How to Balance Unfulfilled Dreams With the Financial Realities of Life

Most of us have a bucket list of things we want to accomplish or do. For some people, that list includes fun and daring activities, like skydiving or visiting another country. Other dreams might include starting a business, going back to school, or taking a big vacation. If you are in financial trouble, you might have to wait for a while to fulfill your dreams. However, if you have mostly been responsible with money, now might be the time to take a risk and go for your dream.

It’s difficult to determine when the financial realities of life will prevent you from fulfilling your dreams, but sometimes you just have to take a risk in order to do what you have always wanted to do. While saving your money is usually the best option, sometimes spending money in order to fulfill a dream is truly worth it. Here are some issues to consider as you make your decision.

MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images

MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images

1. The scope of your dream

If your dream is to go skydiving, it might be that your physical fear of completing this task is a greater influence than the cost itself. If you can get past your fear, then doing so might only take a day out of your regular schedule. If you simply want to cross your dream of skydiving off your list, and you have time available to take a day or weekend away, then you should do it.

However, if your dream is a little bigger, such as starting your own business, than you will have a lot more issues to consider, and starting your own business will take serious planning. You will need an idea and a business plan, a way to market your business, and of course the necessary financial backing. If you have a dream that is a fairly small dream as far as planning goes, then it might be easier to set in motion.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

2. The cost of your dream

If your dream is to sky dive, you can participate in the static-line and instructor-assisted deployment (IAD) method for $100-$200, according to the United States Parachute Association. Unless you are in serious financial trouble, you can probably set aside the money to pay for that dream. On the other hand, if you are considering starting a business, you will be facing a more serious financial risk. Ask yourself if you can truly afford to start a business, and what will happen if the business fails. If you have a great idea and you have always wanted to start your own business, then with financial support, you might be in a great place to launch that business. However, you have to weigh the risks. While fulfilling a small dream might give you some happiness, going after a more expensive dream is really only possible if you have the money to do so without potentially ruining your financial future.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

3. The potential long-term benefits of your dream

Another important issue to consider is what the potential long-term benefits of your dream are. If you want to go back to school in order to further your career, you may find that the potential benefits are worth the financial cost. According to CNBC, many adults return to school hoping to keep their job or move up into a better job. This can be the right decision, but you need to determine what your professional goals are, and also consider what you need to do to get there and what your education will cost. It’s helpful to look for scholarships and to avoid borrowing too much money. You can also see if your employer has a tuition remission program.

If you need a degree to stay in your current position or to advance, then going back to school might be worth it. However, if your dream is to learn a new career, or you simply want to further your education for yourself, then you should weigh the costs (and these include the financial costs as well as the cost of time).

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

4. The short-term benefits of your dream

Being financially savvy is really important, and it’s a good idea to avoid spending money frivolously. However, there comes a point when sometimes you just need to spend some money in order to decrease your stress, or really feel like you are doing more than just working. This is one of the most difficult choices to make, because you don’t want to spend money if doing so will endanger your future or put you in debt. According to Inc., taking time off might be necessary in order for you to return and do your best work. Sometimes you need a break, and taking a break might actually help you grow.

When you report to someone else, it can be difficult to feel safe taking the time away. In that case, you should talk to your boss. If you are extremely stressed and you have been dreaming about a particular vacation, trip, or other dream for a long time, now may be the time to go after that dream. If doing so will bring you back to work with a renewed work ethic and less stress, then the short-term benefits might be worth the lost time or money.

All of us have dreams, and the regular requirements of life can make it difficult to follow those dreams. If you are hoping to go on a vacation, go back to school, start a business, or you have some other dream in mind, take some time to evaluate whether or not you can balance your dream and the financial realities of your life. Going into great debt or sacrificing retirement or future savings in order to go for a dream probably won’t be worth it. But if you can truly afford to go after your dream, and the benefits will outweigh the risks, then you should go for it.

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