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 passed a couple of milestones in the last week. First, it was our fourth anniversary on Thursday. Four years may not seem like a long time, but I have a feeling that dealing with me on a daily basis may make time go slowly at times. We had a quiet “date” at home – I made us the most garlicky caesar salad I could put together (her favourite) and we watched some Netflix. Besides our anniversary, this month also marks 5 years that we have been involved in a goal of early retirement.
The five years from the time I graduated University to when I started planning for early retirement were definitely lost years. My significant “investments” into booze and video games while in school really didn’t help my long-term goals at all. I could make an argument for much better personal finance education, but that has been kind of pounded into the ground by basically everyone.
Besides my lack of education in personal finance, and slow start where I spent almost as much as I made, there are a couple of changes that I may have made, looking back:
1) Invested in more than just my house: Having a little more cash would have allowed me to take in some of the significant gains available in the market between 2008 and 2009 – Not terribly original, but I would be significantly richer right now if I somehow would have foreseen the bottom of the market and bought in at that point.
From a net worth perspective, this strategy would have assisted immensely. My personal finance plan is based on attaining financial freedom as quickly as possible, and reducing debt will allow us to work less in the future (if we choose to extend the number of years we want to work).
2) Finished school faster: I took a couple of summers off that would have decreased the time I had to take accounting courses for. At the time I justified the break from school as necessary, but being done now I realize how much of a relief it would have been to be done. I really enjoyed the learning part of school, but always having something over my head was more stressful than I realized.
While writing this post I considered most of the major choices I have made in the last 5 years, and generally there was a good reason for most things my wife and I have decided. For example, we could have rented a place to live instead of bought. In order for this option to work, I would have had to talk my wife into living in a small basement apartment – our mortgage and condo fees every month cost as much as rent in the city we live in. We also could have bought a cheaper car, but I think the cheaper car would have lead to more repairs later.
I’ve found that before most purchases now, whether big or small my wife and I mull them over (probably to excess). We would prefer to not make a “mistake” that will cost us a half-year of financial freedom.
Would you have changed any of your major decisions you’ve made in the last five years? How would this change alter your life today?