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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Freedom 40 in 40 – Part I

Posted by Tim Stobbs on January 2, 2015

In just over 40 months I will be turning 40 years old and while I started this blog with the idea of leaving my day job at 45, I’m revising that down to 40th birthday.  Hence the title Freedom 40 in 40.

Yet on this path to financial freedom I’ve come to realize something very important.  Yes having the money side of things planned out is very important, but often that gets all the focus on people’s planning and we ignore the other aspects of our lives that contribute to our happiness such as do you have close friends, what do you do with your time, do you contribute to something meaningful to you, and do you get to create something?

So over the next 40 months I’m going to execute a multiple prong plan to build myself a satisfying life.  I don’t want to come out the other side of things not ready, willing and able to enjoy my new found freedom to the utmost.  So over the next few posts I’m going to outline my plan to address many of these issues to help me bridge where I am now in my life and where I want to be in 40 months.

You might ask why a 40 month period of time?  Well partly, yes, it just sounds cool to say, but reality is that people grossly overestimate what they can get done in a year, but grossly underestimate what you can get done in a multiple year long plan.  It is entirely possible to build an new life in just a few short years if you have a well thought out plan on where you are and where you want to end up and the steps between those two.

To help everyone sort this out I’ve broken down my plans into the following areas that I want to focus on:

  • Family and friends – My social supports.
  • Giving back – How I want to support others around me.
  • Creative and Meaningful work – building a writing career.
  • Enjoying leisure time
  • Obtaining independence – Mainly financial, but also other skills.

I’ll address each of these areas in a post in the next few weeks.  I welcome comments and ideas on what else I should consider in my plans.

And Then a Funny Thing Happened

Posted by Dave on December 23, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about my wife’s and my decision to not give Christmas or birthday presents to each other (We both have December birthdays, on the 13th and 16th). Normally, the act of both searching for and then going to purchase presents causes a fair amount of work and time, and usually leads to both of us getting things that we kind of don’t want and causing quite a bit of unrequired stress in dealing with people at shops and malls, for the sake of consumerism. For my birthday, we went to our favourite pub for lunch and a few drinks (it fell on a Saturday this year). My wife chose a lunch at a new sushi place to celebrate her birthday when we took this past Friday off to relax for the day, before family Christmas insanity takes over the next few weekends.

I’ve noticed over the past couple of weeks, rather than fretting over presents, I’ve been having a much better time. I’ve made a few (admittedly small) donations to charities, something I normally wouldn’t do (Heifer International and The Salvation Army), because of my limited budget this time of year. I donated to Heifer International after reading a very passionate request for donations from Patrick Rothfuss, one of my favourite authors. He felt so strongly about the charity that he agreed to kiss whatever kind of animal people voted on that the charity provides to people they are helping (llama, pig, heifer, or goat….he ended up kissing a llama).

Over the years, I have slowly but surely tried to minimize most things that cause me annoyance. My wife and I have started spending more time at home, rather than running all over the province every weekend – we liked the visiting, but we didn’t enjoy being exhausted for the first few days of the week. We also made our “budget” as easy as possible to follow – in the attempt to eliminate money issues coming up monthly.

Our Early Retirement plan is sort of the last “problem” we’re attempting to overcome. We’d like to do exactly what we want to do, rather than trading a good portion of our time working. There are hobbies and interests that we have to set aside for the 10 hours a day we’re either working, getting ready for work, or getting home from our jobs. We’d much rather have this time to ourselves.

We’ll continue looking for areas to make our lives a little easier, either by doing more of something, or a much less. Is there anything you’re planning on changing in the coming year to make your life a little easier?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone, all the best to you and your families!

Early Retirement is Easy

Posted by Tim Stobbs on December 22, 2014

My friend Jacq the other day put up a post stating that early retirement is easy, which is actually somewhat true and makes a bit of fun at my post that early retirement is NEVER easy.

The point beyond the polarized headlines is the fact both posts are actually very true.  Early retirement planning can be both freakishly easy and hard at the same time…it just depends on what parts you are talking about.

I agree with Jacq that the basic math of it is so simple it becomes obvious: spend less than you earn.  If you want to retire earlier, just spend even less and make even more the accelerate the process. Or if you feel too tight on your spending, you can spend more you just extend your working life to do it.

The harder part I think if getting to know yourself and your desires, needs and wants.  Understanding yourself is key to ensure you have a lower than average amount of spending, since you spend less on what people expect and more on what actually matter to you.  Also you get to figure out what things you can still achieve the same outcome on with less money.

In our case, my family spending is highly optimized to our particular wants and needs.  So I have a nice lifestyle on fraction of the spending of my peers because I understand how my mind works.  Learning this is not easy and takes a fair bit of self reflection and awareness.  You have to be able to ask and answer some question like:

  • Do I care what other think of my clothes, car, house or job?
  • What does respect mean to you?
  • What makes you feel accomplished?
  • What brings you joy, happiness and contentment?
  • What do I need to stop doing that isn’t helping me reach my goals?
  • What excuses do I use to prevent me from doing what I love?

As you can see answering these aren’t easy, but vital to having a happy early retirement.  You need to be moving towards something and not just running away from work.

So what parts of early retirement planning do you find easy or hard?  Why?