finally figured out that my spending was out of control. I was 34 years old and I was going to end up bankrupt. My lifestyle was inflated compared to my earnings, and all I wanted was what everyone else wants: a home, a car, some stuff. My car at the time was an old beater on its last wheels, but my home was a rental house that I couldn't afford. I had a huge student debt at the time which began in 1996 and looked like it was going nowhere. My credit card debt was almost as huge, and I still couldn't stop shopping.

I gave notice on the house and moved myself and then 2.5 year old son into a one-bedroom apartment. I went car-free periodically whenever the beaters left us stranded. I stopped buying daily coffee and meals out. I stopped pick-me-up treatments for my hair and toenails. I still made stupid spending mistakes, but I managed to pay off the credit card debt in 2.5 years in 2011.

At the end of 2014 I cashed in my small retirement savings account to buy a house. The bank approved me for $250 000 but my calculations showed that I could only afford to pay off $150 000 over 25 years so I had to choose in a different neighbourhood. It was not my dream house but it didn't need any immediate renovations so it was better than good enough.

In 2016 I had a small panic attack about my budget, when I realized I still wasn't going to be debt free and ready to retire before the age of 60 (which will be in 2034). I finally got laser-focused on my numbers, and was ready to get rid of the student loans, the seven-year car loan, and at the same time increase my savings accounts.

Instead of boxing day shopping, I spent the second half of my xmas holidays going over and over the numbers for 2018 and 2019. By 2020, I will have only mortgage debt to pay. Any debt I accrue for house renovations will be paid off by the end of each year. I will have enough saved to cover my two "gap years" when I retire early with a reduced pension in 2032, at the age of 58.

There will always be "what-ifs" that may hinder my progress, and that is life. But these are my goals and what I am sticking to. I now have nine years of practice to realize my goals.