Anyone who has spent time researching and reading about FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) will have a pretty good idea of how to calculate how much is enough in investments to allow them to stop working for money if they choose.
Whilst stashing away enough cash to reach this magic number is not an insignificant undertaking, it is only part of the equation. The arguably more important question is what life is enough for me?
The dictionary defines enough as:
The word ‘enough’ seems to have negative connotations, who wants to have merely enough? It sounds restrictive or mean, but what if ‘enough’ is re-framed as ‘optimal’?
In a society that teaches us, for the most part, that success is measured by consumption (big house, new car, fancy holidays), this can be a difficult concept to get your head around, but one that in my experience rings true.
There most definitely is such a thing as too much:
Quite apart from the impact on the planet, the more ‘things’ you have the more mental bandwidth you fill before you get to making progress on your long term goals. For me, simplifying my life has made me happier. That doesn’t mean my everyday routine resembles life in a convent; I have just learnt over time what makes me happier and it is rarely buying a material ‘thing’. Whilst up-sizing from our first home did make me happier, this was more down to getting away from the neighbours who would have screaming drunken arguments every Friday and Saturday night than needing larger rooms or a driveway with space for more cars.
The more cars you own, the more insurance, servicing and MOTs you need to worry about (more mental bandwidth obliterated) . I’m not talking about cost here, although, there clearly is a cost attached. I am talking about the drain on your time and mental energy. Time which could be better spent on what truly makes you happy or taking the first step towards whatever it is you have promised yourself you will do…………one day.
There is no single answer to what is enough, and my enough is likely to be very different from yours. One thing is for sure, though, if your life isn’t fulfilling before you retire, then it won’t magically all come together once you have more time on your hands, if you don’t know yourself well enough (that word again) to build a life that will be fulfilling for you.
There are an increasing number of blogs talking about FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) which mostly focus on achieving what at the start seems impossible. If you can suspend your disbelief and have a go, you will realise that actually it is very possible. The maths works.
What isn’t so clear is what should we all do with the time we have earned for ourselves through all this hard work and conscious spending? If a salary deposited in my bank account is no longer my main purpose, what is?
When Mr W and I worked out that we should actually be in a position to pull the trigger on paid work in around a year or so, we realised we ought to get serious about working out what comes next. We have thrown around lots of ideas of things we can do ‘when we don’t have to work anymore’, but some are mutually exclusive – buy a property in France to renovate, move to rural Wales and set up a small holding, travel to all the places on the list we have been building faster than we can cross them off with 25 days holiday per year, volunteer to help build wildlife sanctuaries in Madagascar, harvest grapes in France……this list is endless. So where to start?
This has been the question that we have been bouncing around for sometime, and the inspiration behind this blog. From time to time amongst all the stories of early retirees having a whale of a time you read the occasional tale of purposelessness or even depression. Going from 100 mph in a corporate role to having no set agenda is a hell of a shock to the system.
We have a lot of interests and projects outside the current corporate jobs, so it probably isn’t likely we would ever become one of those stories, but understanding what we get from our current paid employment beyond a salary at the end of the month is vital to understanding how best to replace it. Is there even something which needs to be replaced or is it just a comfortable and familiar habit?