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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dropping Out

Posted by Dave on November 19, 2013

I am currently reading the book “Scatter, Adapt, and Remember – How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction”. I am almost finished it, and have found it a very interesting read, regarding the history of the earth, and humans as a species interaction with the planet. I think the most interesting thing that I took away from the book was the author’s and scientists view of humans as a species overall.

Currently, there are billions of people living on earth (and maybe a handful living just outside of earth on the space station). Most people go about their lives, with the intention of getting through the day and coming home to take part in some sort of activity before they get up and do similar things the next day. North American society has “evolved” from the time of the European arrival (I’m unsure whether “arrival” is the correct terminology) 500 years ago from a subsistence lifestyle, where much of our time was spent just figuring out how food was going to be obtained for today and tomorrow. Today, I am pondering whether I would like to buy the Playstation 4, XBox One, or hold out and see what the Steam Machine concept looks like.

Family members 2 or 3 generations ago (for me) wouldn’t have any understanding of how life works anymore. Most cities right now would run out of food in 4 days if a catastrophe hit. Most people have become so specialized in their skill set that other than their job, they are unable to really do anything for themselves. These of course are generalizations, but if you were to look at the average urban dweller, they probably would not have survived very well on a homestead.

I think that part of my desire in Early Retirement is to leave this type of lifestyle to a certain extent. I would like to live a life that is hopefully more fulfilling, where I can spend time doing more things for myself, because I have more time. To trade off a lot of the casual convenience offered in most of my life and try something different.

I wouldn’t say that this book was a life-changer, it more reaffirmed and solidified some views, while widening some of my understanding of Earth’s history. I think some of the underlying questions raised (whether stated or implied) in the book were very interesting, such as:

  1. Do we really need more people here? My answer is probably not, which is part of the reason my wife and I (besides our admitted selfishness) decided not to have children.
  2. Are the people here really doing anything? There is so much time being spent in areas which do not necessarily aid humanity in any way, and in fact is creating great harm to the environment and ourselves as a species. While technology is making leaps and bounds ahead in many areas, severe pollution and the resulting changing climate is not really even being accepted as a problem by the majority of people.
  3. How will the world look in a few hundred thousand years? There have been (according to this book) 6 or 7 major extinctions that have taken place over Earth’s lifetime. Are we on a cusp of another one? Or is another one possible in the next few thousand years?

I found the book to be somewhat profound in the information it provided me, and the avenues it made me go down while I was reading it. My plan to “Drop Out” of the way I currently live my life so that I have more time to do the things I would like to do with my time, rather than selling my available hours making spreadsheets and sitting in meetings….This is what I keep in mind when I examine my future financial plans.

Sorry, this post was a bit of a bummer…..I think I’ll switch to a much happier book for my next read.

Still Not Interested

Posted by Dave on November 22, 2011

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.

In my “debut” post 2 years ago, I discussed my wife’s and my aversion to having children.  This past weekend we talked about this again and are still fairly steadfast in maintaining our childless household.  This is kind of an amusing viewpoint to have, as I am writing this post while going to see my new niece, just born an hour ago (apparently my brother doesn’t really agree with me and my views on children as this is his second girl born in 17 months).  My wife and I spent the weekend with our nephews, aged 8 and 4 and after we were done playing with them (which was fun) we were both very happy for the quiet ride home.

In the past two years, my views haven’t really changed around having kids although I think my reasons have a little bit.  In my first article, I wrote about how expensive kids would be and how it would limit my chances of retiring early.  Since then, I have come to believe that kids are as expensive as you make them.  If you go out and outfit an entire room with fancy furniture, buy disposable diapers, and attempt to buy your kid a good childhood, then I could see how having children could easily approach the average cost of $250,000 I quoted in my original post.  Otherwise, I think costs could be kept down fairly low.

Where my views have changed, beyond my own personal preference to be free to do what I want to do when I want to do it (maintaining what could be called a selfish lifestyle) I really don’t know why I would add to the population.  The UN recently had a huge celebration that we as a species have achieved a population of 7 billion people.  For me to make a decision to add to this, is essentially being selfish.  I can’t really see how me and my wife adding to the population is really going to help anything.  The only reason I would be having a kid is because I would want one, as the choice is available.  Everyone out there adding to the 7 billion people on the planet is basically saying “What’s one more person?”

I’m not getting all Malthusian here or anything, I’m sure that we’ll somehow figure out a way to get more food for the next 7 billion people on the planet – I’m simply saying that, from the standpoint of the species as a whole maybe we should calm down a little bit in our population growth.  I don’t think the addition of another few billion people is going to have a positive effect on the planet, but nobody really talks about that (I’m going to say that population control is not a very popular campaign to run on).

So, no real change here, from my wife or myself.  We love kids, we just love to be done with them after a visit.  We are enjoying our freedom, and the maintenance of our DINK status.

I understand that this is kind of a charged subject, but my question of the day is can you see how down the road the planet will be a better place if we maintain our current level of growth?  Thinking of this, would you think twice before adding to this growth?

 

Smart Landscaping

Posted by Tim Stobbs on May 18, 2011

If you are like me your front yard is likely a large expanse of grass.  You didn’t pick it to be this way, but your stuck with grass just about everywhere.  I personally hate grass since I only actually use a small amount of area as a play space for the kids and the rest is basically just a endless amount of watering, mowing and chemical application to keep the damn stuff alive.

So I’ve decided to end my suffering and get rid of every damn blade of grass in my front yard.  Yet to keep the costs low and my sanity in tact, this will be done over a number of years.  Right now this year’s project is getting the design done and getting some trees planted.  Since I don’t want to spend a small fortune to just get rid of my lawn, I’m going to do this the smart way and keep my costs as low as reasonable.  Yet I also fully accept the fact that while lawn is cheap to put in and expensive to keep up, just about everything else is the opposite: expensive to put in and cheap to keep up.

First up is saving on the design.  I’m rather lucky that my mother happens to have a talent for landscaping design.  So I invited her over and had a discussion between her, my wife and me.  From there she is going to outline a draft design, which we will fine tune and most importantly, get those trees in the ground this year.  The reason I want a few trees is two fold: first to have something to shade my south facing living room which can get fairly hot in the summer and to also have something to shade the patio I want to put out front.

Then I will also do some research this year on plants I want to put in the costs associated with them and other landscaping materials.  I also want to work in some eatable plants into the design, so at least I can get something useful out of my front yard rather than the endless watering and cutting of my lawn that I currently do.

So have you ever gone lawn free in part of your yard?  If so, how much did it cost?  If not, would you ever consider getting rid of your lawn?