Well today I turn the big 3-0. I normally don’t care about birthdays, but this one has affected me somewhat – it has for a few months now. When 2006 came around, I realized that I would be turning over a new digit on the left side of the age figure. This thought scared me, and not because I was closer to collecting a Social Security check that probably won’t be there for me anyway when I become eligible for it. I also wasn’t in crisis mode, wondering what happened to my life; I’m actually content in that aspect of my life for the most part. One thing that has been bugging me though is the fact I don’t have anything saved in the bank. When I graduated college I was 22 years old and started an unsuccessful attempt to get full-time employment in Sappy Valley. When I was 24 I was in Ohio doing the same thing all over again like I was in central Pennsylvania. I eventually found work, but it wasn’t full-time. Also, whenever I was able to save some money I had to bail the better half out of some financial trouble she got herself in while attending grad school. When we moved back to Pennsylvania in 2003 I was 27 years of age, and after several months of looking for a job that had something to do with my college education, I began saving money for the first time in my life.
Then came the new house, which I had to pay out several thousand dollars in closing costs and other fees. Then came the new computer that had to be purchased because the old one died. Then came the vet bills for our one cat that got sick. Then came the wedding, of which I had to subsidize several thousand dollars to the better half because she didn’t realize how expensive the reception hall would be. She also didn’t realize that all the things I had mentioned above (including a few others not listed) I solely paid for because she didn’t have the money to pay off half of each of these costs and had put her half of these expenses on a “tab” she will never pay me back for.
My 20s came and went, and I realized that this past January. What hit me was I had always heard while growing up that if you put away a small amount of money each year while in your 20s you’d end up with $10,000,000 (or some other similar figure) by the time you turned 65. Well I can say goodbye to that. I spent the last 10 years moving from place to place, not being able to save a dime, and now a decade has passed with nothing to show for it but a few gray hairs and some accumulated wisdom. My debt load isn’t too bad – I owe $6,800 on a school loan I thought I would have already paid off when I graduated college back in ’98. When 2006 got under way, I wrote down a list of things I wanted to accomplish, and topping this list was paying off my debt and starting to save for the long term. If everything goes as planned, I’ll have the debt paid off sometime this summer, and then I’ll focus on saving.
But financial matters aren’t the only things concerning me. I tend to ache more when doing activities that wouldn’t have bothered me 5-10 years ago. When I see kids playing basketball, I think to myself, “Why would I waste energy shooting hoops when I’ve got a lawn to mow?” I’m listening to music that was around during my childhood-early 20s because newer material just doesn’t appeal to me. I would rather look at an attractive 40-year old than a 20-year old. I’m listening to rhetoric by political parties and able to remember years back when they had the opposite stance that same issue. I don’t mean to do these things; they are just coming natural to me. However, I must say that I’m fighting this getting old thing, or at least I’m picking the battles I know I can win. For example, I haven’t started bitching (much) about the cost of things now as opposed to 10-15 years ago (not even the cost of gasoline – taxes are another matter, however). I don’t say times today are worse off now than they ever have been (at least not until Democrats are in charge). And I don’t wear my pants up to my belly button (yet).
Rather than feeling the effects of aging another decade, I think this was a wake-up call letting me know that I’m an adult, and as an adult I better get my ass in gear with some areas of my life that I haven’t focused on as much as I should have over the years.
Then again, maybe turning 30 is the best thing to have happened to me since I turning, well, 20.