About the life of a FIRE starter (pun intended).
So, how is it to be on FIRE? (Are these puns never gonna end? – Probably not! 😀 )
If you’ve read The Story, you know a little bit about, how I got to be where I am today.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon
Funnily enough, I’m not “a planner” (I’m a saver, remember?). I never really planned to be where I am. At any given time of my life, if you’d ask me where I would be in 5 years, I wouldn’t be able to answer. – I’ve always just kind of gone with the flow. Of course, I would think about my next steps, but I’ve never had a set goal to be anywhere at a specific point in time. A lot of people make these plans to get married, have kids and build a home.
Those things have kind of just come to me at a natural pace. I guess that way, you won’t end up getting disappointed 😉 I don’t think that’s why I haven’t been setting certain life goals for myself though (I did at one point have a career target, of earning a certain amount of money, and being in a certain position before I turned 30, but those were more like natural progressions if I just followed the path that I was on – which I did…).
The one constant in my life, has always been my frugality (is that a word?). I’ve never had a set goal to save a certain amount of money. – Until now 😉
But if you don’t have a set goal in life, how will you know when you are there? 😉
It recently occurred to me that those people who didn’t have a set of life goals for themselves, seemed to be the most happy people. You know, the kind of surfer-dude who would live on the beach in the summer, and on the ski slopes in the winter? Worry free, getting by from day to day.
I’ve never been that guy, though. I like continuity to a certain extent. But in recent years, I’ve really felt stuck in the hamster wheel of life. I see a lot of FIRE people explain the same situation in their lives. They’ve got everything that society dictates you should have; A home, a life partner, some kids, a nice car in the driveway, and a well-paying corporate job. And yet, you feel that something is missing. You regularly ask yourself that question: “Is this it?”
You get stuck in the routines. Wake up, go to work, come home, cook dinner, put the kid(s) to sleep, fall a sleep on the couch watching some mind-numbing entertainment on Netflix. Repeat. Then in the weekends, you visit some friends (or they would visit you), and you’d talk about how bored you are at work, while you admire their new car or a new furniture piece…
Every now and then, you manage to break out of the hamster-wheel. You break out of the routine, and do something spontaneous. Well, when you have kids, it’s not that easy to really be spontaneous, so you plan to be spontaneous, which kind of defeats the purpose!
The one time, where I would feel a little more “alive”, is when we’re on vacation. When you’re not in your daily routine. It’s usually when you’re on vacation, or “on a break” from the daily routines that your mind really start to consider the options of life…
For me, it’s been a long journey to get here. It has taken me about 5 years, to realize that I should set myself a long term goal (to become financially independent). Since I’m not really used to making long term plans, I have no idea if I’m going to get there – but I’m going to try! Luckily, TEoW is also on board with The Plan 😉
It all started some years back (I know that now, obviously!), when I stumbled upon the ideas of ERE (Early Retirement Extreme). It builds upon the same principles as FIRE, but since the word “Extreme” is part of the mantra, it kind of says it all. It’s an extreme, which I’m not a huge fan of. I realize that it might appeal to a lot of people, I just prefer to be a bit more mellow about my lifestyle changes 😉 (I’m not going to give you any links – google it, you lazy bugger!)
So for the past 5 years (give or take), I’ve been looking for a way out of “the hamster wheel”. Some of the ideas of ERE appealed to me, and we’ve gradually started to become more aware about our spending habits.
Whenever we buy something (besides food), we always check if we can find the item used. If you’re willing to wait for it, I’d say that you are able to find almost anything used. In Denmark the 2nd hand market (for almost anything) is huge. So, buying and selling used items have become a kind of hobby for us.
The introduction of mobile payment have made 2nd hand trading even more lucrative (for the average Joe – maybe not so much for the average criminal…). Denmark has one of the highest adoption rates in the world, in mobile payments. I think one of the reasons for this, is our history of dealing in 2nd hand merchandise. We love our flee markets, and the most popular place for buying and selling stuff online in Denmark, is one of the most visited websites in the country (The Blue Paper, dba.dk – now owned by eBay).
Everyone know the satisfaction of buying something that they’ve been wanting for a while. Maybe you’ve even saved up your hard earned cash for months (or even years), so you could go and buy this item. So the joy of anticipation is the opposite of instant gratification, which most of us also enjoy. Instant gratification, is why you love your smartphone so much…
I’m in a constant inner battle with myself, over which beast to feed. Instant gratification, or the joy of anticipation. To me, there’s no real right or wrong here. I just feel that you need to work toward a certain balance. You can’t just feed the instant gratification beast. A lot of people do, though…
If you connect instant gratification with “living life”, then congratulations – you are a spender.
There’s nothing wrong with that. I tend to think that those who truly live by instant gratification are more happy with their lives. However, those are also always the ones that are complaining that they don’t have any money!
Go figure 😉
Anyway, when I realized that we were going to sell our summer house (read The Story), I knew that we were going to have the biggest Total Balance yet, once the key was handed over to the new owner.
I then started thinking about, what we should do with that money. New car (used obviously)? New kitchen (also used – yes that’s a thing too!)? New, new, new!? OR – We could invest them (like what we had technically done, when we bought the summer house…).
Now, at this point in the story, I feel the need to throw a bone to some of those poor spiritually inclined souls, who might have wandered on to this blog, thinking that the headline had something to do with spiritual balance…
Since I was a young teenager, I’ve been seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis (oh geez, is he going to start all over again?! ). Bear with me! I’ll get to the point shortly 😉
As a kid (really, this story seem to be going backwards now?!) I suffered from really bad migraines. The chiro helped to keep them in check. Then, about 3 years ago I discovered a new kind of treatment, called Body-SDS (it was invented by a Dane – oh yeah, we rule!).
I replaced my chiro with a Body-SDS therapist, and I loved it. The idea of Body-SDS (Body Self Development System) is to help the body to self-heal, with physical muscular manipulation, which I can only describe as a kind of luxury massage coupled with physio therapy-like movements. You’d have to try it, to understand it 😉 (try it if you have an ache somewhere).
Part of the Body-SDS treatment, is also psychological. The idea is that a psychological ache can manifest itself as a physical ache (this is not something unique to Body-SDS, a lot of different treatment types have the same perception – like acupuncture for example). So while you’re laying on a massage table “relaxing”, getting a Body-SDS treatment, you also talk a lot (I like to talk – a lot, so that was right up my alley!). You talk about your life, your feelings and your thoughts. So somehow, it also works as a kind of psychological therapy. If you feel that you have an imbalance (physical or emotionally) I can definitely recommend this kind of treatment.
Anyway, so I started using Body-SDS regularly (1-2 times per month). Originally, I started it for the sole purpose of curing my physical aches, but gradually as my physical aches started to disappear, it became something more. I felt better than I had done in a while (physically, emotionally I was still a little off). During the next couple of years, I switched Body-SDS therapists a couple of times (for logistical reasons – I switched jobs a couple of times, and the Body-SDS treatments was originally offered via my employer – again, thank you unnamed company 😉 ). It’s not cheap though. So my frugality was a bit challenged here 😉 (unfortunately there’s no way of buying 2nd hand Body-SDS treatments!). We did get it at a discounted rate though, so as long as I get a discount, my frugality remain intact (or so I tell myself at least…).
FLASH FORWARD to today.
My current employer also offer Body-SDS as part of their health program (thank you, new unnamed company) – it’s even cheap! Oh my god, it’s 50% off (the employer pays half the price of the treatment)!
My new Body-SDS therapist, Susan (that’s her actual name, which is kind of funny, because that’s also what we call our GPS) has been a complete rock star. Last time I saw her (I’m only just realizing this, as I’ve been typing this story) she asked me the magic question (*suspenseful music playing*).
I had told her about the summer house, and the money. And I had told her that I was now looking for something to invest the money in. We’d talked about stocks, real estate, even crowdlending. She’s not a financial expert (at least I don’t think so! Hmm, I’ll have to ask her that next time I see her), so she’s not about to give me any advise, on how to invest my money, and become rich (that was the goal then I guess).
She then asked me the magic question (here it comes!):
So when you’ve invested the money (in something) and they’ve hopefully started to generate some kind of return – what are you going to use THAT money for?
I didn’t have an answer to that question…
All my life, I had been good at accumulating money, not really knowing what to do with it, once I had it. – I’d always found SOMETHING to use it for, but now it seems I had run out of ideas on how to actually spend that money!
Enter: THE FIRE!
Poetic, isn’t it?
Thank you, Susan 🙂