It's a surprisingly common position to be in: You finally achieve the impossible (or at least what seemed impossible for a long time) and become debt-free, but instead of feeling financially empowered, you have a deer-in-the-headlights episode. You're so accustomed to being in debt that you don't quite know what to do without it.
Here's the problem: Once you get paid, your money has to go several places at once. Bills need to be paid, credit card balances need to be settled, groceries need to be bought, perhaps even some nonessentials, too -- and, in all the shuffle, the money that you should be saving becomes your discretionary income.
Later this year, at the age of 32, I plan to quit my full-time job as a software developer and don't intend to look for another one. By then, I expect my portfolio will be large enough to fund my essential expenses for at least the next 30 years, if not indefinitely, so that getting another 9-to-5 job becomes an option rather than a necessity.
Psychological scientists are very interested in the dynamics of future planning, in part because people are so bad at it. There is circumstantial evidence that people who are financially irresponsible also take poor care of themselves. Is it possible that a single underlying trait is shaping behaviors that promote both health and wealth?
Ongoing droughts have bumped up prices for produce and produced a trickle-down effect on meat, since feeding cattle has become costlier. At the same time, a virus has been plaguing pigs across the nation, spiking prices on pork. It's not a pretty picture just as barbecue season goes into full swing. But you can still find ways to grocery shop on a budget, especially if you know where to expect the hikes.