December 23rd, 2016

speaker, coach, consultant

Financial Independence

I started out today with the aim of writing a short plan for 2017 (and beyond) based on the framework in Seth Godin's book, Pick Four. I probably won't finish it, and, in fact, I've now given myself until 31 December 2016 to put something in place.

But let me make one thing clear: this is not about goals (which is the premise of the book) but, instead, financial independence. Yes, that's right. For reasons I'm not able to (fully) articulate, sitting at home these past few months, since I stepped away from my last full-time role, has kindled in me, by dint of the time and freedom I've enjoyed, the need to plan for my (our) retirement. And when I say "retirement", I don't mean to suggest that Alli or I will cease all paid work but we'll be financially independent so that if we decide not to work, and instead to travel, we can do so without being beholden to anyone.

I know this is a bold plan, but it's one that I'm publicly committing to and one I'm intent on seeing out.

What's been very useful is reading some of the financial independence (FI) blogs, particularly Retirement Investing Today. What it's thrown up is a band of dedicated, authentic people who are not trying, in typical snake oil fashion, to sell a get rich quick scheme -- which we all know is total horsesh*t -- but to explain, in simple terms, that it's possible to get out of debt and live a life that only the mega rich ever seem to pull off.

In terms of the detail of my FI journey, I think LJ would be a great place to post the occasional update, notwithstanding my slightly premature declaration that I wasn't going to do anything more than blog once a week on my main site and similarly record a weekly podcast.

Before I get lost in the weeds of investment strategies and financial planning, I need to adopt a new mindset where minimalism, frugality and only buying what's absolutely needed are brought to bear on my life and as far as possible my family -- i.e. my wife and three children (I only need to worry about the youngest and middle daughter at this stage, given that the eldest is away at University and isn't a huge financial drain on the household budget).

From there I intend to create in Google docs or Excel a spreadsheet to record, inter alia, our net worth, our income, our outgoings and our savings. I need to see at a glance how, for instance, we can get ourselves into a position where, allowing for the likely expenses over the next 10 years 8 months (when I'll be 60) -- e.g. education for the children, cars, household maintenance and holidays -- we can become debt free. As part of this exercise, I'll also be looking at our earnings -- me as a solicitor, Allison a nurse and whatever else we can generate through selling unwanted stuff, coaching and consulting, writing and other part-time work. You see I know that our income, such that it is, will not be enough, no matter how frugal we are, to get us to a point where we'll be debt free by 60, let alone the state retirement age. I accept that we'll need an investment strategy and make investments but that will come later once I've mastered the basics.

I'm acutely aware that this could be another one of my many proclamations but something tells me that unless I take charge of our lives in a way that I can manage other than (just) hoping for the best, no one is going to come along and solve the mystery of our finances. I say "mystery" but it's not that really: it's that we need to take greater control of things now, as otherwise by the time we get to the point where we can't physically work or work is unavailable to us, it will be too late to do anything about it.

To be clear, I'm not intending to become another blogger or putative FI expert. I'm simply doing this to hold me to account and keep me focused on what needs to happen.

Anyhow, if I don't post here again before the end of 2016 -- my Twitter shares don't count -- then have a wonderful Christmas and a brilliant New Year.
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