Did a Sliding Doors Moment Change Your Financial Life?
Have you ever felt that your life could have turned out differently? I have always been fascinated by the idea of the little decisions we make which have a big impact on our lives.
This is why I was intrigued when the film Sliding Doors came out a few years ago. Actually, it was released in 1998 but I can’t believe that I first saw it a whole 15 years ago. Anyway, if you haven’t seen it then the premise of the movie is that Gwyneth Paltrow either catches a train or not. It very cleverly splits into 2 different movies at the point at which the train doors slide shut, showing how a little thing like missing a train can completely alter your destiny.
In occasional moments of reverie I will think about what would have happened if I hadn’t turned up for a certain interview or date, or how my life would have altered if I had taken a different decision along the way. However, what I want to do right now is focus on whether a Sliding Doors moment could have changed your financial life.
Taking or Ignoring the Wrong Pension Advice
When I was about 18 a slick talking pension salesman very nearly got me to sign up for a pension plan. I had no idea about these things and was about to sign away a good percentage of my (admittedly very feeble) salary. It just felt like the wrong advice at the time but he kind of railroaded me into agreeing to it. At the last minute I plucked up the courage to mumble that I needed to think about it. A few years later the pension company went bust and I might have lost all of that money. Instead, I used it in the meantime to save up for my first home and get onto the property ladder at an early age. Admittedly, I fell off it a few years later but by then I had earned good money from it.
Giving Up Work or Not
Once you start working the big temptation is to stick to that financial security for the rest of your life. Another Sliding Doors moment I had was when I gave up my job to travel the world. I can still clearly remember one of my colleagues telling me that I was mad to give up my work pension and all of the other benefits. I have to confess that I still had plenty of doubts of my own the day I walked out of that office for the last time. It was only when I settled back into a working life a few years later that I realised the magnitude of a decision like this. I got talking to a new colleague who had done the same sort of thing as me. He was complaining about how the people who worked continuously their whole lives were financially settled while people like us were having to play catch up. However, I never felt jealous of my co-workers with big pension funds and lots of stock in the company. I had made my decision to sacrifice some of my financial well-being to do something more interesting. In an alternative reality I was bored out of my brain carrying on working in the same old job with nothing exciting on the horizon.
Buying the Right or Wrong House
In my case, that first house I had bought was sold and replaced by another after a few years. I was on my third one by the time I sold it in order to travel. Perhaps my life would have been completely different if I had found the perfect house in one of these transactions. Is there such a thing as the ideal house which is good enough to make you forget about other hopes and dreams and stay there happily? Maybe you will feel as though you have finally got the home you were dreaming of and will do anything in your power to hold onto it. Alternatively, if you choose the wrong home this might be the impulse you need to make bigger changes in your life.
What moment can you look back on and say that it changed your financial life for better or for worse?