My Success Story – Part II

One of my favorite posts on this blog would have to be this one which outlines my family’s journey from approximately 2000 to 2007.  Yet since that time a lot has changed in our lives which has been documented somewhat on the blog, but not all in one story.  So I’m going to try and compress that down into a single summary post.

At the end of 2007 our second child was on the way and I started to notice a difference in my perception of the world.  In the beginning of my early retirement journey I fell into the trap of a lot of people that I thought about early retirement as a solution to a better quality of life, but then I started to realize that there is more to life than just savings.  You can do things now to improve your life that yes do cost money, but often can lead to a better balance now and in the future.  So after our second baby was born in the spring of 2008 I had arranged to have a seven week parental leave to help out at home.  This was despite the fact my wife was taking a year off with no income since she was self employed.

It was one of the best things I have ever done.  I loved those weeks off at home and so did the rest of my family.  I helped out a lot with the baby and also demolished our old deck with my oldest son.  It was again one of those periods in our lives when we didn’t have much extra money, but we enjoyed ourselves at lot regardless.  I’ve noticed that in my life.  A lot of my most happy periods I had little to no extra money.  Perhaps this is why I find the concept of retiring early on a small income not something to be afraid of, but rather looked forward to.

I also got some perspective on my work during that time off and decided that my job at the time had a  fatal issue with it.  I liked the work and the people, I just disliked the highly variable workload that goes with working at a consulting firm.  So in late 2008 I moved on to another job for an increase in pay, but more importantly generous time off benefits and I was hoping a more steady workload.  The steady workload did occur, which made me very happy with my new workplace.

Yet after two kids I was starting to notice and care about more larger scale issues and I began to get involved more with following and being involved with politics.  So when I noticed no one was running for the public school board for our subdivision  in late 2009, it seemed like a good time to test the waters and I filed my nomination papers.  Much to my surprise I was acclaimed to the position for a three year term.  I also found out it happen to pay fairly decently with a salary of $23,400 a year.

So now I was doing some work that helped in my desire to improve the world for people and making more money, but after six months of working both jobs I realized I was doing too much.  My family was suffering and so was I.  My wife was even trying to take a self directed course during this time and we found that was hard for me to support.  If I kept this up I would likely just burn out sometime before the end of my term.  So I had a great meeting with my boss where we discussed some ideas and I proposed dropping down to 80% time.  I was pleasantly surprised when he agreed and we started a six month trial which would become permanent after that time (if we both agreed it was working).

From my perceptive the change has been worth every penny of pay I lost going to reduced hours.  It’s also if anything made me more loyal to my place of work than any raise they could have gave me.  (Note to all HR departments: the new coin of the realm isn’t money, but rather flexibility.)  It has also allowed my family to streamline our week together to place common appointments on Friday and then leave more time on the weekend to be together.  My wife even enjoys the situation as it has allowed her time to take another course and complete a certification for her daycare.

Then if that wasn’t enough positive change to our lives, I had the opportunity to write for the Toronto Star early this year and fulfill one of my dreams of getting paid to write something.  It was a lot of work, but I did enjoy the experience overall.  It also provided my the motivation to push ahead with my book project in 2011.

Now of course going after some of these dreams of ours it has made our  lives more enjoyable now, but also helped us out financially.  In three years we have increased out net worth from just over $200,000 to over $370,000, but even more impressive is we have paid off almost $60,000 of our mortgage and increased our investments from about $47,000 to $117,000.  That’s an average reduction of debt and investment increase of about $43,000 per year.

So in my last success post I focused on the fact you can defy the odds and early retirement is possible.  I still agree with that conclusion, yet I would also point out you don’t have to wait to retire to pursue you dreams and have a better quality of life.  The two goals are NOT mutually exclusive.  Dare to dream to have it all, you might be surprised on what you can do.

6 thoughts on “My Success Story – Part II”

  1. That is really fantastic. Your family has done so well!! Even more exciting is you are a fellow Canadian!

    I say that a lot too — defy naysayers because they can’t tell you what you yourself can achieve.

    Everyone said I was nuts for wanting to be out of debt in 2 years with $60,000 earning $65,000 a year.. but I cleared it in 18 months.

    Then they said I was nuts for becoming a freelancer. Now I’m working less, earning more and happier than I was at a company.

    🙂 Also said I was nuts for being a minimalist, but we all know how that one turned out too (everydayminimalist.com)

  2. Its sounds like a lot of your happiness has come from figuring out what you want from life, then going out and getting it. I’ve found that, too. I don’t have to wait to be retired before starting to do some of the things that make my life meaningful. After all, it’s not money (probably relationships) that bring happiness. And it’s possible (and worthwhile) to sacrifice early in order to have more (with greater stability).

  3. There’s knowing when to push but knowing when it’s okay to step back too. Sometimes I get that urge to push to reach the “magic million +”, but the loss in quality of life right now just isn’t worth it. Knowing that I really like and missed working really helped.

    I think semi-retirement is the best lifestyle ever. Working a bit, travel a bit, staycation a bit, always something new to look forward to. Best part is that I don’t need the million + to have that kind of lifestyle, what I’ve got is enough. I really liked your semi-retirement analysis posts, since I went through the same kind of calculations and thought process as well a few years ago.

  4. I’ve always said I’m bad for the economy because I don’t spend money. Despite the fact that I had a job I really enjoyed, I was always doing calculations on my investments to see how soon I could retire. Life is just too interesting to spend it doing only one thing. I retired when I was 49 but worked only part-time for several years before that at a job that was boring but very flexible in the number of hours I had to put in. I thought I would have more time for my hobbies after I retired but my life has taken a different direction, and I am doing things I really enjoy but would not have had time for while I was working. For me, enjoying life is not about having a lot of “things” but about doing things that are enjoyable.

  5. Are you ready for a better quality of life?
    This is actually the tag line to my business as a financial planner.it’s also the motto that my wife and I live our lives by.
    Tim-I find it kind of interesting that we both live our lives by the same motto yet have completely opposite views on retirement!
    My whole philosophy is to find a job you’re passionate about and do that job. If you love the work you do you never have to work a day in your life.
    My theory is that I will continue to work well into my 60s and 70s but at a substantially reduced rate and I likely won’t make nearly as much money throughout my life and my career because of that. But what I will be doing is spending time traveling taking photos helping other people and fulfilling all my passions throughout my life.
    This way I won’t get to be 50 years old and suffer from heart attack trying to retire early and then not have a retirement. Many times in my financial planning practice I have met clients who have worked the majority of their life to get to retirement at an early age just to be then diagnosed with an illness disease or suffer a heart attack or stroke and can no longer enjoy their lives.

    I love your message about do the things that you love doing. There’s a great book called crush it by Gary Vaynerchuk the talks about finding what you’re passionate about and going out and spending all your time focusing on that and in so doing being able to generate good money.

    Keep up the great work and congratulations on all your successes.
    Frank

  6. Frank,

    It is interesting how we have the same ideals, but go after the results differently. Retirement for me has never been a firm goal that I have to do it, but rather putting myself in the best position possible to try other things. I know I keep thinking about doing a semi-retirement scenario, but I’m still a little unsure where to draw the line on that one.

    Thanks for the reading suggestion. I’ve placed it on hold at my library so hopefully I can read it prior to Christmas.

    Thanks everyone for the comments. It’s good to see how each of you is finding what works and going for it.

    Tim

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