I appreciate that Christmas has not yet passed (I will write a post about how our Christmas experiment went a few days post the day itself), however soon thoughts will start to turn to the 2nd day of January 2019 when I’ll return to my office having (I’m certain) very much enjoyed the break with Sarah, Joseph and my family and with the whole of the year ahead of us. New Years resolutions are something that many people consider – some will see them through whilst others may fall by the wayside. I make it a rule in my life never to make promises I can’t (or don’t intend to) keep, not to myself and not to others (especially my Son). Disappointment is something which I’ve never enjoyed and honestly dealt with very poorly in the past – managing expectations is something that is vital in this modern world where so many people aspire towards perfection and have little to no patience. On a side note, I used to be a “perfectionist” myself, but as I grow older I appreciate more and more that perfection is a concept not based in reality. Nothing, nor no-one, is perfect. All we can strive to be is excellent – that’s the best I believe anyone can ever hope to achieve.
I don’t enjoy running (I KNOW I’ve mentioned this before!) and going to the gym is not something I’d really ever enjoy. Walking long distances is something we as human beings are built to do – running long distances only results in needing knee replacements at 40 (this I know; a former colleague of mine is living proof) and our ability to run or sprint – human beings are the fastest accelerating animal from a standing start to full speed on the planet – was an evolutionary tool designed to get us away from the predator that fancied us as their next meal and up the nearest tree / mountain / etc. to safety. Hence, I’ll run if I’m being chased or there is risk of mortal danger to me or my loved ones and not usually otherwise. So, making resolutions about going to the gym to become more svelte are pointless for me. I do intend to hike more this year however so do watch this space. I’ll certainly try to figure out how to upload pictures to my posts and improve the look of the site.
My work is something that I do to live and it’s not my “mission” in life to be a lawyer. I have bills to pay and a family to take care of and for that, money must be made / earned. I read law at University and after practicing all these years post qualification, admittedly, it’s all I really know how to do. Perhaps then, if I can’t have a career change, the key is to work for a shorter period of time; to spend less or make my money work for me in order that I can leave work behind as early as possible and enjoy as much time with Sarah and Joseph as I can (working SMART, not HARD). Most people, certainly in the UK, work until they’re 65 at which point they can afford to stop and rely on an income from whatever private arrangements or investments they’ve made together with the State Pension (£129.95 per week as I write this, subject to contributions over 30 years of work). With life expectancy above that of my forebears however, I’m expected to work until 68 before being able to draw the State Pension. Neither of my Grandfathers reached 80 and that would mean that after 45 years of exchanging most of my time (read life) for money, I might have just 12 years left to enjoy not having to be anywhere or do anything other than what I want to do. At that age, I’d be older, less able to explore the world and enjoy myself, possibly beginning to show signs of whatever illness will eventually get the better of me and cause my inevitable departure from this mortal coil. Now that’s a very sobering thought. My first reaction? F**k that!
In his book Enough, author Patrick Rhone argues that whilst you might not have control over how much money you make, you DO have control over how much you spend. By living a simpler life and spending your money wisely, being frugal and intentional with your purchases, you can afford to work less and enjoy your life more by doing what matters to you most. What you love. If you’re one of those people who love your job – for whom it’s not actually ‘work’ – I envy you greatly and wish you every future happiness. Of course I’m by no means perfect and I do enjoy buying sneakers and have an affinity for backpacks. We’re talking relatively affordable brands here however, such as Nike or Adidas sneakers (the Vans I referred to last post are awesome however) with either Herschel Supply Co. (most likely woodland camo) or Superdry backpacks. It would be extremely rare that I’d now covet brands like Louis Vuitton or Gucci – you’re paying simply for the brand name and social currency. I’ve no interest in that. I also always try to find the best price I can – I’m not opposed to spending money as long as I’m being intentional with my purchase and not paying “over the odds”.
So, “The Five Year Mission”. Thus named for 2 reasons: 1). “Five Year Plan” has terrible 20th Century fascist connotations. I abhor fascism (and am greatly concerned by the signs of it’s 21st Century resurgence). 2). It’s a Star Trek reference. Did I mention I love Star Trek? That explained, what is it? Simply put, a plan to escape from the bonds of debt within that time frame so that we can begin to plan for our early retirement in earnest. Debt, for the purposes of this Mission includes my car loan for Mirabeau, my and Sarah’s Student loans and our mortgage. In Britain it’s considered rude to talk about money and so I won’t discuss figures or disclose our incomes, but I do hope that we will be able to do it within that period. Indeed, we do have sufficient savings to completely repay the car & student loans immediately together with some of our mortgage, although of course it’s always prudent to keep some savings for the unexpected. It’s not possible to make safe investments which will pay a higher return than the lowest rate of interest we pay on our debt (the mortgage) without significant risk to the capital and that’s not something we want to get involved in. We don’t want to buy more property / real estate as in our opinion, that simply prevents people getting on the housing ladder and prices them out of the market. No, we’ll pay what we owe and then cross that investment bridge when we come to it. Whilst speaking to my friend Miles, who has been having similar thoughts, we settled on 55 as a reasonable target so that we have time to pay down the debt and then save enough to (hopefully) comfortably retire on. I’m 39 on 29th January, so that would leave me just 16 years and mean that I’d have put in the 30 years of tax contributions to qualify for the State Pension when / if I make it to 68, if it still exists at that point.
So for all intents and purposes, that is our New Year’s resolution for 2019 and for the following 4 years. To clear our debts with a view to escaping from the rat-race as soon as we possibly can to enjoy our lives doing what we love. Now, that said, it doesn’t mean we will become recluses and not spend money at all – it just means that we will be intentional with our purchases and seek out good deals, as I have said. If we do “splash out” on anything, it’ll likely be home improvements to make our house more comfortable or work better (by extension meaning that we won’t have to worry about moving to a larger or more costly home) or on holidays (read vacations, my American friends) as spending money on acquiring experiences rather than stuff is something I’m all for.
It’s all about being happy in your life and on that note, I wish anyone reading this post all the best for a very happy and prosperous 2019.