Nearly everyone can think back to a time in their life that drastically changed them and/or the direction their life took them. I don’t remember the exact day but I do remember the year, month and circumstances.
It was November of 2014 and I was traveling for my work and was training a new co worker in Watertown, SD. The previous 6 plus months were very difficult for my wife in her job and while she made a very good salary she was very frustrated and came home every night angry and crabby (her words, not mine :). She was unhappy and to put it bluntly was in a toxic work environment.
Anyways I was in Watertown and she called my cell. Short summary, she had had enough and wanted to walk. She couldn’t deal with the stress nor the adverse health effects (her recent physical showed her blood pressure and heart rate had both increased substantially). She wanted to walk and pursue her Ph.D to work in what she was truly passionate about: collegiate teaching.
Even though our household income would drop almost in half, I told her I supported her and agreed it was time for something different. We would figure it out just like we always had.
That night while she was registering for her classes that would start in November I started coming up with a game plan, such as selling numerous DVDs we didn’t watch anymore, video games we didn’t play, etc for extra cash. I started looking through my customer list (I sold copiers and printers at the time) for possible early lease upgrades or additional sales. Even started researching other avenues such as maybe a second job or those online surveys you see ads for (FYI, realistically you may make $50 or so a month).
And then it was like a lightbulb went off. It dawned on me that here I was, 31 years old and I had worked hard, busted my ass working about 2/3rds of my life. From paper routes to lawn mowing to my first “real” job at Sam’s Supervalu to working 50+ hours a week for my full time job selling office equipment. Then I started to think back over the course of my whole life from my earliest memories of Florida, to moving to Indiana and starting Kindergarten, all the moves, birthday parties, vacations, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, parties, and everything that occurred in my entire life. If I was to “relive” that entire timeframe again I would be 62 then and would have been working 50+ hours a week, 50 weeks a year for 31 years and I STILL would not be at the arbitrary goal of retiring at 65.
I still remember just sitting there on the couch with my laptop. And then I had an “oh shit” moment that really made me think. For the last several years I had maxed out my Roth IRA and contributed to a workplace 401k starting with Hy-Vee when at one point I even contributed 15% of my paycheck and got a 3% match so 18% of my pay went to my 401k. All for building up a big retirement nest egg for a nice retirement at age 65. Because, hey, that is what you have always been told, right? But then it hit me….
You see my dad died from cancer at age 51 when I was 11. And then my mom died also of cancer at 53 when I was 16. Both of them had worked hard, saved money, contributed to their IRA’s but life got in the way and they never were able to enjoy retirement. In fact a huge portion of their retirement savings ended up being liquidated to pay for medical costs.
So there, I had my life changing moment and many questions went through my head. What if I ended up dying early like my parents did? Or what if I couldn’t even work at some point in the future? Was all there was to life was to commit yourself to working for money to pay bills and to save money for some elusive goal of retiring after 4 decades of working and then HOPING that the money you saved was enough to support yourself and that you didn’t outlive your money? And what if something happened with my job? Sure I was successful at what I did for my job and also made good money, but what if things changed? (in a year I would find out how much things COULD change).
At that point on that November night I knew something had to change. There HAD to be a different route to take in life that was more secure with more freedom. There HAD to be more to life than just getting up, going to work, paying bills, saving money for retirement, and ‘hopefully’ being able to retire.
Without knowing it, my journey was starting. I didn’t know where I was going but I knew it would not be the same path that I was already on.
Five years later, I created the Wealth and Freedom Nexus to share my story and help, encourage, educate and inspire others to seek a path of financial freedom and independence. I hope you find the resources, links and articles helpful and feel free to reach out if I can help in any way.
To your Freedom,
John D. Rickgarn
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