Episode-41- Save More Money To Retire Early

I send this out to my friend who I’ll just refer to as R. the lady with lots of shoes. Thanks for the extra push to get me to get this posted. In episode 16 of the todolisthome podcast I introduced an explanation into the third driver of the this podcast and website which is retiring at the age of 55 or younger. I titled episode 16 simply Retire early and regain the freedom of financial independence. However it is anything but a simple driver. This is one of the more complex and challenging I have come up with for my life. Upon your first glance at this title you may deem as a hair brained idea or for those of you not familiar with that phrase it means crazy. I assure you that this driver or goal has nothing to do with my mental faciulties. However, I must admit is a far out idea that my mind at first repelled.

I further defined that early retirement to me means that I am no longer dependent on my current wage for my livelihood. Of course I will still work in early retirement but I am free from the financial responsibility that earning a wage currently requires of most of my days and waking hours.  In Episode-33 of the todolisthome.com podcast – You Have No Limits – Physics Of The Impossible Book review I explain how our goals in life and what we do with the short time we have on this planet are only limited by the known physical laws of the universe. Retiring early certainly does not violate any know laws that hold the universe together so it must be explored and tried. If all goes well it will be achieved.
Several months ago I found validation for having this third driver from episode 751 of the Survival Podcast.com Common Sense versus consumerism. In it Jack Spirko mentions the Extreme Early Retirement blog operated by Dr. Jacob Lund Fisker. From the show notes for that episode I found the Extreme Early Retirement blog. Jack then interviews Dr. Fisker in episode 766 and the conversation is an intriguing and thought provoking journey into the depths of life and its meaning on earth. I highly recommend both episodes.
Since I began reading the posts on the ERE blog I came to realize more about how my lifestyle restrains the achievement of the 3rd driver. To make early retirement a reality I must pay all debt including that on my home, while adding income generating assets to assist my wage in the purchasing of stuff. The reduction of purchases for stuff will greatly aid in achieving this model. More importantly however this requires an accumulation of a sufficient amount of assets that produce an income. As I mentioned in episode 16 $2 million dollars is the magic number that could allow me to stop being dependent on a wage today but that’s all it is …magic. When I free my mind from the rigors of this American lifestyle I better understand that that magic $2M dollars for early retirement is what is required to maintain what I have here and it to amass it would require an enormous amount of energy that might jeopardize the goal at the same time. However, if I scale down rather than scale up then the tasks for maintaining a suitable lifestyle become less in number, less stressful and quite possibly more sensible. The more I unshackle myself from complex systems the greater the liberty my family and I will enjoy in our lives. It’s very hard to do this but with baby steps the trail begins.
I could make a drastic cut and retire today but that involve living in a trailer in the country somewhere and more than likely I’d be living there alone. That’s not the life my could choose to follow me to at this time so I must take other steps.
What we depend on every day to get by is dependent on strangers and strange systems and our sacrifice of liberty is worse than what we experience when we have to take our shoes off at the airport. The more dependent we become the more we are forced to pay the piper for the going price. As food and other items such as energy become more expensive I have chosen to take control of what I can. It’s not much but it is so much more than zero.
As you can tell this 3rd driver of Retiring at the age of 55 or younger for the ToDoListHome.com podcast is not the definitive answer on how to reach the goal. It is only the beginning of a journey. To get started I have decided on 4 steps which can begin concurrently. Today I share with you trials and tribulations I have in taking the first step. This first step is to save more money. Typically for anything costing a couple of hundred dollars my wife and I would think about such purchases very carefully, measure their impact and not do anything for at least a day or so before making a purchase if that was the decision. That was the past now I have moved on to a much less fun and stricter process for the purchase decision making process.
Education for the kids, transportation, food and housing are only going to increase in the coming years and although I am blessed with my current work and wage. The wage is decreasing while the work is increasing. This is certainly not a model for making a better life become reality. Some may think that I should be happy enough with the current state of affairs but that’s never been a motto I can live with. If I don’t change things then I will become even more dependent on my wage to get by.
I credit Jack Spirko of the Survival Podcast for making this clear to me. Back in November of 2011 I set out promising myself that I would begin a 6 question program for any purchase or contribution I make over 10 dollars. The program demands that if I cannot answer all questions in a manner that warrants purchase then the purchase does not get made. This program seemed easy enough to begin at the time that I produced episode 16 but it was right before Thanksgiving which is not a cheap holiday for us. Although we don’t do the cooking we do travel to someone who does and we don’t go empty handed. Christmas shopping follows soon afterward and December also has birthdays and other contributions that cannot be avoided unless I want to become a person who does know how to share the bounty with which I am blessed. I soon realized how difficult it was going to be to ask the 6 questions for the household.
I remember discussing the 6 questions with my wife while driving one day and I can still picture the frown on her face when she heard only question number 1. I don’t think I got past question number 3. And I haven’t brought the subject up directly since.
Instead I have realized that I must look more in the mirror about what I purchase personally and see if I can make a difference before imposing the questions on others that benefit from my wage. Prior to all of this I have deleted regular purchases from my life that when added up over the years have turned out to be quite substantial.
Back in 2006 I came across an article on LewRockwell.com titled the shaving cream racket. I read the article with some skepticism but the program for doing away with shaving cream seemed easy to follow. And within a week I no longer required shaving cream to shave and I shave just about every day. It was around this time that I also stopped using hair gel. Again the cost was minor in the grand scheme of things but over 6 years I have easily saved over $500 on just these two items.
I pack my lunch for work almost every day as well and the savings from that are not trivial. I don’t drive to work but ride my bike to a nearby bus stop and the saving I realize from parking fees, gasoline and car maintenance are even more substantial than the lunch savings. When we moved to our home 3 years we cut the cable service and have not regretted trading in 130 channels of shit on the TV for $3,600 in savings.
But those are things just related to my lifestyle and daily maintenance of getting by. It turned out they were not necessary and their elimination was easy. But When I began the 6 question program I soon realized how much of a conflict of interest I create for the family budget by trying to justify certain purchases made for myself or the home, honey bees or gardens. It’s always easy to come up with a reason for why I need something but I have to remember to not stop there is the answer is affirmative and proceed to step 2 and truthfully answer if a good substitute or its parts are already on hand. If that answer is negative then it is time to get a pen and paper and write down how long it will last, what will it do for my family and how long must I work to pay for it. How many hours of my labor offsite from my home will be required to make the purchase without going into debt.

That is a truly thought provoking question because if I reminded myself during the typical work day that the next 8, 16 or 24 hours of my labor and the bullshit I have to put with are only so that I can buy something that I have so far been able to live without then I wouldn’t make the purchase. Maybe a better question would be “is this purchase worth me retiring 1, 2 or 3 days later than possible?” if I continue with that line of thinking over a period of time it is not hard to calculate how many days, weeks or months sooner I could retire. Cutting the cable service alone is going to allow me to retire at least one year or two years earlier than expected. That doesn’t sound like much but basically for every $100 per month that I can save from current living expenses or bring in from other income sources I can decrease my retirement age by 1-2 years. And again I remind you that retirement to me means becoming independent of my current wage for my livelihood and that of my family.
Question number 6 is easy to ask not so difficult to answer in a manner that diminishes the need for a purchase. However, if you’re like me then it seems every time I achieve a success in savings in one area another need opens its mouth to swallow the savings. The point of the 6 question program is not to win every time but to become more aware of what it is that our labor is spent on and further delays financial independence.
Before closing I wish to share a couple of techniques that I have found some measure of success with. First make a budget and stick to it. My budget worksheet is available for download at todolisthome.com in today’s show notes and on the downloads page on the website. I also recommend that on a quarterly basis you list up all of the things you can think of that you plan to purchase over the next three to 12 months. And I mean everything, vacations, shopping trips, shoes, clothes, music lessons, sports, everything and see how much it really costs. You will be surprised and hopefully more awoken to the material items that you are laboring for and delaying retirement. It’s hard to do this but necessary if you’re like me wish to avoid delaying your retirement like so many others these days. And remember all the stuff you buy can’t go with you when it’s time to punch your ticket for this world. That’s if for today now go and start saving for your retirement.

6 Question Pre Purchase program

  1. Do I need it?
  2. Does anything I have fill the role now?
  3. How long will it last?
  4. What will it do for me and my family?
  5. How long must I work to pay for it?
  6. If I don’t buy it what difference will it really make?

What you can do now


Song of the Day – Jane’s Addiction –  Jane Says ( Live )( LP Version ) – Video

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