Posted by Dave on March 4, 2014
About a month ago, my workplace laid off around 15% of the employees in my 400 person company, with no warning to the staff of the company (as is usual in these type of circumstances). I was not affected by this move, but it created quite a lot of anxiety internally with my company, as there were very few departments which weren’t impacted by the corporate “shuffle”.
Due to our fairly low monthly spending amounts, compared to the amount of money we bring in, my wife and I are able to cover all “fixed” expenses through either one of our salaries. We set up our budget like this purposefully, as in the past, my wife has had a couple of terrible jobs. I would rather she (or I) have the flexibility and freedom to leave this kind of situation, instead of feeling stuck due to our lifestyle requirements.
Stressing over money (or anything really) isn’t healthy. I recently read a book called “The Cholesterol Myth” – in it, the author described two kinds of stress. The first kind of stress is the kind you’d get being chased by a lion – once you lose the predator, the stress is removed from your life and you go back to “normal”. The second kind of stress is the dull, persistent stress experienced through work and personal relationships – the kind of thing that doesn’t have an easy fix and stubbornly nags at the back of your mind. It’s the second kind of stress that leads to health problems and is one of the main drivers of heart disease today (besides terrible diets being consumed by most people).
My wife and I would rather not have to worry about money. We think it’s healthier for our relationship and allows us to enjoy our daily lives much more. There are some things we do that would seem ridiculous to others – like having a bunch of money sitting in a high interest savings account rather than being invested, but these are done to reduce the impact of major life occurrences to our normal spending “curve”.
We are also responsible only for ourselves – we don’t have children, or even any pets that are dependent on our ability to create wealth in order to eat every day. This type of arrangement also offers some additional flexibility in our financial decisions – we can act more selfish in our spending and saving.
I am by nature a bit of a worry-wart when it comes to money, perhaps borderline paranoid when it comes to the possibility of extended unemployment. The benefit of our goal of Early Retirement, is that even if we only get part way to the goal by the time we reach age 45 (our hopeful date of financial independence) – we will hopefully continue to live a financially stress-free life.
Do you stress about money? Have you in the past?
Posted by Dave on February 11, 2014
I had a very exciting December – I went on an all-inclusive vacation to Mexico for a week, then took part in several festive parties. From Festivus to other holiday gatherings and New Years, I over-consumed both alcohol and food at a volume that me 10 years and 60 pounds ago would have been proud of. I’m usually more of a “everything in regulation” sort of person, which allows me to maintain a healthy weight and hopefully good long-term health.
In late December, I read a small medical study (because that’s what I do), which took some sort of liver reading from casual drinkers at the beginning and end of a month. For the month in the study, the participants gave up alcohol of any kind. There was a significant improvement in most health markers over the study period, including significant declines in liver fat levels (which are an indication of liver health). After the December I had, I decided it would probably be beneficial health-wise to give up alcohol for the month.
I mostly drink at social occasions, besides the odd homemade beer I have on a weekend night, so giving up booze didn’t put a major cramp to my lifestyle (The dance clubs didn’t miss me and my one and only dance move – jumping vertically). I consumed more coffee, tea and pop on weekends, which I’m not sure is healthier, but got me through my month of sobriety.
Most of the year, my wife and I will go out a couple of nights a month for a few drinks and to grab some food at one of many local bars. This January was so cold, we seemed to have spent most of our free time holed up in our warm house being grumpy because our faces freeze off anytime we hit the open air.
Between the lack of going out, and the no-drinking, my spending plummeted to almost nothing, other than one tank of gas and the odd miscellaneous purchase, nothing really came up that cost me anything.
I’m not sure what my retirement is going to end up being, but I would say it’s probably closer to the “boring” January I had, rather than the exciting and expensive December. When January was done, I was (probably) healthier, and definitely lighter than when the month started. These days, in the middle of February, I’m starting to get cabin fever, counting off the days until I will be able to hit the golf course – or at least not have to wipe ice out of my beard from the walk into my office from the parking lot.
Have you had a no-spend or sober month?
Posted by Dave on February 4, 2014
Winter, especially the current winter that Southern Ontario has experienced has made for a pretty crappy time. I don’t necessarily get depressed, I just get bummed out by the cold, miserable weather. I would prefer to be out and about – golfing, or walking or sitting on a patio somewhere, rather than hiding inside, trying to keep my fingers and toes attached.
In order to combat the winter lows, I make a fairly big deal about Super Bowl. For me, it’s a day that I can celebrate all things that I am very interested in – food, drink and gambling. I take the day after the game off, creating my own holiday weekend and really enjoy myself. This year, I slow-smoked a couple of racks of ribs, along with a bunch of sausages and had more snacks than I really needed. I had made two different kinds of homebrew to try for the first time for the game – I have basically turned what is just a boring day in February into something I look forward to every year.
Early Retirement planning is like my Superbowl long weekend, but for my working life. Planning for, and hopefully executing my plan will lead to more leisure time and allow me to take part in more of the activities that I want to – more time to read, learn and take part in hobbies that I currently do in my time away from work.
For the most part, I don’t dislike the work that I do – I would prefer to not have to do it though. Having a strategic exit plan gives me a “hard out” number – once my investments are (hopefully) creating enough cashflow to match my budgeted expenses I can leave. For me, having this plan in mind is much like having a made-up Superbowl party – it gives me something to look forward to in the relative short term.
Even if my plan doesn’t work and I have to work well past age 45, at least I’ve been working towards something – to finish my Superbowl party analogy – there have been years where I regrettably overindulged in the festivities and really don’t remember the game I had planned on watching.
For me, I like the process – the “game” of paying off my house as fast as possible – of creating the retirement cash flow as soon as I can in order to win. I like having something to look forward to – even if it is a bit of a lame party in the middle of winter.
Is your retirement plan a game? How do you incentivize a long-term savings plan that may not work?