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The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:53 pm
by 1taskaday
Journal entries will always be long as I love to clear my mind by throwing all my thoughts on to a page. Probably long and boring for a reader but therapeutic for me.

I am starting this journal reluctantly and under duress from myself. I am afraid that if I don’t start a journal that I will fade in to a busy work life (which includes a lot of overtime), and start losing my connection to ERE and my dream of early retirement at age 50 years.

I have upped my work hours for 2014 and as a result feel a bigger commitment to my work peers to get more involved in the day to day running of the department that I work in.Hopfully, and ultimately the plan being to improve morale and work conditions for all.

How dumb am I to try to do this? Or why do I even want this challenge at this time of my life?
I really don’t have the answers to these questions, but I now find myself totally committed and consumed, (as only an INTJ can) to making my workplace more efficient and enjoyable for all staff. This is now my sole focus at the moment, consuming my mind with new ideas and putting everything else on the back burner ie, family, excercise, relaxation etc,

This has always been a feature of my life, getting totally consumed by a task until I feel it is completed to my satisfaction. Right now the task is my workplace.

So I decided to start this journal for 2 reasons:

1. I want to review it over a period of time and see where this challenge will take me.
2. I want to keep my connection with ERE and retire aged 50,appox. 5 years from now.

As I am obsessed with privacy and would hate to be identified, my personal details will be limited.

In my retirement plan, I will leave my job aged 50 years-about 5 years from now.

My basic half of our expenses per month is about 1,400.This will drop to 800 per month in retirement as all mortgage debt will be paid off.

My income is 3,500 per month net (after tax).This leaves approx 2,100 going towards my half of the mortgage overpayment per month. I really spend nothing except on needs for my family and myself.

We own 2 properties completely paid for and 2 more (rentals) with a combined mortgage debt of 290,000 left to pay. The total value of the 4 properties are about 800,000.

All of my income after expenses goes to clear my half of this mortgage debt. My DH and I have halved the mortgage debt as we have different ideas on the timescale that we will take to pay this debt off.

On 1 property I have 56,000 left to pay, (my half on this property’s mortgage), my aim is to pay this off by December 2015.

I hope this journal will keep me motivated to stick to this goal.

We both have good government backed pensions, but we don’t have any investments besides property.
My DH can retire in 4 years on his full pension and I will retire aged 50 in 5 years on approx. half of my pension.

That’s as much as a plan that I have for now, because there doesn’t really seem to be any clear path ahead, as we disagree on most ideas that each of us come up for our future retirement.

Even though this is frustrating for an obsessive planner like myself, there is huge growth and self development in this for me. We are devoted to each other and our 2 kids and I just have to wait and see how things will turn out-a killer for me but good for my soul...

“My” ultimate dream-retirement plan would be :

•Sell our present home and pay off all remaining mortgage debt

•Move into the better of the rental properties (by the sea).

•Surf a lot and become a beach bum of sorts for 7 months a year.

•Keep the other 3 properties as assets to liquefy in any emergency.

•1 of the properties is in a country with a warm winter climate, so we could winter there every year for at least 4/5 months very cheaply.

•Our monthly income from pensions would be approx. 3,000 per month. Our retirement minimum expenses would be 1,000 per month, a hobby expense of 500 each/month and a savings of 1000 per month.

What a dream this life would be, I daren’t even really dream it.

But every time I read ERE journals and the comments on the forum, I know it could come true.

But why is the path to it always so foggy and unclear?

Why am I not on a “definite plan” like most journal writers on ERE?

I just keep overpaying my mortgage debt every month and think it will all just fit together in the end, like a fairy tale ....but being an INTJ realist ... really is this best that I can do???

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:26 pm
by 1taskaday
Again this is a boring and convulated read for all,except me.

All going well so far with the workplace goal. Working fulltime with overtime and a lot of hours put in at home as well, devising plans and strategies to improve workplace for all, (I think).

My head often feels like it's going to explode from dealing with so many people and adapting to so many personalities. I am a true introvert by nature so this drains my energy levels greatly. I am learning great patience and resilience from the whole challenge. There is no balance or peace of mind for me at the moment (as expected).But I have surprised myself in that I seem to be able to disconnect from any staff dramas/conflicts while still steering all towards the goal of teamwork and efficiency.

How long this can last,it will be interesting to see.It's reminds me of the story of a live frog being slowly boiled in a pot. I am getting no exercise, no alone time and no peace. Sometimes I feel my head won't take anymore and I will snap and just pack it all in, but I really never let go until I have achieved what I want to do.

I keep telling myself that once I have the department all sorted and streamlined everything will run smoothly and efficiently. Then I can get back to my normal life ....But dealing with people and personalities, can this really ever occur?

Sometimes I long for my old life of reading, walking and spending most of my days thinking in my head. What a blissful way of life that is for me.

I think this is the greatest challenge that I have ever taken on,all the ones in the past were ones where it was just "me and the challenge" and me pushing myself.

This one involves so many personalities and people -a pet hate for INTJ's.

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:47 pm
by 1taskaday
Friday evening after another long week at work and I'm falling asleep in front of the TV.

Fit for nothing, no energy or creativity and pretty snappy with everyone. These are just the results that I expected from a life of nothing but work. It brings back memories of the life I led before I reduced my work hours by half and did no overtime.

This time I'm observing the whole experience from a distance like a scientist carrying out an experiment. The results are just as I had expected. But the funny thing is that I look all around at my workplace and think, “Imagine these people intend to live like this until they are 60/65".That is definitely the most baffling part of it all.

To me this life is short term. I have the evidence of the effect of a heavy work life on me in this journal and look forward to reading it when I no longer work. It’s like a mountaineer climbing K2,every step I take will bring me nearer to the summit. I will experience many setbacks and lose my footing often but if I just stay on course, it will really happen and then I can live the way I want.

I suppose a long time ago I learned that I can be the only one who delivers my goals to me-nobody else can or will do this. If I stick to my plan then I will have choices and options that most people will never have.

It is really all so simple, isn’t it ...

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 4:15 pm
by DutchGirl
I recognize that you can only focus on one aspect of your life. I have it too. And that while I'm a woman and am supposed to be able to multitask. Well, not me. If I focus on my health (diet, exercising), my work and my social life suffer. And if I focus on my work... well, you get where I'm going.

Take good care of yourself. If you neglect your mental and physical health or your family and friends too much, there may be repercussions that you weren't actually willing to endure.

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:16 pm
by 1taskaday
Hi DutchGirl,

My DH and I usually "dove-tail" with regard to focusing on teens care. He is now the main carer by taking more leave from his job while I work more. He hates his job and is delighted.This is always our number one priority.We have always worked this way together in raising them.Neither of us really felt happy with them being raised by carers other than us.

I think the progress that my extra work will bring (financially speaking) to shorten my time towards retirement will be worth it.
I see a lot of my co-workers burnt out,frustrated,and full of anger and bitterness-this will not happen to me. I have no expectations with regards to work and I think this is the key.

My intense period of work will end soon as I think I have organised things as much as I can. I will step back from the mental "brainstorming" and just go in to autopilot.

As for socialising and friends,I know it sounds really weird but as an INTJ,I just have no need for this.I find it annoying and distracting unless I am learning something new or there is an interesting task or goal to be accomplished.

This is a short term plan to become free sooner.

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 3:45 pm
by 1taskaday
To-day I have unofficially withdrawn into an autopilot mode at work. I have the seeds of teamwork, honesty and respecting each other planted and whatever happens happens ....

I am expending no more of my precious energy. I think I have shown that I have no personal agenda and can be trusted, but time will tell. It is so easy to have no attachment to the outcome, as I know I will not be there for long more. The thought of retirement excites me so much and sets me free as to any results. I think people think I am a naieve, do-gooder expending all this energy, negotiating and coaxing teamwork with no gain for myself.

I am really enjoying this whole journey and could write a book on the agendas, selfishness, back stabbing and pure bitterness that some of my work colleagues have for each other. I laugh inwardly when I see them so angry and bitter at working overtime,- even though it is their own choice. I am so glad and thankful for the opportunity to earn more so that I can be free faster, that I sail around in a bubble of gratitude and happiness.

The last thing I want to sound is smug or superior but sometimes I can't help but wonder ...

It really is all about our perspective about things isn't it. More overtime at work to me means I get free faster, a GIFT. Overtime to them is a burden that has to be endured and compensated with holidays, new clothes or Spa treatments. What a downward spiral to get caught up in ...

It really is amazing the energy and motivation that can be got from following a plan to reach a goal.

I saw an interview with Chris Gardner, (his life was the basis of the film The Pursuit of Happyness) and his succinct advice to people was “PLAN B SUCKS”.I love this, it is my new line when anyone whines about anything being too difficult to accomplish.

Remember there is only one plan; Plan A, as Plan B SUCKS!!!

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:04 pm
by 1taskaday
I can't believe January is over already.Time seems to really whizz by when all I do is work.It feels like my soul has left my body and whilst I am physically present there,I have no connection to the real me,the self.

I do not like this feeling.I want to experience my life,not let it rush by in a blurr.It's like I'm outside of myself viewing it all from a distance.I am just going to hang in there for 2 years at least at this current pace.I can always take some unpaid leave then and recharge.

A pity at all that I need to do this, to get to where I want to be financially at this age of my life.But there is absolutely no point in having regrets.I am where I am and it's OK.I often wish that I could speed it all up and just arrive there now,but the loss here would be in getting older without experiencing "life"-sounds like work ...

Progress is slow but steady,and I hope to reach my goal on time.

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 2:28 pm
by 1taskaday
I have retrained myself in many areas at work so that now I can move around many areas quite comfortably. This is really a great advantage as I can work on autopilot without expending much energy. It needed to be done, even though it did take up a lot of time and energy initially.

I think that when the weather gets better and the days longer I won't feel that I am doing nothing but existing for work. I so long to be free, in daylight hours and to spend a lot of time outdoors.

My DH is loving more time off work and I am delighted for him (mostly).Even though sometimes I have to confess that I am jealous of his lovely long free days at home on his own. What a couple we have turned out to be, nobody wants to work. I hope this will rub off on the kids and they will work short and smart in their own careers.

Even when I talk to the kids about their career choices I always stress that they can skip university and live their own lives the way that they want. It’s funny the more that I say this to them the more they insist that they will be going to college. Can you ever win as a parent?

I don't know how couples survive with one retired and one still working.The working person is always in a depleted energy state while the person off is full of energy and eager to try new challenges.As for the two working full-time (as well as being parents) definetly not for me or mine.

The plan is ongoing and never deviates; it’s just a waiting game really unless some opportunity pops up and speeds up the time to FI.

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 2:59 pm
by 1taskaday
I am now 4 weeks into this "boring" and sometimes "whiny" journal of mine and the question is - Have I made any progress so far in any of my goals?

Financially I am on target and the money from the overtime is helping me towards my overall goal of clearing the 56,000 mortgage.It is now at 54,245.A reduction of 1,755 in 4 weeks.This will vary due to variable monthly wages.

Excercise levels have disappeared as work has taken over.This always happens with me-if I loose a lot of free time my exercise schedule is the first to suffer.So no great surprise here.

I will be heading away for a sun week soon,so I hope to get back excercising while away as the sunshine will energise me and kickstart my excercise levels again.

Time is just flying by and it is completely wasted while at work-in my view.
But for now I will just suck it up and stick to the plan.

I do go around with a warm feeling inside when I think of my ultimate retirement goal by 50 or maybe even sooner if the opportunity arises.I just keep telling myself at work-imagine I am getting out of here and all these people around me have no plan and will be here into their 60's.

As the saying goes "if your why is big enough,the How doesn't matter"

So overall progress is slow but steady,I am wasting my precious resource of "healthy years",(not knowing how many healthy or unhealthy ones I have left) but for now I don't see any way around this ...

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 7:48 am
by 1taskaday
Posting from a "hotter" country than my own and soaking up all that energy from the sunshine.Lots and lots of sleep and reading which was badly needed and appreciated.Alot of retired folks here all older.I often look around and think could I really live like them?

I don´t know,could get boring.Alot seem to enjoy socialising and having lots of alcoholic beverages throughout the day.Not really my style but I suppose whatever floats your boat.Most look overweight and unfit from such a relaxed lazy lifestyle.I hope I don´t sound too judgy but this is what I see and they are all mostly over 60ísh.

Anyway I enjoy looking at the miserable weather at home on the tv.I have not really started my excercise routine yet-why I don´t know but I know I will be full of energy leaving which is great.Time out to think and contemplate everything is vital in any plan.

I think sometimes when we "allow" the boring or boredom stage on a holiday/break from our routine activities,then we get to a great place of relaxation and being at ease with life.It reminds me of beating an addiction,the withdrawel stage has to be gotten through to reach the benefit on the other side.

A pretty funny way to look at a holiday ...

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 2:43 am
by 1taskaday
Back to the land of grey skies wind and rain. One of the reasons I used to never leave my kids with a childminder/babysitter was that I hated the "adaption period" from total freedom back to my so-called "restricted" existence. I always felt it was better to plod along on the known course than to keep having to adapt. I always felt this conversion really painfully.

I think it is the same going back into routine life after a holiday. It just sucks so much that one would wonder "was it worth it?"
Anyway here I am trying to mentally plan how I will not get sucked in to the pressures and stresses of working life again. If I could just physically stay away from there I would be fine.I would resist the pull of other people’s needs and whines. I would refuse to carry other people's loads because they refuse to do their fair share and take on responsibility for their own work.I know it is my own fault and that I could be smarter about the way that I work.But INTJ's always want to do a good job and get the work moving and that is a weakness, especially in a communal work environment where everybody's main aim is to do as little as possible and get away with it.

Moan over,onwards and upwards from here ...

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 4:04 am
by 1taskaday
I must try to infuse some energy into this dull old journal and this dull old life.

Spring is coming, at last. I finished early one day last week and when I came outside I couldn't believe the brightness of the sunlight that hit my eyes. How fabulous and what a waste of life stuck inside at work all the time.

I think there is definitely a change and turning point in the atmosphere and moral at work. It seems much improved with everyone leaning more towards teamwork. The usual "suspects" are bickering and moaning, but the majority seem to have turned positive, for now. I hope it continues as in this "energy" there can be great fun and banter which makes being there much more bearable.

Where am I in my retirement journey, who knows? I just keep plodding away trying to stash as much as I can to clear my mortgage. Which brings me to my list ....

These are the things that MAJORLY frustrate me on my journey towards ER:

1.Living in a house that is much too large for our needs,(in my opinion)-this means that we spend a lot more on heating, and electricity that would be necessary if we lived in a smaller house.
We also WASTE much more time and energy cleaning the place than would be necessary in a smaller more compact house. This seems to be non-negotionable.

2. Maintaining 2 cars for tax, insurance and repairs. We spend too much on petrol because we both commute to work or drop of teens to school. We tried 1 car for a while,(my DH under major duress), and it nearly drove my DH to angina. He seriously was so stressed not having his own car that he had chest pain for 2 months. He will never go there again unless we both have stopped working and even then I think, will insist that we both have our own car.

3.Everytime I do extra over-time to bring in extra money to overpay the mortgage (more than normal), it seems to get sucked in to some new bill. Very frustrating mentally, as I never seem to make the speed that I want, to paying it down. I really have only very little control in pairing down our lifestyle as a family, as I am but 1 of 4.Even if this sounds like a moan, it is not. I know that my wants are tiny and quite abnormal to most normal people, so it would be unfair and downright destructive to our family unit to impose my wishes on everyone.

It always reminds me of the 1st cardinal rule in ER :Do not let the cost of your lifestyle increase with wage increases, or you are going nowhere ,ONLY WORKING MORE,FOR NOTHING!!!

4.Am I running up a up a fast moving "downward" escalator-getting nowhere, for all my effort.
Should I just go back to working 3 days a week (with no overtime) and accept that I will never be able to retire until 60/65 years? Being an INTJ,I just can't do a "half-effort" into anything. I have to be excellent, a master. Working half-time means that you are not on top of your game-work wise and I began to dread and resent the days that I had to go in. At least now I feel much more confident and am fearless moving anywhere at work.

But am I getting anywhere ....or just losing out in life???

5. Having no plan and so then not being able to monitor PROGRESS.
We have no ultimate plan that we both agree on. It makes the journey a lot more frustrating as "what is progress?".If there was a definite plan then we would be getting energy from the weekly or monthly progress-and this in itself would create a feedback loop-The more progress, the more positive energy, the more progress ...

We have so much to be thankful for in our lives.
We are the luckiest people in the world with loads of love, great health, and numerous other blessings. So even when I get into my INTJ "WE MUST HAVE A PLAN " mode, I realise these are all just minute irritations in the big scheme of things, and that everything that we have could be taken away to-morrow in the blink of an eye.


Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 8:30 am
by JamesR
1) You're focusing on your pensions in 4/5 years, which might be putting you into "waiting" mode, and slowing you down from taking major action to get into ERE shape.

2) You're in a big house AND have 2 cars. Is relocating to near work an option at all?

3) Paying your mortgage down is fine, but seems lazy. For ERE (or any form of retirement for that matter), your main job is managing your investments. If you try to skip that, won't that hurt your confidence and sense of security? You could have an investment plan, in the next 5 years you could build your investments and gain a sense of confidence & security.

4) Maybe going back to 3 days/week and using the free time to make your money work for you is the better course of action? After all, you have almost 500,000 locked up in your properties currently - is that 500k working hard for you? 10% ROI or better?

5) I think you're very close to FI, so I would focus more on happiness and managing your investments until your pensions kick in.

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 3:49 am
by 1taskaday
I think you hit the nail on the head James R-we are stuck in waiting mode for pensions to kick in and we are very LAZY when it comes to dealing with any difficult decisions about finances/investments.

We are wearing those dreaded "Golden Handcuffs" that so many working in the private sector envy so much. We are "spoilt government workers”, risk adverse and just waiting for our payments/hand outs for "doing the time".

Really I pretend I'm all into ER and the simple way of life-but if I'm so into it, Why am I not "walking the walk?"
Why am I not taking the hard decisions that will get me there?

I think I should be honest and stop fooling myself and accept that I want it all.
I want the middle class "safe “lifestyle without taking any risks. Okay I'm frugal and a non-consumerist but that's actually where it ends, I do not want to risk my future, my partner's future or my kids. I do not want to let go of any of the properties (bar this house) as I am emotionally attached to them. How dumb is that-Is a life's freedom worth bricks and mortar?

Even admitting that last paragraph is so freeing-I am obviously full of fear about taking any risks.
The funny thing is, that I think if I just let go and took a few risks it would all work out fine and I would grow as a person.

I think I have major serious thinking to do ...I think sometimes that I do so much thinking that I think myself in to a state of stagnation.Maybe I'm already in that feedback loop that I longed for -except it's a negative one!

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 6:15 pm
by Ricky
I highly recommend you read this: ... get-a-job/

Particularly, point (5).

Of course, take it with a grain of salt, but it does put things in perspective. It really makes you re-think risk and realize that everything in life is risky, to varying degrees. The article doesn't give you any alternative other than starting your own business online, so it isn't a perfect article. The alternative for most of us here is investing as fast as we can (which I guess is a sort of micro online business in and of itself).

The problem is that you're putting too much faith in everyone around you rather than yourself. You'll never make life changing decisions like that. The solution is to become as educated as possible and read all of the time and think about what you truly want.

I wouldn't take his advice literally, because the meaning, for me, isn't that you should never get a job, it's that you should constantly look for ways out of it and buy your freedom back.

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Sun Mar 23, 2014 9:12 am
by 1taskaday
Thanks Ricky for all the advice. I read all that you linked to and enjoyed it.

I actually never stop reading or learning new things. Our country just does not invest in stocks or shares, as such, unless you work in that industry or trust others with your savings. I trust nobody with my health or my savings, unless I understand everything about what is going on.

Anyway the days are getting brighter and the weather warmer,and I am determined to keep updating this journal-as Jacob has stated that after a certain amount of journal entries that the journal writer reaches FI and then disappears happily into the sunset.I can't remember the exact number of entries that I have to make but I'm sure looking forward to the FI bit when I hit that number of journal entries!!

Now to my most pressing problem,I have a tiny car,(the smallest possible).But I now need a roof rack to carry 3 large surf boards.I intend to get a long season surfing this year so I'm going to get organised for the season early.I cannot wait to start.

These are the problems that make life worth living ...

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Sun Mar 23, 2014 9:17 am
by jacob
Haha, it's correlation, not causation, ... but it seems to be about 200 posts.

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Sun Mar 23, 2014 2:53 pm
by steveo73
1taskaday wrote:Again this is a boring and convulated read for all,except me.
I don't think so. I find this interesting. I am also hoping to retire by 50.
1taskaday wrote:I have no expectations with regards to work and I think this is the key.
I also think that this is really important.
1taskaday wrote:Progress is slow but steady,and I hope to reach my goal on time.
Yep. This is the only thing that I find a little frustrating. I view FI as being very similar to losing weight - its a slow process where you chip away at things bit by bit. I accept that some people can do things quickly however I have 3 kids and for me personally I feel I have to take a slow approach.

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 6:05 pm
by 1taskaday
MIGHTY MOAN to follow:

I HATE WORK,I want my mind and my thoughts back again.I spend every waking minute of every hour thinking about work!!!! What a waste of my healthy years.Nothing ever really improves in there,it just goes round and round on a continuous cycle of stress and bitching.I have really improved nothing in there only worn myself out.MOAN OVER.

The only good thing about it all is that I am increasing my earnings and reducing the number of days that I have left to work.

I also work an earlier shift now so that I get to go outside walking every evening-not that my mind is seeing what's around me on the walk,it's still having conversations with people at work.Meaningless rubbish conversations filling my mind and stealing my "peace".

I long for that feeling of just "being" that I used to have when I worked parttime.I could just sit in the car waiting to pick up the kids or walk outside in the woods and feel so content.Now I'm always impatient, and feeling rushed.I get irritated and annoyed so easily.

And yet if there's any overtime going I just sign up for it, thinking "the more I do ,the more I'll earn and the quicker I'll be free".I really hope that I don't regret this.

A statement from Akaisha Kaderli's podcast with the Mad Fientist (from Retire Early Lifestyle) always remains with me when she said "Do whatever it takes to get FI because it's really worth it".

I hope I'm focusing on the correct advice ...

Re: The Reluctant Journal

Posted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:47 am
by DutchGirl
You're in the UK, right? I think you have excellent access to stocks through Vanguard. and ... tual-funds.

I think you are experiencing the same thing as I have been: if I work more hours than what is good for me, I think I can handle it. And I can handle it for about 2 to 3 months. And then I slowly start melting down. I don't want to, but the work is just draining me. For me with my current job (which involves some traveling and irregular time schedules) I believe working less than 30 hours per week is doable, more becomes draining quickly. (More than 30 hours per week would mean working at least two or three evenings, and at least once per week where I would come home at 10 PM and then would have to leave the house again at 7AM - no fun at all).

For me that does mean that I intend to stay below 30 hours/week except very rarily (when a colleague is ill or something like that). Take good care of yourself. It may be that your plan to "just work hard for five years" is actually not possible in practice. Be honest with yourself, and find a solution if it indeed turns out it isn't.

You have kids who are teenagers. They will probably leave the house in a few years. Are there any plans to downsize to a smaller house at that time? That could help bigtime with your finances...