Money in my 20s, specifically late 20s was plentiful. I graduated at 26 with a professional degree and I was lucky enough to get employed in a company that was just starting up and it took off and took me with it.
I didn't respect money much then. I assumed it would continue to flow to me and made no effort to save anything. It wasn't until I was 2 hairs away from maxing out my $25K line of credit (only took 1 1/2 yr of living it up) did I stop and smartened up.
The only wise thing I did do back then was go back to school (Masters) full time (academics was easy for me) in order to take advantage of a government program which allowed me to pay off my loans interest free. I managed to pay off my loans in the same time frame it took me to rack up my line of credit.
Never did I grumble about it because I was and still am so grateful for the loan. Otherwise there would have been no way I could have gone on to grad school. My family couldn't afford to help me out with educational costs.
Money in my 30s got harder. Somewhere near the middle of them, I burned out from working like a fiend. The funny thing was that I didn't know I was burning out or even could burn out. I just felt tired and angry and depressed. I thought I just needed to get in better shape. Never did it dawn on me it could be mental/emotional.
I still made a lot of money and I would say I peaked in my mid 30s in terms of income but I was unhappy. Those early years where I was in the invincible honeymoon phase were a distance memory. Almost everything was starting to or already was bothering me. I no longer wanted what I had.
And I can tell you, those kind of feelings eat up a lot of energy. And because I am a professional, I never let it show and as I used up my extra stores of energy to keep going, I slid further and further down in mood. I didn't care about how much money I made anymore. I wanted to quit and take time for myself.
It was in my 30s my current lifestyle plans came to be. I got serious about designing my life and taking steps to make it happen. I slashed my work hours so I had a chance to slow down to hear myself think.
As I start my 40th year, I'm working part time and slowly starting to appreciate what all those mortgage payments and prepayments have allowed me to do. All that hiking, swimming, skiing, travelling etc I wanted as part of my life is now available. I just need the energy to do it all.
Money from my mid 40s to 50s to retirement will be mostly on autopilot. Savings will be fairly easy as we intend to be mortgage free soon, hopefully making up for lost time. And if I continue to work, what I describe now will be "my retirement". D plans to work until his mid 50s and at that point consider contract work.
This post is a part of Women's Money Week 2012. For more posts about Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, see womensmoneyweek.com.
I would like to Thank Elizabeth Sanberg, Wise Bread writer and co-founder of GoGreenTravelGreen.com and Jackie Beck, MoneyCrush.com for the invitation to participate in WMW 2012.
This is my last post in the series but the week is not over. There are 2 more days of great topics so head on over to read more.