The biggest financial struggle I have in my life is trying to find the “right” balance between saving up for retirement & making sure I enjoy life now.

I know life is short – and I want to spend as little time as possible “working” however I also don’t want to sacrifice the things that make me happy now.   I know there are a lot of areas I could scale back my spending & I would be much further ahead financially – but I refuse to do it – and I am okay with that.

Unlike most posts on financial blogs – I am not going to talk about ways to scrimp & save. Today- instead I’m going to encourage you to reward yourself too!  To do this – I am going to share a story of one of the many times I decided to set a goal and reward myself!

I’ve played soccer (football) since I was 3 years old – my dad played since he was kid – he coached me growing up, and we’ve both been die hard supporters of the Dutch National Team.  I can remember as early as 1994 (I was 11) thinking one day I will go to the World Cup with my dad.  In 2014 I was finally able to live out this dream.  We entered the ticket lottery to try and get to see at least 1 Dutch game.  We got lucky – and were offered the option to purchase a 5 pack – meaning as long as Holland made it to the quarter final – we would get to see every game.  To give you an idea of how big of a Dutch football fan I am – here was my jersey collection PRIOR to leaving for Brazil(it has since grown).My Jersey Collection

Our trip consisted of seeing 5 games, in 4 different cities.  All 4 cities were along the coast which was nice.  We started in Salvador to see Holland take on the defending champions Spain.  The game didn’t start off great- as Diego Costa scored on a penalty shot.  We didn’t have high hopes going into this game – but when Holland tied it up with a Van Persie header right before the half (arguably the nicest goal of the tournament*) we started thinking we may get a point out of this game.  The second half still feels like a dream.  It was the first (of a few) times I had happy tears streaming down my face…

53rd minute – Robben Scores to take the lead
64th minute de Vrij scores
72nd minute Van Persie makes it 4-1
80th minute Robben dribbles through the whole team and makes it 5-1
* If you haven’t seen the Van Persie goal I highly recommend checking this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOXiWODZNqk

Our next stop was Porto Alegre which is in the southeast corner of Brazil.  Our hotel was located on a strip of bars and restaurants and people were partying all day and night. Game 2 was against Australia.  After just pounding the defending champions, we felt pretty confident going into this game however the Aussies kept us nervous all game.  We squeaked out a 3-2 win thanks to some heroics from a young star Memphis Depay.  This game also saw Gary Cahill score an absolute BEAUTY of a goal.  At this point we had been to 2 games, and saw what would end up being the 2 nicest goals of the entire tournament (source: https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2014/07/the-10-best-goals-of-the-2014-fifa-world-cup.html)
The Australian fans were amazing.  We partied with many of them before, during and after the match.

The last match of the group stage would be against Chile in Sao Paulo.  Although I’ve traveled to a few decent size cities – it was pretty amazing to go to a city where the population is almost HALF that of your entire country.  Sao Paulo is home to one of the largest Football Museum’s in the world.  The museum is extremely interactive, and we had a great time.  Here are a few pictures from the museum including one of my dad with a screamer into the top corner with his left foot!

 

The game against Chile was close right til the end when Holland scored 2 goals in the last 15 minutes to win 2-0.  This secured top spot in the Group and set up a match against Mexico in Fortaleza.

The two things I remember most about Fortaleza were the beautiful beaches and the Mexican fans who were decked out in everything from your typical jersey to a full on Luchador masks and full body suits.  Mexico’s goalie played great all tournament and this game was no exception.  Mexico scored early in the 2nd half and it remained 1-0 until the 88th minute.  We were surrounded by Mexican fans who for the past 30 minutes had been heckling us (all in good fun) and basically celebrating their win. With 2 minutes left in the game Wesley Sneijder popped one home to tie it up.  We figured we would see our first extra time game of the tournament, and before we could even get nervous about extra time Arjen Robben drew a penalty which the Hunter (Klaas-Jan Huntelaar) scored in extra time to seal the win!  My legs were shaking – I was crying happy tears (again).  I looked over to see the expression on the Mexican fan’s face next to me – but he must have ducked out while I was celebrating – he was nowhere to be seen.  2 goals in the last 5 minutes of the game to win & stay alive- nothing could ever beat this(or so i thought).

Here is a picture of one of the many beautiful beaches in Fortaleza:

Fortaleza

Our 5th and final game we had tickets to was the quarter final against Costa Rica.  This game was played in Salvador – the same city we started in and saw our first game.  The Dutch were playing great – had almost 65% possession – and by the end of regulation time was over had 15 shots on target compared to Costa Rica’s 3.  The only problem – they hadn’t scored yet.  Extra time was played – and still no goals scored.  What happened next was like something out of a dream.  As penalty kicks were approaching Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal used his last sub to bring in  Tim Krul (the backup goalie) who hadn’t played a single minute the entire tournament and he came in and saved not one but TWO penalty kicks to send Holland through to the semi finals.  I am sure by now you can picture what happened next (tears flowing, speechless, etc).  What I remember most from the entire game was as we were leaving I had to use the hand rails because my legs were shaking so much I could barely walk.

My dream was to see a Dutch World Cup game with my dad.  I was able to see 5.  I saw the team I have watched since I was a kid win all 5 games we were able to attend and even though I know I am biased – I believe we saw the top 2 goals of the entire tournament and maybe the biggest story line of the tournament (Tim Krul’s penalty kick heroics).

http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/28180956

So even though this is a personal finance blog – and normally I’ll write about saving money – I wanted to share my story of a time I SPENT a lot of money and know I will never regret it!

Life is short.  Keep saving – but reward yourself too!

Jordan & Dad.jpg

Hup Holland Hup!

 

 

 

 

 

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