Sunday, May 16, 2021


During the past three years, I've been plotting my future. Conceiving it, researching approaches and scoping out options. I'm pretty clear now on what I want to do with the next thirty years. I just need to pull the cord and set plans in motion. That will hopefully happen in 2022.

The process involves several transitions. Some I've talked about, some I haven't (yet). They include: (1) public gender identity/presentation; (2) shifting from my work as a lawyer to playing with art (broadly defined); (3) diving into subjects that interest me, like anthropology, archaeology and the past; (4) contemplating and writing about intellectual issues and philosophy.

One transition which affects many others is money. Not just the use of it but my mental relation to it. 

Money is a complex subject for all of us. We're taught an attitude in childhood which becomes deeply ingrained. Some of us revise or change that attitude in adulthood, but most of us keep the attitude constant throughout our lives.

I was raised by immigrants who were highly anxious about survival. Money was a huge topic because it often meant the difference between comfort and disaster. My family was lower-middle class all of its existence. My parents strove to raise kids with limited funds. They succeeded but not without stress and persistent effort. 

I inherited that anxiety. I was taught to be frugal, not to waste money and to be minutely concerned with its presence or absence. During my four decades in the workforce, I managed a reasonable life on a middle class income. I live in a modest home in an ordinary suburb. I've enjoyed few indulgences and even my passions (e.g., motorcycling) have been done cheap. In short, I'm like most people -- a struggling worker who puts in full-time hours 51 weeks a year. I can't remember ever taking more than a week off for vacation. 

My goal for the rest of my life is not to have to worry about money. I want to render it a non-issue. I don't want my choices or options affected by concerns about making or losing money. I've wasted too much mental energy on it already; I want to check out of that anxiety.

So my plan for the future involves precisely that. All my activities will be within my financial means. I won't have to worry about paying for old age. I've stockpiled enough cash to last me the rest of my life no matter how long I live or what happens to my health. I'm set.

I achieved this position by saving money during the last decade of my career (when I was earning the most) and investing it very wisely. I took a chunk of cash (roughly equal to one year's income) and multiplied it forty times, turning it into several millions. When I start the next phase of my life, I'll convert 80% of that fortune into cash which will protect me from any fluctuations in the stock market or crypto-currency world. I'll sit on top of a pile of cash that will enable me to draw from and not worry about disappearing. Again, the paramount goal is to be financially situated so I don't have to worry any more.

The challenge now is to adapt my thinking to my reality. To not scrimp by habit. To stop depriving myself of small luxuries I can actually afford. I'm working on that. It isn't as easy as it sounds but I'm conscious of the problem and committed to making necessary change.

How do you relate to money?


  1. This reminds me of the part in Michelle Obama's book when she talked about a conversation she had with her mom. To her mom, chasing after happiness wasn't even something they could consider. They were just surviving day to day, trying to lay down roots for their family. And how fortunate she (MO) was to be able to have that luxury of thinking about what kind of career would make her happy.

    I similarly, daughter of immigrants, grew up with parents who taught us to make the money and THEN give back. First make sure your family is well taken care of and then give to the world. I didn't understand it then. I do understand their perspective now. And because of the sacrifices they made to lay down roots here in America and giving us the best life they could, I get to have the luxury of choosing a career that makes me happy.

    Resonated with this post deeply!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. It means a lot.

  2. I'm so glad you're set for life, Ally - that's a good feeling. I'm very fortunate that I grew up with a mentality of saving, not spending beyond my means, and a view to planning for my future. L and I are now in a position where we are preparing the next 9 years for retirement, so that we can also live comfortably until our time is up.

    Sadly, although both L and I are frugal (but not to a silly point), both of our siblings are horrible with money and basically life hand-to-mouth with no savings, RRSPs or any plan to retire. It's stressful for our mothers (who both are bailing out our brothers, gah), and for us, as we'll each be the Powers of Attorney for our moms.

    Due to the pandemic cutting my hours for over a year, I have to adjust my own work plans, and when I can go back to full-time work, I'll need to work that extra time to make up for my lost income of the past year plus. Sigh. What a crazy world!

    1. Thanks for sharing your history, Sheila. We all need to address these issues someday.

  3. I really hope you are able to keep forward on this path and live the life you deserve. Money will definitely help with it. Few people are able to reach the point in their lives that they fight for and get to enjoy it.

    I grew up varying degrees of low income/poverty level. My grandparents were moderately successful on both sides, home owners, long term careers, military on one side.

    And while my father worked in well paying tech and artistic fields, the dot com bubble burst and art advertising got outsourced. My mother had a terrible addiction problem sourced from unchecked mental health issues that were exacerbated by bad medication.

    I consider myself both lucky and unlucky. My dad was out of my life until I was well into adulthood (we're repairing that now). I never ended up in the foster system, but I bounced from family member to family member (aunt, grandparents, sometimes even cousin's blood family unrelated to myself) as my mom wavered between sobriety and addiction.

    Sometimes I got to live with her, in varying states of low income housing/rental rooms. Sometimes I lived with grandparents for long stretches.

    Eventually the day I turned 18, my long term boyfriend (now husband) came to move me in with his family. They embraced me like a daughter. Their family was lower middle class, but comfortable enough to give me time and space to learn something of stability and how to navigate the world.

    My husband and I have unfortunately come of age in terrible times. I graduated into a world where gas soared to $5+/gal and even then none to be had. Then a series of economic troubles, housing bubble, low job pay, low job prospects.

    I've met fits and starts at success. My first job was a Good jobs with benefits, ending in layoff. Lots of temporary positions. Then Good job with liveable pay, cut to only part time due to COVID.

    I've learned to save, to budget, to self care despite those things, to start worrying about retirement (husbeast. My job doesn't offer it), and keep pushing forward.

    I've lost almost all my familial safety nets with aging and death, but I benefitted from the time I had with them to learn how to be an adult.

    I still live with some hope to be a homeowner some day. It's something my mom and dad never did.

    I still live with a lot of anxiety about money. A lot of fear. I'm better now than I likely ever have been, but it takes working together with a home of 4 working adults to do so (dad, stepmom, myself, and husband). Not relying on public assistance is incredibly important to me as a child whose mother utilized the system to support not taking responsibility for herself.

    We've finally reached the point where we could handle one big emergency (car repair, sickness, etc) but two would put us on tough times. 3 years ago, we were one bad day away from not making rent.

    I have received a lot of support, without which I'd be in a really bad place. I'm very grateful for it, and I'm trying to keep improving so I don't waste all the effort and support others have given me to succeed.

    Others who may have grown up similiarly may benefit from learning more about ELA. It's something my most recent therapist dropped in my lap when discussing my anxiety disorder. "ELA" or "Early Life Adversity" is something being discussed and studied in relation to how it correlates with mental health. It's given me perspective on my relationship with money and stability in my life and why my thoughts do still trend to answering the question "What do you want in life?" With "Survive." (Also a sure fire way to make your therapist tear up.)

    Tl;dr - money gives me anxiety, but what doesn't these days?

    1. Thanks for sharing, pal. I appreciate that and enjoy learning more about your life.

  4. For me, money is what gets me to where I need to be. I hate money, but I know I need it to live the life I want. Izzy and I really want to move to the Caribbean sooner rather than later, and to make that happen, we need money.

    1. Good attitude. Money is a means, not an end. I know that frustration of wanting to do something out-of-reach.

  5. So proud of you and this journey you’re going to embark upon. Bug hugs xo

  6. Replies
    1. Exactly. Good to hear from you -- I was thinking of you recently.

  7. This is a great post (lots of great comments too). I agree about our financial attitude being set early in life. I had a strange juxtaposition in my early life. My parents divorced when I was 4 so my mum ended up managing to buy a tiny 2 bedroom cottage (which she was fortunate to do) whilst my Dad was able to buy somewhere more substantial with a good job. Money was always tight for Mum and us and she made us know it from very young so we had no unrealistic expectations. Although she didn't have much, because of having gardening skills, we were able to eat vegetable stews and soups which came from what we grew which kept life cheap. Both my sister and I had paper rounds to give us a little bit of money - I was 8 when I got it- and we were always careful and then I got various jobs (I was very fortunate) Dog walking for a friend aged 12, chip shop aged 14 and managed to save money for university. It's interesting that my stepsister had a contrasting childhood with a big comfortable house and financial stability but my Dad is careful with Money so she's learnt that.
    I saved up carefully from when I worked full time but still had lots of fun buying clothes during my 20's but I don't drink so I saved money in that respect. I've not really ever gone in for expensive holidays.
    I've taught my husband to be more careful with Money as he struggled when I met him. I was fortunate to be left a small inheritance from my Grandad which allowed me to provide us with a deposit on a house. We've got a big mortgage but hopefully will be able to pay it off sooner of we are careful.
    I hope you manage to adjust to your new life post retirement and enjoy things a bit more. You are a generous, kind person who deserves enjoyment.

    1. Thanks for sharing your interesting history, pal. It's funny how money threads its way through all our lives.

  8. If you save all this money and still don’t use it, you will be as poor as if it didn’t exist. Poorer in some respects than those that don’t have anything but enjoy their lives anyway.
    I respect your hard work and cleverness in saving such a wad! I hope you can relax enough to enjoy it.
    I’m excited to see the gender reveal in public! Go you!!
    We are also balancing money at the moment as we have our first year in semi retirement with kids still at home. We have money managers helping us out who are doing amazing things. Fortunately we live in a country with a few more fallback positions. It’s been quite a journey.
    I haven’t worked much for money in my life as my health tanked in my teens.
    So our “success” has all been on Cris’ back. (And I helped by buying all our clothes was such a hardship ;-)
    It’s been hard to be humble and accept support in this day and age, but it’s also been a blessing as we could homeschool very easily when my son became ill.
    Wishing you so many blessings in this next transition in life.
    And yes, please come and visit us when you can!
    XO, JJ

    1. You're right about money. Many can't outgrow their childhood attitude no matter how much they have. I plan to go the opposite direction!

  9. I am so glad you've saved so you can thoroughly enjoy your retirement and also not worry about health care - my parents had saved a decent amount, but faced with a major health issue their savings got completely wiped out. I highly recommend treating yourself as much as possible! As for my relation with money, I'm definitely too far in the other direction - I regularly spend far too much money and, embarrassingly, have gotten into serious credit card debt a couple times. But I can't stand frugality and people who are cheap on principle(i.e., not because they can't afford to spend money or because they have anxiety about spending) but because they actively choose it. That's no way to live! So spend every penny - well, maybe not right away because as I said, you want the ability to pay for private health care if needed (trust me, you do NOT want to be in a facility, especially a Medicaid one), but outside of that, enjoy yourself!

    1. Good attitude, my friend. I understand your approach 'cause it mirrors that of the two women in my life, both of whom always spent more than we had. I spent most of my adulthood trying to climb out of debt. There were times I wished, intensely, to reach a zero net worth. :)


  10. I'm very much the same with money and was raised the same way. My parents worked really hard, saved all their money and bought their first house, then my mother got cancer and died and, even with insurance, it wiped out most of their savings. My father and I did fine but it is deeply ingrained in me to have low debt and money saved in case of an emergency.

    That's a good mentality to have but I've also had to realize that we're in a good position for retirement and I can relax and enjoy life too. I'm in my mid-50's and in good shape financially so if we don't do it now then when??

    Good luck with your next phase!

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    1. You hit the nail on the head: be responsible but adjust to the situation. When we get older and can afford it, we should indulge ourselves. Life is short.

  11. Retiring early is a wonderful option and you certainly deserve to make the most out of it, having worked so hard for it. I think it will take you some time to feel comfortable with spending money because you're so used to saving it but I think with time you'll find a good balance again. This next stage in your life could be the best years of your life, if you organize yourself well.

    I think money means different things for different people. Not everyone needs to follow the same path. However, it is important to be financially responsible- and so many people fail to do that, always spending above their means and then wondering what the problem is.

  12. Excellent, commendable, and highly inspiring work, Ally. May every dream, hope, and plan that you've worked diligently and wisely to have the means for come to fruition for you, my friend.

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life