It is almost the end of the year and it's time to reflect back on 2020. What is the progress on your goals if you made any at the start of the year. Did the events during the year upset your plans? What impact did COVID have on you? Did you come out stronger? Learned something new that you never thought about earlier? Usually I reflect back around this time of the year and make note of my achievements and failures. The details of which will come out next year as usual in my year in review series.
If you found somethings that you like to change, this is the time to plan. Also this is the time to plan your goals for next year. If you are planning to retire early here are some tips that might help you make some goals.
When you are planning early retirement, you need to track every bit of your financial situation. Track your expenses, savings, investments, asset allocation returns and net worth. Without knowing your expenses you will not know where you are spending unnecessarily. Similarly without knowing you asset allocation, you will not know if your portfolio needs a rejig. Tracking will show you where the opportunities are to improve your finances.
There are a couple of ways to increase your savings. You could increase your income or reduce spending or both. You absolutely need to increase savings every year. Your income naturally grows at work if your are performing well and your company offers increments every year based on performance. If that does not happen, you will need to find ways to add supplemental income.
Tracking your expenses should help you guide where you can improve. Avoid high EMIs when purchasing big ticket items. For example go for a slightly small house or car than you think you need. You will always get used to high-living, so you will need to keep on buying better stuff to keep you happy. Don't push that envelope. You should learn to live outside your comfort zone in a low-living lifestyle.
You may be wondering if all that effort is worth it. So here are some experiences from my retirement to help you.
First, my spending went down after retirement. For one, I now don't have to worry about work appropriate clothing anymore. Others might save on commute expenses and time. While I don't spend on expensive vacations, I do enjoy the simple vacations to near by places. It is more about experiences than fancy vacations.
You may be surprised to know that I think way less about money after retirement than when I was working. Money is not a motivator anymore. It is incredibly liberating. But it is not always about money. As we age, time and happiness becomes more important than money.
I never wondered if I will get bored in retirement. However, what I notice now is that I am far more busy than I anticipated :). But in a good way of course. I keep getting new ideas for home projects. I routinely find myself absorbed for days in some new project or technology. For example I am learning Flutter to work on some project (for myself, not for money). I am thoroughly enjoying writing code, unit tests, integration tests, setting up CI/CD for my flutter project. Don't worry if you don't understand what those terms mean unless you are a software engineer.
While I have always been a health and fitness freak, the break from work helped big time. I spend much more time on health. Finally realizing my childhood dream of learning Karate. It is seriously demanding for a person of this age, but I love the challenge.
Reflect and plan something for the new year. It need not be about early retirement or financial independence. This blog just happens to be about FIRE, so that is what I (mostly) write about. Thinking back about the year gone by gives you an opportunity to find ways you can improve things in your life.