HomeGoalsGet out of debt. Buy a house. Party?

Get out of debt. Buy a house. Party?

It took me four years to accumulate $28,000 in student loan debt. It took me two and a half years to pay it off.

Then there was this thing Girl Ninja and I wanted to buy called a house. It took us 3 years to save up $100,000 for our down payment, and took about 20 minutes to spend $80,000 of it when we found our abode last summer.

I apparently do pretty well when I’m super motivated and have a short-term goal I’m working towards.

There’s only one problem.

What the crap do I do now that I don’t have any more short-term goals?

I was hell-bent on getting out of debt. I wanted to do nothing more than punch Sallie Mae in her stupid little face.

I was equally determined to build up my down payment and have the flexibility to buy a house when the right house came along.


Everything after those two goals seems significantly less sexy.

  • Sure I could start contributing to Baby Ninja’s college fund.
  • I could up our retirement contributions to something silly like 30%.
  • I could pour more discretionary income in to our taxable investment account.
  • I could save to buy a new car that we don’t need?


And here is why those things have zero appeal to me.

  • Not convinced baby college fund is worth it.
  • No desire to lock up even more funds for 65-year-old me.
  • I have no clue what the purpose of my taxable investment account is
  • We don’t want a new car


My goals to pay down my debt and save for a house were organic. I didn’t have to think about if I wanted to be debt free, or if I wanted to buy a home.


For the first time in my adult/financial life, I don’t have any goals festering up from within myself. Everything feels forced or superficial. Perhaps this is why I’m struggling with my short-term investment account?

Have you ever felt like this?

Where you weren’t exactly sure what you wanted to do with your money? Did you just coast until something naturally surfaced? Or did you force a new goal upon yourself?



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  1. I have been without a goal for several years, ever since we became debt free. I regret not forcing goals upon us because I know that we have wasted a great deal of time and money being unfocused. Don’t be like me. By the way, we are headed to Seattle in August, any tourist tips? 🙂

    • Seattle or Eastside? Family, Couple or Solo? Seattle has the Pacific Science Center, the Seattle underground tour, the arboretum, zoo, Space Needle and more. Eastside has the Cougar Mountain zoo, Duithe Hill MTB park, Bellevue Botanical Garden’s, Sammamish River Trail and adjacent parks, the Village Theater and more.

  2. Why not work on paying down your mortgage? That is a debt to punch. Personally, I am saving for early retirement, which did not become an interest until after I had kids.

  3. You’re passionate about the church and your youth group. Perhaps your next goal should not be for personal gain, but a goal to do something for someone else? Perhaps pay for a certain number of kids to attend a camp, or sponsor/host a large event for the church?

    What about Girl Ninja? Does she have any big dreams or goals the two of you can work towards?

    Otherwise, there’s always the traditional house extensions, pay off the mortgage, epic dream holiday, early retirement, investment house, big boat, … Or growing manteresting or launching another business, saving significant coin to invest in start up companies or build wells in Africa… There’s a million choices, you just need to think about what you’re passionate about and then work out how to turn it into a financial goal.

  4. Why don’t you travel? Girl Ninja and you are both young and have enough energy for big trips. Try Europe or Asia!

  5. I have felt the same way. I had to ask myself why were we saving for a few months ago. I decided to slow down and enjoy life and my family.

  6. I’m kind of in that place right now. I’m meeting with a financial planner to see what I could do differently to retire earlier (from this job, not all jobs). I’d like to work in a less stressful environment doing something I love. The thought of doing this for 20 more years is unappealing but I don’t know how reliant my retirement money is on this salary.

  7. Are you totally averted to real estate? A second house maybe…rent it out. Maybe build an addition to your house?

    Passive income is sexy.

  8. I’m still working on paying down student debt, but what about giving? Either to a specific mission or organization, or to individuals who plan on going on mission trips? In my experience, that’s a cool opportunity because they often have to provide updates of what they’re doing while they’re on the trip, so you get to see all the good your money has done as it’s working.

    And of course, traveling yourself is nice too. I wouldn’t force it.

    I’m curious to know why you think a baby college fund isn’t worth it. I’ve flip-flopped a lot on whether or not I would consider paying for my kid(s)’ education, because everyone in my family has paid for themselves (and I don’t wanna pay for another), but everyone in my husband’s family has had theirs paid for. It’s just such a large amount of money that I can’t imagine wanting to part with it, especially if the cost of education keeps rising!

  9. I feel very similar to you. My 401K is on track to be maxed out by the end of the year, our IRAs will be maxed out too, I already put some money into a taxable account, and I stopped because the market is so high. I’m already putting money away in savings account that will flood into the after tax account at the end of the year. Our mortgage is low, and on a 15 year note, so no plan to pay it off early, at least for now. I was so obsessed with saving every penny just a few months ago. And now, I want to stop stressing. Want to share more experiences with my husband and my family. Trying to find a balance in goals.

  10. I would agree with Claire that you could now focus on non-financial goals and interests.

    But regarding some of your financial issues, the taxable account could still benefit you by providing a source of income that will be taxed at the favorable long-term capital gains rate (unlike a tax-deferred account where you have to pay ordinary income tax and would be forced to take minimum distributions at age 70.5). In addition to your Roth and tax-deferred accounts, the taxable account provides some degree of tax diversification.

    Regarding the 529, it has to be earmarked for educational beneficiaries, but if you want greater flexibility (say the kid decides not to go to college), you can save the same money using another vehicle. But if the kid does go to college, remember that college expenses are still growing at a rate that outpaces general inflation.

  11. Truly a first world problem.

    Our goal is to become financially independent, which is a long term goal that helps keep me motivated. We too paid off all debts except for the mortgage, but still have something to strive for. The thought of my wife and daughter being FI in case something happens to me makes it worthwhile.

    I started a 529 so I can help my kid go to school, not necessarily cover the whole bill. If the market makes that happen then so be it. My parents helped me some, and I graduated without debt. It helped me get ahead of my peers and I want the same for my children.

  12. You know, this may be a short term problem. I bet once Baby Ninja comes along, some things will be clarified for you and a new goal will come up naturally. And if not, you’ll be too tired for the first couple of months to think about it anyway. 🙂

    My DH and I have talked about what we’d do if money was no object – travel, sleep in, yada yada yada. And in the end, we come back to the idea of starting a small family foundation. We both have a couple of causes we feel strongly about and heaven knows our church could always use more money. So, for you, I second the suggestion to spend some time thinking about how your values and your money could become even better aligned.

  13. Goal #1: for your passive/taxable/liquid (non-retirement) investments to generate enough income to replace GN’s lost paycheck.

    Goal #2: for those investments to generate enough income to replace YOUR paycheck.

  14. I agree with the pp that suggested to set up a scholarship fund of some sort for the youth group. Or you could work with your alma matter and set up a scholarship for deserving youth there. You could budget for a larger than normal (your definition of normal) donation for a needy family or even local schools around the holidays, or even during the summer time to help working parents send their kids to summer camps. The possibilities are endless. Don’t look at it as not having a goal right now, pray–this may be an unexpected opportunity to serve.

  15. When I reached this point I realized that I could focus on getting in a better position to do the things I wanted to do, like gardening, beekeeping and generating passive income from my investments that I could be ‘free’ from employment. (By free I mean that I do it for enjoyment instead of necessity). So get your investments generating enough income to live how you want to live and then focus on what you want to do.

  16. I felt just like that about two years ago. Everytime I reached a goal it was like a high, and eventually when I was all good I was bored. I spent 4 years after college paying back that debt, then 2 saving up a downpayment for a house. The next 1-2 years paying off my car loan and furnishing/improving the house. Then I was bored, so I increased my 401K contribution and started a brokerage account (not as exciting as killing off debt, but what else was there to do), and played with the idea of paying down my mortgage faster.

    Two things happened. First, I bought another car and took on a car loan so I could give my paid off car to a family member who really needed it. Second, I incurred some health problems and my daughter got braces, giving me some unexpected expenses. I’m not bored anymore, plenty to pay for now lol. New 2-3 year goal is to pay off the car and build up the health savings account to at least $10K in case we ever have another bad couple of health years.

  17. I totally understand what you mean. This is where you need long term goals and direction to help you guide your wealth building. For example my wife and I have the goal is to attain net worth of $4,000,000 by the time we retire. Since we have this we can work backwards and set our goals accordingly. Because you know this, you can set your actions accordingly.

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  19. I started taking on mini goals to keep focus. They are $1K but more like $5K clips so they take a few months or more to complete. For example my last one was:
    – $500 to home improvement fund
    – $750 to Traditional IRA
    – $500 to Son’s 529
    – $2K to Dividend Investment Fund
    – $750 to vacation fund
    – $500 to Emergency Fund

    Then track it on the blog

  20. Congratulations on getting to the point where you say, “Okay, I’ve just met all the long-term goals for this point in my life. What’s next?”

    If you are having a difficult time answering that question, my suggestion is that instead of trying to rack your brain-pan on figuring out new (and possibly arbitrary) financial goals, use those extra resources you currently have at your disposal toward achieving additional OPPORTUNITIES down the road. There’s the old stand-by of learning to play golf and hob-nob with the power brokers at the country club, but if that doesn’t suit you, I’m sure there are other ways you and future Mama-Ninja can clear the way for your future success.

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