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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Not Alone

Posted by Tim Stobbs on October 12, 2016

“You are crazy!”

“You can’t do that!”

“But you are too young!”

Those are just a small sample of some of the reactions I’ve seen to my early retirement plans, as you may have noticed they are not particularly encouraging.  Actually I would save the majority of comments I see on websites that have a story on early retirement are negative.  You can argue the why of that until you run out of air, but in my case I’ve actually cease to care about the negative comments directed at myself.

What I don’t like about those negative comments is I wonder how many early retirement dreams were cut short before they ever began because that sort of feedback.  You have to keep in mind that those of us who are discussing our plans publicly are a tiny faction of the overall who just did it and didn’t tell anyone.  After all if you are willing to insert a little lie like “I work in private wealth management,” no one will ever know.

The major problem in the beginning for most people is the isolation.  With the typical person being negative towards the idea of early retirement, it is rather hard to meet someone who will talk to you as if it could happen. Or even provide some useful feedback on the crazy ideas running around your head.  Oddly, I think that is why I got interested in blogging myself: I wanted to share and discuss my ideas.  What I didn’t consider was how helpful it was to have someone read a post, leave a comment (good or bad) and indirectly tell me: you are not alone.

The journey to early retirement is a long one.  In fact, decades is the normal time frame.  So having doubts and being a bit lonely in the journey is entirely a normal feeling at some point.  It can be hard at the start to be so excited by the concept, but have no one around you to talk to.  So thank the heavens for the internet and personal finance bloggers!  Here at last is a group of people who you can talk to in forums, on blogs and now with conferences in person.  We can learn from each other and finally have someone tell you: you aren’t crazy, but have you considered this?  Again it will be rarely spoken or written, but it is still there: you are not alone.

So the next time you run into someone who is new to the idea of early retirement, try to be patient with them.  Not all blogs are the same, they will find one geared to their particular level eventually, just be nice to start with and remember to imply if not tell them: you are not alone.  We understand and welcome to the club.

Don’t Forget Your Towel

Posted by Tim Stobbs on September 16, 2016

In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the author mentions how very useful a towel can be and insists that you shouldn’t leave home without it.  While I’m not that attached to my towels personally I do consider that people really should consider investing some money into some things that will be used daily for a while like a towel.

In our cause I wasn’t particularly surprised when my wife one day recently mentioned to me that perhaps we should consider getting some new towels for the bathroom.  After all there were starting to look a bit faded and my washcloth was starting to fray a bit at the edge, which isn’t entirely surprising given we have been rotating the same two sets of towels (2 bath towels, 1 hand towel and two washcloths per set) in our bathroom for the last 10 years.  Yes, you read that last line correctly, our current towels are older than my youngest child and almost as old as my oldest son.

This isn’t to say that I’m a cheap bastard that won’t buy a new towel, but rather I’m a picky bastard that wants to use a good towel.  After all if I’m going to be rubbing myself dry with something that often I want it to not feel like sandpaper or be so small that a soak half of it after drying off my chest (yes I’m looking at you cheap hotel towels).  So our last set of towels were bought were not the Walmart special but rather the 100% Egyptian cotton, large, soft  and well made.

Of course just because I want a good towel doesn’t mean I should spend a lot of money on it.  So when store had a sale on their towels (buy one get the second for a dollar) we went looking to see if we liked them or not.  If not, we would get some other sale, after all we didn’t need the new towel today, just sometime.  Yet we found we like the ones in the store and found a colour that would match the bathroom and only ended up spending $69 on two sets of towels (one for us and one for our boys…my wife couldn’t find a second set for us that she liked and insisted she didn’t want just one colour for our bathroom…needless to say I just smiled and agreed).  So $69 might seem a bit pricey for two sets, but when you consider I will be using it daily for the next 10 years the cost per use gets fairly low.

The problem  is people can confuse the fact that sometimes spending more money on something good quality may in fact be the cheaper option per use in the long run.  After all replacing a cheap towel more frequently can end add up.  Let’s say you spend $20 on towels every two years, well over a decade that ends up being $100 instead of $70 for better quality.

For me I tend to be willing to invest more money into high use items like a towel, bed sheets or a pillow.  But of course it does come down to what you personally value in your life.  If you really don’t care what you use for a towel, go ahead and buy what ever.  Just don’t forget your towel if you hitch a ride with an alien prior to the Earth getting blown up. ;)

So what do you spend more money on upfront on?

Hanging On

Posted by Tim Stobbs on September 8, 2016

I can always tell now when I have had a particularly bad week when I start running calculations on what would happen if I just quit now?  Previously when I would look at the results I would end up being disgusted and give up the idea, but recently as I get closer to my long term savings goal the result come back in the realm of reasonable.  Ugh, now what?  How do I hand on when leaving is starting to look good.

So I have had to change tactics with the fantasy of just quitting tomorrow and take a step back and consider the big picture.  Right now I’m in my peak earning and compounding phase, which basically means for terms of saving and investing money that is doesn’t get any better than this.  So then I start to play a little game with myself that goes like this:

Could you last another month?  Yes, no big deal.

How about three months until after [insert life event or holiday]? Mmm, yah, I guess.

So what’s the big deal about a few more months after that? If there is little difference between 1 and 3, or 3 and five, why is there any more or less between 10 and 13 months? Ugh, damn you logical mind.

The debate really isn’t about logic, but rather emotions.  When you are tried, stressed or feeling a bit down, it becomes easy to image all the worlds problems melting away just because you no longer have to go to work.  Yet of course that really doesn’t happen, some problems will remain regardless of your job.  Early retirement is NOT a cure all.  It won’t make you sexier, happier and achieve enlightenment.  Rather it may give you time to get into working out more, do more things you enjoy and meditate, but the fact of the matter is you still need to do something other than quit your job to achieve those.  Which of course if you worked on them now you may actually be sexier, happier and achieve enlightenment even with your job.

People who go after early retirement like to demonize work and blame it for lots of things, but often it isn’t all to blame.  It may not help things or compound other issues going on in your life, but work itself isn’t a bad thing or a good thing.  Rather it is a means of making money.  We attach a lot of other things to it, but in its pure form we do it because we get paid.  Full stop that is it.  There are other good things about work satisfaction from solving problems, working with good people and expanding your knowledge base but those are side issues, not the main point.

In the end, these those about ‘leaving tomorrow’ to me are an alarm bell.  I’ve been pushing myself too hard and I need to slow down a bit and enjoy life.  It really isn’t the fault of my work, but rather myself.  After all, the point of early retirement is to have more time for life so how does not having a life help you out?  Simple, it doesn’t help.  So don’t mind me while I go for a walk to clear my head and perhaps read a book.  I’ll feel better tomorrow.

How do you deal with hanging on when you are close to the end of a goal?