Travel Photography

If you plan on retiring early, like me, you have to have hobbies. They are part of your retirement ecosystem. Myself, I enjoy photography, an expensive hobby that I’m not very good at. I especially enjoy photos from my travels. Fortunately, these hobbies work out perfectly for a blogger!

An added bonus of writing this blog, is a need for content. I enjoy getting out and shooting photos but I can get lazy and spend too much time on other things. Now I NEED to go out and snag a few photos a week, which has helped self regulate my photography sessions. I always enjoy the sessions and find that self managing myself in this way is super useful. Kill two birds with one stone.

Finding a way to build your hobbies into your life before retirement will help you plan better. You may not enjoy a hobby after a while, you might take it really seriously. Knowing what you like before retirement will help you plan ahead. You can’t always be sure, but it’s vital to try!

Hopefully I’ll continue to enjoy my hobbies, and maybe even profit from them one day. You never know!

-Mike

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FI/RE-Friendly Job Hunting

I am very focused on reaching FI in less than 15 years. That involves a lot of sacrifice, but it doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable. If you don’t like your job, change it, even if it means taking a small hit to your finances. If you do change jobs, and you do take a financial hit, make sure the benefits out weight the negatives. Here are some things I like to ask a prospective employer:

Preface: So I’ve gotten to a point in my career where the type of work that is available for me has become quite specific due to my skillset. This means when I look for a new job, my decisions almost completely lies in what the company culture has to offer, and what benefits the company offers. Here are the questions I usually ask that end up adding the most weight to my decisions.

How big is your company? I want to know how many people I’ll get to work with and learn from. Small group places allow you to meet the other members of your proposed team. Larger groups increase the likelihood that you’ll make long-term friends. This all depends on the general culture of the company, however.
What is the career growth path of your company? Do you stay as a [job]? or do you become a [job manager]? is there room to become at [job vp]? Companies that are excited to tell you about the growth room tend to be growing and like to promote within!
How do you reward tenure? Sometimes not moving from job to job can stifle your growth both personally, experience-wise, and salary-wise. However, some companies who treat individuals as a valuable cog in the large machine, offer incentives to keep people growing. This can include bonus time off, milestone rewards (5 years, 10 years), salary reevaluation, conferences, and more. This is a huge deal breaker for me usually, as I like to become invested in my employer.
How much time off do you offer? The more the better. Period. Can you bank vacation days? Can you get paid out for vacation days? Are they generally more flexible around your needs? Do they track or limit sick days? This is a huge question for myself as I like to travel. If you don’t, you can always use a day at home to play catchup. Think about it!
What do you guys do for fun around the office? I go to the office to work. However, sometimes it’s nice to get up and take a breather, have an after work event, or a holiday-related event. A fun work environment is always a good thing.
How do you celebrate victories together? If the company ever takes you out for lunch, dinner, or drinks, you can definitely consider that a bonus. I’ve received gift cards, days off, and been able to attend some excellent team parties when deadlines are reach. These are the best days at work, and the more the better. Booze isn’t really a huge benefit honestly, but it’s a nice treat.
Let me know what you think. Anything else you really look for in a company?
-Mike

What is a Homestead?

According to the all-knowing source, Wikipedia, homesteading is described as:

Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale.

I’d say this is pretty accurate as a general idea but a homestead can mean something different to anyone. I can only speak for myself, but homesteading is about turning the clock back 50-100 years with all the benefits of the modern day. My grandparents and their grandparents definitely put in more leg work at home to stretch a dollar further, and there is a huge amount of value in doing so!

By building a homestead, and doing things like gardening, canning, cooking, smoking, hunting, foraging, farming, fishing, fermenting, cheese making, baking, bee keeping, and charcuterie you can help offset so many of your living costs and enjoy in things that are truly human, and feed the human soul. For me, the savings are a benefit, but not the reason I want to build a homestead.

Building a lifestyle that is enjoyable is paramount; it is the single most important thing you can do for yourself. Happiness is the goal. If this lifestyle happens to be sustainable, and profitable, you can’t go wrong!

If the above things I mentioned don’t do it for you, what does? Do you have a way to offset your living costs in the future? Do you have a hobby that you love to do that you could build a life around? Whatever you do, build a happy future that feeds you mind and body. You can always change your strategy, but it’s good to start thinking about it early.

Keep calm and homestead on!

-Mike

Retirement Plan & Forever Lists

As part of a FIRE retirement plan, you need to have an idea of total cost. As a minimal apartment dweller, I don’t have all of the things I’ll need for my retirement. While I may not have these items yet, I’ve compiled some starter ‘forever’ lists of what I think I’ll need to meet my needs for my entire life. My retirement plan is comprised of 3 main pieces:

  • A Canadian homestead
  • A Canada-based adventure van
  • A foreign property in a warm climate to hide from winter

I haven’t fleshed out my plan for more foreign property yet, but I have started to think about needs for my adventure van and homestead. A lot of the items listed cross over between the two, so I’ll have a shared, homestead, and van list. Let’s get into it!

Shared Items

  • First Aid Kit – Safety First, folks! [PURCHASED] [Needs Upkeep]
  • Fishing Rods – Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime. [PURCHASED]
  • ChopsticksThe only utensil you’ll ever need! [PURCHASED]
  • French Press – Always keep good coffee on-hand. [PURCHASED]
  • Hand Coffee Grinder – Don’t waste power grinding coffee. [NEED]
  • Cookware, Silverware, Tableware – Stainless steel will last forever. [PURCHASED]
  • Mattress – Good mattress = Good sleep. Good sleep = Longer Life. [PURCHASED]
  • Fire Extinguisher – Safety First! [NEED] [Needs Upkeep]
  • Butane Stove – Portable stove for indoor, road, and outdoor use. [NEED]
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector – Safety First! [NEED]
  • Smoke Detector – Safety First! [NEED]
  • Water Jug and Pump – Depending on water use, this may not suffice. TBD. [NEED]
  • Wire Rack – For campfire cooking at home and abroad. Incredible [NEED]

Adventure Van Items

  • Dash Cam – Gather video, and cover your ass. [NEED]
  • Car Toolkit – Carjack, Jumper Cables, Pump. [NEED]
  • WiFi Extender – Use wifi from outside a store..keep a lower profile. [NEED]
  • Sleeping Bag – A warm weather sleeping bag that works into fall. [PURCHASED]

Homestead Items

  • General Toolkit – Screwdrivers, Socket Set, etc. [PURCHASED]
  • Canning Pot + Jars – Preserve the fruits of your labour. Literally. [NEED]
  • Hunting Rifle – Hunting offers a great opportunity for food and experience. [NEED]
  • Tiller – Cut time and expand your garden operation. [NEED]
  • Fruit Trees – Start these as early as possible. Pears, Apples, Peaches, etc. [NEED]

What do you have on your forever lists?

-Mike

FI/RE: Capitalism’s Best Kept Secret

It is my dream to become financially independent and retire early. For better and for worse, the average person does not and this is a huge benefit to myself. If everyone had the same mindset, the economic machine would run a lot slower and thus, reduce speed of retirement across the board.

Others are over spending, under saving, and consuming at record pace which allows my investments in most businesses to thrive. Being frugal and saving money is exciting to me, and the wait to reap the rewards is worth it. What are your goals to speed up your retirement this year? The next 3 years? How can you harness the current financial landscape for your benefit?

Now, as someone who is deeply saddened by the failings of capitalism, it is a hard thing to say that you’re glad people are prey to the system, but it is their choice. I’ll tell anyone who is willing to listen the benefits of FIRE but the majority won’t listen. Part of becoming FIRE, and especially Lean FIRE, may result in your friends thinking your a bit weird. This is a sign of progress, in my opinion. Weird is only something different than normal.

People will dismiss your ideas, but don’t let that dissuade you; keep your eye on the prize.

-Mike

What Early Retirement Means to Me

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.

-Mike