We talk a lot here at Richmond Savers about saving money and why it is so important in order to make your life easier and more financially stable. Money is a tool that you can use to give yourself power over your life that most people living paycheck-to-paycheck will never have.
Life is simply much easier when you save money.
Our eventual goal is to attain complete Financial Independence and to be able to direct our time as we see fit. This most likely will mean ‘early retirement’ in the traditional sense, where neither Laura nor I will be forced to go to a job just to earn a paycheck.
That doesn’t mean that we’ll lead completely unproductive lives or just sit around drinking beer and watching TV all day (though that is the plan for March Madness every year with some extra buffalo wing gluttony thrown in there!). It will just allow us to use our most precious resource – our limited time on this planet – in ways that we find enjoyable and worthwhile.
Lately I’ve been thinking about what my perfect life would resemble if I had the opportunity to retire today. It’s easy to picture us traveling the world for years, or living on the beach in Hawaii, but realistically, based on the fact that we have two young daughters who will attend public schools for the next 16 years, what would I do with my current life if I no longer had to go to work every day?
To Work or Not to Work:
Many people derive much of their self-worth from their jobs. Maybe they like their important job title or the power that goes along with the job. Maybe they just genuinely enjoy the work that they do and find the regular routine stimulating.
I am not one of those people.
It’s easy to complain about your job, no matter what you do for a living. Based on how fortunate I am, it would be pathetic for me to complain about my job and I won’t do that. It’s a stable job with a strong company, I work 10 minutes from my house and I rarely, if ever, have to work overtime. I like the people I work with, and I’m paid a salary that enables us to live a comfortable life while still saving money. If I’m completely honest with myself, nobody could ever complain about a job like that.
That all said, I could not imagine myself continuing to work even one day after I achieve Financial Independence.
I just don’t derive enough satisfaction from the actual work to continue doing it any longer than absolutely necessary.
I never realized until I started offering my free travel rewards coaching program just how much I truly enjoy helping people and what a sense of accomplishment I gain from it! It’s an amazing thing to make a real difference in someone’s life just by passing on some of my own knowledge. People who expected to spend thousands of dollars on trips now have that money in their bank accounts because of one phone call or email with me. That’s incredible enough, but the fact that I can offer the service for free and still earn some income from credit card affiliate commissions is remarkable.
I clearly would continue this program long after I was financial capable of “retiring” because I genuinely enjoy it and get immense satisfaction from helping people across the country realize their travel goals.
It just isn’t realistic to imagine our family could travel the entire year or that we’d all of a sudden live lives of non-stop excitement in our early-retirement years. Education is extremely important to us and so is stability for our kids. Neither of us could imagine moving them around to different locations and disrupting their lives and educations on a constant basis. I’m sure some people could easily make this work, but we know it wouldn’t work for our family.
So that leaves us here in the Richmond suburbs during the school year. I imagine with our travel rewards skills that we’d be able to travel the entire summer each year for a very limited out-of-pocket cost. So we’d try to pack as much into those two months as we possibly could and that would be something all four of us would look forward to every year.
During the year we’d still have the realities of getting the kids up in the morning and getting them off to school. And I know it would be amazing to be there every day at 3pm when they get off the bus; I took a half-day of vacation a few weeks ago and the look of joy on my daughter’s face when I was there at the bus stop could really have melted my heart!
It would be great to spend more time with the girls each day, as instead of getting home at nearly 5:30 pm I’d be there the second they got off the bus. So that’s at least 10 extra daylight hours we could spend outside running around and playing fun games. I feel like I miss out on a lot of their lives being at work all day, so it’s hard to overstate how much this would mean to me.
Laura and I would still have from 8am to 3pm every weekday to try to live our ‘ideal lives’; that’s an amazing 35 hours each week or 1,800 hours each year (!!) that would be entirely free to spend as we see fit. We enjoy:
- Taking walks: I know this sounds like an activity for old people, but we always enjoyed just strolling through random neighborhoods, talking about the houses and just about life in general. This is a great way to spend time together and to be outside and somewhat active.
- RichmondSavers.com: I’d plan to devote some significant time to this website; I’ve been terrible with writing and publishing posts lately, and my ‘to do list’ of projects on the site just keeps growing. I genuinely enjoy working on the site and helping people with travel rewards and the satisfaction I gain more than offsets the hours spent “working.”
- Exercising: Laura and I both express a desire to exercise, but unfortunately life seems to keep getting in the way. One of the best experiences I’ve had was joining an outdoor exercise program here in Richmond called X-Team Fitness; I would do that every single day of my life if I had the time.
- Volunteering: Laura has always wanted to volunteer in a hospital and I’d enjoying volunteering in a school, or starting up some type of financial literacy program to help middle-class families.
- Cooking: Laura truly loves to cook and I truly love to eat!! So her ideal retirement would include many new recipes each week, in addition to trying out new wines and beers to go along with the meals.
- Watching movies: Okay, this might not be on most people’s “ideal life” list, but because of our hectic lives we have officially watched zero movies in the past 2 years. We have this long list that we’d like to eventually see.
- Exploring: Richmond and the surrounding area have a lot of history and things to see, and it would be amazing to really explore the area.
- Learning new things: I know it is a cliché, but I’ve always wanted to learn a second language and I think it would be a great challenge. But learning certainly doesn’t have to start or end there.
- Quiet: We are both introverts who really thrive on quiet, and as you can imagine in a household with two young kids there isn’t much of it to go around. It would be nice to just sit and read a book or the New York Times each day in the hammock (or the hot tub that we might uncharacteristically splurge for…)
What does your ideal life look like? I hope you’ll share in the comments below…
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