Fribble More to Life Than Net Worth

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By Pamela Maxson (maxsonfive@aol.com)
December 18, 2000

I've been incubating some thoughts since the beginning of the Roadmap to Retirement seminar, and they have grown and developed over the past month. Part of our homework during the seminar included a net worth statement. As I examined my net worth and watched it dive in value consistently over the past month, I found myself getting caught up in the whirlwind, figuring out how to increase my net worth.

Now this in itself is not the problem. The issue for me is that I have a Ph.D., have spent three years in a postdoctoral program honing skills, and consequently have decided that my real priority for now is to stay home and homeschool my three children. This decision was made four years ago.

Throughout the seminar, I found myself thinking things like "Oh, if only I had kept working, our net worth would be "xxx" or "If I had a 'real' job I could be contributing to my 401(k)" or (gasp) "Maybe I should find a job so we can retire early."

These thoughts have thrown me off course. Why would I want to change my direction and priorities only so I can retire early? Retire to what? Isn't life a process that must be lived at every moment -- not in 20 years?

I know my decisions aren't right for everyone, but they were right for me when we made them and they were right for me when the market was booming. Why would I be questioning those decisions and priorities since my net worth has dropped?

I suppose the point of this long rambling (caused by a nice hot cup of coffee on a cold December day) is that my net worth does not equal my worth. Everything I do has value (or at least that is the way I try to live my life amidst many slips!).

It was easy for me to get caught up in the excitement of what could be. But, the ironic thing is that I am richer beyond imagination NOW! What I have now will not be with me always and I am going to work on making the conscious effort to enjoy it. Even if I can't contribute to a 401(k)!

As a postscript, the Roadmap to Retirement Seminar was excellent! Through the seminar I learned how we could retire early (just not tomorrow!) on one salary and maintain our family life. Thanks, Fools!