Like most level-headed guys in my level-headed generation, I waited. I waited before I got married. I waited before I had kids. I waited until I was ready. I waited until I knew I could do it. I waited until I had enough money.
Just in case you’re wondering, here are the numbers in my personal waiting game: I met my wife when I was 25 and irrevocably fell in love after 2 weeks, but we tied the knot 8 years later, when I was 33. My first son was born when I was 36. My second son was born when I was 38. Now on the cusp of 40, I’m exactly where I want to be: happily married with two children while in the middle of the riskiest, most rewarding part of my career, and I’m having the time of my life. I credit waiting for a large chunk of my good fortune. But I have one regret: I wish I didn’t wait so long.
Hindsight is 20-20, they say, and I wish I just went with it. I wish I had married sooner. I really don’t know what we were waiting for. I wish we had kids sooner. I don’t know what we were so afraid of. They’re not as difficult or as expensive as I was led to believe. They don’t cramp your style like I thought they would. Instead, they inspire you and move you forward and give you hope. And I want more of the little devils, but I’m getting close to that age where it’s simply not a good idea anymore. I don’t want to be, you know, that parent, the one who keels over in the middle of the Christmas play.
I wish I hadn’t played it so safe. I wish I didn’t follow the money so hard, waiting all those years for a fat pay check that chained me to a job I hated. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to just go crazy, and do precisely what I wanted to do all my life.
And then I slap myself.
I remember how I got to be where I am now. I remember why I am leading this life that I’m enjoying so much. It’s because of a lot of things – hard work, smart choices, dumb luck – but one thing really stands out, and that thing is financial security. It’s the key here.
It’s financial security that gave me the freedom to do what I want. When my future looked secure, that’s when I proposed to my wife. When things were looking good, we decided to have our second child. Basically, when your family’s future is secure, you can do anything: have more kids, go on a world tour, or buy a sports car. It’s up to you.
What I shouldn’t have waited for was getting serious about saving money. Young idiot that I was, I used to look at insurance like something for the paranoid, and I thought financial products just weren’t for me. Boy, was I wrong. Now I think of them as my secret weapon in life, and the ticket that opens the doors to delicious possibilities.
I waited in life because I had to wait for security. And it all worked out, so I’m not complaining. But I still wish I got this financial security thing sooner. Benjamin Button had the right idea. We should do it all backwards. We should spend our early lives saving money and preparing for retirement. With the future sorted out, we’ll then embark on a rich, rewarding career, unafraid of failure or how we’ll make ends meet. We’ll have children, then celebrate our union by getting married, with everyone attending the party. The twilight of our years will be spent partying hard, drinking like crazy, and making out in the back of cars.
If I could do it all again, I’d do it that way.