We started planning for early retirement and financial independence in 2016, and published our plan to get there. In part, our plan included the following salient points:
- Save $20,000 in the last quarter of 2016, October to December and
- Save $120,000 in 2017
It is time to revise the Plan.
Why do we need a new plan for 2017?
In 2016, for the first time ever we took the time to truly understand our financial position, and also to understand finances and investment in general. Based on our nascent understanding of all things money we devised and published our plan to financial independence.
Since the time we started down this path, what has changed? What have we learned?
I want fewer things than I did before. This isn’t about being frugal. It isn’t about minimalism. It isn’t about boosting our savings rate. It is about satisfaction. I have a goal that I am marching towards. I have something that I want with all my heart. It turns out that that one want is big enough to fill me up. It is as if there is no more room in me for other wants. I no longer spend my free time browsing through Amazon, filled with the need to acquire something. The goal of financial independence for my family seems to have filled a void in my life that I wasn’t even aware existed.
It isn’t just about material wants either. I find that I binge watch a lot less TV. It took me months to get through a single season of the Netflix show I started in September 2016. I spent the time I used to spend on TV on my blog, or playing with our spreadsheets. My obsession with our spreadsheets is probably just as unhealthy as the rate I used to binge watch TV, but it feels a lot more satisfying. It feels like accomplishment. I am going places and those beloved sheets are my maps and my guides. This blog smells like accomplishment too. I make no money from this blog. I have a modest readership, but if one were to judge purely based on the satisfaction I get from writing and being read, one would be forced to conclude that this blog is my magnum opus.
Our frugality muscles are stronger than they were too. We have been able to spend less across the board. Having a goal makes the save-or-spend choice easier. Not trivial, you understand, just easier. Now we actively choose the harder path sometimes, not just to boost our finances, but also to feel like badasses, to prove that we can.
We did better financially than I had hoped when we first came up with the plan. Our stock is worth more, we have both been promoted in 2016, and our bonuses were larger than expected. We blew past our $20,000 savings goal for the last quarter of 2016. We have saved over $50,000 so far.
What is the new plan?
Given all of these factors, what are we going to change in 2017?
Instead of saving $120,000 next year, our new savings goal is $160,000.
There it is, in black and white. It is a little scary to put it out there like that. A teeny voice in my head insists that it would be easier to stick with the $120,000 and declare roaring, definitive success when we blow right past that. It would. It would also be craven. And a little dishonest. I know that we are going to be able to do more than $120,000. This blog has many purposes, and one of them is keeping me honest.
I find it faintly amusing (given that I consider myself to be a rational being) that having published our new
goal for 2017, I am tempted to knock on wood. And cross my fingers. And adorn my blog with a black spot on its cheek. What was that last one you say? Some Indians believe that there are malevolent forces at work in this universe. If one is too happy, or too fortunate, it draws the attention of the ‘evil eye’. In Hindi this is referred to as ‘buri nazar’. It is common to see a newborn (typically a source of much happiness for the family) with a small black mark drawn on its face or somewhere on its person. Why? The black mark is a way of symbolically marring the perfect thing, thus fooling the evil eye and avoiding its ire.
What do these changes mean?
We evolve our plans unashamedly because this journey isn’t about the Plan. This journey is about us, and our happiness. We aren’t slaves to the Plan. The Plan is but a means to an end, and a very happy end at that. As Eisenhower said, “Plans are nothing. Planning is Everything”.
I don’t yet know what saving this larger amount in 2017 is going to mean in the long run. There are a few possibilities:
- It could help pull in my retirement date, and subsequently Mr. BITA’s. My current date is Jan 2021, but that was based on saving $120,000 a year. Of course, if it gets pulled in by too much, I will no longer be 42 when I retire, and what would the name of my blog mean then?
- We could stick to the current retirement date and build ourselves a bigger retirement cushion.
- We could stick to the current retirement date and build a larger stash for our charitable giving.
All of these are good options to have. I don’t think we are going to decide amongst them in 2017. In 2017 we are going to focus on achieving our bigger, more aggressive goal. Eventually, hopefully, we will have to make some choices.
Go Big or Go Home, they say.
Well, we aren’t going home. Instead, in the words of the immortal Douglas Adams,
“Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.”
So here we come 2017. We have a black spot on our face, big dreams in our hearts and a determination to eff it after all.
Happy New Year to you, my Readers! May the new year bring you and yours happiness and prosperity.