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I'm still in Iraq, having a large time, eating dust, working 14 hour days, remembering where all my muscles are (because they are all hurting so dang bad!) and otherwise enjoying an active Army lifestyle.
There is one thing I am also enjoying: my tax-free income.
It's not as much as I have made, but considering I don't have any living expenses while I'm over here, wifey and I can put away $55 to $65K in a year. Not too shabby for an old, broken down, sergeant.
Anyway, today, one of my troops asked me to drive him and a couple of his friends to the PX. Supposedly, the PX was selling Xboxes and all of them wanted one. Well, I took them, they each bought an Xbox (at $200 each) as well as 5 to 8 games each (for an additional $200). They then bought sodas, some chips, candy, cookies, etc, etc, and so on for another $50 to $75 each.
As these young men shopped, I sat in the HummVee and read a used paperback donated by the Red Cross. When the guys came out, on of them who doesn't know me too well yet (he's from a new unit) asked me why didn't I buy anything. One of my troops said, "SSG JB is a cheapskate. Man, he won't buy hardly nothing! He's greedy and all he wants is money!" They all got a good laugh, and I brought them all back to the barracks, where they thanked me and went on their way.
As I got back to work, I realized it's not about the money. It's about what the money can buy me. You may say, "Well, if you buy something, you are spending money, and therefore, not investing!" I say that money can buy many things, by simply letting your investments grow. The money can buy security, peace of mind, and can even buy you a stronger purchasing position, should you actually buy something. But, however, the one thing my investments and my frugalness can buy me is the one thing I cannot purchase on a store shelf.
My frugality will allow me to retire at age 50. I am now 37 -- by no means a young retiree, but a lot younger than anyone else I know. It will also buy a future for my children, and hopefully for their children. As wifey and I live and continue to learn together, we realize that the greatest thing in life isn't free --
Freedom to do whatever we wish, whenever we wish. The freedom to look at a boss when he/she is throwing the inevitable tantrum and say, "I don't feel so good. I think I'll go home --
FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!!!!
The freedom to live your life on your terms. The freedom to take the time, not only because you want to, but because you can. Those are the things the money can buy. It's definitely not just about the money.
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