Where we are on our journey to FIRE

So where are we exactly on our journey to FIRE? This is a post I've been meaning to do for awhile so sorry for keeping you in suspense. Based on our current numbers we are about half way there.

The diagram below show our progress. I've added in the life events that were happening to show the impacts.

PapaBird and I have mostly been on the same page on how to manage our money so that has been a blessing in that we have always been moving towards the same goal together. I discovered MMM near the end of 2014 and it felt like a light bulb went off. 

  • You mean we can actually save enough to get our freedom early! 
  • You mean we don't need to work till we're 60?
  • You mean our savings suddenly have a purpose in the near future?
  • You mean we could sell everything and travel the world?
Like most new converts I went all in. I wanted to cut everything that we didn't need. Questioned everything we were spending on, bought only second hand things for the kids and the house. Well to be fair I was mostly selling things off at this point as we had planned to leave Montreal for Edmonton when our eldest started school and that deadline was looming. It was time to start getting rid of anything we didn't plan on moving. We had been in a very small house at this point with the goal that we would upgrade to a larger 'forever' house when we moved to the Edmonton area. 

Our 800 square foot 2 bedroom home in the Montreal Area
I hoped I could convince PapaBird to buy a slightly bigger house but keep our mortgage about the same. I was hoping that we could find jobs close to home so we could bike to work, heck my ideal would be to cut back to only one car! I was nearing the end of my second maternity leave at the time and not keen to go back to work and was looking for an escape. 

PapaBird did not understand this obsession AT ALL! I got all the usual push back. 
  • I don't want to deprive ourselves. I want to enjoy life! 
  • I want a nice house! 
  • I want nice cars! 
  • We're already doing better than the majority of people and save a lot!
  • I don't want to quit working at 45 to twiddle my thumbs. I like working
  • I definitely don't want to sell everything to become nomads!
It took me the better part of a year tracking our expenses, trying to cut where we could, falling deeply into a scarcity mindset and struggling with any unforeseen costs. I started creating small arguments with PapaBird for spending even the smallest amounts, kept trying to turn down the thermostat to save a few pennies until I finally realized I was causing deprivation and making us miserable by taking it too far. MMM and FIRE should not be about deprivation, but rather really identifying what is your best life and cutting the rest. If you can do that and save the difference you'll never feel any sacrifice as you've lived well on the exact same amount of money at both accumulation and draw down stages. All along you have been living a full-filled life and focusing on what is important and worth your time and money. 

It was then that I mellowed a bit. I compromised a bit more. Hello! PapaBird was moving cross-country for me and our kids to be closer to my family, I needed to give a bit. We found a house that we both liked and it fit our family needs well shortly after we landed jobs and I found I was pregnant with our 3rd. I don't know if it'll actually be our forever home, but it fit the criteria of having 4 bedrooms upstairs and a decent amount of yard and green space around us. It did come with a mortgage 3x our old one that felt close to being paid off. Then we finished the basement and completed the landscaping as it was a spec home and had never been done. In retrospect we maybe should have kept looking a bit longer and perhaps we could have something with those items completed, but overall we are very happy here and like our nieghbourhood. I just underestimated the cost of landscaping. Oh well you live and learn. I can't wait to be mortgage free, but at present that is about 10 years off. 

Not our actual house, but similar in style
As you can see from the graph, this house and the additional costs we committed to in 2017 flatlined our progress in 2018 as we were paying back what we'd borrowed against the HELOC to finish the basement and landscaping. We also bought a newish minivan for our expanding family as we really couldn't make it work in the cars we had at the time. So what still feels like a massive amount of spending in that short period was diverted from our investments. We still maxed out our RRSPs but ignored our TFSA for that year. The market also dipped quite a bit at the end of 2018 rounding out the reasons for little progress. 

We completed paying that off in 2018 and shifted back to increasing our investments again. It was still a bit slower than hoped as I was looking for work for the first half of the year. But looking back on the final tally we've done well in 2019. Especially impressive is that our net worth increased by almost the same amount as our take home pay. It was only 10 thousand less. I'm excited to start to hit the point where our money is working nearly as hard as we are!

So that brings us to today. We are almost 50% of the way to FIRE. Our net worth has officially doubled in the last six years we've been tracking it and if that continues we should definitely hit it before the next six years are up. PapaBird and I now really feel on the same page with our goals. I'm not sure when he will pull the plug on official work, but he is open to finding ways for his time to be more flexible. 

I was hoping to transition to RE when my youngest starts school in about 2-3 years. But like I've said I'm not nearly as committed to this goal as I once was. I'm enjoying my work again, I'm remembering what I love about my field and will likely continue to work in some capacity for a bit longer than that. I just want to figure out how to have more flexibility and time with my kids. It'll all work out because I now feel the freedom that being half way there has granted us.

Keeping track of our progress has also enabled me to move from a scarcity mindset to more of an abundance one. We're not that far from our goal anymore. We are nearing or are in the tipping point. We could stop adding to our investment accounts now and compounding interest would grant us enough to retire in 8-10 years. That has given me the permission I needed to ease up a bit. To stop feeling like I'm a MMM failure because we spent so much on projects in 2017. We thought about them, realized the impact and decided it would be important to our enjoyment of life. We understood that doing so likely meant working another year or two and then proceeded. To realize that following MMMs extreme frugality to freedom is not going to work for us. That we are not failures by any means if we only hit FI around 50 (though currently hoping for 45). To spend a bit more on things that will actually bring us enjoyment or be gentle on myself if we are weak in periods of exhaustion and go for some of the convenience food I feel we should generally avoid. And much to the relief of my family I'm ok now with turning up the heat a bit more. It is definitely more comfortable at 20 C than it is at 18 C. 

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