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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Posted by Dave on November 12, 2013
My wife and I are going on vacation in a few weeks in Cozumel, Mexico for a week. My plan for these type of all-inclusive vacations is to eat and drink too much, while trying to read as many books as I can possibly get through (which is entirely dependent on how many beverages I have consumed). At the end of the week, other than a stomach ache, I will probably be both as relaxed and as ready for my “normal” life as I ever get. My wife loves these vacations, and they are one of the main reasons she has gotten behind our current budget and savings plan, as we have worked in something which she really enjoys, to balance off an otherwise boring budget and spending plan.
As a contrast to our more elaborate December Mexican vacation, we each used a vacation day last Wednesday to just hang out at home. We got a bunch of odd jobs done around our house, played some video games and read.
I think that our Wednesday day off will be very similar to what a post-retirement lifestyle would be like – having time to putter away at little stuff, and still having ample amounts of time to take part in leisure “stuff”. It was nice having a random Wednesday off, it split up our workweek and allowed us to stay up later at “Cheap night” at the movies (where we saw Ender’s Game).
I’m wondering what a vacation will look like for me in the future. I don’t know if either of us will feel the need to spend a couple thousand dollars to go somewhere. Now, it’s nice to just “get away”, but when full time work is done, there doesn’t really seem to be anything to get away from. The couple of thousand dollars may provide much more fun taking part in some other activity that isn’t a week long, or could just be saved outright.
Living in Canada though, maybe we’ll never really lose the desire to get out of the snow. With more time though, we could find a cheap rental property somewhere in the US where it’s warm and take our time driving down, saving money on a flight and food (and causing us to drink considerably less I’m sure).
If you’re retired, do you “vacation” in the same way you did while you were working? If you’re still working, do you think you’ll feel the need to get away when you’re no longer working (even if it’s just from the cold)?
Posted by Dave on November 5, 2013
I know I may come off (especially to my future self) as a petulant teenager in this post, not a 33 year-old, but I had a frustrating discussion with a family member over the weekend that I can vent a bit about in this venue.
I had invited this family member over for dinner on the weekend, as a birthday present (I had no idea what to get them, so offered dinner. They didn’t get “crap” that they didn’t need, and we got a quiet visit out of it, a win-win situation). This family member is on a countdown right now, they’re six weeks away from retiring. After dinner, we talked about the pending retirement and what the family member was going to do with all their time. The family member seemed super excited about all the free time they were going to have, and all the projects they would be able to get done that they never really had time for.
I had talked to this family member in the past about my financial plans, and explained my wife and I were about 5 months away from paying off the last part of our mortgage. We explained that we were around 10 years behind them with our retirement, as long as our investments work out at an average rate.
We answered the same questions we normally do when we tell people our future plans (which is not very often, as it’s something we prefer to talk to each other about, rather than publicize). My family member’s main concern was the length of time between our retirement date and when the pension I’ve earned will start paying. We explained we just didn’t plan to spend that much money (and currently don’t spend that much money) – we are choosing free time over “stuff”.
I think the frustrating part of the conversation was that this “awkward” discussion came after the retiree was contemplating installing a $40,000 wood shop onto their already enormous shed. There were just significantly different ways of thinking – I would prefer to have $1,000 in tools that I could use in a small wood shop or outside when the weather was nice, and invest the other $39,000 (If woodworking were something I was wanting to do seriously) rather than having a wood shop eating up a year or so of my potential retirement dollars.
My whole retirement plan comes down to spending efficiently – to get the most “bang” out of the money I do decide to spend, while maintaining a saving level that will hopefully allow me to reach my goal of retiring in 11 years. While I understand the concern, I can’t see working an extra 20 years to spend more money. We would rather spend less money, and have more time. I just move the conversation on to more neutral ground.
Has your retirement plan been called unreasonable? How do you respond?