The solution to too much or too little weight is solved with generally the same strategies. There are three things needed to maintain an ideal weight: diet, exercise and sleep. Do it right and you stand a good chance of living a long time. Do it right and you increase your chances at high levels of health and happiness. Do it right and your level of happiness should go up significantly. Do it right and you will truly be wealthy.
From the outside it can look easy. Watching a couple together for 30 years and still madly in love is something everyone can enjoy and learn from. We forget the ride from when they met to this very day where they are still together wasn’t a smooth one. Life intervened. Money problems arose, fights broke out, angry words were uttered and myriad other problems interjected into the relationship.
Mrs. Accountant and I are such a couple. We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary earlier this year. Some people like to throw a party as they reach anniversary milestones. Mrs. A and I prefer a more solitude ceremony of two. We share stories and wondered what we did that was so special we would beat the odds.
Both of us came from poor, lower middle-class backgrounds. Mrs. A had a small car loan when we met and a modest balance in the bank. I was starting to make headway, but money was tight. I say this with a brave face. It’s easy to forget how hard we had to work to build our wealth and maintain a stable relationship.
The early retirement community is alive and well in one of the greatest economic booms of our age. The government is working hard to create more jobs while the people want meaningful work and more time with family, friends and for pursuing other personal interests. Except for the most hardened, retirement is a goal that will be reached eventually whether you are ready or not.
The early retirement community has a lot to teach to those racing toward the finish line. There are serious risks involved, however. Without serious planning and thought, retirement can be hell on earth. Sitting around all day without meaning or purpose saps all joy and pleasure. Retirement is meant as a tool to explore wonderful new worlds filled with beauty and awe. Dream travel and the business you always wanted to start are now possible. You’ll have time to write that book; start that podcast; climb that mountain. Or, it could be anxiety, loneliness and fear.
It happens to everyone: a business partner embezzles funds destroying the company and leaving you with the mess, an ex betrays your trust, a co-worker or supervisor harasses you. It is easy to get angry and fire from the hip. But reaction only makes it worse. To make matters even worse, the person who slighted you gets away clean while your response is dealt with harshly. There is something true to the adage: the second one to throw a punch gets caught.
There is a better way that doesn’t harm any party involved: success. Success is said to be the best form of revenge, but it only works if it isn’t done for traditional revenge reasons.
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said if your life has a why you can bear almost any how. This is a fancy way of saying your life needs purpose to strive for the important goals.
Money will drive you if your finances are in desperate straits. Once the basics are covered new motivations are needed to keep striving for goals. Sheer love of the process drives some, but this is the minority. The vast multitudes need something more, a prod to keep them moving forward.
The FIRE (financial independence/retire early) community is a growing demographic still trying to find its way. The FI part of the equation is easier to understand than the RE part. The issues revolve around the definition of retirement and what constitutes the appropriate lifestyle once FI is reached.
Some of the wealthiest individuals of the last half century provide an example. When Sam Walton was the richest man alive on the planet he still drove a beat up old pickup truck. He saw no reason to spend money on a new truck when the one he had was comfortable, did the job and gave him pleasure (a bit of a status symbol). In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Warren Buffett confessed he has been semi-retired for decades. Charlie Munger, Buffett’s right-hand man at Berkshire-Hathaway, joked Warren is good at doing nothing.
Like Walton, Buffett doesn’t go for the extravagant spending so common among the rich. Buffett’s suit is off the rack and he eats at McDonalds. He also lives in the same home he bought in 1958.
From a young age I knew exactly wanted to do. Then I changed my mind.
Such is youth. My dad had different plans for me. My childhood was spent on the family farm and it was an awesome life. My dad owned an agricultural repair business and the plan was in place for me to slide right into the company. There was only one problem: I hated the work.
My children are now adults. One is in China while the youngest just graduated high school. My fondest hope was that at least one of the two would be interested in tax and accounting work. No dice.
Forcing your children into a family business is always a bad idea. The kids might love the work and they should then be welcomed with open arms if they do. But most kids don’t want to follow in their parent’s footsteps. Their dreams are different. Most often they follow their parent’s path because they don’t know where else to turn.
The event of my life happened on April 2, 1987. It was the most unlikely of events and was totally an accident. Unfortunately you can’t enjoy what I experienced. The modern world no longer tolerates that kind of thing.
The spring of 1987 was a calm part of my life. I owned my own home, I had money and I was living the dream. Only one thing was missing.
My lust to learn goes back to my childhood. With plenty of free time I could read from sunrise to sunset. I would walk to the corner café for a cup of coffee and dinner most days. I would putz around the place and yak with the local farmers as I swilled my coffee. To prevent my underwear sticking to my ass or crawling up thereof I would hop behind the counter and pour coffee. The patrons loved the conversation so the owner comped most of my meals and coffee.
As much as I was enjoying
It happens to everyone eventually. Long hours at the office or illness or other stress leads to fatigue. Then you get behind the wheel. Distracted by your own issues, another driver cuts in front of you and you react in the nick of time. Your heart races as you speak in a foreign language consisting entirely of four-letter words.
The other driver waves a quick apology and keeps going. Angered by the mishap, you tell your co-workers about the idiot on the highway. The rest of your day is ruined. At home you tell the wife, kids and cat (if she’ll listen to your ranting and raving) about your early morning near catastrophe.