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What do you do when everything is set on auto pilot?
Your weekly salary is automated into various savings, investment accounts, sinking fund, retirement fund and so on.
Now, all you have to do is WAIT for them to grow.
To grow to that magical FI number where you can pull the plug and retire – that FI number that is calculated and re calculated again and again as circumstances change.
This could be YEARS away … compounding interest does take time to work its magic … the waiting is so BORING.
Or is it?
Time to reflect and be grateful
I have had two very busy weekends recently which left me with little time to write. But I had time to reflect on the privilege that I can pursue FIRE as a single woman in my forties.
Why do I consider myself to be privileged?
I have a good paying full time job, the result of having a tertiary education. This income enables me to pursue FIRE. That means I have enough to eat, a decent roof over my head AND I have enough left over that I can save and invest for my future. Is that not fantastic and worth celebrating? Heck, there are homeless people starving and sleeping rough tonight. There are people who can’t make ends meet, living pay check to pay check.
So I am very grateful to my parents for giving me a good education, a stable environment to thrive and grow. I am grateful they chose to emigrate to Australia, the land of plenty and the lucky country.
Sure, I studied hard for my degree and eventually landed in a job I love. I work very hard in my job and became the manager. But I was also very lucky to be in the right place at the right time all those years ago.
I am grateful that my parents are financially independent and do not depend on me to pay their bills. And that they are in good health physically although Mum has dementia. I am forever thankful that they taught me to save and manage my money prudently.
When things are ticking along ever so slowly, taking time out to reflect on the many wonderful things in our life and expressing gratitude keeps us centred. We see how far along the journey we have progressed and every achievement, however minor is another step closer to our end goal.
Time to maintain relationships
It is crucial to develop and maintain relationships with friends and family outside of your work family. Retirement takes you away from your work environment and you may feel alone and lonely without the daily human connections you are used to. This is especially important for me as I have worked with the same employer for 26 years and work relationships have been a big part of my life.
One of my goals this year is to re establish relationships with people from my past – I have friends and family living overseas and interstate that I haven’t seen for a very long time. I have allowed work to take priority in my life for the last two decades – it is time to put relationships first. Trips have been planned this year with the aim of meeting up with my school friends.
As mentioned earlier, my mum has dementia. It is an unusual form of dementia – she does not remember events or people in her past. There is no evidence that I will suffer the same fate but genetics do play a part. I don’t want to lose the opportunity to connect with friends and family – I don’t want to leave it too late. My mother no longer recognises her best friend; nor can she carry on a conversation with her anymore. They used to be able to chin wag for hours.
Time to stay healthy in mind and body
I must start taking care of myself now instead of waiting till I reach FI. Although health care in Australia is no where near as costly as in America, it is still a cost. Private health insurance premiums are more expensive if you have pre existing conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
So this is the perfect time to develop good eating habits and expand my cooking repertoire. Eating at home is healthier as you know precisely what ingredients you have used to create the meal. You can limit salt intake, use healthy fats etc.
And exercise – which I absolutely detest. Gym membership is wasted on me – I have been known to drive to gym after work, park my car then reverse out 5 minutes later because i just could not face working out. I now aspire to be a runner. I admire people who seem to run oh so effortlessly, gliding along. While I huff and puff with tomato-red cheeks. I only want to be fit and healthy although it did cross my mind that training for something bigger, for example a marathon may be motivational. However, this year I will just focus on being consistent.
I desperately need to develop a good sleeping routine – I have been surviving on four to five hours’ sleep a night, especially on weeknights for years. Which makes setting up a morning routine extremely difficult. Once again, this is an ongoing project, taking baby steps along the way.
My mental health is also a priority. I am prone to mood swings anyway but being perimenopausal is extra challenging – the hot sweats disrupting my already bad sleep does not improve my moods.
Time to explore new hobbies
I want to retire to something, not from something.
This period of waiting to reach FI is the perfect time to explore all the wonderful activities I can pursue once I reach the magical number of FI. But I want to be doing them now as opposed to waiting until I reach that number.
The journey to FI is just as important, if not more important than reaching FI. I don’t want to arrive at FI exhausted, burned out and wondering what to do to fill in the hours. Instead, I want to arrive at FI, energised and excited to ramp up or expand the activities I am already doing. I can’t wait!
So I am building a master list – my great to do list – and reviewing them to see if there are any that I can cross off now.
For example, I can start learning more about photography now. I am currently enrolled in Nomadic Matt’s Capture the world – A guide to travel photography (affiliate link) and will experiment with different techniques without spending thousands of dollars on cameras and equipment just yet. By the time I retire and therefore will have more time to devote to it, I will know what sort of super duper camera I need to take amazing photos. Or not – I may end up not enjoying it after all.
These new hobbies may turn into side hustles which I can continue on in retirement. Any additional income in retirement will be welcome.
I love to travel – I can’t wait to indulge in slow travel, staying put in a place for weeks or months. So this is the time to research new destinations and add to that master list of experiences.
Time to develop new habits and mindset
I love to cook for others and entertain at home. But I am a messy person. The thought of tidying up before guests come over is often enough to deter me from inviting anyone. So I don’t. Which is stupid.
One of my goals this year is to embrace minimalism – the less stuff I have, the less I need to tidy up or put away. This will be a long term project – I am loathed to part with items ‘just in case’ I need them later. Or I think since I paid good money for them, I can’t just let them go! Or I look at items that were gifts and even if I will never use them, I feel guilty that I am getting rid of them. So yes, this will be an ongoing project. My mindset desperately need to change.
I want to live with intention – making decisions based on my values and what I deem as important to me. Creating time and space in my life for thinking about and defining what is important to me has helped me tremendously this year. Not having to think about money all the time or worry about my progress to FI frees up a lot of thinking time.
Time to learn new skills
I am happiest when I am learning something new – for example, cooking a new dish. I love that sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that yes, I nailed it. Recently, my friend and I attended a Christmas wreath making class – it was so creative and enjoyable that I know every Christmas from now on, I will make one myself. (But I must guard against the inevitable stress I always feel around Christmas – you can read it here, if you so wish)
I have never been a DIY person – being handy was never a description applicable to me! It is time I learn how to do things around the house to save some money on maintenance costs.
And learn how to garden. It is amazing how proud I am of myself that my worm farm is still alive 3 months in. And my grevilleas are thriving because I remember to water them through the hot summer months. Baby steps, I know but it’s the start of a new passion.
Writing this blog is definitely challenging – there are so many new skills to learn. Skills that I would never have considered learning or even knew I needed to learn! Another long term project in the making here that will see me through to retirement, hopefully.
Time to continue my education in financial literacy
Just because my money is set on auto pilot doesn’t mean that I will never review my plans or tweak anything.
I will continue to learn about new investment strategies and assess if they fit in with my investment plan or perhaps augment it. I will continue to read blogs, listen to podcasts and broaden my knowledge along the way. There is still so much to learn – I am discovering new content every day.
There are absolutely lots to do on the journey to FI.
Even when finances are cruising on auto pilot.
Life does not come to a standstill just because we are on the path to FI. Waiting to reach FI need not be boring.
But maybe sometimes it is good to be bored. It means that nothing major is disrupting my life or plans. And I am immensely grateful for that!
What about you? Are you bored on the way to FI? How are you coping with the slow pace?