Notice how in my blog’s title it doesn’t say anything about financial independence or retirement? My goal isn’t to retire early. I’m not against having the funds to do so, but that isn’t my goal per se.
My real goal is balance:
- A home I enjoy
- A sense of community, possibly including a healthy romantic relationship
- A way of being intellectually stimulated on a regular basis, possibly with a career
- A good level of fitness
- A way of providing for myself financially, whether that is through paid work or investments
On my home
As I’ve talked about many times, I absolutely love my condo. I love the location, the rooms, and everything about it. This home really does make me happy.
I am incredibly happy with my boyfriend. We have actually been friends since college, which is a pretty awesome way to start a relationship. He accepts me for who I am and I accept him for who he is. I’ve also gotten the go ahead to ease back into playing sports, which I would have been far more excited about if I hadn’t also caught a cold around the same time. I think that’s finally gone now :)
On intellectual stimulation
As you guys have probably deduced from some of my posts lately, I haven’t really been happy in my current job. I’ve spent quite a bit of time introspecting on what I like and dislike about my job and what I would change about it if I could. I eventually realized that I couldn’t change my current job into a job I would like and started the process of 8 am and 5 pm coffees to find a new job. I talked to many groups within my company and ended up choosing a job with the first group I talked to. I’m excited about the manager, the product the group is working on and the part of the product they’re working on, as well as the opportunities for growth there, and my future coworkers seem pretty cool too. Once I accepted the new job, I felt a huge relief to have that stress off my shoulders. I’ll be starting the new job in the new year and taking a bit of time off between jobs, so I don’t have much time left at my current job. It’s hard to focus when I know I’m leaving and I’m excited about my new job!
I love walking places instead of driving. It is not only less stressful
My plan was always to save the residual. I never set out to save 50% of my income. I set out to spend the money I wanted to spend and then save the rest since there’s no reason to spend money I don’t want to.
For people who are naturally savers, I think that saving the residual is actually a better way to go about things than saving first. For people who are naturally spenders, I think that saving first is probably better. (I wouldn’t really know though since I’m more naturally a saver.)
Since I stopped paying Social Security tax with my July paycheck, I’ve been saving about $3,000/month AFTER maxing out my 401(k) and HSA and on top of saving all of my bonuses. But my spending plan also calls for spending ~$3,400/month if you include the mortgage. I don’t think that you can really call me all that frugal anymore when you add all of my expenses up. $3,400/month to spend for a single person is a LOT of money. But then when you look at the fact that I’m saving close to 80% of my net income, it no longer seems like a lot. I am on track to increase my net worth by about $135,000 this year. That means I had $135,000 (*figure includes investment gains) in income that I saw no reason to spend.
If you look at my budget, there is a ton of lifestyle inflation. I live by myself and spend about $1,700/month on housing when you throw in all utilities. I spend ~$4,000/year on travel. I eat out a fair amount – upwards of $200/month worth. I spend $100/month on sports and fitness. But, other than all the moving last year, I have been reasonably consistent in my spending since graduating from college. So it’s not like my lifestyle has increased with my income increases (which have been pretty significant!) I will come close to my 2011 spending this year.
I don’t coupon. I don’t hound myself for spending so long as I enjoy the thing I spent my money on. I think I’ve finally found my balance with my finances.
I’ve been keeping track of my credit card spending in a Google doc and otherwise not checking on things other than to enter receipts into my overall spreadsheet once a week and reconcile with my bank accounts once a month. Everything is on auto-pay and it is surprisingly awesome.
On retiring early
Most people who retire early find some other way to occupy their daytime hours, often with self-employment. As I’ve learned from the last few months of boredom at work, I am not someone who could sit around doing nothing. I will always find some activity to keep my mind and body active. I’m most happy when I’m reasonably busy. That’s even when my apartment is the cleanest! Perhaps at some point, I will find a career that I enjoy more than writing software and transition to that or take an extended sabbatical to travel or something similar, but that is not my intention now or in the near future. I’m simply saving my large residual of money after enjoying my life, to provide myself with some more options down the road when I do want them.
I’m going to continue to save the residual and to enjoy my life while hopefully also enjoying and kicking butt at my new job!