Daydreaming about your goals can be a great source of motivation. Mr. Smith and I are always ruminating about the unique life that we’re designing for our future. Of course, we’re very excited about our cross-country trip with the kids and often discuss different destinations or the practicalities of that adventure. However, after the trip is when we will start living our semi-retired lives. We often remind ourselves of the awesome flexibility that we will enjoy once we pay off our bills and achieve financial semi-independence. It will take a lot of hard work over the next six years, but I know that our future will be a beautiful kaleidoscope.
It was a miracle; all three children were asleep at naptime over the weekend. Mr. Smith and I ended up snuggled in bed together, making the luxurious and indulgent decision to take a nap. It was heavenly. I found myself whispering in his ear, “I can’t wait until we retire, so we can take naps every day and stay up late every night.”
Financial independence means a plethora of different things, depending on who you ask. It is an extremely personal journey. For example, we started late and have a considerable amount of debt to pay off. While we can’t amass the funds necessary to completely escape from working any time soon, we can create a life where we only need to bring in a part-time income to cover our living expenses. If we continue to live frugally, those expenses will be minimal. I like to envision our future as what you would see inside a kaleidoscope. Our current life is dominated by work, with everything else in bits and pieces, scattered throughout nights and weekends (work-life balance is a myth). Semi-retirement will actually be balanced, comprised of many different activities, each represented by their own color and shape within the kaleidoscope. Also, it’s flexible. You can turn the kaleidoscope and the patterns and colors will shift. Life is never static. Financial semi-independence will allow us to adjust to changing circumstances, while maintaining balance. So, how are we designing our kaleidoscope?
Money and Work (the “semi” in our early-retirement plans)
The first objective is to pay off all of our debt. We need to get rid of the credit cards, student loans, and even the mortgages. After that, we will be able to do a variety of more-enjoyable work to pay for our living expenses. We should have two rental properties which will bring in at least $1,000 per month in income. I have my tutoring side gig and plan to look for a opportunity to teach one college course (an aspiration of mine). The educational work should bring in at least $10,000 per year. This website is just beginning to be profitable, so I think $500 per month for blogging and freelance writing is a fair and pretty conservative estimate (six years from now). These income sources should give us at least $28,000 per year to cover living expenses. In addition, I plan to use my expensive degree in the capacity of a part-time consultant, hopefully for my current employer. I’m thinking about doing one special project every month, with the equivalent of two or three days of work performed remotely. This additional money will cover any other expenses and supplement our investments.*
Mr. Smith’s “part-time work” will be maintaining the rental properties as well as taking care of things around our own house. He will do things like tend to the garden and collect firewood. While I “bring home the bacon,” he will take care of chores. He can take care of our vehicles. Then, we will be able to enjoy free time together.
Our Day-To-Day Life
We will not be completely free, but our work obligations will be much more flexible than they are today. There will be some busier seasons, like the months when I am a tutor. However, think back to the kaleidoscope. You will never achieve any sort of peace if you’re expecting every single day of your life to be perfectly balanced. Our obligations will vary, but we will have much more time to ourselves without the demands of full-time work.
I anticipate that our mornings will be much more relaxed as we can just focus on getting the kids to school and not worry about rushing to “the office.” Mr. Smith and I will try to use the time that they are gone to do most of our “work.” I will do some writing and he will do some property maintenance. Then, we will be able to eat lunch together and enjoy afternoon naps (as mentioned above, we really like napping during the day and staying up late at night). We will have extra hours during the day to use however we wish – including exercise and volunteering at school or in the community. Continued frugality is a necessity to keeping our living expenses low, so we will do some homesteading activities. There will be a garden and maybe some chickens. I will continue to can vegetables and make bread. We will use our bikes for transportation as much as possible.
After school and in the evenings, we can enjoy family time. Currently, Goofball gets home from school around 4:00 p.m., and we don’t get home from work until at least 6:00 p.m. We will reclaim that time with our children. We will work on homework, watch them play sports, and eat dinner together as much as possible. After they go to sleep, Mr. Smith and I will have time to indulge in our hobbies (like crochet or video games), read, or even watch a little bit of television.
School vacations and summer time will be blissful. We will be able to go on adventures, in our backyard or on frequent road trips. We can sleep in late, go swimming for hours at a time, and enjoy late nights by a bonfire, under the stars. The children will be able to help with chores, so we will all have a lot of free time together. By the time that we reach semi-retirement, Goofball will even be old enough to assist Mr. Smith with maintenance of the rental properties.
The focus of financial independence is achieving freedom to dictate the design of your own life. You can decide on how to allocate your time, make your own schedule, and choose how to spend your money. One of the keys is choosing to buy freedom instead of more material possessions. Our ultimate goals will vary widely, as they should. However, the main objective that we share is to no longer be enslaved by a time clock at work, which demands the majority of your waking hours (with commuting), five days every week.
I challenge you to come up with a description of your kaleidoscope. Fuel your fire with a vision of future possibilities. Please post about your personal kaleidoscope on your own blog (send the link) or feel free to email me and I will post it here. I’m looking forward to a beautifully diverse collection of kaleidoscopic images.
*The investments (including a 401K) are for when we fully retire (date TBD).
Maggie at Northern Expenditure – Designing Our Kaleidoscope