5 minute read
Diversify your investments and your life. The financial independence community does a fantastic job revealing the path to financial freedom. The allure of controlling of your time intoxicates, but extreme focus on financial independence can cause neglect in other areas of life. Your health and memories require investment to flourish too.
I believe middle-class Americans can achieve financial independence in about 20 years through aggressive savings and stock market investing. See the cornerstone post from Mr. Money Mustache “Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement”. Many in this community point to the article’s data and resolve to increase their savings rate higher than 50% and beyond to escape the rate-race sooner. A word of caution, if that aggressive savings rate costs your health, what good is it? We can do a lot of damage to the human body in 20 years.
Food – Your body gives you what you put it into it. If it’s junk calories: highly processed, cheap foods, fast food etc. you will cause bodily harm. People say that good food is more expensive than junk food. I have mixed views on that opinion. I agree that for dining out, healthier establishments generally cost more that fast food. Increased ingredient and preparation costs. However, when cooking at home, you can eat healthily on a budget. It takes time and intention. You need strategies like meal planning, batch cooking and eating leftovers. Most people are just so exhausted from demanding work-weeks, kid’s schedules and other commitments that there’s no time left to plan and prepare food. Then you will either have to pay others to do it for you or settle for highly processed quick food. A few thoughts and strategies here:
- Routine is your friend – develop eating routines, such as the same healthy breakfast every morning, or the “kitchen sink” lunch salad. At the start of each week, I cut up a variety of veggies – broccoli, bell pepper, tomatoes, olives, artichokes, pickles etc. and store them in big Tupperware container. Purchase a tub of washed spinach leaves and combine them with a simple dressing of oil, vinegar and healthy spices daily. Add last night’s leftovers and you’ve got a quick, healthy, and inexpensive meal.
- Discover nutritious meals that your family enjoys and make them consistently
- Married strategy – Cook/Cleanup together or develop a plan that works for you both. In my family, Sarah is the primary cook and I do the dishes, this works for us. I cook more on the weekends. Make it fun, turn on some music, grab a favorite beverage and enjoy the experience.
Exercise – Pareto principal in play here. 80% of your health is dependent on food choices and 20% on exercise. Don’t misunderstand, I enjoy exercise. I’m one of those weirdos with a past of distance running and triathlons. As we started having kids, I decided that prioritizing 15 hours a week to go on distance runs and bike rides, leaving my wife at home with two young children, after long work-days, was not a winning strategy for our marriage. Over the years, I’ve settled on an approach that works for me currently (check back in 10 years and I’m sure it will look different):
- Inexpensive garage-gym with everything needed for good weightlifting sessions 2-3 times per week. Focus on the big compound lifts: squat, deadlift, press and sprinkle in some pullups, pushups and you’ve got a solid plan. 45 minutes is all you need to get some heavy lifting done, especially when you don’t have to wait on equipment or avoid distractions. I try to get a couple of these sessions in per week during my lunch hour while working at home, which is awesome: takes no time away from family in the evenings and gives me an endorphin rush to get through afternoon work.
- Daily coffee walks in the morning. Every morning I grab a cup of coffee and head out the door for a 30-minute walk. I catch up on podcasts and allow my thoughts to roam. Getting up and moving first thing is great before settling in to a frenetic workday.
- Playing with kids. I love to play soccer with my kids. We kick off our shoes, grab pop-up goals and hit the yard for some epic battles. I stay young, spend quality time with the kids and they improve their soccer skills.
- Pickup basketball – this is one that has been on hold for the last 1.5 years due to a nagging foot injury (now better) and then Covid, but I am excited to get back to some weekly outdoor pickup b-ball.
They involve others. I’ve heard the phrase: memories blossom over time. When you reminisce with others about shared memories, it’s a great time. Lately, travel has become a priority for our family. We enjoy exploring with family and friends. Shared experiences build bonds that last. We plan to continue to do this often.
We could save money by avoiding travel, but then we’d miss these shared memories. Some delay travel until reaching financial independence – racing to the finish line. Who’s to say you will get that opportunity later in life? Life events could hinder your ability to travel with these people down the road. And if you’ve always said no, who’s to say they’d suddenly want to spend time with you. Create shared memories. Get out there! As I’ve mentioned in Disney on a Dime don’t let the expense of travel prevent you from enjoying it. Defray those costs with travel hacking through points and you’ll enjoy the experience even more, knowing you didn’t break the bank to make memories with the people you love.