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Monday, January 23, 2017

10 Years of Blogging

Posted by Tim Stobbs on November 9, 2016

Ten years ago today I decided to create a blog and wrote my first post.  The idea was simple I wanted to retire early and I picked a number out of thin air of retiring at 45.  It sounded good.  Really that was it.  The blog wasn’t anything particularly special and I really didn’t have a bloody clue on what I was doing, but I did enjoy writing and I learned a lot from people the commented.

Now ten years later just about everything has changed.  I have had seven different jobs during that time, had two kids, got a dog, moved houses but still have the same wife (or does she still have me…I can never tell the difference).  The blog has grown to 1878 posts and 11,695 comments so basically together we have written several books worth of text between us…good job!

As for my retirement goal, well I am far exceeding just about every expectation I had for my goal.  I will likely be in a position to semi-retire before my 40th birthday.  How the hell did I managed to take a vague goal with no plan into exceeding the original goal?  Well I have looked back on some of my previous posts and data to come to the following key drivers:

  1. I believed it was possible. Pardon?  Honestly, without the thought that I could I would have never gotten to this point.  It would have been easier to give up many times, but I kept at it.
  2. Aim slightly lower on savings.  I always left a buffer to my planned savings in a given year so I would often exceed the initial target.  If I thought I could save $12,000, I would aim for $10,000 instead.
  3. Be realistic on investment returns. I always aimed for a 5% real return on investments (given inflation has been 1.6% per year over the last decade that would work out to 6.6%).  Then proceeded to exceed that most of the time (notable exception was 2008, but 2009 made up for that).
  4. A bit of luck.  We managed to buy a house in Regina prior to the local housing boom which saved me about $200,000 off my house’s current value.  So yes there was some luck involved.
  5. Assume no raises in salary beyond inflation.  As noted above annual inflation for the last decade has only been 1.6%, but my increases in salary have exceeded that.  Mainly because I changed jobs and asked for more money rather than annual increases.  In total, I have exceed inflation by an additional ~2% a year, which isn’t much but it does add up over decade.

Yet only enough despite all of the above the biggest thing I have learned in ten years is this: what’s in your head matters more than your wallet or bank balance.

I know you were expecting something a bit more profound, but developing an awareness of your thoughts and adjusting your life to your particular interests is the most critical thing you can learn to do to help you retire earlier.  After all, the math of early retirement is very basic the more you can save of your take home pay the sooner you can retire.  So 20% is good, but 60% saving of your take home pay is better.

Yet what really changes during the journey is understanding yourself and what you need to know is when you have enough to try your hand at early retirement.  Understanding your own personal tolerance for risk and your own fears is key to that and you won’t learn that from a book or reading a blog, but rather looking at the thoughts in your own head.

For me personally I realized that I don’t actually care about doing some work, that I’m more than willing to trade a bit of work over the decades in exchange for entering my semi-retirement period earlier.  I think the average person grossly under estimates one of the key assumptions to the entire 4% rule which is: you never earn any external sources of income (only investment income).  No government pension, no income form odd jobs or hobbies, no gifts and no inheritance.  In my particular case I am sure I will break every one of those, so I’m willing to roll the dice with more risk in my plan than some other people.  I understand myself and my situation and I don’t expect it to apply to others.

So for this blog’s birthday wish, I wish you all the gift of self knowledge.  Find your own path the early retirement, it will take a lot of work and a lot of soul searching but you can get there.  Remember it starts with believing you can and then be willing to learn.  Good luck on your journey.

Comments

13 Responses to “10 Years of Blogging”
  1. I loved this post.

    I don’t think I will be an early retirement sort.. or maybe I will, I’m still young, but it is at least something to think about, and I’m glad your blog has done that for me.

    Happy blogoversary :) I’ve been doing this for about 10 years too, but am on my 5th blog rather than my 5th job ;)

  2. Geoff says:

    I totally agree that most people who are hoping to retire early underestimate their income sources.

    I know that, on paper, our Net Assets mean my wife and I could retire tomorrow. But, then every dollar we spend until we are 65 will have to come directly out of our investments. Multiply those years by your annual spending and you’ll realise that’s a chunk o’ change.

  3. J. Money says:

    Congrats man!! I had no idea it had been that long – I’m coming up on 9 years myself in a few months and I’ll agree the mindset is key.

    Come out to FinCon one of these years so we can meet! There’s still a handful of us vets around :)

  4. I have a similar target as you – to retire by 45, although I have run a few more calculations to back it up :) You can check out my numbers here – http://www.stealthywealth.co.za/2016/11/my-plan-to-retire-at-45.html

    I am just about one year down, but still a long way to go. I like your assumption of only inflation based salary increases, that should build a nice little buffer into the plan.

  5. Mr. RIP says:

    Congratulations for your 10 years achievement and for being so wrong (but in the right direction) with your plans!

    I totally agree with you that waiting to reach FU Money according to the 4% rule assumes you’ll never earn a dime again, so the need for money in the FIRE seekers community is overrated!

  6. Congratulations on reaching ten years, that is an incredible milestone. I just started my pf blog earlier this year and am looking forward to just making it to SIX months in January.

    Great insight about having the right mindset. With the right perspective, everything is possible. With the wrong mindset, life is misery!

  7. Jessica says:

    This is so inspiring! I have just started blogging (again) and I hope one day I can write a post like this and reflect back on my accomplishments. Congrats on your blog’s 10th year :)

  8. Team CF says:

    Quite the milestone and personal and financial achievement. Good for you!

  9. Kurt says:

    Congrats on your progress, sounds wonderful. You noted that your ‘key drivers’ were nothing profound. To me, that’s the most important message of this post: miracles or lottery wins are not required to retire early or meet other financial goals! Money success is not rocket science, yes?

  10. Domino says:

    Hi Tim,

    I read that MMM blog was earning him around 400 000 per year….! That’s unbelievable? Do you believe that, how can it be possible.

    I’m shocked. Does your blog brings you important earnings too?

    Thanks for your comment!

  11. Great post, Tim. I have been a long time reader of your blog, and good to see the progress you have made in life. I think blogging about FIRE accelerates the journey to FIRE because this gets into your mind and lifestyle. It’s like a form of ‘measurement’. What gets measured gets done! Recently, I started my own blog with the idea of helping others reach FI. As I often say, FI is mandatory but RE is optional. Good luck in your life journey.

  12. Congrats….inspiring stuff right here for a blogger that is 2.5 years into this game. I respect the hell out of the fact that your post isn’t filled with profound, fluffy statements and it is direct and to the point. If you keep your mind to it and are confident in your abilities, you will succeed in anything in life. I don’t care whether it is blogging, shoveling snow, or anything else.

    Also love how you used super conservative estimates when calculating out your projections. And of course luck played a role in your successes; everyone benefits from luck at some point in some capacity.

    Congrats again on your milestone!

    Bert

  13. Tim Stobbs says:

    Thanks everyone. I appreciate all the congratulations. As to this blog’s earnings, ha, ha, ha…no not anywhere close to MMM.

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