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This is what happens when I'm away from the boards for a few days -- something awesome happens and I'm the last to know. Congratulations on this major HUGE milestone!!!!

I hope you have spent the last few days just basking in the glow of Awesomeness. This is one of the few financial accomplishments in life that has a lasting impact on a person, I think. Much more than that little incremental "hey I got a raise that amounts to $25 every paycheck" stuff that is the more usual stuff of finances.

Now, I almost never disagree with AJ, but I will comment on her reply to you:

Focus on putting money into an emergency fund, putting money away for those irregular expenses, and funding your retirement (including getting any/all employer matches that you may be eligible for).

This is actually reasonable advice.. But -- I want to know what YOU want to do with your funds. Maintaining financial discipline is genuinely important, and part of that means figuring out what YOUR most important goals are. We are all in different stages of life with different important upcoming events -- so what do YOU want to work on next? Maybe it's exactly what AJ said, but it's okay if it's a variant that works better for you.

The rest of this is just my own somewhat meandering path, which is not a suggestion of things you should do, but a broadening of the possibilities you can use to brainstorm your goals.

After I paid off the first layer of ugly debt, I wanted to max out my 401(k) (and later my TSP and later also max out the catch-up contributions), help my husband max out his TSP once we were married, get our two-mortgage household down to one mortgage and eventually no mortgage, do several renovations on the remaining house, meet the commitments we had made for all the kids' college, and build toward FIRE (Financial Independent/Early Retirement). We have since made it through all of those goals as well, and have chosen the FI route rather than the RE route.

And we have had the freedom to do some things we never considered before. We took the time to revamp our health. I lost more than 60 pounds, DH lost more than 80 pounds. We both work out regularly, and have muscles where there was just flab before. We eat a far more healthy and satisfying diet. That took a huge investment of our mental and physical resources that we could not have done while life was a tiger trying to eat us for lunch.

That led to another shift in goals -- one associated with continuing to build our own stability while helping our community in ways that are important to us (primarily around reducing obesity, improving nutrition, and reducing food insecurity). I've had the freedom to pursue certification in nutrition coaching and have begun a side hustle/second career doing that.

And we have small luxuries that make us happy. We have a lady who comes to clean the house every other week, leading to much relief for the whole household. We can afford to take piano lessons, something that gives both me and my husband a great deal of satisfaction. We don't worry about the cost of regular visits to family... or didn't, before Covid. Now those trips are much curtailed and we are none too happy about it.

But we have the freedom to consider spending the entire month of December with my dad, with only negotiations with my ex to deal with before we do it.

This is all possible because of the ongoing discipline we have applied to all aspects of our lives. Your path will surely be different, but it can be just as much fun as you continue to apply laser-focus to the things that you want most.

ThyPeace, this is the stuff that I have been resisting saying for a few months now, just in case you were wondering.
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