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Discussion Starter #1
So, I guess we are on this forum because we like to talk about money, to make money out of our money, to save more, to spend less, etc.

Some people here dream about retiring early (and some already did it).

What's your view on trying to save as much as possible in order to retire early as opposed to live in the present and treat yourself?

I've personally set a goal to be able to retire at a specific age. But maybe I'm being too aggressive on my goal and I will end up wasting many of my young years not treating myself. On the other way around, I could treat myself as much as I can, then retire old and with not much left.

I know, it's a philosophical question. There's no good or bad answer.

I think living in the present is the most important. Carpe Diem, YOLO, Hakuna Matata, whatever you call it.

Maybe someone already out there already proposed some guideline ratio of how much you should spend on treating yourself vs how much you should save based on your income? I'm never a fan of those guidelines, but always curious.
 

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I think, more important than either, is just accepting a mindset of not buying stupid crap that you'll regret later. Not trying to keep up with the Joneses.

If you spend a good deal of your money but it's from a genuine, personal desire to buy those things/experiences, you will be OK and have a life of satisfaction. If you are buying to appear impressive to others, or as a result of a shopping addiction, you won't be OK and your later working years will probably be torture knowing that you could've retired already.

On the other side of the coin, income, it's also a balancing act - Being appropriately ambitious and acknowledging that making a decent living is important, but also accepting that you should be satisfied with what you have. Knowing that not everything is in your control, so you aren't always to blame if things turn sour, it was just bad luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I agree with all this and that's also how I try to live. Yet, I still feel like it's hard to balance life as we now have easily access to so many activities, so many things to do and so many things to discover. I'm really not into materialistic things. I'm pretty minimalist. I lived with my spouse during 3 years in a 400 sq. ft. unfurnished studio apartment and everything was fine like that. We even had 2 dogs.

But I always tried to balance my life between saving for the future and living in the present and I felt it was so hard because there are too many things I want to do in the present - things to learn, things to live and things to discover.

All these things are not materialistic, it's about learning, discovering new things, social activities, reading, health activities, sports, etc. Not only I don't have time to do them all, I don't even have money to do them all. I know we all have to make choices, but I'm suffering from the choice paradox where too many choices leads to indecision - try choosing 6 out of 24, that's fine, now try choosing 6 out of 240 instead, much harder.

Therefore, when I try to make plans for the future, it's even harder.
 

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I've personally set a goal to be able to retire at a specific age. But maybe I'm being too aggressive on my goal and I will end up wasting many of my young years not treating myself. On the other way around, I could treat myself as much as I can, then retire old and with not much left.

I know, it's a philosophical question. There's no good or bad answer.

I think living in the present is the most important. Carpe Diem, YOLO, Hakuna Matata, whatever you call it.
Well you definitely need to find a balance between the two. You should treat yourself occasionally. Definitely take vacations, and make sure that your job is not completely exhausting you or wearing you out. If you don't like your job, find another one, or quit and take some time off.

For example I am not a fan of working 60 hour weeks just for a higher salary. I opted for a lower salary and fewer hours of work. This lets me have more spare time to do things I want, and I'm happier as a result.

The way I try to keep this balance in check is by using my net worth as a guideline. I strive to keep increasing my net worth on average, over the years. I figure that as long as it's increasing (after inflation), I'm not doing anything irresponsible.

I would not tolerate seeing my net worth decline. If that happens, I absolutely will cut back on spending, and work more aggressively to shore it up.

So to keep this whole thing balanced out, I watch for these things: (a) do I have enough time and energy after work to do other fun things/vacations I like and (b) is my net worth increasing after inflation. I want the answers to both to be 'yes'.

If the answer to one is 'no' then I think I've gone too far one way.

In 2018 my answers were NO/yes (big increase in net worth).
In 2019 my answers were yes/yes (worked less hours)
... life satisfaction went up a lot
In 2020 my answers again are yes/yes (still working few hours)
 

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I think you’re looking at the wrong solution. It seems you want to work hard, build up savings then Hope you have enough to make it to the end.


in my case I developed a passive income which will continue indefinitely. If I need more, I can add more without increasing the workload because it’s all part of a system that doesn‘t need me. No need for savings, no fear of running out of cash.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Well you definitely need to find a balance between the two. You should treat yourself occasionally. Definitely take vacations, and make sure that your job is not completely exhausting you or wearing you out. If you don't like your job, find another one, or quit and take some time off.

For example I am not a fan of working 60 hour weeks just for a higher salary. I opted for a lower salary and fewer hours of work. This lets me have more spare time to do things I want, and I'm happier as a result.

The way I try to keep this balance in check is by using my net worth as a guideline. I strive to keep increasing my net worth on average, over the years. I figure that as long as it's increasing (after inflation), I'm not doing anything irresponsible.

I would not tolerate seeing my net worth decline. If that happens, I absolutely will cut back on spending, and work more aggressively to shore it up.

So to keep this whole thing balanced out, I watch for these things: (a) do I have enough time and energy after work to do other fun things/vacations I like and (b) is my net worth increasing after inflation. I want the answers to both to be 'yes'.

If the answer to one is 'no' then I think I've gone too far one way.

In 2018 my answers were NO/yes (big increase in net worth).
In 2019 my answers were yes/yes (worked less hours)
... life satisfaction went up a lot
In 2020 my answers again are yes/yes (still working few hours)
I agree with that. I think it's a good strategy. Though from my understanding, you are balancing based on your increasing net worth, but I guess you have a goal net worth before retiring, and that's what I find hard to balance.

For example, I could say that my net worth is increasing every year, so I'm good : increasing from currently 20k to 24k and in 20 years I'll be at 100k (or maybe 200k for invested money). You see that it may not be sufficient for retiring in 20 years. Even though you see your net worth increasing, it doesn't mean you've balanced the present vs future because you still need a goal net worth at some point in time. Therefore, is the goal to be a millionaire at age 55 and retire or a millionaire at age 65 and retire? That depends how fast you can increase your savings and that depends how much it will affect the have money left to enjoy the present.

If I'm making 200k a year and I'm happy living with 60k a year and I currently have 0k in savings, then balancing is still easy because I have a huge 160k left. I could save 140k a year, spend 20k a year for my pleasure and retire early in 10 years. I could also save 60k a year, spend 100k of huge pleasure and retire in 20 years.

But if I'm making 50k a year and I need 35k to live and I currently have 100k in savings, then balancing is harder. I could save 5k a year, keep 10k for the present and retire in 35 years or I could save 10k a year, keep 5k for the present and retire in 25 years.

There's the 50/30/20 rule saying your should save 20% of your income. But as I said, rules are interesting to give a guideline of a basis goal for comparison, but I would never use these generalisations as my own goal. Take my example of the guy making 200k, he would save 40k, but with that income he could save way more.
 

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I have been asked this question (or similar) many times over the years and my simple answer is "It all depends on how you wish to live your life." Do you want to invest in your education, get married (at what age), have children, buy a home, travel, party, buy the latest toys, drive a nice car, etc? These are difficult questions when you are in your late teens and early 20's and society has changed significantly since I was young. I worked hard and invested in my career but also was married at 23, had children at 25 to 30, owned our home by the time I was 30, and my wife was a great mother, homemaker and wife. Retired at 56. Vacations were camping with the children and our life centered around our children and their activities, fitness and sports, and socializing with friends for home dinners. Not so sure that its as easy as it was as real estate prices are higher, spouses are more inclined to have a career, and people are getting married later. I really don't think that there is a one answer that fits all but can say that I (and my spouse and children) are happy the way we lived our life. Again, it all about choices you make and determining at a younger age how you wish to live your life. Its a great journey and all the best.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yes, and I think personally that's a question that I'll keep asking myself through most of my life as I think our personality, our vision of the future, our goals, our context change rapidly. Every 5 years, in fact. Context, personality, goals and vision at age 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, etc. are definitely not the same, well not for me.

That's the paradox of our society with lots of career possibilities, lots of access to information, lots of activity possibilities, etc. It's the paradox of choice. Back in the beginning of the 20th century, you'd most likely do one career, which was most likely based on your family's career and you'd have access to a few possible activities. Nowadays, people can change job every 2 years, people can change career as they wish (with some effort, sure), there are thousands of activities. All these combinations leads to thousands of ways to live your life. Then you have to find out your own balance through that choice paradox and within the time & budget constraint and your risk tolerance on the decisions your take.

I mean, I could wish to balance my life by living to the fullest in the present in a big city, not thinking too much of the future. I could also try to live extra-minimalist and frugal and try to retire at 40 (though I'm already too old for this to happen). I could also sell everything and go live a spiritual life in Tibet. But that's more about lifestyle choice and not money management, but that's just another example of the endless possibilities and the lifestyle choice will affect how you can/should manage your money for treating yourself vs saving. Because, who knows, maybe that spiritual life in Tibet is my way to treat myself in the present and the future as I'd not be affected by the western culture?
 

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There are two ways to make money in this world. You either have to have a lot of money or a lot of time. Most of us are not born rich but all of us are born at a very young age.

The problem with our society is that although all of us have the power to become wealthy, if only due to the amount of time we are given in life alone, the vast majority of people squander this advantage. They use arguments like "you are only young once" or "you could die tomorrow" to justify spending every dime they have now, as well as every dime they will make in the next 20 years by taking on large debts now, to live the life of Reilly today.

The trick, in my opinion, is to NOT want all those things now. So how I do it is I try to price those things in how much longer I will be a slave to my boss at work, to buy that item now or do that activity now. So when you think about going to Jamaica this winter and the trip costs $3,000 or whatever, just multiply that by your estimated growth rate for the amount of time you expect it to grow and see how many months or years of work it can take off your life life, by deciding to do something less expensive instead and saving the money. In my opinion, 1 week in Jamaica is not worth 6 more months at work. That trip would be like them telling the average person the week in Jamaica would cost $46,000 or something crazy like that. The case would be closed. Most people would not do it.

So in that light, I am measuring the cost of something to its real cost. Not the price you pay. You can have someone swipe a credit card to deal with that and only make the minimum payment. No, I am talking about the real cost. How long does that purchase keep you from achieving the freedom from work and bosses, that you so much desire.

Right now, I am 55, its 10:30 in the morning. I am at my cottage drinking a coffee. After I am done with this post, I am not sure if I am going to go throw a fishing line off my dock, take a dip in the water or climb into my hammock. I was partying pretty hard last night so I could use a nap by now. In any event, It will definitely be my decision and not some boss's decision or company's decision or a workplace time clock's permission. Right now I am so glad I only went to Jamaica once in my life and not every bloody year.

Remember, one day the future will be the now. You really do want that to be sweet as well. Good luck to you. I think I will take a nap.
 

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So how I do it is I try to price those things in how much longer I will be a slave to my boss at work, to buy that item now or do that activity now.
I like this approach. My earlier answer was incomplete... I really have focused on building my capital (saving up a lot) so that I could reach the point of not being a slave to my boss at work.

Though from my understanding, you are balancing based on your increasing net worth, but I guess you have a goal net worth before retiring, and that's what I find hard to balance.

For example, I could say that my net worth is increasing every year, so I'm good : increasing from currently 20k to 24k and in 20 years I'll be at 100k (or maybe 200k for invested money). You see that it may not be sufficient for retiring in 20 years.
You're right and I forgot to address that part of it. I absolutely did save aggressively, and seek high income, to get towards a net worth goal. That means I avoided some kinds of spending (I drove a 15 year old car).

I guess I should have said that as my NW climbed towards the point of independence, then I really started re-evaluating this balance. So yeah, first focus was on accumulating capital.

Now that I am in "earshot" of having enough capital, I play with that balance I talked about. I should emphasize though, I don't yet have enough to retire and to get to retirement, I still have to accumulate more savings over the next few decades.
 

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I think it’s all about balance Between time, money, and quality of life. There are constant trade offs, so for us it’s about getting the maximum trade off. The most difficult part of making the trade offs is understanding what will bring the most 'happiness' over the long term and what is most important at the time.

I have never been one to budget very well, I spend what I want when I want. I had to keep my system fairly simple, otherwise, I would have never saved (I am a spender by personality). My system had these guidelines:
For our macro savings:
  • Save/invest more than you make
  • Treat our savings/retirement as an expense: We always tried to max out RRSP, TSFA, RESPS, and anything with free money from work. That was taken off before any discretionary spending. These amounts are reserved for the future
  • Small amount was put aside for emergency funds which now since we are more established, we don't really need. We just have an extra fund outside investments for larger purchases, or emergencies. We keep a minimum of year in there for emergencies, much more either gets invested or spent when something good comes up.
  • "New' money such as raises, bonuses, less tax taken was allocated in the order of mortgage (which has been gone for years), so now the money just gets put in the pot above which we decide if we want to spend the money.
For our spending:
  • We don't spend money we don't have. Since we paid off our mortgages, we will not take on any debt other than for investment properties. Everything else must be planned or saved for whether it's large vacations, vehicles or renovations. Since we put money aside as listed above and have minimum thresholds, if we are going according to plan, then we can spend it.
  • Before buying, I try to think about what value it will add for us.
    Our key is knowing what things will bring us enjoyment. I
    We have some criteria and priorities that are really important for us, and I will follow them. Family and experiences are very important to us, so we do not tend to skimp on the kids experiences. We spent $60K on a family vacation. It wasn't for the location but the adventure of going with their cousins and aunts and uncles Because they are very well established they do vacation where money is object. If we can join them, we will because of life stage differences and locations, the opportunities are rare. Then will we skimp on a vacation and go tent camping or a road trip for 2 years. I will cook from scratch and look for the best deals on my groceries, and then spend $1k on a meal with family. We love food, so it will bring us the memories.
  • For transactional spending, we try to make every dollar count. I do base some of my decision on pricing. If I can, I will wait for sales, buy in bulk, or often find ways to get things for less for the same items.
I try to find balance making sure we have the money already put aside AFTER saving for long term, and then evaluating larger purchases. One exception, is major life events. We had some major challenges that we didn't anticipate with aging parents, health issues with family and kids. We had said we would throw all plans out the window to deal with any crisis such as these.
 

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I think for many Canadians they simply don't or cannot figure out how much the money they spend today could have provided in financial freedom, in the future. In other words, unless they have a pension, which typically offers 30 to 35 year work sentences, they have no idea what constitutes good behaviour that could offer them an early release. That good behaviour being saving.

If they saved the $3,000, that would otherwise have gone to a trip to Jamaica this winter, what could it do? To them these spending decisions are really about buying this or buying that. Saving has little value to them because they cannot figure out what it can do...and that is unfortuneate. Plus whatever that $3,000 can do, it can do a lot more for a 25 year old then it can for a 45 year old. These people not only spend their money but also spend their time, which was even more valuable to them. That double wammy pretty much ensures a life sentence with little option of early parole.
 

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So to keep this whole thing balanced out, I watch for these things: (a) do I have enough time and energy after work to do other fun things/vacations I like and (b) is my net worth increasing after inflation. I want the answers to both to be 'yes'.
I'd like to revise my answer. Two questions I ask myself are:

(a) do I have enough time and energy for fun things, am I doing things I find enjoyable

and

(b) is my net worth increasing at a pace that looks like it will reach my net worth goal

This is one reason I follow a conservative investment approach, the Permanent Portfolio / All Weather, with a low stock allocation and low volatility. That portfolio tends to have a reasonably steady return, which helps me keep an eye on whether I'm on track towards reaching my net worth goal.
 

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Spend as less as possible until I reach the 1 million NW. After that, I will have a freedom of doing what I want. However, I will be working until I reach the NW of 2 million.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
I'd like to revise my answer. Two questions I ask myself are:

(a) do I have enough time and energy for fun things, am I doing things I find enjoyable

and

(b) is my net worth increasing at a pace that looks like it will reach my net worth goal

This is one reason I follow a conservative investment approach, the Permanent Portfolio / All Weather, with a low stock allocation and low volatility. That portfolio tends to have a reasonably steady return, which helps me keep an eye on whether I'm on track towards reaching my net worth goal.

So from my understanding you have set a goal at (b) so that it does not affect (a). I like that answer.

Then, I guess it depends on what kind of lifestyle we need to be satisfied with the fun things we do. To some people, the answer to (a) cost a lot more than others. So, again, we end up asking ourselves what's the right balance. Because, as for myself, I like to travel so I need to spend 5000$+ on travel every year so that I find that year worthy. While others are happy with no travel and spend 1000$ on sports every year, which is way less than me.

I think for many Canadians they simply don't or cannot figure out how much the money they spend today could have provided in financial freedom, in the future. In other words, unless they have a pension, which typically offers 30 to 35 year work sentences, they have no idea what constitutes good behaviour that could offer them an early release. That good behaviour being saving.

If they saved the $3,000, that would otherwise have gone to a trip to Jamaica this winter, what could it do? To them these spending decisions are really about buying this or buying that. Saving has little value to them because they cannot figure out what it can do...and that is unfortuneate. Plus whatever that $3,000 can do, it can do a lot more for a 25 year old then it can for a 45 year old. These people not only spend their money but also spend their time, which was even more valuable to them. That double wammy pretty much ensures a life sentence with little option of early parole.
I get your point and I like it, but let's say I do this calculation. From the rule of 72, it'll take 12 years to double my money invested at 6%. Should I spend 3000$ on travelling this year or should I wait 12 years to be able to do 2 trips? My answer will be easy, I'll travel this year.

But I'm oversimplifying. To me, the main goal is to build a passive income. So if I take my example again... For each 3000$ in a dividend stock, that's like a 4% discount on my future travels. After 12 years saving my travel money into dividend stocks, that's about 50% discount on ALL of my future travels. Even more if I invested in growth stocks then moved it to dividend stocks. I like that.

Also, most people here talk about retiring early because they hate having a boss. I understand that a very high percentage of people hate their jobs and that's sad. I'm part of them. But there are people out there enjoying their career and making money. That's the true goal. If you like your career while making decent money, you won't care about retiring early. If you don't care about retiring early, then you can spend more money on living the present. Though I understand that's not the reality for most of us, as I myself have been seeking for a better career in the last 10 years and only got depressed of not finding any solution, but I haven't given up, I have new ideas.

My travels are my best memories so I guess that's why I highly value those experiences and I'm ready to spend the required money. Though I also understand that we must learn to enjoy life in its simple things. Big events like travelling becomes addictive because of their effect on our brain. It's the appeal of freedom, but that freedom is only temporary and that's why we must balance out our savings for the future so that our freedom becomes permanent.

The mortality rate for each 5-year range starting at 35 (35-39, 40-44, 45-49, etc.) is at least 1 in 1000. Each year, 1 person out of 1000 in the 35-39 range dies. Starting at age range 60-65, it's 11 in 1000, therefore 1 in 100. There's people out there buying lottery tickets with 1 chance out of millions to win a few million dollars. Would you buy a lottery ticket that has 1 chance out of 100 to win 1M$? Most would. Why do we all think we are gonna die at 85, then?


I'd be very happy to learn more about life insurance. They are the one managing risk based on death rate, disease rate and the monetary value of life. Also I guess you know that all those reward cards and systems out there are making money from the points/rewards that people still haven't used yet, but did you know that a part of their business model is also based on people dying with unspent points/rewards? That's a great analogy to our life savings and life expectancy... I know someone who won a few millions, then died less than five years later in its 60s...

I think it’s all about balance Between time, money, and quality of life. There are constant trade offs, so for us it’s about getting the maximum trade off. The most difficult part of making the trade offs is understanding what will bring the most 'happiness' over the long term and what is most important at the time.
That's well said, I think it sums up pretty well the dilemma in the triangle time-money-quality. Thanks for sharing your personal guidelines. I'd say I do have some pretty similar mindset.
 

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I think, more important than either, is just accepting a mindset of not buying stupid crap that you'll regret later. Not trying to keep up with the Joneses.

If you spend a good deal of your money but it's from a genuine, personal desire to buy those things/experiences, you will be OK and have a life of satisfaction. If you are buying to appear impressive to others, or as a result of a shopping addiction, you won't be OK and your later working years will probably be torture knowing that you could've retired already.
Most will take comfort in the herd regardless of how negative it effects them. The scamdemic/plandemic by the Marxists & globalists to intentionally destroy the world economy & then reset to their liking is destroying peoples lives yet people play along to fit in with the Joneses. Even if the New Joneses have no job and collect universal basic income & are injected with micro chips & vaccine most will want to tag along if it becomes the in thing to do even if they understand they are being played.
 

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I get your point and I like it, but let's say I do this calculation. From the rule of 72, it'll take 12 years to double my money invested at 6%. Should I spend 3000$ on travelling this year or should I wait 12 years to be able to do 2 trips? My answer will be easy, I'll travel this year.
My point was to decide whether a trip to Jamaica was more or less important to you then Financial Freedom and if Financial Freedom was the higher goal then how much more time would it take to achieve your Financial Freedom by spending the $3,000 now.

The even better and easier way to do this, that worked very well for me, was to calculate the cost of any item or activity back to how many MORE hours or days I would need to work, to pay for them. For instance if I earned $30 per hour and I wanted to buy something that was $600 I would do the following thought calculation. First, I assumed all the money I made through the regular week was called on. Which it usually was through basic expenses and for RRSPs to pay for the cost of retirement at even an older age. So, $600 divided by $30 would equate to 20 hours. I would then ask myself if I would be willing to work 2.5 Saturdays, for 8 hours each on those days, to obtain or do whatever it is that I wanted to buy. This was the true cost. Not the $600 on the price tag. That was just the price. You would not believe how many things in life are not worth adding an extra work day to an already long 5 day week. Presto. You simply do not want that item anymore. The easiest way to save is to not want to spend. There are still things that will be worth that cost but you will find not nearly as many as before when you were just using their price as your costing guage.

Later I would add in the cost of taxation etc. on that $30 per hour, and that made the item even more expensive...which of course it is.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
My problem is that even if I'm not materialistic and even if I can save a lot by not spending on many useless things, I still have a lot of interests that - in my opinion - brings a lot of value to my life.

I've never bought any house furniture in 15 years, the only things I need are a bed and a table to eat. I've never had a TV as I feel it's wasting my time and money. Most of my life I rode my bike to work instead of paying for public transportation (or worst, a car). I never bought alcohol except for social activities, not even wine for dinners with my spouse. I buy clothes only once per year or less. I always cook my meals, I never go to restaurants except for special events. I guess you get the point that I'm not a spender. I must admit there's one materialistic thing I bought in my life and it's a motorcycle, that's all.

But then, when we are talking about learning, about experiences, about projects that brings a sense of accomplishment, about health (physical & mental), about wisdom, well now there are too many I could list. I don't have enough time and money in the present so I certainly don't want to wait for early retiring because learning takes time, experiences brings memories.

A few examples
  • Learning to play guitar, piano and drum (mental health & stimulus)
  • Taking cooking classes (physical health, matrimonial health)
  • Taking dancing classes (mental health & stimulus, matrimonial health)
  • Buying a specialised gym membership (mental & physical health)
  • Taking yoga, tai chi, meditation classes (mental & physical health)
  • Going back to university to learn about history, literature, art, law, psychology, sociology, physiology, etc. (mental stimulus, learning)
  • Learning languages (mental stimulus, personal learning projects, connection to the world and cultures)
  • Reading books (mental health & stimulus, learning, wisdom)
  • Travelling (experiences, mental health, learning, wisdom, connection to the world and cultures)
And the list continues. Everything listed has a monetary cost and a time cost. It may not help on financial freedom, though it helps on mental freedom and global health. Freedom is also something that we live in our mind, not only in our finances. Once we become a more accomplished person with higher wisdom, a greater sense of spirituality and a better global health, then we are truly free. I don't want to skip on all this and wait for retirement to start any of this. And I can only do 2-3 things out of my huge list.

That's the reason why I'm overwhelmed in my time management and my financial management.
 

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No problem. I just wanted to explain how you can calculate how much those things ACTUALLY cost. Many use the dollar price tag and unfortuneately that is not the cost. The true cost is how much of your life you lose to working in order to come up with the after tax money to pay for those things.

As I said above. Many things are worth the hours, days and years of life you give up to pay for them, but many, many are not and always remember that we all only get a finite amount of time on this earth, so be careful of how much of it you use to pay for the things you acquire and do the things you want to do.
 

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My problem is that even if I'm not materialistic and even if I can save a lot by not spending on many useless things, I still have a lot of interests that - in my opinion - brings a lot of value to my life.

I've never bought any house furniture in 15 years, the only things I need are a bed and a table to eat. I've never had a TV as I feel it's wasting my time and money. Most of my life I rode my bike to work instead of paying for public transportation (or worst, a car). I never bought alcohol except for social activities, not even wine for dinners with my spouse. I buy clothes only once per year or less. I always cook my meals, I never go to restaurants except for special events. I guess you get the point that I'm not a spender. I must admit there's one materialistic thing I bought in my life and it's a motorcycle, that's all.

But then, when we are talking about learning, about experiences, about projects that brings a sense of accomplishment, about health (physical & mental), about wisdom, well now there are too many I could list. I don't have enough time and money in the present so I certainly don't want to wait for early retiring because learning takes time, experiences brings memories.

A few examples
  • Learning to play guitar, piano and drum (mental health & stimulus)
  • Taking cooking classes (physical health, matrimonial health)
  • Taking dancing classes (mental health & stimulus, matrimonial health)
  • Buying a specialised gym membership (mental & physical health)
  • Taking yoga, tai chi, meditation classes (mental & physical health)
  • Going back to university to learn about history, literature, art, law, psychology, sociology, physiology, etc. (mental stimulus, learning)
  • Learning languages (mental stimulus, personal learning projects, connection to the world and cultures)
  • Reading books (mental health & stimulus, learning, wisdom)
  • Travelling (experiences, mental health, learning, wisdom, connection to the world and cultures)
And the list continues. Everything listed has a monetary cost and a time cost. It may not help on financial freedom, though it helps on mental freedom and global health. Freedom is also something that we live in our mind, not only in our finances. Once we become a more accomplished person with higher wisdom, a greater sense of spirituality and a better global health, then we are truly free. I don't want to skip on all this and wait for retirement to start any of this. And I can only do 2-3 things out of my huge list.

That's the reason why I'm overwhelmed in my time management and my financial management.
Sounds like we're nearly in the exact same place. I am over buying things that are superficial. All I want to do is be healthy, read books (serious books), and figure out how to be a good father for my kid(s).

The main barriers to this seem to be, for me:
  • Too much time spent at work
  • Too tired from working too hard
  • Wasting too much time watching TV and casually reading the internet.
Solutions:
Don't take on too much at work. Say no.
Grind through and work harder. Very likely you are not working at full capacity and can do more. It's just tiring, but do it anyways. Sure "burnout" can happen but you'll probably see a crisis coming and can adjust. Be self aware and don't lie to yourself.
Learn to focus and not waste time on stupid stuff.
Work to identify and eliminate your bad habits.

The math just doesn't work for "cutting back" on you career & money goals in your early 30s when you are still far away from early retirement. As much as there is a desire to do the things in your above list "now", ditching the money making to pursue them doesn't add up if it's adding 10+ years to your working life. Just figure out how to fix your problems, work harder, and do your very best to "have it all". I know that's not the most pleasant or easiest sounding solution, but I do think it's the best one.
 
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