Just One More Year! http://www.justonemoreyear.com One couple's story of escaping 9 to 5 until 65 Fri, 15 Jul 2016 13:52:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.11 Do You Suffer from Just One More Year Syndrome? http://www.justonemoreyear.com/suffer-just-one-year-syndrome/ http://www.justonemoreyear.com/suffer-just-one-year-syndrome/#comments Fri, 15 Jul 2016 00:15:54 +0000 http://www.justonemoreyear.com/?p=1378 I love listening to classic rock and roll. It was the music that played on the radio stations when I was in my early teens, and it has left a lasting impression on me. I often noticed that many of the groups had a title track song on their first album with the same name […]

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I love listening to classic rock and roll. It was the music that played on the radio stations when I was in my early teens, and it has left a lasting impression on me. I often noticed that many of the groups had a title track song on their first album with the same name as their album. Bad Company and Black Sabbath did this on their inaugural albums. (For those young whippersnappers reading, they were called “albums” back in the days before CDs and MP3s.) Now, after 15 months sharing our thoughts, dreams, fears, and of course our personal challenges with our readers, I think it is time to write the “title track” article of the Just One More Year blog. Let’s call it the Just One More Year Syndrome!

Just One More Year Syndrome!
Just One More Year Syndrome!

We came up with the name “Just One More Year” through a series of conversations with our friends the Billys, discussing the options of when and how we would retire early. Mrs. Billy at one point mentioned that she and her husband had the “Just One More Year Syndrome”—much like Dianne and I do. I had been kicking around the idea of starting a PF blog for several years and thought that would be a great name, and we went with Just One More Year.

The name resonated with us since we are somewhat conservative and wanted to make what we felt were safe and well-thought-out decisions before leaving our employers. We had many moving parts involving children, college, houses, insurance, health, debt, and building a passive income stream to provide the income we needed. We also had numerous bucket list items, savings needed for replacement of items, a grand travel plan, and remodeling goals in the mix. It seemed that all of these challenges kept things interesting… and rather difficult to control. My dear readers, I am happy to say we are getting close to fulfilling our early retirement dreams!

What is the Just One More Year Syndrome and can it be treated or cured?

The definition of the Just One More Year Syndrome, to me, is:

The inability to make a decision now, since we feel that in just one more year we will have better information, more money saved, or will have met some other financial goal that will make the decision to retire early seem perfect.

Our original plans were to retire last year. However, we had significant new developments that led us to not retiring one year ago. Last year we still had passive income debt, we were attempting to downsize, and we needed to hit a milestone with an employer for insurance and pension benefits. We were selling our house, buying a downsized home, remodeling, had college expenses for two daughters, and faced the likelihood that one of our jobs could be eliminated by our employers. That made decisions difficult. All of these elements made our decision tree look like a thousand-year-old redwood, with countless branches sprouting from the trunk. We needed to identify some of the problems and get past certain milestones to eliminate the clutter from our decision-making process. We have almost arrived.

I have found it therapeutic writing about our experiences over the past year. We have shared many of our plans, our frustrations, and our fears about leaving full-time employment in our early fifties. Recognizing that we are emotional creatures and can’t control every possible outcome is a good start for us, and will help us to make better decisions going forward. Granted, the expectations about the future are influenced by our current environment and outlook.

We think there is a cure for the Just One More Year Syndrome! It will come down to adopting a YOLO attitude and reaching a breaking point with our employers. For my wife, that will happen this year. For me, that will occur as late as next summer.

Just One More Year: Fear and greed are the trigger points

What’s making the decision to leave our paid employment for early retirement so difficult? It comes down to two basic emotions—fear and greed. I am at an age where it could be problematic to find employment at a wage remotely close to my current income. I consider leaving my full-time job a one-way decision that would be nearly impossible to reverse.

I know that many of those younger and more optimistic than me may call me out, saying that is BS! Why think negatively? The sky is the limit! Who knows what great things could happen once you leave your employer?

That is true, there are infinite possibilities, however the probability not being able to replace the same wage is more likely than you might think. This NY Times article points out that 48.8% of unemployed women in the age group of 55 to 64 are “long-term unemployed.” That means they both need and are looking for work, but have not landed a job after months or perhaps years of searching. There lies my fear, for whatever disaster hits me: I have to go back to work, yet the only job I can find pays 25% of what I make now.

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself.” –Excerpt from FDR’s first inaugural address

I have had some major challenges in my life that still bring fear about future uncertainties. To list a few:

  • My youngest daughter nearly died at birth and was in intensive care for three weeks; in addition to the fear of losing her, we incurred a financial cost of $120,000.
  • I have lost several jobs due to mergers and downsizing.
  • We have had multiple challenges with selling real estate.
  • When my first wife asked for a divorce, I lost half my net worth in one day.
  • I saw both my father’s successful partner and a family member declare bankruptcy. Another family member needed to “short sell” his home.
  • My father-in-law and father died at early ages. My mother was confined to a nursing home three years ago at age 71, at a cost of $80K a year and she has no nursing home insurance coverage.
  • On Monday this week, I chatted with a fellow coffee drinking companion at the local hangout. On Tuesday this late 60’s person is found dead on a park bench.

Each of these events, and many others, have influenced me as an adult and affected my decision making for early retirement.

 

Fear and Greed
Fear and Greed

How much is enough?

Let’s not forget fear’s evil twin: GREED! Check out how the fictional movie character Gordon Gekko describes greed in this video clip.

I recognize that I have not found that magic “enough” level that is described in one of my favorite personal finance books, Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. They created a great chart with a fulfillment curve, determining the point at which we reach “enough.”

The fulfillment curve
The fulfillment curve

Here is how this graphic plays out. We begin by getting jobs to make money to pay for rent, utilities, groceries, and basic insurances. This is the “Survival” stage of our fulfillment curve.

We then advance with our educations, experiences, and employers. We receive raises, make more money, and find outlets to spend that additional income. In the “Comfort” stage, we upgrade our clunker car to something more dependable. We actually take an occasional vacation. We no longer buy the cheapest foods available, and we begin to dine out more often at restaurants.

The “Luxury” phase occurs when we begin making even more money, wiser investments, and living below our means. Living below one’s means is not required, but it does help in the long term. This is the stage during which we feel we need to upsize our lifestyles across a wide spectrum of purchases and experiences. This will be different for everyone depending on what a person values and wishes to spend money on. Maybe it’s buying the McMansion, the fifth TV, or going on world cruises. The possibilities are endless. The key here is that this stage allows us to have some luxuries. Not all of them, as just above this stage, we reach the theoretical “Enough” point.

The “Enough” point is reached when the addition of another luxury, thing, or experience begins to lose the marginal utility of return on the dollars spent. In other words, the next purchase doesn’t seem to bring as much happiness as the last. It’s kind of like eating pizza: the first piece is awesome. The second could be just as good. However, on the fourth or fifth slice, it has begun to lose its luster. How do you think the twentieth slice would taste if you could somehow consume that much pizza?

“The perfect is the enemy of the good.” – Italian proverb, ca. 1603

I am struggling with finding the point of “Enough.” I know that, from a logical perspective, I can’t have everything. We live below our means and continue to save a large percentage of our incomes. But the little devil on my shoulder tells me, “You only live once! You will leave more than enough money for your family… why not do something nice for yourself and buy that fancy car and take a vacation to Tahiti? You deserve it!”

Should I concede to these money-spending thoughts, I know myself well enough to realize that I would feel compelled to continue working to build the cash reserve to replace the money spent for luxuries.

After imagining all the possible ramifications of retiring early, I allow fear to grip me again, staying stuck, not purchasing that item, and continuing to work. I keep telling myself that maybe if I work for Just One More Year, then I will have plenty of money to buy that thing or experience I so desire. Essentially, I keep moving my fulfillment curve up, failing to make the decision to leave my employer.

Check out this lady’s fulfillment curve, with a $262 million lifestyle. She is asking her ex-husband to pay for her “enoughness” level of support—including $1.3 million a year for clothes! Evidently, she has found what enough for her is, or maybe she hasn’t? There is one thing that is certain: the chart for her fulfillment curve has many more zeros in it than ours!

What can I do to cure my Just One More Year Syndrome?

I can start by counting my blessings, reminding myself that I can’t do and own everything. There has to be a compromise and a limit. I seem to want to reach perfection, where no questions are unanswered and I have twice as much saved as now. If I continue down that path, I will be working past the traditional retirement age. This is not the result I was expecting, to keep putting the decision off, when I started my PF independence journey decades ago.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

We just have to make a decision and leave our employers and do the best we can. Even taking the pessimistic view that everything will come tumbling down the day we quit work, we still will make some money after leaving our traditional jobs. My active imagination creates the fear that the stock market will crash, all our tenants will leave, and every property will suddenly require $20K in repairs.

The good news is that because we are debt free, our basic living expenses are quite low. Even with the potential calamities that could befall us, we can figure out a way to survive. Again, those are probabilities for disaster, but not likely. The bottom line is that we need be happy with the lives we have and focus on the positive of what will be, when we are no longer chained to our employers’ desks. We have to keep that dream alive, understanding we won’t have all the answers, but we can adjust to what life throws at us.

We have already past the point of “Enough” for our present lifestyle to support us for the remaining days of our lives. Now we just need to jump!

***

Folks, do you think that fear and greed are the basic elements involved with making a decision to retire early? If so, how do you reconcile them to make decisions?

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How the Number 5 is playing a big role in our lives http://www.justonemoreyear.com/number-5-playing-big-role-lives/ http://www.justonemoreyear.com/number-5-playing-big-role-lives/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 00:55:13 +0000 http://www.justonemoreyear.com/?p=1369 Have you ever heard that sometimes things happen in 3’s?  An example is when we get 3 bits of good or bad news all in a short period.  Sometimes you read about a recent second celebrity death and soon another will pass away.  For us it seems that the number 5 is playing a positive […]

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Have you ever heard that sometimes things happen in 3’s?  An example is when we get 3 bits of good or bad news all in a short period.  Sometimes you read about a recent second celebrity death and soon another will pass away.  For us it seems that the number 5 is playing a positive role in our lives this year.

The number five is important to us
The number five is important to us

Before we go too far, here is a quick disclaimer:  I really like numbers.  I enjoy working with numbers from an accounting, bookkeeping, time, and personal finance perspective.  I have never explored numbers from a meta-physical numerological perspective.  My brain works much better with math.  There are many events where milestones with the number 5 seem to keep occurring for us in 2016.

Let me explain how the number 5 is affecting us.

Starting with our ages – the number 5 is a big one this year.

In a post earlier this year, I mentioned that I was turning 55.  That was only a couple days off from exactly 5 months ago.  I purchased a fancy watch on February 5th that was a combination birthday and bucket list item for me.

We went on to enjoy an awesome 7-day (not 5 day) cruise on the Pacific coast of Mexico.  However, we did eat 5 times in the ship’s fancy dining restaurants.   They probably took our picture 5 times on the trip, none of which we purchased.

Guess who turns 50 today? … my lovely wife Dianne.  We are in Santa Fe New Mexico (Santa and Mexico both have 5 letters) celebrating her birthday and taking some time to relax.  Our first date was 10 years ago (10 years / 2 people = 5) when we visited a German restaurant, split 5 beers, and had some excellent food.  At that time, I was going to the gym 5 times a week and met her in the regular Friday 5 PM (5th day of the week) yoga class.

Our work has some significant number 5 events

Today also happens to be my 5-year work anniversary with my employer.  How’s that for weird – same day as my wife’s birthday.   She is probably getting upset that I have already mentioned that twice!

Let’s keep moving on here– my wife has only 5 months from this week for her 5 year anniversary with her employer.  That date will hit the magic employment length she needs for some pension and insurance goodies we plan on leveraging in her eventual retirement.  She also received a short-term 5% wage increase for partially filling in for additional duties when her boss retired 3 months ago.  Darn it, why couldn’t she have retired 5 months ago to work with my theme here!

Stick with me folks.

Some other significant random number 5 events

I have shared that I have two daughters.  They are 5 years and 3 days apart in age.  The youngest one was born on the 5th day of the month, just like my mother, however in a different month exactly 5 months later.  The oldest daughter graduated high school 5 years ago.

My mother has been suffering from Parkinson’s for the last 5 years and is now in a nursing home.  My biological father died 5 years ago.

A Mercedes-Benz SL550 is on my wish and bucket list to own someday.  Three weeks ago, we were in Scottsdale where we window-shopped after the dealership closed, and the day finally cooled down to a balmy 95 degrees.

We have been fully debt free for 5 months!

The Just One More Year blog has been in existence 15 months now.  I attempted to make this post right at 555 words long.  Instead, it is 745 words in length.  This article was released automatically on July 5th at exactly 5:55 PM Pacific Time.

 

Thank you for making it this far in the article

For those non-number people, I probably lost you awhile back.  However, this should have only taken about 5 minutes to read.  For those who followed along – Thanks!

I thought one could get a good glimpse at our personal lives from what we have shared about the number 5.  You know our ages, our work history, one of our retirement dates, some health and death history, and a factoid about our blog.  I have shared that I have two daughters that are 5 years and 3 days apart in age.

Ok folks, now it is time to go spend 5 minutes working on some other next task.  🙂

***

Folks, am I putting too much significance in the number 5?  Do you find certain number patterns in your live?

 

Photo copyright : Igor Zakowski (Follow)

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Remodeling: We completed our kitchen! http://www.justonemoreyear.com/remodeling-completed-kitchen/ Fri, 01 Jul 2016 00:15:13 +0000 http://www.justonemoreyear.com/?p=1354 We have been a bit quiet lately on the JOMY website. If you follow our blog, you know that the past six months have been very busy. We sold our home, downsized to something smaller, and then hurled ourselves headfirst into months of remodeling projects. Our updates to the blog have been less frequent due […]

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We have been a bit quiet lately on the JOMY website. If you follow our blog, you know that the past six months have been very busy. We sold our home, downsized to something smaller, and then hurled ourselves headfirst into months of remodeling projects. Our updates to the blog have been less frequent due to the amount of time these projects have taken. This is the first time I have done this much work on a personal residence, let alone in such a short time. We remodeled the kitchen and bathrooms, installed new floors, replaced all the fixtures, appliances, drywall texture and corners, and so on. We repaired the roof, installed new gutters and downspouts, replaced every exterior window, installed two new eight-foot patio doors, and did numerous other things I have lost track of at this point.

The kitchen before the work started
The kitchen before the work started

Instead of boring everyone with all the minute details, I thought I would give you a glimpse of the work that went into the kitchen project—along with how dramatically I underestimated the time and costs required!

You can see our blank canvas started with an early 1980s kitchen, ten-year-old appliances, a four-foot fluorescent light fixture, a pass through opening to the living room, and of course the fake tile-like linoleum floors. Functionally it worked fine, but the wife said it had to go. That was part of the agreement we made to reach a decision on downsizing to a much smaller home.

Some reasons to leave our original home

We attempted to sell our 1970s style rancher for eight months and became very frustrated with the process. Although we had a lot of interest in our home, no one offered to buy it. I think we showed the home about 50 times, each showing requiring me to pack my home office and the cat to vacate the house. My “real estate Spidey sense” told me there was a problem with the house that kept anyone from buying. There just had to be! I asked nearly every real estate agent directly to identify what the issue was, so that we could resolve it if possible. The most common response was that buyers wanted more views or the third bedroom to be on the main level.

We received two offers that fizzled out rather quickly. We finally took the home off the market during the summer (the slow season for buying), to reconsider our selling strategy moving forward.

We did not want to sink money into our rancher home, since we were not completely happy with the architecture (low ceilings, dated slump block, etc.). It did not make sense to do the much-needed major kitchen remodel. We felt we would be better off moving into a smaller, newer place that we could buy deeply discounted. Then we could complete all the updates that we wanted, based on our style and preferences.

Eventually we found some buyers through a co-worker of my wife and sold the home in early January. We purchased the new home in early December and frantically began working on drywall and flooring projects to be completed before we moved in on January 3rd.

The demolition stage of the kitchen

We attempted to complete all the work needed on the home without touching the two bathrooms or kitchen. The code words for those future projects had been: “Phase Two.”

Phase Two started out slowly in late January as we looked at countertops and cabinet samples, appliances, handles, sinks, faucets, and countless other do-dads needed for today’s kitchen designs. We found out very quickly that many of the contractors and subs in Sedona have too much work and are not interested in smaller jobs. We talked with our new neighbors to find contacts who could help us complete the work we had planned.

Here are some “before” pictures with our flooring and walls completed, from the perspective of the dining area and one wall inside the kitchen prior to demo:

During kitchen demo
During kitchen demo
During kitchen demo - different view
During kitchen demo – different view

The demo phase felt good, since we felt like we were finally making progress and soon would be getting the project done. Had we only known that this was just the beginning… We spent months working around a construction zone in a partially, then fully demolished kitchen, attempting to make meals. It was a challenge!

The start of the “money letting” for the kitchen

There were too many decisions for my taste. What style, color, dimension, composition, manufacturer, and cabinets did we want? Nearly all the same decisions needed to be made for the appliances, countertops, backsplash, and lights. This went on, never seeming to end!

Speaking of appliances, we purchased on sale the entire set on January 15, 2016, picking a maximum delivery of 90 days later. I thought: You know what, when April 15th rolls around, I’ll just push the delivery out further if needed. On April 14, I received a call saying the appliances would be delivered the next day, no exceptions. Heck, Dianne and I were camping hours away and not even home! Certainly, you would think that we would have had the kitchen completed by then. We were not even close.

We decided on the cabinets, a quartz countertop, a sink and faucet, and a tile backsplash. We bought the backsplash at cost, left over from a tile job at a local restaurant. The money letting began. We had to pay in full for the cabinets, sinks, and faucets up front. The countertops and tile were half down and the remaining at completion. Thankfully, we had the cash and we have not taken on one penny of debt for these projects.

The “time suck” stage of the project

It takes a lot of time to coordinate materials and schedules. I work from home and the construction, deliveries, and noise from workers tended to happen precisely when I was on conference calls. I locked the cat in the office with me so he would not run outside. Of course, he showed his appreciation by meowing while I attended my calls. This went on for several months.

We tried to stay ahead of the work by getting missing parts, additional materials, and ordering fixtures to arrive when needed. In our free time after work each day, we would clean up from the day’s work and then spend a couple hours brainstorming about what was next.

In my free time, I installed all new locks, door handles, light fixtures, outlets, and switches.

I found a new revelation: We had spent so much time in the past obsessing about becoming debt free as soon as possible, and then substituted our old obsession with a new activity—remodeling.

The “when will it ever end” and “the end” stages of the project

We ran into a few problems. We had numerous electrical outlets to move, new light fixtures to install, and some challenges with the sink and dishwasher. There is an Ace Hardware store less than half a mile away that I have walked to sometimes as many as three times a day to get parts.

We still need to do more texture and paint work; however, the kitchen is fully functional now. Here is a look at the completed project:

After the kitchen remodel - one view
After the kitchen remodel – one view
After the kitchen remodel - another view
After the kitchen remodel – another view

Some lessons learned with our remodeling projects

We finished the work on the kitchen project just three weeks ago. When I say finished, I mean all but some touch up. I thought we went into the project with realistic expectations. Of course, we were wrong. Here are some revelations that I hope those who have gone before us will nod their heads YES, or simply chuckle with a knowing laugh.

Assume your budget is wrong. Create a detailed budget that you can put into a spreadsheet and then list every item in cost and labor to determine the overall cost of the project. Total the amount at the bottom. Now add a couple more cells in which to enter an amount that is double that cost! Then you may be o.k. with the budget. The good news is that if you planned for double, had the money available, and came in at less, you saved money. Our overall remodel went over by 60%.

It will take much, much, much longer than you think. Did you get the part about it taking much longer? In our case, the kitchen took three times as long as we had guessed. There were delays with materials, coordinating schedules, some travel on my part, and nearly four weeks for the countertops to get completed. Halfway through these projects, I felt like stopping. My wife continued to support and help me along the way to help turn my poor attitude around.

So there you have it, dear readers. Now you know why things have been slow for me in terms of adding content and communicating with my fellow bloggers. Of course, these are all “first-world problems,” but I thought you might be interested in seeing the progress we’ve made.

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Folks, have you taken on any kitchen remodel projects? Have you had the same experience with cost and time overruns exceeding your original expectations?

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What if our future expectations are completely wrong? http://www.justonemoreyear.com/future-expectations-completely-wrong/ http://www.justonemoreyear.com/future-expectations-completely-wrong/#comments Fri, 17 Jun 2016 00:15:26 +0000 http://www.justonemoreyear.com/?p=1347 Recently, I spent time with my youngest daughter, celebrating her graduation from high school. We shared some awesome moments and father-daughter conversations. I attended her high school graduation and took keepsake photos of the event. The next night, we had a party for her with about fifty of her friends and family. The night of […]

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Recently, I spent time with my youngest daughter, celebrating her graduation from high school. We shared some awesome moments and father-daughter conversations. I attended her high school graduation and took keepsake photos of the event. The next night, we had a party for her with about fifty of her friends and family.

High School Graduation Speeches
High School Graduation Speeches

The night of her graduation, I listened to what felt like endless speeches by school administrators, faculty, and students. Of course, they all had the common themes of hope, a bright future, and their school spirit—the best ever! I began to think back to my experience as a high school student decades ago, thinking about the speech I might have written, probably arriving at the same message about how great the future would be for us all.

Had I written a speech, would my predictions have been accurate?

I began to ponder whether my high school graduation goals have really come to fruition

As I listened to the students’ graduation speeches, I got the sense that they were painting an overly optimistic picture of the future, while of course wearing rose-colored glasses.

At their age, I could not have imagined all the opportunities ahead, or the successes and failures, tragedies, and disappointments along my journey. At 18, I felt an overwhelming responsibility to support myself financially, quickly moving out of my parents’ home. My memories tend toward feeling a lot of pressure to make it on my own.

Fortunately, my work soon began to develop into a career I could never have imagined while in high school. I worked through a series of jobs with a large employer that was soon acquired by a much larger company, providing me additional opportunities. I leveraged promotions by accepting multiple relocation moves. I became comfortable with a steady paycheck, house and car payments, and putting off increased retirement savings until some mystical “later” date. Instead of taking more risks, I settled for the career I was in and began accumulating stuff.

I didn’t “take chances and soar like an eagle” as many students recommended in their graduation speeches.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” –First inaugural address, Franklin D. Roosevelt

Back to the graduation party. I conducted an informal survey of family members and friends, asking them, “If you could do it all over again, knowing some of the challenges you went through, would you be willing to be a graduating high school senior again without the knowledge of what you experienced”?”

The overwhelming response was “NO!

I found that answer very interesting.  As adults, we were avoiding the pain more now than the pleasure of unknown opportunities that would unfold for us as recent high school graduates.

Our mind plays tricks on our memories and ability to visualize our future

On the train trip to see my daughter, I happened to pick up a fascinating book called Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard psychologist whose book “describes the foibles of imagination and illusions of foresight that cause each of us to misconceive our tomorrows and misestimate our satisfactions.

I gained some insights into how our minds and human emotions influence our happiness, memories, and expectations of the future. In many cases, what we think is accurate is completely wrong. We make assumptions and we indiscriminately fill in the missing pieces based on our current emotional states. Here are a couple of key items that stuck out for me.

Our past is not stored as movie

We each carry many memories that we have accumulated from early childhood up to the present day. Our mind is incapable of storing all aspects of the emotions, words, sights, sounds, etc. of these experiences. Much like a computer hard drive or a security video system recording 24/7, we soon run out of storage space. Our memories can store only some major pieces or blocks of these events. When we attempt to recall memories, our present mental state influences the recall of those memories and how we fill in what we think were the missing pieces.

We underestimate how past loss and disappointment affect us

There are studies that have been conducted on volunteers of how they would predict their happiness level if they became physically handicapped or disabled.  The traditional response is their level of happiness would be less than it is today.  Yet researchers interviewing disabled people that included blind and paraplegics found that their happiness levels were similar to the non-disabled and in some cases, they were actually happier.

Additional studies were conducted with volunteers in control and test groups asking them how they would feel about a major loss or disappointment in their lives, versus missed opportunities. Researchers found that memories of events such as divorce, family deaths, and being fired were not as unpleasant—with time—as feelings about missed opportunities. People were found to be measurably less happy when considering missed opportunities than when remembering terrible events.  For those bad experiences, the mind was able to justify and minimize the events while the missed goals had too many future possibilities to consider and needed to fill in the what-if’s.  There was a deep sense of loss from what “could have been”.. While time had healed some of the pain of past experiences, in terms of missed opportunities there was a deep sense of loss surrounding what “could have been.”

Visualizing our future is influenced by our emotional state

I like to plan future events and visualize how great things will be once I achieve my goals. Wouldn’t you know it, your present emotional state has a huge impact on how you visualize the future. Regarding the students’ graduation speeches about hope and success, it seemed like they were envisioning a future of rainbows, unicorns, and lollipops. That makes sense, though—it was a big day, one with a theme of a bright future.

I recognize that I have become weighed down by present situations

I can see that—after listening to the graduation speeches, attending the party, and reading a book on insights into our minds and thinking—I was feeling a bit blue. The last couple of years have been very busy for us, reaching financial independence, with one daughter’s college graduation and marriage, debt snowballs, downsizing, becoming debt free, and remodeling our new place. All of these things have taken energy and planning. Some have included disappointment, leaving me to wonder just how achievable my dreams really are. I recognize now that I must do something to spark the creative visualization of our future that includes positivity, hope, and discrete details.

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened” Mark Twain

Time speeds by—more quickly as we get older. (I can’t believe that it’s been three decades since I was in high school!) In particular, the most recent ten years have slipped by quickly for me. We are entering a new and unfamiliar phase in our lives today. Post remodeling, post becoming debt free, and on the verge of leaving work with our employers. We believe our future involves camping, travel, healthier diets, more exercise, and additional involvement in our community. This is a pivotal point for us to change from decades of accumulating and building net worth to leaving a steady paycheck and potentially drawing on savings and retirement. The Just One More Year Syndrome is rearing its ugly head, telling us to continue to wait, due to all the scary monsters and disasters that could be ahead. I recognize that and continue to work through those worries.

Seeing the hope and creativity of young graduates is energizing, and reminds me that, no matter how discouraged I’m feeling today, there is still the opportunity to create a bright future. Even 30 years after my own high school graduation, life is still a work in progress.

Thanks for reading.

***

How about you, can you remember your high school graduation experience and your dreams for the future? Did those dreams manifest for you in ways you expected? Would you be willing to go back again and do it all over without the knowledge you have today?

Phot copyright : Viktoriia Kazakova

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High School Graduation: A father’s letter to his daughter http://www.justonemoreyear.com/high-school-graduation-fathers-letter-daughter/ http://www.justonemoreyear.com/high-school-graduation-fathers-letter-daughter/#comments Fri, 03 Jun 2016 00:15:23 +0000 http://www.justonemoreyear.com/?p=1337 Our daughter is participating in her high school graduation tomorrow and I thought it might be good to put my thoughts down in a father’s letter to his daughter.  I do not believe she is aware of this website or blog, but will certainly find it at some point.  Sweetie, I hope someday you enjoy […]

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Our daughter is participating in her high school graduation tomorrow and I thought it might be good to put my thoughts down in a father’s letter to his daughter.  I do not believe she is aware of this website or blog, but will certainly find it at some point.  Sweetie, I hope someday you enjoy my letter and my best wishes for you as you move on to college and the rest of your life.  I love you!

Dear Sweetie,

I can’t believe how fast the school years have gone by for you from my perspective.  I can still remember when you were born – you gave us such as scare.  You spent three weeks in an Intensive Care Unit with many complications.  I can still see the image of you hookup up to all those live support machines.  You have been a special girl right from you birth, doing things your own unique way on your particular schedule.  I still have not figured out that schedule!  I guess you will keep me guessing!

I am so proud of you and the progress you have made in your young life.  You have quite the gift and talent for playing the trumpet.  I know the various bands you are in appreciate your skill and own special style.  You have been such a great daughter from a parent’s perspective, avoiding many of the struggles parents face with their children as they mature.

How I remember her
How I remember her
A Picture of you last year at your sister's wedding rehearsal
A Picture of you last year at your sister’s wedding rehearsal

I have learned many things in my life that might be helpful to you.  I know you have heard much of this before – I can see you rolling your eyes right now.  I hope that you do come to appreciate the teaching and advice I have attempted to give you.  Maybe one day you will truly appreciate the advice.

Here are a few things to consider.

It will take a while to figure out what you will do for a living.  Don’t fret now that you have graduated high school.  Very few people really know what they want to do in life until they try a few things and get additional training and education.  The first, second, or third things you might wish to do for a living might not work out.  Simply look at them for the benefit of the new skills and experience you have gained from the work.  Try to find the good out of each situation and visualize how you can apply that in your next job.

Find something that you are passionate about.   You will hear everyone tell you to follow your dreams.  That is difficult advice to follow when the rest of the world gets in the way.  It is hard to ride unicorns over rainbows while playing Xbox every day.  It could be difficult making a living.  Today you have a support group with your family to try a vocation that really interests you, regardless of the money.  If you really want to pursue music, mass communications, radio, or any other interest, try it out for a couple years.  It is not the end of the world to switch your major or job.  It is far easier to do it now than when you are in your forties or older.  What is important is to understand the big “WHY” you have some interests in your live.  Take time to reflect on that, understanding your unique aptitudes, and what would be enjoyable to you.

Live Below your Means.  I see you becoming successful in your life with work.  I have imparted many money lessons over the years to you since that is one of my passions.  I truly believe that everyone should have basic money skills.  They should have a checking and savings account, a debit and credit card, and put away a percentage (at least 10% or more) toward their retirement beginning with their first job.  Along the way it is important to build credit for the purpose of buying a home, often your most expensive item.  I would plan to pay cash for your second most costly expense item, which is typically a car.  Buy your cars used and drive them for years before you replace them.  You will find that the further you live below your means, the easier your finances will be to manage in the future.

Take care of your health.  Continue to be active, ride your bike, walk, and go to the gym.  This is the only body you will have so you need to take care of it.  You will have more energy and have a happy live with a happy body.  As you get older, you will need to maintain your strength and begin to watch your diet more closely.  I was just like you for decades of my life – tall and skinny.  The skinny part is harder to maintain as you age and slow down your activities.  Creating good habits now will be easier for you to maintain in the future.

It is a joy to spend time with you and joke around.  I want you to know that you can reach out to me any time you want to talk or have a problem you wish to discuss.  Believe me, I have made plenty of mistakes in my life and have learned some lessons – usually the hard way.

We look forward to seeing you and coming back to visit us in Sedona.  I am so proud of you!

Love (have a good one!) Dad

PS:  Sweetie I am going on the record now, that you were not adopted after all.  Your mother and I did not pick you out at the orphanage!  BTW, I let your sister aware of the fact she was not adopted last year at her wedding.

PPS:  You are officially my favorite “college enrolled” daughter!  It has been a long battle and competitive fight with your sister on achieving this favorite daughter status.  Congratulations!

 ***

 

How about you, are there any readers out there with children graduating high school this year?    Did you have any words of wisdom for them as they continue with their young lives?

 

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What if One of Your Big Goals is Misguided? http://www.justonemoreyear.com/one-big-goals-misguided/ http://www.justonemoreyear.com/one-big-goals-misguided/#comments Fri, 27 May 2016 00:15:49 +0000 http://www.justonemoreyear.com/?p=1332 We spend a lot of time planning in this household.  I seem to initiate most of it since I can’t seem to sit still for very long.  I feel that I need to have direction and a focus; otherwise, I am not maximizing my time and energy toward making progress in my life.  On the […]

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We spend a lot of time planning in this household.  I seem to initiate most of it since I can’t seem to sit still for very long.  I feel that I need to have direction and a focus; otherwise, I am not maximizing my time and energy toward making progress in my life.  On the other hand, maybe is it just some personality quirk I have that I must have or find a problem that needs to be solved?  I have discovered that setting goals for me are therapeutic, allowing me to create plans that gives me momentum, direction, and distinct actions toward their accomplishment.

Setting Goals
Setting Goals

What happens if you wake up one day and begin to realize you have made a mistake in setting one of your big goals?  The easy answer would be to regroup, modify, or drop the goal, and simply move on to the next thing.  That does sound easy until you add some of the emotional elements of your goals into the equation.

Many of us are dreamers when we create goals

I have sailed for around 30 years, owning sometimes and going for long stretches without a boat.  Each time I get to the point where I think it is time to buy one again, the creative juices start to flow and behold, the perfect boat is found through our exhaustive search.  We then have grand visions (as probably a large percentage of boaters) of spending much time on the new boat.  Who knows, maybe do some off shore sailing and go up and down the coasts of North and South America?  Don’t forget to through in a Transpac trip from California to Honolulu Hawaii for good measure.

“The two happiest days in a boater’s life – they day they buy it and the day they sell it” – an old boating joke

 

It soon becomes magical.  Somehow, these dreams provide us the nearly unlimited time required to pursue these passions and our jobs become the furthest things from our minds.  We envision how much fun it will be sailing with our friends and family.  Heck, let’s do the Baja Ha-Ha trip down to Mexico with a hundred other boats for a great time to be had by all.

I have noticed the unrealistic dreams like this pop into my head as I visualize how great things could be.

We had similar dreams about 18 months ago about traveling through the US when we bought our used travel trailer and pickup.  We do give ourselves credit that we didn’t rush into a quick purchasing decision.  We talked about it for roughly three years before actually buying the camping rig.  We kept double-checking our thinking to make sure we had realistic expectations of how much we would actually camp.  We decided that we would go camping roughly three months a year once my wife stopped working in December.

Last year we were able to camp 30 days while we continuing to work full time.  After this weekend it will be 9 days.  However, next year we do believe we will get 90 days of camping.

I set a couple goals for the next six months

In this post, I mentioned my three major goals for the next several months.  These goals involve my health, finishing our remodeling projects, and studying German for a trip in September to Germany.

Focusing on the German goal, my motivations are based on my mother emigrating from Germany and attempting to keep contact with that part of my family.  My mother’s health is deteriorating as she is in a nursing home.  She seems to be reverting to speaking in German – what little we are able to understand.  I mentioned in the past a former goal I had to surprise my mother by having an extended conversation with her in German.  That happened about 6 years ago and I have done virtually nothing to keep up my language skills since then.

I began to have second thoughts about my renewed language goal when I looked up the last time I went to Germany:  July 2003.  In thirteen years, I have not gone back once.  Hmmm…

I seem to have a trend here.

On a walk this past weekend with my wife, I brought up the subject of my German studies.  I am studying multiple college textbooks, all five levels of Rosetta, and listening to various podcasts.  I began looking into an immersion course to really jump-start my learning. The cost of the immersion course was emailed to me over the weekend and it made me pause (due to the cost) as to what my language goal really is intended to achieve.

Why study German if I will not use the language?

History doesn’t have to repeat itself, but often it does.  Will it be another 13 years until I go back to Germany after this September?  Will my language study fall off after this trip?

“Goals are only wishes unless you have a plan” – Philanthropist Melinda Gates

 

In talking with my wife, I asked her for honest feedback about our continued travel to Germany.  Are we going to spend 3 months a year there – every year?  Where does “THE CAT” go during that time?  What happens to our planned 3 months of RV’g each year?  When we leave our jobs we will certainly have more time, but realistically is it going to be traveling to only one country?  There are 198 other countries in this world and a lot to see!

Then we talked about if it is really worth six months of study for a two-week trip?  I am beginning to believe it is not.  This is a tough decision for me since I have wanted to visit Germany on an extended stay to immerse myself in the language.  I don’t really have a good method of keeping those language skills up in a remote Arizona town of 12,000 people with half of them living here part time.

It is a complicated decision for me because I don’t like quitting on important goals and I would feel as though I am closing a chapter in my life.  I also don’t want to give up because something is hard for me.

I am in a holding pattern while I reflect on my German Language goal

In a week, I will see my youngest daughter’s High School Graduation ceremony in Colorado.  I need to think about this German language goal over the next couple of weeks to see if it is realistic and if the end justifies the work of my studying.  I have mentioned before that some slow travel on Amtrak has a way of clarifying some questions and providing me some answers.  Maybe I will get some clarity on my train trip.

I have been successful with setting big goals in the past and have been able to stay focused on them for many years.  Becoming debt free and Financially Independent would not have happened without these big goals in place.

I do plan to continue to study for half an hour per day to keep the momentum going.  It just bugs me that if I don’t do anything later with travel or family, maybe I am wasting my time.  For now, I feel compelled to study as much as possible.

Perhaps it is time to start golfing again or take up other hobbies.

***

Folks, have you ever had big goals that your wonder if they were worth achieving?  Have you changed a goal midstream and found it difficult to do?

Photo copyright: kittichais / 123RF Stock Photo

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Financial Preparedness: Creating Your Resignation Letter http://www.justonemoreyear.com/financial-preparedness-creating-resignation-letter/ http://www.justonemoreyear.com/financial-preparedness-creating-resignation-letter/#comments Fri, 20 May 2016 00:00:45 +0000 http://www.justonemoreyear.com/?p=1323 When it comes to thinking about the future, I tend toward constant brainstorming and preparation. This includes plans with family, schedules, vacations, and most things related to personal finance. People who know me see this pattern in my daily life and actions. I spend a lot of time and energy planning. In preparing for my […]

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When it comes to thinking about the future, I tend toward constant brainstorming and preparation. This includes plans with family, schedules, vacations, and most things related to personal finance. People who know me see this pattern in my daily life and actions. I spend a lot of time and energy planning. In preparing for my eventual departure from my employer, I’m already thinking about my resignation letter.

Don't forget to quit and hand in the resignation letter
Don’t forget to quit and hand in the resignation letter

Just for fun, I’ve come up with a couple of fake resignation letters.

I thought it would be fun to create two resignation letters, one positive and one negative. For the negative letter, I decided to write as if I were throwing all caution to the wind and letting the bridges burn! The positive approach would be the kinder and gentler resignation letter that continues the butt kissing and “corporate speak” one encounters in large companies.

I know that my sense of humor leans toward the dry side. I don’t plan to use either of these resignation letters once I decide to notify my employer of my parting. For now, this is just a way to poke some fun—at myself and at the process of leaving “the man.” For the sake of these resignation letters, I am using the movie Office Space as my inspiration, blatantly borrowing the characters’ names. My boss is Bill Lundbergh and I work for a mythical company, Initech. These are the letters I would have written after losing it, when I heard the woman chirp for the thousandth time:

 “Corporate accounts payable, Nina speaking – JUST a moment.”

The Negative Resignation Letter

May 19, 2016

Bill Lundbergh

123 Main Street

Anywhere, USA 54321

Billy Boy,

I have had it. I quit! I can’t stand another day carrying out the meaningless, mindless, and completely irrelevant tasks you seem to dream up on a daily basis. However, I have to give you credit for creating an endless stream of stupid ideas. Where do you get all your energy and creativity? Do you actually believe your own shit?

I’m telling you right now that two weeks from this second I am walking out the door and never looking back at my job at Initech. I wish you the best of luck finding someone to do this bullshit work you have assigned to me.

There will be no more goals or new plans this year that you will cram down my throat. What the hell was wrong with last year’s plan? Oh yeah, we have re-org’d three times since then. You constantly feed us the company line about how wonderful these changes are for “aligning our objectives” with some other obscure team we never heard of until 15 minutes ago. How can it actually be better every time?

You created freaking banners asking, “What can you do for Initech?” and organized Hawaiian shirt days. Great job!

Thanks so much for calling me on weekends, sending endless emails 24/7, and my favorite:

“Oh, oh, and I almost forgot. Ahh, I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too…”

You have been so busy interfering in my life that you forgot about your own. News flash: Your wife has been having an affair with your boss for the last four years. That’s right, and everyone knows. Have fun driving the Porsche home tonight!

Speaking of Porsches, while you have been spending all your money on fancy cars, clothes, vacations, houses, and country club memberships, I have been saving. In fact, I have saved my full paycheck the entire time I’ve worked for you. My family has lived below our means, driven one car, and put our money in passive investments. My wife and I never need to work another day in our lives. How does that make you feel?

Initech has been very effective at running off the best people. After two mergers and eight re-orgs in the last five years, some of us find it hard swallowing the company propaganda about how great these changes will be for us. Those who dissent and question changes are labeled troublemakers. I just love managers like you tell us, “If you don’t like change, you should consider leaving the company.” That is awesome motivation for empowering your employees. Guess what, I did “update my resume” as you suggested at least fifty times in our monotonous internal meetings.

BTW – screw the internal education and compliance stuff from now on. I digress, just as you do when you ramble on, discussing five different subjects in one long-ass sentence that seems to go on and on and on and on… and never gets to the point. You also might want to keep an eye on Milton Waddams and forget about taking your Swingline stapler back.

So “take this job and shove it” as Johnny Paycheck sang, “I ain’t workin’ here no more!”

Please don’t call me ever again,

Peter Gibbons

The Positive Resignation Letter

 

May 19, 2016

Bill Lundbergh

123 Main Street

Anywhere, USA 54321

Dear Mr. Lundbergh,

It is with great trepidation and after intense soul searching that I regrettably tender my six-month notice of resignation. It has been so hard making this decision since Initech has been the best company I have ever worked for. I can’t say enough about you, Bill, as a boss. Your leadership qualities and abilities are the best! I believe business schools should use you as a case study for their textbooks on effective business management.

I will miss the new ideas and changes you generate that always makes Initech a better place to work. It helps to keep a healthy and challenging environment by not staying with the same plan each year. Our customers completely understand these changes and recognize us as thought leaders. I am so happy when you fire those non-conformists, or they quit, because they don’t see the perfect logic and wisdom in our company’s changes. How could they possibly leave the best company in the industry? They must be stupid. I can’t imagine how unfulfilling my life will be once I leave Initech.

The only reason I am leaving is because I won fifty million dollars in the lottery last month and my attorney says I need to move to the Caribbean to shelter my income. I know you don’t encourage remote working arrangements and would prefer that we share conference room tables and desks. That builds a sense of collaboration that living thousands of miles away in an island nation would not foster. I get that. Now I am going to purchase all those fine cars and things that I was so envious of you owning all those years.

I sincerely want to keep in contact with you through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and will follow your personal blog. I want you to call any time you just feel like talking. Also, I can’t get enough of your joke emails, so please keep those coming. Should I find that something changes in my situation, I would love to come back to my old job again. I will continue to keep my skills up to date so that I can fit right back into my old position.

I now feel like I am making such a big mistake leaving Initech. There will be many sleepless nights as I think about all the great things I could have done with the company.

Your most loyal employee, 🙂

Peter Gibbons

The final version of my Resignation Letter will be professional

This was a fun exercise for me, releasing some direct and passive-aggressive tendencies in written form. Needless to say, neither of these letters will be my final version. I will probably take the weasel’s approach and keep it positive, sans sarcasm.

My decision to take the professional resignation letter path ensures my leaving under the best of circumstances. This has paid dividends for me in the past in terms of building my career. My future could manifest in ways that I cannot imagine at this point, so why alienate people on the way out?

I don’t see the need to work again, but who knows for certain. This is part of my conservative nature—wanting to have a fallback position if needed, creating my own version of an employment insurance policy. Who knows, I could form some other business with my boss or coworkers in the future. The future is uncertain; why not make something positive out of leaving work with my employer?

***

Have you already written a resignation letter in preparation for early retirement? If so, did you take the negative or positive approach?

Photo copyright : fuzzbones

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Celebrating Our Blog’s One Year Anniversary http://www.justonemoreyear.com/celebrating-blogs-one-year-anniversary/ http://www.justonemoreyear.com/celebrating-blogs-one-year-anniversary/#comments Thu, 12 May 2016 23:00:29 +0000 http://www.justonemoreyear.com/?p=1318 This is a quick update to celebrate one year ago today that the Just One More Year blog was launched. Hmmm, why am I still working after one year?  How many “one more” years are there going to be for me?  Why continue to work after reaching financial independence?  It might make you wonder why […]

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This is a quick update to celebrate one year ago today that the Just One More Year blog was launched. Hmmm, why am I still working after one year?  How many “one more” years are there going to be for me?  Why continue to work after reaching financial independence?  It might make you wonder why I named this blog Just One More Year if I really did not want to retire within a year.

Believe me; I did want to retire in less than one year.  These are all excellent questions that I will attempt to cover in next week’s post.

Since we are a Personal Finance oriented blog, maybe this is an appropriate image for one year.
Since we are a Personal Finance oriented blog, maybe this is an appropriate image for one year.

Stay tuned next week as I attempt to explain my thoughts around the realization that I have been unable to walk away from the perceived comforts of a steady paycheck.  I knew that I would suffer from the “Just One More Year Syndrome” once we reached the magical and logical point for us to stop work.  It is darn hard to walk away from a nice paycheck at the top of your career.  Especially true when you are in your mid-fifties where the odds of making more money in your career begin to dwindle!

I know my wife and I will both retire early.  For her it will happen by the end of this year.  For me, I am guessing that it is now less than a year from now.  It is interesting because in this post last year I mentioned that by July 4, 2016 I would have arrived:

“This year’s holiday is special for me since it will be the last July 4th Independence Day I spend dependent on an employer for income!  Next year my wife and I will celebrate an entirely new experience when we declare ourselves Financially Independent!  July 4, 2016, here we come – only 363 days to go!”

These darn blogs have a way of making you accountable.  I have found writing down goals has the same effect too.  So now, we have made it to a point that neither my wife nor I need to work for our employers to afford our lifestyle.  I can say that we have partially accomplished the goal because we have not yet actually stopped working.

So why not get on with quitting already and stop working another day filling out TPS reports, receiving the new cover letters (also PowerPoint & Word templates, new reporting systems, processes, etc.) to use as we deflect any work away we can for someone else to complete?  Unfortunately, I think it will come down to an emotional decision for me.  I will get super pissed off one day with my employer and decide I had enough.  That will be the last straw and I will give a one-month notice of my leaving.  I will be building my internal justification with every new stupid task and email I receive.  It will come to the proverbial last straw that broke the camel’s back.

I think I will go ahead and write that resignation letter now to be prepared.

It has been an action packed year!

We have been on a path toward early retirement and reaching our comfortable financial independence level that gives a sense of security.  Reflecting back over the last twelve months, we have had a lot happening in our lives.

  • I started the Just One More Year blog. I posted twice a week for most of that time period and have posted 90 articles counting this one today.  I guest posted on Retire by 40 and Angry Retail Banker.  We had the opportunity to meet Steve and Courtney at Think Save Retire and Abby and Tim at I Pick Up Pennies last December in Phoenix.   Steve Miller and ARB guest posted on our site.
  • We took our house off the market after nine months with no luck listing it with a realtor. Important lesson:  Houses are not liquid investments – it can take a while to sell them.
  • I celebrated as my oldest daughter graduated from college and got married in September.
  • My youngest daughter graduates from high school in three weeks.
  • Through word of mouth, we sold our home to a co-worker’s parents. We had numerous inspection issues to fix as part of the sale that took time and money.
  • We nearly upsized to a McMansion in a different city located 20 miles away. What the hell were we thinking?
  • We became debt free!
  • We downsized into a smaller place and have been remodeling for the last five months! We are only three of four weeks away from finishing.
  • I celebrated my 55th birthday in style.
  • I have begun focusing more on my health by walking at least 10,000 steps each day and eating a healthier diet.
  • I booked non-refundable tickets to Germany for September to visit family and friends. I have been studying half an hour each day to improve my German speaking skills.

Thanks for reading!

There are several upsides to writing about various topics on your own blog.  You begin to meet and know other bloggers and readers that can relate with your situation.  I do not consider myself a natural writer; it is often difficult to string my thoughts together into a post that conveys my ideas.  I would much rather talk.  I have been invited by two blog sites to do a couple podcasts that will give you a chance to hear my voice.

What does the next year look like?  That is a great question!

I have already found that my focus has changed once we became debt free and built up a large cash emergency fund.  I believe I will be discussing more lifestyle design and travel related topics as we wean away from our employers’ clutches.

It is amazing how quickly the last year has gone.  Thank you dear readers, for visiting our blog site, for emailing me your thoughts, and commenting on our posts.  I appreciate your support!

 

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Numerous Tasks and Too Little Time: A Quick Update http://www.justonemoreyear.com/numerous-tasks-little-time-quick-update/ http://www.justonemoreyear.com/numerous-tasks-little-time-quick-update/#comments Tue, 03 May 2016 00:15:34 +0000 http://www.justonemoreyear.com/?p=1306 Hi folks, as you can probably guess things have been getting a bit hectic for us around our household lately.  We are entering our fifth month of remodeling projects while concurrently taking on some other big life goals.  Oh, let us not forget that we are both working full time jobs.  For those loyal readers, […]

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Hi folks, as you can probably guess things have been getting a bit hectic for us around our household lately.  We are entering our fifth month of remodeling projects while concurrently taking on some other big life goals.  Oh, let us not forget that we are both working full time jobs.  For those loyal readers, here is a quick update.

A quick update
A quick update

Yes – We do have some goals

I had mentioned in this post that I need to refocus my time and energy on a couple large goals.  They are my health, brushing up on my German, and completing these darn remodeling projects.

  • Remodeling update: These projects never seem to end.  I have worked on at least some task nearly every day for the last 4 ½ months.  It is an interesting observation that with my slightly OCD personality this has become my new debt snowball journey.  I can be so focused in one area that many other aspects of my life get put on hold.  I feel like this will never end – just like the debt snowball.  The good news is the next two weeks are pivotal with completing our kitchen and bathroom remodels.  The last flooring will be completed Wednesday, the lower cabinet demo will be done Thursday, and the new cabinets will be going in on Friday.  Monday the counter top people are creating their final measurements and template so they can begin fabrication.  Only a couple weeks later, upon completing a backsplash this will all be history.  So maybe 4 weeks from now we might be done!
  • German study update: I was off to a slow start, however I am picking up momentum.  I have been averaging about 30 minutes of concentrated study each day.  I went many days over the last month without touching the subject.  Now the study is becoming part of my daily habit.  It also helped that I pulled the trigger and bought non-refundable flights to Frankfurt last Friday to keep myself from “weaseling” out of going.  I realize I do have a complicated justification system.  Now I am motivated – I don’t want to embarrass myself with poor German communication with my family and friends.
  • My health update: I have established a new habit to get two to three decent walks in each day.  I am also attempting to stand and walk during many internal company calls to keep my movement ongoing.  In addition, I will incorporate stretching and yoga into my fitness over the next month.  I have not listened to German as much as I expected on my walks.  I rather enjoy the solitude of the walks and continue to pick up pennies  while I averaged  10,603 steps per day for the last month!

Health update on my steps

Post remodel: What will life be like in a couple months?

I am beginning to wonder once the “all consuming” remodeling projects are completed, what new goal will become my focus.  Nature abhors a vacuum!  Will I double down on my health and German?  Will I find some new hobby or goal to occupy my time?

I have suspected for a long time that I conveniently use excuses like family, work, projects, and other tasks as reasons why I don’t really take the time to understand what I want to do with my life.  I have felt that the financial piece of this early retirement puzzle is the most important, and then I would have all the time in the world what to figure out what is next.  This has probably been a big mistake.  I should have been trying to build my next chapter of life during the time our financial goals were so important.

Is early retirement going to suck?  Am I too much of a workaholic to enjoy the free time leaving work should provide me? Will I become bored and not have enough structure and activities in my life to take work’s place?  I am re-reading  Ernie’s book for the third time  (yes it is that good and I am a slow learner!), hoping to find some answers to this puzzle.  I know that I need to be developing more outside interests now in preparation for my imminent retirement.

What’s next?

I am traveling three days this week with work because of an impromptu request by a project and account team.  My time will be limited this week so I will respond to comments and emails when I can.

I have an article coming very soon that will share our March income.  Why March?  Because we had an exceptional month and I am attempting to show how long it took to get to that point.  I don’t want to discourage the quick fix dreamers out there, but I do wish to demonstrate that a steady approach does work.

We are reaching our one-year anniversary for this blog.  I can’t believe how quickly that time has passed and all the articles that were written.  I plan to write a long post about our “Just One More Year” syndrome, attempting to explain our journey so far and the final plans we have in retiring early.

Take care folks!

Photo Copyright : Markus Gann

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Hey, I Pick Up Pennies, Too! http://www.justonemoreyear.com/hey-pick-pennies/ http://www.justonemoreyear.com/hey-pick-pennies/#comments Tue, 26 Apr 2016 00:15:31 +0000 http://www.justonemoreyear.com/?p=1295 I have been doing a lot of walking lately as part of reaching my goal of a healthy body at a healthy weight. I aspire to walk 10,000 steps, on average, each day over every seven-day period. Some days I walk as many as 14,000 steps, while on other days I log only about 6,000 […]

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I have been doing a lot of walking lately as part of reaching my goal of a healthy body at a healthy weight. I aspire to walk 10,000 steps, on average, each day over every seven-day period. Some days I walk as many as 14,000 steps, while on other days I log only about 6,000 steps. It really depends on work, the weather, and the day of the week. The weekends usually bring big walking and hiking opportunities. On many of my walks I find coins lying on the ground—sometimes nickels, dimes, and quarters, but by far the most common coins I spot are pennies. Each time I see one, I think about Abby, whom I discovered last year from her website, and had a chance to meet in person with her husband.

I pick up pennies!
I pick up pennies!

I blatantly borrowed Abby’s graphic from her website.

Camping at the Lake Pleasant State Park last week, I picked up nearly a dollar in change from the streets, parking lots, and campsite areas where we stayed. It got me thinking about the whole concept of taking the time to find pennies and actually stopping to bend down and pick them up.

How rich or out of shape does one have to be to not pick up money from the ground? On a karmic level, what kind of message are you sending out to the universe if you don’t grab money freely offered to you?

For me, it means I have to stop, bend my 6-foot-plus body, and snatch up the coin. Is it really worth it?

Banks don’t want your money (what those fat cats on Wall Street won’t tell you)

I don’t know why, but I like to sneak in the phrase “those fat cats on Wall Street” whenever I can. Heck it’s my blog and as you can see the writing does tend to go in many different directions. However, I digress…

Yes that’s right, banks don’t want your loose change. They have no problem taking a couple dollars in coins, however if you walk into a branch with a five-gallon water bottle or bucket of loose change, forget it! They will kindly offer to provide you coin wrappers so that you can count the coins into their respective rolls, and then write your name, address, phone number, and account number on the wrapper just in case you cheat them out of a penny. They need to know who to send the goons after to collect their shortage.

Some pennies in my stash
Some pennies in my stash

But wait, other options are even worse. You can take your coins into the local supermarket to a vending machine that will gobble all those loose coins and give you a credit. You can get a credit on today’s groceries or apply it to various gift cards with retailers. All they want is a small nine to ten percent of your “hard-earned bending over to reach the ground” money. Yep, the price of convenience is nine to ten percent if we use that method of redemption.

It seems nobody wants our money. I am refusing on principle to have ten percent of my pennies taken off the top of my stash. Nobody in retail wants me to count out hundreds of pennies at the counter, and I am too lazy to roll them myself. Today I am using up the nickels, dimes, and quarters as quickly as I can for small purchases by providing exact change.

I think that, as a social experiment, I will give a huge bag of pennies to a homeless person asking for money at a street corner to see his or her reaction to the gift. I may actually drive to a spot where I can observe from a distance to determine what the individual will do with the money. Will he refuse the money and consider it an insult? Will he take the time to roll the pennies into coin wrappers and take them to the bank? Would the banks even accept the pennies if the person doesn’t have an account with them? (ARB needs to weigh in here to explain these banking rules.)

Is it really worth the time to pick up pennies?

The number crunching part of my personality is coming out. Is there an ROI on picking up pennies? I will spare you the math and simply answer, “YES.” You need to make a salary of $106,975 to break even on picking up a penny. This is assuming you pay 30% in tax on your 1.4 cents per minute rate, netting you one penny per second take home pay.

Is there a ROI of picking up pennies?
Is there a ROI of picking up pennies?

I am making a big assumption that it takes only one second to reach down and pick up a penny. For the slower and less experienced “penny pinching picker-uppers” (PPPu’s) out there: your actual results may vary. This means that you are gaining no incremental benefit of income by picking up pennies when you make over $106,975—assuming you can work more hours and receive additional pay from your employer.

If you can’t work more hours for more pay and you happen to be walking on a break from work, then that is purely found money, and it’s tax free!

Maybe you are so stinking rich that you can’t waste precious moments thinking about the task of picking up money. You could be dreaming up the next Dot Bomb business that will make you millions at the IPO. I wonder if Warren Buffet picks up pennies?

Is it really worth the strain on the body to pick up pennies?

It depends on your age, health, and motivation.

From a perspective of exercise, for me it’s worthwhile. I am walking along, day dreaming, looking at the scenery when suddenly a shiny object on the ground catches my eye. (BTW, I am not actually walking heads down all the time looking for money.)

I quickly approach the item in question (lest someone gets there first), identify it is a coin, stop, do a quick stretch to the ground, breaking up the cadence of my walk to be rewarded with currency. How many gym rats, weight lifters, or yoga practitioners have found money while exercising? To me this is a quick diversion to stretch my muscles differently, and then continue on my walk. Cross-training, if you will.

Is it bad juju or karma to refuse to pick up pennies?

What are we telling the universe when we don’t take the time to pick up money from the ground? Are we saying that mere pennies are not worth our time?

If you believe in karma, you may believe that not picking up pennies has karmic repercussions. When a person doesn’t pick up pennies, it sends a message to the universe: the person couldn’t care less about money. In response, the universe may not provide the opportunity to pick up the $100 bill that might be around the corner. Heck, the universe may resolve that a pre-IPO company is going to fail since the founder who can’t pick up change is obviously not interested in money, even in the smallest penny form.

We could be messing around with “The Law of Attraction.”

What is the Law of Attraction?

The Law of Attraction can be understood by understanding that ‘like attracts like.’ What this means is that whether we realize it or not, we are responsible for bringing both positive and negative influences into our lives. A key part of the Law of Attraction is understanding that where you place your focus can have an intense impact on what happens to you. – http://www.thelawofattraction.com/

Say or believe what you want about this “law,” I have found that the more open I am, and when I apply myself in a particular area of interest, things begin to manifest in ways I would have never expected.

Perhaps, from a Law of Attraction perspective, picking up pennies will draw more money to you in the future? Think about how reading FI and FIRE websites—putting energy toward improving your finances, budgeting, saving, and investing—has attracted like-minded people to you. Perhaps you are now engaging in regular discussions about finances and sharing your dreams of financial independence and early retirement.

My picking-up-pennies practice

I pick up pennies from the perspective of stretching my body and announcing to the universe that I will not turn down money. Having money helps me achieve my financial goals and gives me a sense of security.

Walking 10,000 steps a day works out to about five miles of fresh air. I don’t spend my time actively looking for spare change; I would rather enjoy the walking experience. Hiking on the trails for five years in Sedona, I have found a total of about fifty cents. The bulk of my cash haul is from walking along streets, sidewalks, and parking lots.

I have to admit I did go through a snobbish period several years back when we first became FI. I felt it wasn’t worth the time or energy to bend over for money. I have since changed my perspective, not wanting to mess with karma or the Law of Attraction, and using the idea of stretching to the ground as an added exercise benefit. For some strange reason, the pennies keep finding their way to my path. Go figure!

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How about you, do you pick up pennies? If not, why?

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