This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.
My wife and I do quite a bit of traveling around the province in November and December. Besides various Christmas parties, we have many family birthdays to take part in (besides both of ours, my siblings and their spouses both have birthdays during this period). All of this traveling, and the various presents that need to be purchased can lead to some seriously depleted bank accounts at the end of the year.
We both save up all year for this period of time – mainly to get ourselves presents and pay for gas and meals on the road. Much like any other budgeted item, this kind of excess can be budgeted for – for us, it is a necessary evil and generally a lot of fun (last weekend we went to Niagara Falls on a Groupon deal and had a great time for our combined birthday weekend).
This kind of budgeting for a level of spending that doesn’t take place the rest of the year reduces our level of stress significantly. We know exactly what we can and can’t afford to do, or at least we can plan reasonably well ahead if there’s anything “big” we’d like to do (a trip south, or something else).
Besides traveling, this is the time of year that I generally look back at what I did and look forward to the coming year. It was my 33rd birthday last week. If all goes well, 12 years from now I will be financially independent and be deciding whether I would like to retire or continue working – either way I should have a choice in the matter then. Looking back on the previous year, I can see how much closer I have gotten to being able to achieve my financial goal.
In addition to meeting some of the financial stepping stones, which will hopefully lead to my end goal, I also finished the education portion of the CGA program and will hopefully receive an accounting designation in the coming year. I don’t really plan on the accounting designation to changing my life all that much, but it does provide some flexibility if future job issues arise – whether it’s my own discontent or anything else that may come up. This kind of flexibility is what I am seeking, I don’t like the stress of having to stay in a job because it’s difficult to find a replacement.
So, although we spend weeks constantly running around our city (shopping usually) and the province I seem to have balanced this level of insanity of the month with the calming effect of a relatively strict budget and the maintenance of my end goal still in sight. I have made pretty good strides over the past year, and know I am at least not further away from financial independence than I was at the same time last year.
How do you get through the holidays? Do you have a budget for the month, or how do you stay in line financially?