Less Room for Error

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 read an amusing post written by a personal trainer a little while ago, entitled F%&$arounditis (there is a bit of strong language in it, but I would recommend it highly to anyone interested in physical fitness).  In the article, the writer attacks a lot of the commonly held conventions having to do with physical fitness and makes such points as “F%&$arounditis is a behavioral disorder characterized by a mediocre physique and complete lack of progress, despite significant amounts of time spent in the gym.” As well as  The onset of symptoms typically occurs in young adulthood and may go undiagnosed for a lifetime. Diagnosis is set by a professional and based on observed behaviors and physique progress.” He continues on, stating that unless you are seeing measurable gains in strength over the long-term – you’re essentially wasting your time.

To a certain extent, the same kind of premise can be applied to an early retirement plan.  People outside of the “Early Retirement Community” can be seen as the individuals who keep going to the gym and achieving nothing at the end of the day – by spending almost exactly what they’re bringing in, they are no better or worse at the end of the year.  An individual with a goal of retiring early is shooting for the big gains similar to weight lifters who increase their squat, bench press and deadlift by 100% over a year or two.

The earlier an individual wants to retire the less “messing” around they are able to afford.  For someone who wants to retire in 5 years (like Jacob from Early Retirement Extreme), there is little leeway,  you need to save around 80% of your pay and cut your living expenses significantly in comparison to even the most frugal individual.   With a larger window of 15 years (like my own) the savings rate is lower, and the annual budget is probably higher, allowing for some “messing” around (like a vacation to the Dominican, which I am going on in 12 days).

Someone on an early retirement stream, much like the individual at the gym looking for strength gains will methodically track their progress and stick with the long-term plan.  People on an early retirement plan may track their spending to the penny, have a very specific budget and a very strict savings plan.  Contrast this type of planning to someone not involved in early retirement – generally, these people don’t know where their money has gone at the end of the month, they just know it’s all gone.

Do you have a plan that you methodically track and stay with to achieve your financial goals?  How about with your personal fitness – do you have a plan to get into or stay in shape?


3 thoughts on “Less Room for Error”

  1. A lot of people don’t focus on their income to the extent that I would think that they would in order to make the big gains. Or they do, but it’s little amounts like having garage sales or taking a second minimum wage job.
    There’s a bit of different personality styles coming into play with this stuff too. Jacob has a natural ascetism that works for him. Someone like me is a bit more aggressive income-wise. In both cases, there’s an ability to be mono-focused for long periods of time that the vast majority of people find very difficult to do. They give up as soon as it gets tough I guess? But there is a very real potential for burnout too.

  2. Generally speaking, I find most people lose interest as soon as they figure out they haven’t found the magic bullet. If a goal involves any length of time or effort on their part, it is abandoned as soon as the shiny thing catches their eye.
    I admit I’m a victim of F%&$arounditis, and am actively in treatment to rid myself of the dis-ease. I find that the more something I’m striving for becomes part of my daily routine, the less I succumb to the symptoms.

  3. The key element in f%&$arounditis is mediocrity. The vast majority of people will put effort in to be just good enough, but no better. You can see it in so many aspects of life!

    For me personally, I’d like to get it together and work beyond just good enough. That’s what my focus for 2012 is going to be for both my physical & financial well-being. So I guess it’s time for me to step it up a bit and stop just f%&$ing around!

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