Why I Want to Retire Early

When I was in university and came to a point that I needed to decide where I wanted to work.  I had planned to apply with the Canadian foreign service. From talking with people in government, I found it’s very difficult to get in. After taking the exam, I wasn’t selected and I decided to work as a financial advisor with my father. I studied financial planning and investing and I will never regret my decision, because I have learned a lot and I have profited from that decision.

At this point, though, I feel that I’ve gone as far as I can. I am happy with the skills and knowledge I have, and I’m not the type of person to become a portfolio manager or to chase multi-million dollar accounts. While working with the stock market is never dull, there seems little chance that I would experience anything other than “more of the same” in future. If that’s the case, I’d rather stop working as soon as possible.

I could change careers. But with the exception of a summer between university semesters, I’ve never worked in a large corporation. I have no experience or ability with office politics, so I don’t think that finding a job with a big company would suit me. Further, I’m not an entrepreneur, so I wouldn’t consider starting my own business. Some people thrive on working longer hours and building up an empire, but that doesn’t suit me. I want to have the greatest positive impact possible and for that reason I decided to  become an elementary school teacher.

While I want to change careers, I don’t want to take risks. My wife and I will be going back to university, and retiring early means that we will be able to live on income from our investments while we’re not working. After finding work at a school, I don’t want school politics or other pressures to cause me to worry about my paycheque before thinking of what’s best for the students; being financially independent will free me of any pressure from my employer. Ideally, I would like to work in an international school in Hong Kong. My wife and I know from experience that being overseas means we can’t rely on the help of family and friends. If we’re going it alone, I want to know that we’ll be okay financially.

One of the ways I really enjoy spending my time is with my family. I’ve realized that my kids are growing very quickly. I know that when they’re teenagers, they’re going to exert their independence and have much less interest in being with family. I want to be a good influence on my kids, but I need to spend time with them now, so that later we will have the type of relationship where they can trust me and where I can trust them. Further, I have seen a couple grow apart as the kids grow up, then get divorced as soon as the kids move out. I won’t let that happen to my wife and me. That means spending time together, not spending every waking hour at work or with the kids.

Early retirement will allow me to more easily change jobs. Instead of worrying about unemployment or starting at a lower pay scale, I can make my decision based not on money, but on my values. Further, because I won’t depend on anyone else, I can focus on doing the best job possible, without trying to please supervisors or trying to climb a corporate ladder. Being financially independent means that we aren’t likely to need to rely on family or friends for help, while we’re living overseas and I can have the flexibility to spend as much time with my family as I need. Even though I won’t stop working, I still expect many benefits from being financially independent.

How about you?  Why do you want to retire?

The Art of Being Everywhere

If you are like me you have likely mastered the art of trying to be everywhere and often end up failing at it.  It’s hard to keep up with the job, family, friends, and having something that resembles a hobby.  Then still get in the basics like cooking, cleaning and errands.

So how does a person actually do it well?  They plan ahead and stop trying to be everywhere.  You may wish you had clones, but it doesn’t happen so live with just the one of you.  So stop trying for the impossible and set your sights on the reasonable.

I’m not an expert on this, but so far this is what I’ve learned about how not to be everywhere:

  1. Say ‘No’ a Lot.  Say it to yourself and then say it to the next request that doesn’t absolutely need you to do it.  Then keep saying it a lot.
  2. Always start with the Important.  We often get busy with the urgent, not important items in your life.  Stop doing that and ask yourself every day “What’s the most important thing I have to do today?” Then do that first.  Wait on the email and check that later, it is really important they will phone.
  3. Delegate.  Learn to get others to do things for you or instead of you.  It’s a great management skill that everyone should learn.  It may not get done just the way you like, but as long as it is done, you are further ahead.
  4. Cut.  Take a red pen to your calendar and to do list and cut out the crap you don’t need.  Do you really need to make cupcakes for your kids class ?  Do you really need to read that somewhat interesting book a friend told you about?  Likely not.  The idea here is to give you some breathing room for now and then add in carefully later.
  5. Sit Down and Shut Up.  Stop volunteering for new things that come up and instead spend some time to just relax.  Yes I know it is weird but you don’t have to have a vacation to relax.

So far I’ve been on this kick of cutting back for a while and I’m starting to feel just a little bit better myself.  I’m not everywhere and it’s ok.  The world didn’t stop and no one I know of has died.  So even when you don’t think you can do it you can.  How good are you at not being everywhere?  What do you do that you feel works?

What to buy with $50?

By quirk of fate I now have an extra $50 to my name.  The only problem is I don’t have the slightest clue on what to spend it on.  I don’t want to save the money and I’ve decided I want to spend it on something different than I usually do.  So I need your help to answer the question: what would you spend an extra $50 on?

I’m open to just about any idea with the following restrictions (other than those mentioned above):

  • No I won’t give it to you
  • It can’t be something illegal
  • No one should get hurt

Otherwise feel feel to suggest anything and if I really like your idea I might just spend the money the same way.