subscribe to the RSS Feed

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Early Retirement is Easy

Posted by Tim Stobbs on December 22, 2014

My friend Jacq the other day put up a post stating that early retirement is easy, which is actually somewhat true and makes a bit of fun at my post that early retirement is NEVER easy.

The point beyond the polarized headlines is the fact both posts are actually very true.  Early retirement planning can be both freakishly easy and hard at the same time…it just depends on what parts you are talking about.

I agree with Jacq that the basic math of it is so simple it becomes obvious: spend less than you earn.  If you want to retire earlier, just spend even less and make even more the accelerate the process. Or if you feel too tight on your spending, you can spend more you just extend your working life to do it.

The harder part I think if getting to know yourself and your desires, needs and wants.  Understanding yourself is key to ensure you have a lower than average amount of spending, since you spend less on what people expect and more on what actually matter to you.  Also you get to figure out what things you can still achieve the same outcome on with less money.

In our case, my family spending is highly optimized to our particular wants and needs.  So I have a nice lifestyle on fraction of the spending of my peers because I understand how my mind works.  Learning this is not easy and takes a fair bit of self reflection and awareness.  You have to be able to ask and answer some question like:

  • Do I care what other think of my clothes, car, house or job?
  • What does respect mean to you?
  • What makes you feel accomplished?
  • What brings you joy, happiness and contentment?
  • What do I need to stop doing that isn’t helping me reach my goals?
  • What excuses do I use to prevent me from doing what I love?

As you can see answering these aren’t easy, but vital to having a happy early retirement.  You need to be moving towards something and not just running away from work.

So what parts of early retirement planning do you find easy or hard?  Why?

Oh Right, I Also Get Gifts

Posted by Tim Stobbs on December 19, 2014

It was funny to me the other day that it finally occurred to me that I would be getting gifts for Christmas.  You see after writing up an idea list for people I literally stop thinking about getting anything for weeks on end.

It partly occurs because I’m busy doing other things getting ready for the holidays and partly because I just don’t worry about the stuff side of the holidays as much anymore.  I tend to get more enjoyment hanging out with my family and doing winter activities together like skating and sledding.  Also we have a lot of little traditions we do during this time of year like making mulled wine which I also enjoy or hot chocolate with little marshmallows.  All in all they are fairly normal things, but they take on special meaning because we don’t do it all the time.

I have really noticed after all these years by doing something frequently it ceases to be special and loses some appeal.  Like eating a steak once a week would reduce its appeal to me.  So I try to limit some things to just seasonal treats so I actually really enjoy them.  From seasonal baking, activities or even music.

Now that we have gift exchanges on both sides of the family it has reduced the number of gifts I get significantly, which again seems to help.  I actually sort of savour the fact I only get a handful of gifts now.  They have become more special just by being a rarer thing.  So now I get a bit of fun guessing about my gifts under the tree for about five minutes and then I just sit back and enjoy the rest of the experience.

This is why for me, having less really is about enjoying what I have more.  More gifts, more parties, more events doesn’t make me any happier.  Instead having just some of each seems to be the best way for me to enjoy the season. Moderation in all things.

How about you?  Have you done less or bought less this year?  Did it help you get more out your life?

The Little Things

Posted by Tim Stobbs on December 17, 2014

Well I have to say I’m enjoying my time off more than I thought I would.  It’s been nice to relax a fair bit and be more involved with the kids while still getting some things done.

What has really amazed me so far is how effective having a large block of time off is at getting to all those little things you know you should do sometime, but never seem to get around to.  I keep a list of things I should do and try to do one thing per day from that list.  Some are very quick, like pickup some 600 grit sandpaper from the store to polish off a few minor rust spots on my sword (yes I own one…see here) while others took a bit more effort like taking apart our one sink that was draining slow and cleaning it out.  Yet most of the projects are done in under an hour.

Yet the compound effect of all these little things is the fact I’m making my life slowly just a bit better or easier each day and I’m in a much better mood because it.  I actually caught myself humming Christmas carols the other day while doing some cleaning.  You know life is good when even cleaning doesn’t feel like a chore.

Perhaps this is why retirees look so happy a lot of the time.  They can actually get something done and still have time to enjoy life.  For instance they never get torn by the decision to have a nap or fix the sink.  They do both.  Having more free time does seem to work wonders on your stress levels.  Like the fact it is quickly going to be Christmas and I’m not really that stressed at all as all I have left to do if wrap a few gifts and bit up some food (but recall I can shop at 9am on Monday and avoid most of the crowds).

Ok retirees, what else is great about having all that time to do things?  Does it get better as you go along or not?  Why?