Smart Reasons to Save, Use and Invest Money

Stop Drowning in Debt, Start Swimming To Shore

If you own too much money, eventually you will feel like you are drowning in debt!  I’ve felt like this for the past 10 years, in my opinion, financial progress is like the following analogy:

swimming to shore


When we are younger, it’s like we are riding in a helicopter perhaps 20 to 50 feet above the ocean (living with our parents).  Before you know it, we are putting on a wet suit to prepare for the leap out (like college).  Once we get our wetsuit on, we jump deep into the cold hard water.

Down, down down we go, further into debt (credit card, auto, home, any debt).  You are under water clawing up, trying to get to the surface to breath…

Once you get to the surface you feel sudden relief that you can breathe (you pay off all of your debt).  You emerge from a dark potentially cold wet world, into the warm light air.  You breathe deeply for a few minutes, relieved to be able to breath again.  After a few seconds of happiness, you suddenly realize you are in the middle of the ocean and need to swim to shore of a distant island which could be miles away depending on multiple financial matters.

So you develop a strategy (action plan) to get to that island, taking into account the current and distance (the island being like your financial goals…).  You start swimming towards that island a stroke at a time, small but crutial movements toward the island (goal).  Some people get luck and their relatives (inheritances, trust funds, etc) come by and give them a boat.  Other times (luck), they are only a few yards away from the shoreline.  But for the rest of use, we have to swim a long distance (work for a living).  Pacing ourselves for the long swim to shore (slow and steady savings).

Where am I currently at  in this process?

Next month, I will have emerged from the ocean, gasping for air, happy to be able to breathe again.  But unfortunately, the shore line is still very far for me, and I will have to develop a strategy for swimming the distance as quickly as possible without wearing myself out.

I’m happy to be able to breath again (being debt-free), but it’s still a long long way till shore…


6 Responses to Stop Drowning in Debt, Start Swimming To Shore

  1. Being debt free… is that including a home? Even if it’s not, that is a huge step. It’s great that you recognize being debt free is really just the beginning of the journey. It seems that for too many they see it as the end.

    • Yes, even including the home!

      It’s a whole new world for me! Now I have to focus and finally save some money outside of my 401(k) and Roth IRA accounts!

  2. I really liked the analogy that you used in this post. I have been comfortable and on the helicopter in high school. I’ve been then comfrotably on the shore for a longtime for college and undergrad. The first two years of law school Iwas slowly walking towards the water. Now that I am supporting myself completely I am walking into the water. Of course, I don’t have any debt yet but I know there is going to be a mortgage coming along.

    Congrats on being (almost) debt free!

  3. @Jane

    Yep, making the switch over to being debt free has me worried, and thinking in strange ways… I’m both excited and intimidated at the same time.

    It will be an exciting year that’s for sure. In some ways, it’s like going to junior high school for the first time… It’s a totally differenct environment. But a new part of the same financial journey…

    As you can probably tell, I ruminate over matters such as these a bit too long and a bit too much 🙂

  4. Those of us who have paid down large amount of debt have one advantage over most people – we’ve had to live below our means to get rid of the debt. Once the debt is paid off, keeping the same frugal lifestyle can help us really sock away some money. Good luck with the transition!

  5. @1MansMoney

    Thanks, that is definitely true, I am use to the frugal lifestyle (except for Disney trip I had last year). I’m hoping to sock away the payment made on my house mortgage to some type of investment. I’m just not sure what yet. Decisions, decisions…