Beautiful Day

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day here in Sarasota, Florida. It’s one of the first days like such we’ve had in a long while. It’s been a very hot summer, punctuated by afternoon thunderstorms. But, today gave way to a beautiful Wednesday with a nice easterly breeze, low humidity and bright sunshine mixed with puffy, white clouds. It was an afternoon made for a postcard. Yet, I didn’t get to enjoy any of it.

Today was one of the busiest days I’ve had in a long while at work. My co-worker was sick today, as he was yesterday and called in. I don’t blame him. If you’re sick, stay home. Nobody wants to catch whatever he’s got. But, I’m in a team of two. We are the only two in our particular department and share the work fairly evenly. Today, I was a team of one and I ran my ass off all day long. I ran from the shop, back to my desk and then back to the shop dispersing estimates, writing repair orders, making phone calls, ordering parts and greeting clients. I took less than 5 minutes for lunch. I clocked in at 7:20 a.m. and clocked out at 5:59 p.m.

It wasn’t until I actually left work, gleeful as I was to leave, that I realized what a beautiful day it truly was. And then I realized the humor in it all. On the first truly gorgeous day we’ve had in months down here, one where it wasn’t oppressively hot, I got to enjoy absolutely none of it. I was too busy to even look outside. And this brings me back to why I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m trying to reach financial independence and retire early so that I can make the most of days like today. I want to be able to enjoy the day at a moment’s notice, without care or worry. I want to be grateful for every sunshine-filled morning, knowing that every day is cherished; for I know not how many more I have left in life.

What I think about when I carefully consider early retirement is not the money I’ll be giving up. I could easily stretch the journey until I’m 50 and become a millionaire in the process. I could save and invest even longer and become a multi-millionaire in my 60’s. I could then retire at the same age as everyone else, and be well past the prime of my life to enjoy the money I worked more than half of my life to accumulate. Or, I could realize what’s truly important in life: time.

What comes to mind when I think about early retirement instead is days like today. It’s about enjoying life and maximizing every single moment. It’s about time. How many moments do we have in life? I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that I used up moments today that I’ll never get back to run my ass off at a job I don’t enjoy to cater to people I don’t care about. I would much rather have enjoyed the afternoon, sipping on an ice-cold drink and doing some reading or writing. Heck, I could have been writing an article about what a beautiful day it is. Instead, I’m now here in a dark apartment writing about what a beautiful day it was.

What do you cherish? What drives you towards financial independence?

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    Very nice post. We all get very busy in our lives and forget to enjoy little things that matter a lot. Just to add to this beautiful day Philip Morris announced a 10% dividend increase. :-)

  2. says

    I have a job where I get paid to travel across the country for a month at a time, only to work all day then go to a hotel for the night and do nothing because I’m so tired. And all the time I overhear people working for me complain about their long 40 hour weeks when I book 60-70.

    I missed out on enjoying dallas in the spring, denver and colorado springs in the summer months. Im here in San jose now. And soon Ill be in North Carolina. When I retire early I will not feel sorry for anyone, since I will not forget where I came from.

    • says

      Investing Early,

      It’s unfortunate to have a job that allows for travel, but you don’t get to really enjoy it. That seems to be quite common. I occasionally travel for my job too, but it’s simply to/from hotel rooms and classes. Not exactly my idea of traveling!

      I’m with you on never forgetting where you come from and appreciating the journey and the reward.

      Best regards.

  3. says

    Yep, time is a valuable, and finite resource. Once it’s gone… it’s GONE! It’s best to slow life down so that we can cherish and enjoy more of it. Financial independence seems to be the logical approach to getting there.

    I’d rather be enjoying sunrises and sunsets on a daily basis than slaving away from dusk till dawn in a cubicle, year after year, just so I can keep financing frivolous toys… only to then wonder where the heck all the time went?!?

    • says

      FI Fighter,

      Absolutely! Time is very finite for us human beings. Time itself may be infinite, but we only get to partake in a microscopic share of it.

      I’m with you completely. The very small amount of time you’re gifted with can easily escape your grasps if you’re not careful with it. You don’t want to be staring down the end of your line looking for a do-over.

      I want to have no regrets.

      Take care!

  4. says

    Very nice reflective post here DM. Your post reminds me of what I have been thinking about this summer: balance.

    I left a job making excellent money to come back home. Having the summer off has been wonderful and what I’ve done the past three years has given me the freedom to enjoy this summer. As I try to decide what I want to do next, chasing money is not high on the list. If it were I would still be overseas. I know that my needs are small and my wants are even less. That being the case it takes little to sustain me these days. The balance comes in trying to weigh the value of working and saving for a later day (what we all are trying to do) versus enjoying our time now. It is a balance that each of us has to find. I wish you the best in finding enjoyment in the now even as you prepare for your future days.

    The Stoic

    • says

      The Stoic,

      Thanks for adding that.

      Balance is extremely important. The work-life balance that we all try to maximize and maintain is an interesting point of contention as we march towards financial independence. You make a great point that it’s important to find enjoyment in the journey, instead of just concentrating on the end result. I’ve got to keep my mind on that! Thanks.

      Best wishes.

  5. says

    So very true, we had a beautiful day here in Michigan yesterday also. Thankfully I was able to enjoy an early evening trip to the local fair with my parents. However I would have enjoyed the day more if I could have spent more of it outside!

    • says

      MSS,

      I was in Michigan just a couple weeks ago for the Labor Day weekend. It was absolutely beautiful my entire time up there. I now remember how nice the late summer/early fall can be up there. Really, really nice.

      Going to a fair with family sounds like a great way to enjoy the outdoors.

      Take care!

  6. says

    Your blog reminded me off of Brandon Lee’s tombstoneit reads:

    “Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. And yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, or five times more? Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless…”

    I found later it a passage from the book The Sheltering Sky

    • says

      Lemuel,

      That’s a nice passage.

      It’s true. There may be billions more sunrises and sunsets, but how many will you or I be lucky enough to see? Maybe we’ll be alive for another 15,000 or so, but how many will we get to truly ENJOY? Maybe a couple hundred? Maybe more, maybe less. It does seem limitless when you’re young and busy, but that viewpoint can change quickly when you’re aging and not getting around as well as you used to.

      The point is to tip the scales in your favor. Try and savor every day. I want to put myself in the position where I can enjoy as many beautiful days as possible. Reaching financial independence will afford me those opportunities and I plan on taking advantage of that.

      Best wishes!

  7. says

    As you mentioned, time is finite and a lot of us struggle with trying to balance our work with our enjoyment of life. I’ve struggled with this also.

    There are so many things I want to do and see while I’m young. However, every additional $100 I spend now could have grown to $1000 in retirement. I’ve made my decision to work harder now and give up some freedoms in order to make as much money as I can and to retire sooner. I don’t particularly enjoy my work but I’m making a tradeoff for additional time in the future. I can only hope I will have plenty of time left after I decide to retire.

    • says

      austinbroker,

      We all struggle with that sense of balance. Balancing work and personal time now, and then also trying to balance how much you want to save and work now and how early you want to retire. The balancing act is especially difficult because time is so finite, but more to the point – we do not know how much time we have left. If I knew I was going to live until I was 90, I might not be in such of a hurry to retire by 40. But…if I get sick at 50, well 40 doesn’t sound soon enough.

      The key point to remember is that life is short and we’re blessed while we’re here. I want to take that blessing a step further and buy time I don’t have yet. I’m saving every penny! :)

      Thanks for stopping by and adding that.

  8. Anonymous says

    I think if you continue your thought process you will see that there is an even more foundational principle in life than time. I hope you find it before it is too late.

    Have you ever read Ecclesiastes? Looking forward to hearing back,

  9. says

    I struggle with work/life balance, what you write is exactly what I am trying to get ahead for while also still enjoying things NOW. I’m unencumbered now, no kids, no husband I can travel as I please… less easy with kids in tow and also more expenses. I want to be free, I want to be able to take opportunities as they come without saying ‘shit, I have to do this work-thing… I can’t’. It’s not that I don’t want to work, I want to work when I want to and be able to not work when I don’t want to. I’ve got a long way to go.

    • says

      Renee,

      Thanks for adding that.

      I also struggle with the work/life balance, because as of now it’s heavily tilted towards the work side. That will change in time.

      I understand what you mean on not wanting to pass up opportunities, especially if you’re otherwise free to do as you please and in the prime of your life. I’m trying to keep in mind that age can catch up to me quickly, and that’s why I’m so aggressive with my plans. Even if I do retire at 40, like I’d like, I’ll be less able bodied than I am now at 30. Things can change quickly.

      One thing that seeking FI and saving/investing allows us to do is remain flexible. If you want to take a break from the journey and take a 3-year trip around the world and really explore while you have the youth/drive/energy you can do that if you have the money saved up. Much harder to do if you’re chained to a desk living paycheck to paycheck.

      Stay in touch.

      Best wishes!

  10. Anonymous says

    I have found work that I love and don’t even think about trying to retire early although I share your principles of frugality and saving. My goal in life is balance as many have mentioned. I am a teacher. My work involves more than making money. I get to invest in lives. I also work hard to spend time with family, spend time alone, and spend time with my God.

    I feel bad that you hate your job. Have you given thought to finding work you love and earning money to retire at the same time? Suppose you die tomorrow? What have you really gained?

    Not criticizing, just thinking out loud along with you. I appreciate your posts.

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your thoughts on this.

      I hear what you’re saying. I haven’t considered a different job primarily for two important reasons.

      First, I haven’t acquired the necessary skills or education to go out and seek another job that would pay me as much, or more, than I currently make. I’ve been in my field now for about 6 years and I’m making more than $50k right now, which is more than I thought I would make. For me to go out and work in any other field would mean a drastic haircut in terms of compensation. Although, if I truly loved the job it might make the move worth it….however..that bring me to point 2.

      My second reason is that even if I found a job I truly loved, it’s still a J-O-B. It’s still a necessary requirement in life, when I’m trying to minimize such things. Let’s say you really love making scrapbooks. It’s a hobby that you spend a lot of time on. And, let’s say that you were offered an opportunity down at the local scrapbook factory (this is hypothetical). Well, that’s fantastic, right? Not so fast. You are now scrapbooking for 40+ hours a week, required to clock in and clock out, and also required to maintain a certain quota of books, and you also have to cater to a boss and to clients. Not so fun anymore, right?

      I think the ultimate solution is to become financially independent, and then do as you choose. If you want to work, or take short-term opportunities, you can. If you don’t want to, then you don’t have to. The world is your oyster, so to speak.

      Thanks again for adding that. I do enjoy the thought process behind all of this.

      Best wishes.

  11. Anonymous says

    DM,

    Interesting blog and I admire your revealing candor. You are certainly achieving a great start in your young life.

    When I started out with serious market investing (about three years ago), I did so through rolling over a couple of 401(k)s. [Recently retired, I do not have the luxury of time, as do you.]

    In the beginning of my current portfolios, we were just entering the long climb out the calamity of ‘08/’09. There were buying opportunities out there that were far more prevalent than there are today. I tripled my money on Ford (F), then got out. Diving into Sirius XM (SIRI) quadrupled my investment. I also had a position in Apple (AAPL), but foolishly bailed before the apple was “ripe.” I could give you the run-down on all of the 50-some securities I held, but that would not only be boring, but would serve little purpose.

    As I became more seasoned at the game, I eventually learned that holding so many different stocks was the wrong way to go. I had simply created a self-designed mutual fund…where winners were diluted by losers. Moreover, there is the hazard (as you have referenced) of paying too much for transaction (trading) fees, relative to the size of your holding. Holding that many stocks—with only a couple grand in each—was just plain too expensive when it came to weeding your garden. Lastly, the time demands with maintaining that large of a stable rendered what should be prudent decisions into chaos.

    After churning thousands of dollars through cycles of loss and gain, I finally got smart. Today, my stable of stocks consists of just five: AGNC; FB; (recently purchased @ $20.60); MCD; NGLS; WPRT. This is quite a change from a guy who once was compelled to “own the world!”

    Like you, I have become a fan of the dividend players. AGNC, although my temporary favorite (it is only as good as the Fed keeps the interest rates low), has netted my holding around 30% since I got in last February.

    McDonald’s hasn’t shown much since that date (I am currently experiencing a 5% loss), but McDonald’s is McDonald’s. This is a long term play.

    I think that Facebook could very easily become a ten-bagger over the next couple of years.

    I picked Westport because this Canadian natural-gas engine producer currently enjoys a corner on the world market. I believe that the cleaner nat gas engines will be THE alternative fuel over some decades to come.

    NGLS is a quiet little sleeper. Over the past 3 years (since inception on the market) this nat-gas transporter/storage gem has averaged nearly 25% returns in share value per year—plus, it is currently paying in excess of a 6% dividend! And this dividend has increased steadily—each and every quarter—since inception.

    This is my brief little story, along with some rationale. But, this is not to say that I do not like your portfolio, DM. Appears to me that you have a great stable of stocks there, albeit more individual securities than I would care to manage. But, if you can keep up with them all—and you most likely can, in that you’ve slashed expenditures on canned entertainment—more power to you!

    The only issue I would take with your portfolio is the presence of Altria and Phillip Morris—lucrative as they are. While I do smoke little cigars (and need to quit in order to enjoy my hoped-for future wealth), my conscience just will not allow me to invest in tobacco products. I simply cannot profit on the backs of those who have died (and are dieing) as a result of these two company’s success. Should you ever come around to my way of thinking, I would advise trading them both in for a company like Targa (NGLS)…which offers a more lucrative opportunity—in both share value and dividend.

    Buck

  12. Anonymous says

    On final word, on the advantages of a smaller portfolio: Although “timing the market” is always risky, I like the ability to pull the plug on my entire portfolio, almost instantly. I smell a significant pull-back, which could very well occur over the next couple of months. In fact, I am seriously considering getting “all out,” when/if the Dow nears 14,000 again—or just before the November elections, whichever comes first.

    Should I time it right, I stand the chance to buy back in—with perhaps a ten or 20% discount. Should I miss the mark, the worst that can happen is to fail to profit from a continuing boom (and look like a total jerk in the process)…but, at least I would not be hurt financially.

    As a footnote, I most likely would not sell AGNC, no matter what. So long as the interest rates remain low, AGNC does not seem to care whether the market is at a high or a low. It just keeps chuggin’ along.

    Buck

    • says

      Buck,

      First, congrats on being retired and being in control of your finances. That’s fantastic!

      As far as portfolio sizes, this is all relative and also highly personal. For you, it works. But, you seem to be a lot more passionate and reliant on capital gains. I’m not.

      My ultimate goal is to live solely off the dividend income my stocks provide to me. So, the more positions I have the better chance I have at maintaining a certain quality of life (meeting my obligations) regardless of stock market fluctuations. If I have 40 positions, all equally weighted, and one stock cuts the dividend completely I still have 39 other stocks paying me income. I will have lost 2.5% of my income, but will likely make it back up quickly anyhow once the other 39 stocks start raising their dividends as they do annually. The diversification is a hedge against dividend income erosion, and that’s really what it’s all about for me.

      Keep in touch. Great story!

      Best regards.

    • Anonymous says

      Thanks for the reply, DM.

      You are right. The best portfolio is the one that YOU like, and one that fits your personal objective best. Given your stable garden of stocks, along with the time factor you have at your disposal to meet your future goal, I can readily see why you have chosen the course of action as described. If I had several decades ahead of me, in which to accumulate the slower but sure course of utilizing the leverage that dividends offer, I’d most likely be onboard the same ship as you.

      But I simply began serious market investing a little late in life. Now, at this stage of my life, of course, I should be focused on the safer plays exclusively. But I’m still a bit of a gambler. My objective is to at least double my portfolio over the next five years. And I’m attempting to do so by investing in a combination of established growth stocks (MCD), along with a couple of specs (FB and WPRT). And three out of my five-stock portfolio are also dividend payers.

      At the time I have (hopefully) achieved the first phase of my goal, my longer-term plan would be to remove the spec stocks and replace them with divvies.

      A word on the divvies: I suspect that many novice market players (some young, some old) are not impressed with the ones that pay only a paltry 3 – 5%). But given the advantage of time—and dollar-cost-averaging—even a 3% payer can be significant.

      And then there are those vicious cycles—where any given stock can undergo a lengthy cycle of loss, only to get back to even over the course of many months, or years. In the beginning, I was turned off with a dividend payer that, while paying a decent annual dividend yield, could show an annual loss of, say 25%.

      But, provided this is a long-established stock, such as Procter & Gamble, if a play like this does not eventually come back from the slump, then the market as a whole is in trouble. And, even during the bad times, provided you do not sell, but do reinvest the dividends, you will be rewarded with an ever-increasing dividend payout (per share)—and the lower share value buys more shares at a cheaper price!

      Or am I overlooking something here?

      Buck

    • says

      Buck,

      Certainly an individual’s time horizon does play into one’s risk/reward profile and what kind of returns are necessary. Although I would argue that even with a shorter time frame, the risk adjusted returns one can expect with safer plays like multinational DGI make the play worth it. Capital preservation, after all, is extremely important.

      As far as market cycles, nobody can predict, nor completely avoid, such things. One can only try to diversify holdings in the face of systemic risk.

      If a dividend growth stalwart like PG suffers a large correction (10% plus) then, yes, that does provide opportunity for an intelligent investor to further bolster the position or initiate one. Valuation is key to dividend growth investors, and can be measured by a number of different metrics. PG, for instance, dipped below $60 over the summer. It’s now almost at $70. One can easily spot opportunity like that when you are following a small basket of high quality stocks, especially if you already own it. As long as the fundamentals remain the same, a lower valuation is simply opportunity knocking at one’s door.

      I hope this helps you understand where I’m coming from.

      We’re all just looking for a strong return on our investments, after all.

      Best wishes!

    • Anonymous says

      How many shares per stock did you buy and what do you have now in them?

      Keep up the good work…

      I’m just starting…and I’m 48 years old so time is ticking if I want to retire at 55 I guess?

      Thanks

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