Our winner has been chosen from all of the entries received for the Simply Wall St 12-month subscription draw. But before I announce who that is, as 2016 draws to a close I thought I’d have a little meander through some of the milestones I’ve achieved in the past 12 months.
Firstly, 2016 is the year I worked out that I had unknowingly become ‘Financially Independent’, arguably the single, most important goal to achieve before early retirement becomes possible. I say, unknowingly, because up until this point I was pretty well just chugging along on the typical, earn/spend path, although I did have a pretty good savings rate. It’s just that until this point, I’d never really tracked my financial position so as long as I had money in the bank and earned more than I spent, all good.
I’m not entirely sure what prompted me to work out my net worth but I’m sure glad I did. Once I’d worked that out, I went searching for an online calculator that would allow me to determine how much I’d need to save for retirement, which led to learning about this thing known to so few as, the 4% Safe Withdrawal Rate.
No matter how many times I played around with the numbers, they all said the same thing….
“Martin, if you maintain your current spending rate and invest wisely, you have more than enough to call yourself, Financially Free!!”
If you have already reached that point in your life, you’ll know the feeling I experienced. And if you’re on your own FIRE journey, trust me, it’s well worth it when you get there.
Back in March, I decided that I had had enough of the sort of work I was doing and most definitely I’d had enough of the sort of people I was working with. And so I decided I was going to retire at age 50. Apparently, unheard of in modern, western society according to the responses I got when I announced this milestone.
In the lead up to the point when I finally threw aside the shackles of full-time employment, I developed the ‘rules’, or Terms of Engagement that I was prepared to work under. These are;
I don’t travel more than 30 mins each way. I’ve got better things to do with my time than sit in traffic for more than an hour each day.
I don’t work Saturdays or public holidays. I have a life and working 6 days a week doesn’t fit in my lifestyle. I am, however, prepared to work late or at weekends occasionally to help out or to meet a deadline, but don’t make a habit of it. And if you’re not prepared to adequately compensate me for this, then sorry, I’m not interested.
If you behave like an arrogant, shouty, disrespectful, bully-boy/girl, then I don’t actually want your job.
(Please feel free to adopt these to your own situation. I can assure you that it’s quite enlightening when you do.)
After applying these rules several times on the jobs I was doing I came to the conclusion that, if I didn’t have to work in a less-than-ideal environment (and I don’t mean, not getting my hands dirty), then why should I.
So in March, I announced to the world that I was turning my back on full-time employment for a life of self-imposed leisure, but more importantly, choice.
Living A Mustachian Lifestyle
It was about this time that I discovered the blog of Mr Money Mustache. By the time I subscribed, he’d been sharing his Financial Independence/Early Retirement pearls of wisdom with the world for nearly 5 years. I liked his writing style, his philosophy on wasteful spending, mass consumerism, and shunning the, more or less, conventional work, spend, borrow, retire at 65 lifestyle. In fact, I binge-read his blog from beginning to end and came to the conclusion that I wanted a piece of this Mustachian action in my life.
So what changes have I made to claim my place as a Mustachian?
Amongst other things…
Use my mountain bike for most travel around the city that is less than 10km (although that’s not set in stone either). If it’s further, and serviced by a train route, I ride to the station, take the train, and ride to my destination from there. This not only provides some physical exercise, but significantly lowers the cost of running my car which now spends prolonged periods in its stable.
Purchased a second-hand bike trailer which attaches to the back of my bike. You know the ones, the trailers that parents haul their little kids around in until they can ride their own bike. So for grocery shopping, exchanging the BBQ gas cylinder, or in fact, shifting anything that will fit in the trailer, it gets moved with human-power rather than petrol-power, nowadays.
Making my own, delicious, low-cost cider. Yep, simple to make, inexpensive at $1.20 per 1250ml bottle, and really quite palatable, this has saved me plenty over the past few months.
The Birth Of Get FIRE’d asap
Once I had read Mr Money Mustache, I had to know more about this FIRE lifestyle, which led me to a number of other bloggers, many of whom I still read today.
I don’t know what it is, but for some reason, when people, myself included, start living this new-found, less spendy, financially-smarter lifestyle, we feel the need to also start a blog to tell the world about how clever we’ve become. What is it with that?
So began the Get FIRE’d asap blog site in an attempt to change to world. Has it happened? Naaaa, but one of the best things about writing this blog, is the community of like-minded people I’ve met online, and communicated with as a result. That, for me, has been the greatest benefit of all the hours of writing that have gone into this. Thank you to all of you out there who have contributed with your comments and feedback as well as sharing your own stories online.
Side-Hustles and Income
Another benefit of early retirement (and quite honestly, one of the pitfalls too) is that you suddenly find yourself with a lot of free time.
A few months ago, I found myself getting a bit down as a result of having too much unproductive time on my hands. I even, heaven forbid, considered going back to work just to use up the hours in the day. This is quite normal as there are, apparently, Six Phases To Retirement that nearly everyone will experience regardless of what age they pull the plug.
At this stage, I’d reached Phase four, disenchantment, which follows what’s known as ‘The Honeymoon’ phase. You know, where life seems like one big holiday. Until one day, it doesn’t any more.
Disenchantment. Is this it? – Like a marriage, the early honeymoon phase usually only lasts so long and then the reality of day-to-day life kicks in. For most retirees, the bucket list of post-retirement must-dos will get ticked off and there is often the realisation that many of those items cost a lot of money that isn’t being topped up every week with a regular pay cheque.
This is when the reality that retirement isn’t a permanent vacation after all; it also can bring loneliness, boredom, feelings of uselessness and disillusionment.
I reckon I’m too young to engage in tradition retirement-type activities such as lawn bowls or mid-week golf, so what should I do?
So I started looking around for ways to spend all of this new-found ‘spare’ time and discovered one of the key benefits of financial independence. If you don’t have to work full-time to earn a living to pay the bills etc, you can pretty well do anything you want, including setting up any number of side-hustles that will a) keep you occupied, and b) give you some extra, top-up, totally discretionary income to do with as you please.
As a result, I started up my online, e-commerce store selling products that are used for testing for illicit drug residue, including methamphetamine, which is a growing issue here in Australia as it is with most other countries.
Although it’s early days, I am beginning to see an increase in sales as people become more aware of the effects of meth residue contamination in homes, cars, and anywhere else the drug can be used or manufactured. Another benefit is that I’ve learnt to build and manage a working e-commerce site which is another skill I can add to my portfolio.
So there’s a snapshot of my eventful and (mostly) productive year. Next year already offers a whole bunch of new experiences including our trip to Bali on a fact finding/holiday mission to suss out whether we may like to move there on a more permanent basis in the next few years. Can’t wait for that.
I’m also looking forward to another year of delivering articles from myself and guest writers that are hopefully useful or inspirational to you especially if you’re on your own journey to Financial Independence and Early Retirement.
Until then, have a happy, safe Christmas and New Year and let’s look forward to a prosperous 2017.
And finally, thank you to all of you who read and commented on my Simply Wall St review. The guys at SWS offered a prize of a 12-month Premium Investor subscription to a lucky reader, and Al Bentley, SWS CEO, has drawn a winner from the entries. And the winner is…..Dave at Financial Slacker.
Congratulations Dave. I have passed on your email details to SWS and they will be in touch with you, directly, to organise setting up of your account.