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No matter how many roads we build, or worlds we conquer, the measures of success established by our knuckle-dragging ancestors will remain preserved: How big is your cave and how many people have you made in it?
The terminology evolves, but the spirit of these inquires continues to haunt the current generation of gather and gatherers. Once you peel off the dogma and sexism inherent in the mammalian mission statement, you’re essentially left with Carlin’s Stuff bit: “That’s all you need in life, a little place for your stuff. That’s all your house is — a place to keep your stuff. If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house. You could just walk around all the time. A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it."
Without meaningful people to share our stuff with, our lives are just a marble of headaches and nonsense. Of course, am I ready to take on meaningful people? Is a weighty, kaleidoscopic question; one better left to the estimation of dead presidents, one existential step at a time. Am I ready to date? Becomes do I have disposable income? Am I ready to own my home? Becomes do I have disposable income? Am I ready to make people? Becomes am I ready to no-longer have disposable income?
Life milestones and financial gaols are effectively synonymous because money can’t buy happiness but it’s certainly a good start.
According to a new survey of 2,500 Americans conducted by H&R block, a hair less than half of the respondents genuinely believe that their financial struggles have prevented them from achieving personal life goals. Seventy-three percent of those queried said that they are incentivized by personal fulfillment to achieve these traditional objectives, namely buying a home, marriage and having children, while 20% dreaded being perceived as a person that got left behind.
Whatever the exact animator, it seems the greater majority are taking on critical responsibilities that they aren’t quite ready for. More than a quarter of Americans confessed to not giving their finances too much thought before they bought their first home. Fifty-percent of participants said that they wished they would have waited until they were more financially secure before the arrival of their first child. Fifty-five percent of newlyweds said that money disputes put considerable stress on their marriage, and one in five regret not having talked to their spouses about these concerns before skipping down the aisle.
But that’s the thing about the money-happiness maxim. On paper, virtually every traditional life milestone is conceivably more fulfilling with extra cheddar to throw around, but 80% of respondents said that once they tied the knot, bought a home and filed it with a cub or two, they suddenly became optimistic about their financial future despite panicking about each of these stages prior to achieving them. It seems a surefire way to avoid becoming a bystander in your own life, is allowing impulses to backseat drive. That doesn’t mean you always observe every itch as gospel, but there are some things that simply can’t be calculated. Forethought should sketch the figures while intuition colors everything in.
If you haven’t met your first spouse by your 26th birthday, adjust your standards and hit the apps. By 29, you should be just about ready to buy a home-not “the'”home, mind you just a home; a place to put your stuff with a cover over it. By 30, get ready to start procreating. Now, when the firstborn reaches age seven, you should be prepared to buy/build your “forever home.” By 38 you should feel the most “financially content,” which puts you on track to retire at 63. Enjoy pinching cheeks and chewing Werther’s originals, ya made it.
— CW Headley
This story originally appeared on Ladders.