One way you could describe early retirement is that it is an alternate lifestyle. That is, a lifestyle different from what is normal. Vandwelling is another alternative lifestyle. It is a fascinating, unique, and beautiful lifestyle in my opinion and if you haven’t heard of it, I urge you to look it up.
Whether you’ve heard of van dwelling, vannin’, overlanding, van living or not, you should give this documentary a watch. I won’t go into much detail, other than what you’re about to see is an incredible example of human nature, living life, and freedom. Enjoy!
I’m not entirely sure how I came to the path towards early retirement. I still don’t have an entirely clear picture of what the end looks like, but I’m slowly evolving my idea of ER. What I do know is, the things I have learned along my travels have changed the way I’ll look at life forever.
Some things I have learned:
- Don’t over eat. Why eat more than you should and have to work it off later? You pay money for food, and then you pay money for a personal trainer to burn it off. You’re paying for your lunch twice. When it comes to what you’re eating; eat what you want and the healthier the better. Don’t waste time eating junk filler, get the good stuff (ideally, make it) and enjoy it!
- Exercise. I’m not going to advise you on what you should do, but find a physical activity that you enjoy. Being active will help you live longer, and healthier! The healthier you are, the less you’ll spend on healthcare and the more money you’ll have in your pocket. Invest now and get your health dividend.
- Don’t buy your way into lifestyle bloat. Buy a good pot and pan that will last your entire life; you don’t need 5 of each. You actually may have the need for another pan, but live with one until you NEED another. I once bought 40 shot glasses (yeah, really. Yikes.) to serve a tray of 40 tequila shots at a party; now I have too many shot glasses. Do you need what you’re buying?
- Fill your home with things that mean a lot to you. I like to bring souvenirs home from my travels, however, I make a point not to buy junk. Copper Bosnian coffee set? Good choice. Looks great in the kitchen and makes great coffee. Shipping a rug across the Atlantic from Morocco? Kidding, I’ve been reformed after the tequila incident. I keep skateboard on my wall as art. If I break a board and need one in a pinch; I’m covered and have a rotating cast of wall art.
- Get Creative. Please don’t buy plastic water bottles. Buy a water bottle for during the day use. I keep flip top glass bottles in my fridge to have ice cold water while at home. I like not sweating during the summer, but cool a whole house is ridiculous. Cooling my bedroom with a small air condition, gets a single room cold in about 10 minutes. Make yourself a clothesline and ditch the dryer when the weather is good.
- Key tabs on your money. Make a budget. Setup automatic deposits. Buy index funds when you’re carrying too high a balance in your chequing account. Whatever you do, get an investment and saving strategy. Scrutinize your strategy, and constantly evolve it to improve your situation. $ave dat money.
Retiring early, to me, means being more conscious of your spending, more conscious of your earning, and having a clear idea of why you’re saving. Get a raise, save the increase. One day you have the ability to do stop working, you don’t have to, but you can chase another dream if you wish. Freedom is the goal.
Compression bags are a total game changer for the frequent business traveller and backpacker. I’ve had the same pair of compression bags for the last 3 years, and they have saved me at least a dozen times. Why are they so useful you ask?
- Dirty and wet clothes can be sealed in these bags, preventing them from smelling up your entire backpack. I can guarantee that compression bags will delay your need for laundry for at least 3-5 days; a godsend on the road.
- Compressing your clothes before a trip make getting on your first flight painless, as your bag will appear smaller.
- Compression bags offer a nice method to divide up your clothing for a trip.
- Compressing clothes around fragile cargo keeps everything nice and tight. This is useful for bringing your new found treasures home.
- Compression bags are, well, bags! If your bag is overflowing, you can toss some things in these bags to drag around with you until you can lighten things up.
The only bad experiences I’ve had with compression bags are as follows: Having one come open during transit and smelling up my wardrobe. Bad timing as I needed clothing for a night out. The other, is actually allowing me to pack too much stuff. I filled my bag so heavy that it would have been uncomfortable to carry for almost a month. I ended up reducing the amount of clothes I had by opting out of the bags on the way to my destination. I used them during the trip and on the way home though!
Reminder: Pack light. Your spine will thank you!
I’m going to learn Spanish. I’m going to learn to be a good swimmer. I’m going to write a book. I’m going to retire early. These are all goals that I have. It’s important to have goals, they give you something to strive for. I believe in improving myself everyday and so should you.
Each of these goals has a different end point, which makes planning difficult. The result of writing a book is a book; simple. How does one quantify being able to read, write, and speak Spanish? It’s a little bit subjective. What is a good swimmer? Early retirement just means you stop working. Seems easy enough? If only it were.
Money makes the world go round. You need it so survive in this day and age even if you farmed all your own food and made your own clothes, you have property tax to pay which requires Canadian Dollars. To retire early you need to figure out how much money you need per year to survive, and figure out how to get that amount as a return from your investments. It’s impossible to know how long you’ll live, so it’s ideal to live off your dividend and your principle investment amount will be a great emergency fund.
I found my goal amount, and setup a number of milestones to hit along the way. In a spreadsheet I have an additional column to make note of when I hit the milestones. Here’s what I have:
- $15,000 Net Worth
- $30,000 Net Worth
- $50,000 Net Worth
- $75,000 Net Worth
- $100,000 Net Worth
- $150,000 Net Worth
- $200,000 Net Worth
- $275,000 Net Worth
- $350,000 Net Worth
- $450,000 Net Worth
- $600,000 Net Worth
- $750,000 Net Worth
Feel free to put in smaller milestones if you really need to see the progress. The idea of reaching financial independence to me is a milestone enough, but these are nice to see, too.