Being Financially “Set”

“I’m financially set as long as I avoid emergencies, like headphones breaking or running out of toothpaste” – @Ron_Flem (from /r/standupshots).

I think that most people have lived this way at some point in their lives, sort of on the cusp of Economic disaster. Most of my student life was spent on the brink like this, but because of irresponsible spending of my student loans, I never really felt the financial pinch too much. I left school with about $25,000 in student debt – more debt than some people, but not as much as others. If I were to allocate where I spent all of the money, probably less than half of it would have been on actual school related expenses, while the rest of it would be classified as “leisure activities”.

At the time I was accruing all of this debt, I don’t think I felt I was doing anything improper – I was pretty ignorant of personal finances, and felt that I was in decent shape. I also knew that if I got into too much trouble, I could probably get some money from my parents to get me through the school year, before I could start another minimum wage job over my summer vacation to build up my cash reserves.

As I get older, my idea of being financially set is much different. I don’t think I would be overly secure living paycheque to paycheque anymore. I would worry about what would happen if my furnace conked out in the middle of a couple of weeks of -20 celsius days, or my car being “unfixable”. I don’t think I would enjoy the stress that this kind of lifestyle would cause, relative to my current, more secure circumstance.

I can see myself heading into retirement being even more conservative financially. The transition from working a paying job with a fairly dependable salary to retirement will be fairly drastic. The thought that the money that my wife and I have saved in our working years has to last us until we die is also fairly stressful, and will definitely result in some rethinking and doubt I’m sure. It seems like when it’s time to retire, it will be a situation where I will review and recheck my retirement budget calculations and hope that “Real Life” follows the assumptions I’ve made.

For now though, most of the things I look at spending money on are unnecessary extras, like video game systems, golf clubs, and other toys, rather than necessities to life, like rent or food. We are (by my definition) “Financially Set”, which is a good, stress-free feeling.

Do you see yourself as “Set”? If not, what could you change or what would need to change in your life to put you in this situation?

I’ve Been Doing it All Wrong!

For my birthday this year, my mother and father in-law gave me a cool fountain pen – something that I’ve been interested in trying out for a long time. This kind of thing is a perfect gift – It’s difficult for me (who my wife has called stingy in the past) to locate at a reasonable price, especially when the alternative to a super expensive writing implement is something that costs almost nothing, at $2.34 per dozen for BIC pens from the Staples store around the corner from me.

I am not good at handwriting, and have made a concerted effort over the past year to attempt to improve this skill. Even though over 95% of the communication I carry out is done electronically, I would like to be able to write notes and letters in a manner that doesn’t make my adult friends feel like they’re receiving something from an 11 year-old. I’ve followed many online exercises, hoping that my writing will magically get better. Last week though, I found out that I have more than likely been writing incorrectly since I started.

There was an individual on Reddit that wanted to learn how to draw better. The first response to the Original Poster was that they were probably trying to make their lines with their wrist instead of their full arm. After a few more comments, it came out that this method is also the most efficient way of handwriting, which causes significantly less strain on your hands and allows for a much better flow to the writing. As someone who lost feeling in their arm for three days after handwriting almost 50 pages of case study exams, I was a little bit bitter that I had never learned the “proper” way of putting my thoughts down on paper.

Reading about this different (and by the sounds of it, better) way of handwriting gave me a similar “AH HA” moment that I had when I started reading about financial independence. At the time, I was working towards a more conventional retirement goal of toiling away at various jobs into my late 60s and early 70s. I had never thought of saving aggressively and being able to pursue more of a life of leisure in my mid-40s.

Both the recognition that I’ve been writing wrong, along realizing that I could possibly be able to retire at a relatively early age were just minor moments that came about from reading books, websites or inane subReddits, that have created changes in my life.

Have you ever had one of these moments?


Welcome to my brand-new blog. Over the past 5 years, I have been writing every Tuesday for Tim at Canadian Dream – Free at 45 as a guest poster. I really enjoyed the experience – having an outlet for putting ideas down on a regular basis. I’m hoping that other people enjoyed reading about my somewhat mundane life and have followed me here. I’m okay spending time putting ideas down, but I’m hoping people will read and interact with me as I continue my story on attempting to achieve financial independence.

My financial plan is fairly basic:

  1. Lower my expenses significantly. In doing so, my wife and I were able to free up a bunch of cash. This initial step was probably the hardest for my wife and I to get used to. We had to change around our lifestyle significantly – to looking for more efficient ways of having fun. These changes included learning to cook meals we enjoyed at restaurants, reading a lot more, and becoming more interested in “cheap” hobbies (most of which I have found enjoyable).
  2. Become 100% debt free.  Although mortgage borrowing is “cheap”, my wife and I felt that having our house paid off as quickly as possible would bring us closer to financial freedom. We paid our final payment to our lending company this spring (May 2014). Our annual bills could now be paid off by the two of us working part-time minimum wage jobs if we chose to go this path, which was part of our goal – to free us from the need to go to our somewhat stressful jobs.
  3. Invest like crazy, in order to replace our salaries with investment income. This is the “phase” of my financial plan that I’m into now – and as far as difficulty goes is the hardest portion of our (hopefully) 15 year plan.

As far as what I’m going to talk about on this blog, I will generally be writing on personal finances, focussing on what is going right and wrong with my current financial plan. If you have been reading my weekly posts on Canadian Dream – Free at 45, you can expect more of the same. I will probably be writing more about investments than previously, since I am now in the process of doing much more of that.

I write because hopefully some of my ideas are interesting to readers, and also to get different viewpoints on some of the odd schemes I come up with. The way I look at it, if I wasn’t writing about this stuff, I would probably be driving my wife nuts – this website will provide me an outlet for discussion with like-minded individuals.

So, that’s my introduction – welcome anyone who has taken the time to come here and read. I hope you’ll add me to your RSS feed and check in once in a while.

Are there any topics that you would like me to talk about in future posts?