If You Can Only Do One Thing

Life is busy, I get it.  The last thing you need is one more thing on your to do list.

Mastering your finances seems really time consuming and complicated.  I tried to simplify it as much as I could for you but it ended up being 12 steps to a kick a$$ life.  And those 12 steps didn’t include some really important things that help us move through the steps more quickly like figuring out your why and tracking your net worth.  And it didn’t include things like making a will and getting life insurance which are critical if anyone depends on your income or in-home work.

If I had to pick one thing to have everyone do (after getting life insurance*) it would be to calculate your net worth.  Your net worth is like a business’s balance sheet.  What you own minus what you owe.  Calculating my net worth kept my eye on the prize and was my secret weapon to achieving early retirement.  Once you start tracking it, your mind automatically thinks differently about earning and spending decisions–you want your net worth to go up each month.

Net Worth = What I Own – What I Owe Continue reading “If You Can Only Do One Thing”

What Is Weighing You Down?

I wrote this a couple months ago–I wish we had 10″ of snow today, that would be super fun.  I woke up this morning thinking about what was weighing me down and decided to put this out into the world.

We were blanketed by 10″ of snow today.  We live 30 minutes from world class ski areas but are in a banana belt where we get much less snow and big storms like this are not that common.  After shoveling the driveway, we grabbed some friends and went cross country skiing on our local golf course.

It was warm and the snow was wet; it was sticking to the middle part of my ski.  It’s pretty hard to glide on a ski when you have a heavy lump of snow underfoot.

This is how life is.  In life, we can’t get where we want when something is weighing us down.  I came up with several ways to get rid of the snow.  Each sort of worked but none worked great. Continue reading “What Is Weighing You Down?”

Yikes–I Went Back To Work!

Almost universally, when I talk about being retired, people say “but you’ll go back to work someday–right?”  I’ve been asking some close friends about this.  Why are people trying so hard to un-retire me?  Are people more comfortable with me if I have a lifestyle similar to theirs?  Well, I guess I’m going to make those folks a bit more comfortable.

I’m adding a word to my title–I’m now Semi-Retired.  I’m an accidental Semi-Retiree.

I guess I’ve been a Semi-Retiree since I started this blog in July.  The blog is work–right?  But I made $20 on the blog last year, and I spent over $3,000.  Most of it was to attend a financial bloggers conference (yep, that exists).  But over $600 was for hosting and software.  So I guess this blog is the worst part-time job ever–but I love it.  And my readership is growing and someday it may make a few dollars (in case the IRS is reading this). Continue reading “Yikes–I Went Back To Work!”

Turn A Treat Back Into A Treat

When something is scarce, we value it more.

Our water was shut off the other day so a leak could be fixed in front of our desert home.  Fortunately, Mr. Ms. Liz saw the plumbers coming and filled a bucket with water.  I can wash my hands in about 4 ounces of water when water is scarce.  When water isn’t scarce, it takes at least four times that much.

I love sweets–chocolate, sour sugary, chewy caramel–all of them.  My Mom was a dental hygienist and didn’t want sugar on our teeth so there were no sweets in my home; even the table sugar was hidden.  This turned me into a great sweet sleuth (with only one cavity) but also made me enjoy every morsel of any sweet.  Each year, my brother and I were given the Russell Stover four pack chocolates in our Christmas stockings.  I remember stretching those four chocolates out over the day, paying close attention to each bite and each flavor.  Last night I ate four blueberry/dark chocolate squares almost without a thought. Continue reading “Turn A Treat Back Into A Treat”

How Are YOU Doing On Your Path To Retirement?

I’ve written a lot about my path to retirement.  The savings rates it took to retire at 51 and the choices we made.

savings-rate-nw-accum2

I’ve also stressed that everyone’s retirement path is different.  We each have to find the path that works for us.

I found a great resource that can help you figure out how much you need to save, what savings milestones you should have reached at certain ages, where your retirement income will come from and how to make your retirement savings last.  Fidelity Investments released a series of articles that will help guide you on your path.

How much should you save for retirement?  They say 15% of your annual income.  This includes your contributions + any employer match you receive.  This savings is for retirement only–any other savings goals would be in addition to this 15%. Continue reading “How Are YOU Doing On Your Path To Retirement?”

Time is the Ultimate Limited Resource

I just had a huge, kick-ass reminder that we are not in charge.

Our community lost a friend, a leader, really the belle of the ball on Monday.  Julie was 48 years old, she had a husband and three beautiful, amazing and talented children.  She lived a stones throw from me.  She led a sister company to the one I retired from.  The email from her boss said “we lost our Julie”.

I was friends with her but not in her inner circle.  Her inner circle was strong and deep.  She drew such nice friends to her–gals who really have each other’s backs.  She hosted many of their gatherings at her home and loved the chaos of many people, lots of kids and too much wine. Continue reading “Time is the Ultimate Limited Resource”

Do I Own My Stuff?

I’ve written before that I place too much importance on stuff.  I think this comes from being an insecure kid who didn’t have the stuff other kids in our neighborhood had.  My Dad tells me there was no end to my “needs”.  I was never satisfied.  I’m sure he’s right.  You can’t fill the hole of insecurity with stuff.

As I got older, I was able to buy some of my own stuff.

My parents would match any money saved to buy bikes.  So I saved up, for what seemed like forever, and bought (half of) a new bike.  42 years later and I still remember–Panasonic Sport Deluxe, shiny red.  It was a beauty.  About a week after I got it, I parked it at my best friend’s house and it was stolen.  Never saw it again, I was back to riding my brother’s hand me down bike.

I started to be over-protective of my stuff. Continue reading “Do I Own My Stuff?”

Planning For Retirement?

I had a pretty basic long-term financial calculator for over a decade before I retired.  Building and updating this model helped me stay focused on making smart choices about spending and creating wealth.

I called it retire_soon.xls.  It was so old, you couldn’t have spaces in file names when it was created.  It worked fine as an estimate but wasn’t something I was comfortable basing my quit no-quit decision on.  Though it said quit!

Then my company’s 401k plan introduced a calculator that could tell me whether my finances looked rainy 🙁 or sunny 🙂  It said quit!  But it was like the wizard behind the curtain–I couldn’t control (or even know) what assumptions were being used for inflation, investment returns, social security adjustments etc.  I couldn’t adjust my spending assumptions down as I aged.  I couldn’t vary my investment returns by year–the S&P doesn’t just march along at the same rate each year. Continue reading “Planning For Retirement?”

Retirement or “We Don’t Have To Work Anymore”

Friends of ours just invited us to their “We Don’t Have To Work Anymore” party!  It has been interesting to participate in their thought process as they got comfortable with this decision.

We hike with these friends–a lot.  So we have had hours of conversations about retirement and money.

He was a successful business owner who recently sold his business.  He was to stay on for a period of time but had some disagreements with the purchaser so they figured out a way for him to exit the business.

She has a consulting business that has slowed down in recent years.

So they both found themselves with time on their hands and not enough invested (they thought). Continue reading “Retirement or “We Don’t Have To Work Anymore””

You Gotta Figure Out Your Why

My WHY is up top.  I wanted to be playing in the desert in January . . . . and February, March, April, November and December.

I live in the Colorado mountains 30 minutes away from world class skiing.  It’s an amazing place to make a life if you can make a living and we made a great living and life there.  But here’s the thing about living 30 minutes away from world class skiing: Continue reading “You Gotta Figure Out Your Why”