Archive for the ‘Goals’ Category

Get A Life

I recently set a deadline for retiring at 40. I’ve worked out some scenarios, run the numbers and realised that financially it’s doable.

I’ve come to realise however, that there are really two sides to being ready to retire early. The first is financial preparation, but the second is mental readiness. When I really started to think about whether I was mentally prepared for retirement it became quite clear to me that the answer was no.

Firstly, I had no idea what I was going to do with my time. It couldn’t just be a replication of what I do on the weekends. The weekends are mostly about decompressing from the work week, domestic chores and family time. For me, retirement needs to be so much more than that if I’m to really enjoy it.

Secondly, I hadn’t yet worked out how to make the mental shift from an extreme saver to a spender. I realised I had some homework to do.

Since then, I’ve been reading through Ernie Zelinski’s book, How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free. One of the activities that has really resonated with me is the ‘Get a Life Tree’, where I brainstorm all the things I might like to do in retirement. It is still a work in progress, but it’s actually been such a wonderful exercise.

I now realise I have no shortage of things to do in retirement, and in fact I need to start incorporating more of these things into my life right now. So without further ado, here’s my ‘Get a Life List’.

Activities I Like Now

  • Spending time with my husband

  • Spending time with my son
  • Reading academic literature
  • Researching
  • Writing my thesis
  • Going to the movies
  • Personal Financial Planning
  • Reading about Economics and Investing
  • Reading about Peak Oil and energy descent
  • Watching movies and TV series online
  • Visiting Cafes for Brunch or Coffee

Activities I liked in the past

  • Spending time with good friends
  • Travelling the world
  • Photography – Travel

  • Photography – Dogs
  • Drawing
  • Running a Business
  • Going to the Theatre
  • Going to the Library
  • Creative writing
  • Playing cards
  • Having a dog
  • Buying houses
  • Renovating houses
  • Blogging – Travel
  • Blogging – Dogs
  • Blogging – Simple Living and personal finances
  • Playing computer games
  • Op Shopping
  • Reading – Literary Fiction
  • Reading – Historic Fiction
  • Reading -Science Fiction/Fantasy
  • Reading – Non-fiction
  • Being a member of a book club
  • Business Improvement Consulting
  • Growing vegetables and fruit
  • Preserving the bounty – Jams, pickles, chutney

Activities that will keep me fit


  • Camping trips
  • Train trips
  • Cruises
  • Slow travel
  • B&Bs for the weekend
  • Roadtrips to see family
  • RV trip across North America or Europe
  • Intrepid Family Travel

New activities I’ve thought of doing

  • Make new friends

  • Keep a journal
  • Write my autobiography
  • Write a novel
  • Publish a photo book
  • Hold an art exhibition
  • Run a B&B
  • Off-grid/sustainable living
  • Run a Hobby Farm
  • Get a PhD
  • Run a consultancy business
  • Learn to dance
  • Learn a language (or two)
  • Learn to ride a horse
  • Meditate
  • Learn Tai Chi
  • Become a coach – Life/Business
  • Become a renowned author/speaker
  • Learn an instrument – Ukulele, harmonica, drums
  • Research the Family Tree
  • Become involved in Transition Towns
  • Become involved in a Train Museum
  • Become involved in Energy transition – renewable energy/energy efficiency





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In just over 2 1/2 years I’ll be 40 and that’s the deadline that I’m setting for my retirement.

I’m putting it out there and publically setting a goal of retiring before mid 2017.

So, how did I arrive at this point?

I started working when I was 12, cleaning the floors of a pizza restaurant every morning before school. At 16 I was working three jobs in addition to going to school, playing sport and being involved in other extra-curricular activities. I bought my own car and started investing in shares. I finished school and went off to University to earn a degree in Engineering.

By the time I was 23, I decided I’d had enough of working. At that point I set a goal to retire at 40. My staff at that time (who were 20 years my senior) laughed at me and told me to just go out and enjoy my life. After all, you are only young once. I ignored them and decided instead to invest in rental properties that I set up as student accommodation for the nearby University. The property market boom was just beginning and because I had set my properties up to have a positive cash flow, the banks were more than happy to keep lending me money. Within 18 months I had five houses. Between working full-time and managing my rentals, I worked long hours but the hard work and risks I took in those 18 months have set me up for life. Thankyou to my 23 year old self for your foresight!!!

Since then, life has had it’s share of ups and downs. I lost a lot of money in the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008. It was really, really painful. But….I learned a very valuable lesson about how the global financial system really works.  I won’t go down that rabbit hole right now, else we’ll be here all day. I decided to get out of debt as quickly as possible and re-focus on my goals of financial independence in a different way.

Twelve years ago I met my husband, we got married in 2007 and in 2012 our son was born. Since the birth of our boy, I’ve been in a baby-induced bubble.  Between full-time work and the all consuming role of raising a new human, there has been little time or headspace to dedicate to anything else. I wonder whether other new parents can relate? I am just now finding that I am able to start looking back outside myself and my family to the big picture.

When I finally put my head above the parapet and had a look around, I realised that my husband and I had achieved all of the goals we had set for ourselves. We had lived overseas for a few years, we have paid off all our debt, we had started a family and my husband left work to become a Stay At Home Dad (SAHD). In fact, I just rediscovered this post from 5 years ago and am amazed at how much of that dream has now come true. There are still some parts of this dream I’m still working on, but the ‘bones’ of it we have already.

I’m the sort of person that needs that 5 year vision to be set clearly in my mind. Once I can visualise it, things seem to just fall into place. It’s easy to make decisions based on whether the outcome will take you closer or further away from your dream. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit lost. Without that clear vision, I don’t have a guide for making decisions.

For this reason, I need to start developing a new vision of the future. That starts with my decision to retire at 40…halfway through my next 5 year plan.

What comes after? Not yet sure.

What comes before? That’s what I need to work out with some more clarity.

Photo by: Guille

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2085541144_b925053054_mThis weekend I have been completely engrossed in watching The Crash Course, which is Chris Martensen’s best attempt to explain exactly how we got into this economic crisis. 

While The Crash Course is divided into small video sections of 3-18 minutes each, the whole thing runs just over 3 hours. We had it on DVD and watched the whole thing from beginning to end. While I already knew many of the themes in this presentation (Economic slump, Peak Oil, Environmental Problems, Baby Boomer Retirement, World Overpopulation), I found The Crash Course  an excellent way of summarizing it all and showing how they all relate.  

I’ve been dedicated to downshifting during the last few months, but somehow becoming aware of all this information has made the task more imperative and urgent for me. As I digest all of this more fully, I’m sure I’ll share my thoughts over the coming weeks and months.

If any of you have already seen this presentation, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Photo by: azrainman

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February 09 Goals



  • Finish working through Your Money or Your Life 
  • Keep track of every cent that Hubby and I spend for the month
  • Submit 2008 tax return
  • Claim all medical receipts from my health insurer
  • Chase up refunds due to me


  • Complete assignments for two work courses
  • Tackle some more in-depth topics on this blog

Personal/Spiritual Development and Education

  • Document my vision for the future and set my 101 in 1001 goals
  • Read daily and participate in bookclubs
  • Download podcasts and listen to them while walking the dog


  • Write letters to all my Grandparents (including in-laws)
  • Have a good chat to my sister about her finances
  • Go on a couple of dates with Hubby


  • Research ‘Must see’ things in New York City and find a bargain on a hotel
  • Get in touch with all my friends located in Washington DC prior to my visit in March
  • Go to a murder mystery night with friends
  • Have a hot tub party with friends


  • 23 no alcohol days
  • Train three days per week with Hubby
  • Go on four 2+ hour hikes
  • Continue to take weekly measurements to track progress


Photo by: pasma

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Wrap-up of January 09 Goals



  • Work through Your Money or Your Life  I’ve made good progress, but still have about half of the book to go.
  • Update my budget for 2009  We’ll have enough to pay all interest on our mortgages and other loans and save about $30,000. Not as much as I would have liked, but better than nothing.
  • Submit overdue tax returns I’ve done everything I can and am now waiting for news from my accountant.
  • Claim all outstanding money


  • Coordinate a function/party for work Done. It was a huge success
  • Complete assignments for two work courses.
  • Blog five times per week for the month Done.

Personal/Spiritual Development and Education

  • Read daily and participate in Bookclub Done.
  • Download podcasts and listen to them while walking the dog. I downloaded the podcasts, but didn’t get to listen to them.


  • Call my good friends in Australia Done
  • Write at least one letter to someone not on email Done
  • Go on a couple of dates with Hubby Done. We went to the Electric Vehicle presentation and for a hike. How romantic!


  • Finalise plans for my March travels Done. Flights are all booked.
  • Catch up with local friends Done. Had a couple of fun catch-ups


  • 25 no alcohol days. Fail. I think I had about 20 no-alcohol days, so it’s wasn’t too bad.
  • Train three days per week with Hubby I’m going to say I achieved this one, despite one week off for a bad back.
  • Go on a 2+ hour hike at least twice Done
  • Take weekly measurements to track progress Done


  • Implement an improved system for managing household paperwork. Sort of. It’s been operational for a few weeks, so we’ll see if it sticks.

Photo by: macwagen

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All this talk of buying houses by Early Retirement Middle Way and Money on My Mind has me yearning for another property of my own. Of course, it’s completely out of the question for the moment because:

  • I’m in the USA for another two years so there is no point buying another house back in Australia now;
  • My finances are such that I probably couldn’t get a loan for another property now anyway; and
  • Apparently house prices have started dropping in Australia, so I can’t really recoup a profit from one of the other houses if I sold it.

Still, it doesn’t stop me dreaming. I love having my own place. I envisage having my own garden, putting in rainwater tanks and a greywater recycling system. I foresee a solar system on the roof. I want to live close to town so that we can do without a second vehicle and so we can walk or ride to shops, cafes and work. If we rent, we won’t be able to do any of these things.

Unfortunately, in order to buy a property close to the town I’m thinking, with enough land to have a garden and fruit trees, it’s going to cost a pretty penny. *Sigh* I guess I’m going to have to relegate this dream to the ‘longer term’ pile and just focus on the baby steps to reach that goal.

Photo by: Aaardvaark

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Lately it seems I’ve been talking a lot about nitty-gritty personal finance stuff. It’s not what I had intended for this blog, but it seems that it’s what has had me pre-occupied since the beginning of the year. I need to get all that sorted out this month so I can think more about my journey towards voluntary simplicity and sustainability. These topics are very important to me, but I feel like I can’t adequately launch into them until I’ve done some housekeeping in my mind. So I’m sorry to say that there will probably be more personal finance discussions in the comings weeks. Please bear with me.

Today however, I wanted to think more broadly. I want to talk about my dreams… the vision which drives me towards a future which is outwardly simple but inwardly rich (I’m sure I’ve taken that from somewhere, so apologies if I stole your phrase).

Here’s how I want my life to look in five years:

  • I will be living in an Australian City which is big enough to have access to all the modern conveniences, but small enough to be close to nature and have a community minded spirit.
  • I will have a smallish home (3 bedrooms) which is free of clutter and stylishly furnished with reclaimed furniture and artifacts picked up during my travels. It will have polished timber floors and large windows which allow plenty of light and warmth into the home. The walls are white and covered in photographs I’ve taken around the world. There are outdoor living areas which flow seamlessly from the house. I imagine a deck surrounded by Australian natives which attracts plenty of local bird life.
  • I will have a large block to allow us to have fruit trees and a vegetable garden in addition to workspaces for hubby and I (a decent sized shed and perhaps a photography studio). I’d love to be able to keep chickens as well (but definately no rooster!)
  • I will be able to walk to the local park or nature reserve and cycle to a local grocery store and coffee shop.
  • I will be working part-time for my current employer and part-time on a number of business ideas I have.
  • I will have time to volunteer or be involved in community activities. I may even be studying a topic of interest.
  • I will be living as green/sustainably as possible.
  • I will have at least one child who will be cared for by hubby and I the majority of the time. I want my child to be raised with our values.
  • I will have a few close friends in the area and will ensure I visit family or have them visit us regularly.
  • I will go hiking regularly and live a fit and active life.
  • I will have the opportunity to travel overseas once per year and to take mini-breaks with the family a couple of times per year.

That’s about all I can think of. Are there any others areas of life which I’ve failed to address?

What about you? Do you have a dream that you constantly refer to to make sure you are heading in the right direction?

Photo by: {Erik}

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