A Shock to the System

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

I am all about self-experimentation.  I lift weights at the gym and am constantly changing my workout in order to optimize my time (meaning I try to get the most gain with the least amount of work).  On top of that, I tend to gravitate towards the more “fringe” trends in diet and health as I discussed a while ago in a post on intermittent fasting (how I save 20% on my grocery bill) for at least a short period of time, to see if they work for me.

A few weeks ago, I read Tim Ferris’ “The 4-Hour Body” which included a chapter on significantly increasing fat loss, up to 50% faster than diet and exercise alone.  The catch – it involves immersing yourself in a bathtub filled with ice water for 20 minutes 3 times a week.  The premise of doing something like this (which some would term insane) is the ice water forces the body to shiver, forcing it to burn significantly more calories than it would in its normal state.

I have yet to try an ice bath, it just seems too out there, even for me who “starves” myself for two 24 hour periods a day and gets most of my calories from “unhealthy” fatty meats, eating like a caveman.  The premise  of the ice bath is to throw off your normal balance (in this case freezing yourself for a short period of time) – the same thing can be applied to personal finance, especially when your goal is early retirement.

Your “ice-bath” could be challenging yourself like Tim, where he is not going to buy anything until the New Year, it might be an attempt to cut your grocery bill down to $10 per week following Jacob from Early Retirement Extreme’s grocery buying plan, or go car-free for a month to cut down on your expenses.  On the income side, you could pick up a part-time job to add income to invest or pay down debt, or start selling the stuff you have laying around and not being used.

I am all for boring personal finance – paying off debt, investing for retirement and sticking to the plan but I need a jolt once in a while as well.  I generally don’t spend a lot of money, but I am also a gadget junkie.  I have found myself constantly looking at an iPhone and iPad over the past few weeks – neither of which I need.  Because I don’t really spend a lot of money, I have found myself with a significant surplus in “personal” cash that could be used to purchase both of these toys.  I was looking at my mortgage calculation though, and found that if I could come up with an extra 13,000 in the next 2.5 years, I could pay off this debt in under 5 years (which was my initial goal on buying my house).

So, rather than buying toys which I may really enjoy initially I am going to pay off my mortgage, so that I can get to my ultimate goal – financial freedom by the time I’m 45.

Can you think of a challenge that would shock your financial plan?


Bonus content: This American Life had an interesting show on last year where an individual intentionally infected himself with hookworm (a parasite) in order to cure his terrible allergies.  If you haven’t heard about it, I would highly recommend reading about the Hygiene Hypothesis and the possible effect that our super-clean hand-sanitizing society is having on us (and also why you should let your kids eat dirt, among other things)…..Definitely on the same page as ice baths.

2 thoughts on “A Shock to the System”

  1. About the ice bath:

    Your body has two ways of responding to extreme exposure to cold temperature:

    1-Mechanism for raising internal body temperature. Net result: increase caloric expenditure

    2-Shutting down non-necessary systems in order to conserve energy. Net result: Lower overall caloric expenditure.

    Not everybody reacts the same way, YMMV on the doing this. I am not sure that this is a good “trick” for getting slimmer faster.

  2. I hate cold water! I get cold diving in Hawaii. I’ll look for other ways to increase my calorie consumption. My mini trampoline is one fun way

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