New Perspective & Early Retirement

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We lost a dear friend to brain cancer on April 26th of this year.  He was 35 years old.

As I look around our home and reflect, I can’t help but think about what would be important to me on my own deathbed.  With that in mind, take a look around your home at all the things that you have accumulated thus far.  If you knew you were going to die in a year, a month, or next week, would any of it mean anything to you anymore?  You can’t take it with you.

Take another look around, but now envision your items as dollar amounts instead.  Think about how much you earn in terms of an hourly rate and compare the hours of your life that have been traded in exchange for the things you have surrounding you now.  How many of us continually purchase thinking the next thing will fulfill us.  If only I have _____, then I would be happy.  I have realized that things will not bring joy in my life.  The time spent earning to acquire what we already have is gone and there is nothing we can do to get it back.  What we can do is remember the feeling we have right now and next time we get the urge to purchase, think about how much it will truly cost.  Time is one of our most precious resources and none of us know how much we have left.  We need to be careful how we spend it.

This has been a year with deep retrospect and soul searching which has changed both our outlook on life and the goals we have been chasing for years.  I have always been very motivated to reach early retirement.  Together my wife and I have lived far below our means.  I thought we “needed” much more than we actually do in order to be free to pursue our true passions in life.  I am 33 and my wife is 38.  Originally, we were planning on retiring in the spring of 2025, still early by most standards.  Rather than spend the next 11 years trying to increase our net worth to fund a more luxurious lifestyle, we have re-evaluated our priorities.  We managed to significantly reduce our wants and needs (so to speak), which in turn will allow us to retire much earlier.  We want to focus on experiences rather than things and have decided to take our early retirement in the spring of 2016.  That gives us just over a year to prepare and make such a radical change!

Many more details to come and we hope you will follow along as we share our progress and journey to early retirement.

D & D

The Path to Freedom: A Journey Better Travelled with Friends

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Why is it that personal finance is something that friends rarely talk about? We discuss exercise regimens, doctors, medical conditions, relationship details, but not finance. It seems that most people would be more comfortable talking about a spouse’s infidelity to their friends than they would discussing their personal finances.

I just don’t get that. If they truly are your friends, wouldn’t you want to learn from each other? Maybe they are doing something that could really help propel you along in your retirement planning. It could be that one set of friends is quickly headed down a road of perpetual debt, and living one paycheck away from financial ruin. They could benefit greatly from seeing an alternative to their situation. What could be better than having a solid circle of friends that are all financially fit? We openly discuss finance with our friends that are interested and willing to talk about money. I have found that most people make the decisions they do regarding lifestyle and spending, not because they want to be on an endless treadmill of working to live, but because they have nothing to compare it to. In all the adds we see, most of our neighbors and coworkers lives that we view from a distance, all reinforce the idea that we should have nice new cars, a big house, new furnishings, lavish trips. After all, if they are doing it, we should be too right?

There is no hesitation to pop by everyone you knows house to show off the purchase of a new car. Housewarming parties when your friends have purchased a new home. What about an invite to the lake to go out on their new boat, or an invite over to see the recently remodeled kitchen or bathroom? People have no problem discussing and showing all the money they have spent or financed. If we can discuss and display the amounts of money we are spending with friends, why can’t we also have more meaningful discussions about retirement, and savings plans? Why not share investment strategies and tips to increase passive income?

Most people have no idea that there is a completely different way to live. Living on less than you earn. Not spending every cent of every check to credit card, student loan, auto, and mortgage payments. I don’t think that most people realize that if they lived with less they could have so much more. Look at how popular finance blogs have become. We want to see how other people do it. We want positive encouragement rather than negative pressure to conform to societal “norms”. Start discussions with the friends that mean the most to you. Focus on those that are willing and interested in learning and improving their financial lives. We need to be just as excited to see our friends’ net worth grow or hit that next big benchmark as we are to see another friends’ new car. Think about all the things that you are free to discuss with your closest friends. Shouldn’t finance be one of them? After all, who is going to care and be more supportive than your closest friends as you venture down the path to financial freedom? Wouldn’t it be great to reach the end of that journey and have your closest circle of friends there with you?

D

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

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We’re so good at coming up with excuses why we can’t _____.  Fill in the blank with whatever you want.  Why we can’t save, why we can’t make do with less, why we can’t eat healthy, why we can’t exercise.  I feel that if we spent more time defining our goals, and actually following through with them there would be no more room for excuses.  The easy way out is to immediately think of the many reasons why you can’t.  It is much more productive and beneficial focusing on how you can!

We don’t have to put it off until we can spend an entire week on something important to us.  We don’t even need a full day.  We can spend as little or as much time as we have or feel comfortable with.  Don’t let time constraints stop you from better defining your life.  10 minutes will do just fine to start on the path you want to travel.  Below are a few steps I have outlined to help you find direction and stop the excuses.

  1. Spend 5 minutes thinking about what is truly important to you.  What you want in life, where you see yourself in 5, 10, 20 years.  What truly matters most to you?
  2. With all that fresh on your mind, make a quick list of what your thoughts were.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, this will get you thinking and help as a catalyst to dig deeper into what is truly most important to you and what you wish to get out of life.
  3. Spend 10 minutes a day, reevaluating your list, and helping determine what your priorities are.  It is OK if they change over time.  It happens to all of us.  It is extremely important to know where you are, and where you want to go in order to come up with a plan to get there.
  4. Take Action!  This may require that you have to cut something in order to make the time to focus on your list.  You have already thought it through and know what’s most important to you.  Think of an area of your day that is spent doing something that has nothing to do with your goals and achieving them.  Eliminate that from your life.  Remember, you have listed your top priorities and goals.  The only thing left is to act on them.

You may have to cut out a half hour of TV per night in order to go for a nightly walk.  It may mean knocking out an errand on your lunch that you had planned to do after work in order to take action on one of your priorities.  How long have you talked about someday doing _____, or if I had time_____, or when I can I will_____  The time is now to act and work towards the things that matter most in your life.  Tomorrow will always be tomorrow.  You can only take action TODAY.

D

Why is our site titled Luv4Nature?

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You may be wondering why a site that seems to be focused mainly on financial freedom, minimalism, and organization is titled Luv4Nature.  That’s an excellent question!

We had the domain prior to ever deciding to launch our own blog documenting the topics listed above or our journey to financial freedom.  We are avid hikers, bicyclists, and just all around outdoor enthusiasts.  We felt that of all the things in our life, our love of nature is probably the best way to describe us.  You are not your things, the amount of money you have in the bank, your job, your career, or the car you drive.  How often do you meet someone new and the first thing they ask after the introductions is, “What do you do?”  We usually respond with “We hike, bike, travel…” to which we usually get a blank stare and then have to elaborate on the fact that our source of income does not define us.  Our hobbies and interests do.

Saving more money faster, buying less stuff, getting rid of things that do not add value to our life, will all help us on our journey to financial freedom.  This will result in allowing us to pursue the things we value most in life.  Our love of the great outdoors, exploring, traveling, and of course spending time with friends and family are the things we hold most precious in life.

D