Financially independent…but we choose not to be

It’s hard to believe April is almost over and May is just around the corner. It’s getting warmer and sunnier here in Vancouver and it sure feels like summer is just around the corner.

Here are some random thoughts. Perhaps a bit all over the place but they are all somewhat related (I promise they are!).

 

We aren’t in a rush with Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE)

As some of you may know, technically we can be financially independent if we wanted to, but we choose not to.

What does that mean exactly?

Four words – the Vancouver housing market.

If we decide to sell our house now and move a smaller Canadian city or town and use the proceeds to purchase dividend stocks and other passive income generating assets, our passive income should be greater than our annual expenses.

But we like where we live. We have lived in our house for over 3 years and have started to know our neighbours better. We are even starting a neighbourhood blockwatch to keep an eye on the neighbourhood (also to get a discount on the housing insurance). Plus, our house is within walking distance to parks and grocery stores. That’s pretty rare when you live in the suburb.

We are also not in a rush to cross the financial independence line or to call ourselves early retirees. I enjoy what I do at work and my job is challenging me in many different ways, in a good way. The plus side is that I am making a decent salary so we can continue pursuing our financial independence journey with only one income.

For Mrs. T, she is putting her career on hold right now so she can stay home with the kids. Once they are both in school, she plans to expand her holistic healing practice. To Mrs. T, she is helping out people in need so her healing practice doesn’t feel like a job to her.

We don’t see us ever “retire” in the traditional sense. Even when we are financially independent, both of us will probably be doing some sort of income generating work that we enjoy doing.

We keep reminding ourselves that financial independence is not a sprint, it is a marathon. At this point on our financial independence journey, we are basically putting things on auto-pilot. We try to earn more, optimize our expenses, save money, invest in appreciating assets, be tax efficient, and grow our net worth. The reality is that we aren’t in a rush to cross the “FIRE finish line”. We don’t feel the need to put the “retired at early 30’s,” “retired at 40,” “early retirees” label on ourselves.

We believe we have found the right balance for our household between saving for the future and spending money so we can enjoy the present moment. This balance may be different each week, and that is totally OK as long as Mrs. T and I agree on what the right balance is.

Perhaps we are very lucky and fortunate to be in this position. We are grateful and remind ourselves of this constantly. There are way less fortunate people out there, and for that, we donate and help out whenever we can.

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Geographical Diversification

With the weak Canadian dollar, I find it hard to convert Canadian dollars to US dollars so we can buy more US dividend stocks. It is especially hard considering we converted a large amount of CAD to USD when the Canadian dollar was above parity.

Therefore, for now, we probably will continue looking at the best Canadian dividend stock list and nibble on those dividend stocks. That means we may end up being less geographically diversified. To increase our international exposure, we probably will be relying on buying international market index ETFs like VXC and XAW.

Things would be so much easier if the exchange rate is parity.

Oh well, I guess I can keep dreaming.

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We want to be world travellers

Travelling and living abroad has always been one of our long-term plans. We do plan to move to Denmark and live there for at least couple of years in the near future. We also plan to live in Taiwan at some point as well. Both Mrs. T and I think this would be a great way for the kids to learn the languages and their cultural roots. At the same time, it would also be a good opportunity for me to learn Danish and for Mrs. T to learn Mandarin/Taiwanese. When we live in Denmark & Taiwan, we would be able to explore closeby countries.

We also have the idea of travelling the world for a year. Both of us have been bitten by the travel bug growing up and we’d love to see the different parts of the world. We also believe that travelling is a great way for our kids to learn valuable life skills. To do this effectively, we will need to homeschool both kids.

We brought up this idea of travelling and living elsewhere with Baby T1.0 the other day and he was very excited about it. At 4 years old, he just wants to learn and explore the world. Every day is a new day for him filled with new opportunities. It’s so great to see that he is so excited about life. It is also a good reminder for Mrs. T and I that we both need to be more like him, living in the present moment.

After coming back from Maui, Baby T2.0 would often grab her backpack and put clothes in it. When we asked her what she was doing, she would reply “packing.” When we asked her where she was going, she would reply “Maui!” with a big grin on her face. It is so cute seeing that and I guess she really enjoyed spending almost 2 weeks in Maui. The other day, Baby T1.0 asked if we would go back to Maui soon because he would like to play and dig on the beach and look at the beautiful ocean sunsets. He also wanted to learn how to do the hula better. It was very cool to see how much impact travel has made on both of them already.

Baby T2.0 ready to explore the world

I do wonder if Baby T2.0 will remember much from Maui a few years from now though. We took Baby T1.0 to Japan for 2 weeks just before he turned 2. He used to talk about Japan all the time but nowadays when we asked him about Japan, he would just reply saying he couldn’t remember anything from Japan.

His answer only makes me want to take the family back to Japan for another family vacation even more. It certainly helps when airlines often have great airfare deals flying out from Vancouver airport. Perhaps we’ll visit Japan next year?

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Investing for the long-term

Enbridge received the Line 3 approval the other day. The condition is that Enbridge can only use the existing route. The market took this as a negative news and the stock price tumbled as a result (>5% drop).

As you may have noticed from our monthly dividend income reports, we have been buying Enbridge shares the last few months (278 shares so far in 2018). With the stock price tumbling down to a new 52 week low, I decided to go in and buy more Enbridge stocks.

Will this be a good move? Or will it come back and bite us like Kinder Morgan a while ago?

I don’t know the right answer to this one. My crystal ball is a bit fuzzy.

But one thing I do know is that we humans will continue using natural gas and crude oil for many years to come. And Enbridge will continue making money by transporting these valuable resources from point A to point B. As a long-term investor, I will continue DRIPing shares and collect dividends. Who knows what Enbridge’s stock price will be in 2028.

Be greedy when others are fearful right?

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I am enough, I have enough

The other night Mrs. T and I were having hygge after the kids were in bed. The idea of “I am enough, I have enough” came up during our conversation. What exactly is enough for us? Is reaching financial independence enough? Or is fat FIRE status to be considered enough? How much money/passive income/net worth is enough?

Obviously, this answer will differ for each individual.

As we discussed this topic, Mrs. T threw this back at me that made me ponder.

“You can’t take all that money with you when you die. So, is the amount of money you have really that important? Isn’t it more important that you have left a mark on this world when you are finally gone?”

Leaving a mark on this world, what are some ways I can do that?

  • Raise the kids to be kind and responsible people so they can raise their kids like that too
  • Give time to help out the community and people in need
  • Share my knowledge -> on this blog, perhaps write a book?
  • Be kind and treat others how I want to be treated
  • Leave money for my descendants that will serve as a foundation on which they can build their financial futures
  • Create a scholarship to the deserving kids

Can you think of other ways to leave a mark on this world?

A Scouts leader of mine passed away over 10 years ago and he certainly left a mark on this world. Under his guidance, I transformed from a shy boy into someone who was very confident with myself. He has left his mark on me and he has inspired me to do the same.

While we were discussing this topic, I mentioned to Mrs. T that we probably will be spending more money on vacations this year compared to other years. Simply because of our Maui vacation, our planned trip to Denmark later this year, and a few other trips that we have planned.

“But spending money on vacation and the memories from the vacations are well worth it. Again, we can’t take all that money in the bank account with us when we die.”

I am so fortunate that I have someone in my life that keeps me balanced and rewire my ways of thinking. Mrs. T is absolutely right. So what if we spend a bit more money on vacation this year? We will have long-lasting memories. The Maui vacation was by far the best family vacation we have had so far.

And when I think about it, as I stated earlier, we aren’t in a rush to cross the financial independence retire early finish line.

It’s all about finding the right personal balance between saving for the future and enjoying the present moment. For us, we are saving quite a bit of money each month, we are investing continuously, and growing our net worth consistently. We should spend some money to allow us to enjoy the present moment and create ever-lasting memories, instead of constanly feeling guilty about spending money. 

Perhaps what Mrs. T and I ought to do is start recording our discussions and start a podcast.

Ha!

As if we don’t have enough things to do in our lives already. 🙂

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That was a good day, thank you!

I came across this post from a friend of mine on Facebook the other day. I thought it was absolutely brilliant and heartfelt. The post really made me think about what’s important in life and we must live life to the fullest.  With his permission I am posting what he wrote here.

—//—

Yesterday evening, Tuesday April 25th 2017, Dan left us.

About two months ago, Dan’s surgeons told us there was nothing further they could do to improve the quantity or quality of his life, and that he should prepare for the end. Dan was resolute in his determination not to return to the hospital and made the decision to pursue Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD).

Before you offer condolences, I ask you to pause and reflect for a moment on Dan’s courage and strength in taking this action so that, like me, you may be left with something more than grief and loss at Dan’s absence.

In these last two months, Dan invited his closest friends and family (his community) to share this experience with him. Dan had doubts, and fears, and questions. He asked us for our thoughts. On MAiD, on dying, on the afterlife, and on this life.

Dan gave all of us the strength to participate in this experience, to understand his decision, and to come to terms with the end of his life. This was true weeks ago when the first friends and family arrived from around the world, it was true on Saturday at his Celebration of Life, and it was true yesterday when we all gathered around Dan as he said goodbye.

I am grieving. I feel a tremendous sense of loss. My brother, only thirteen months older than me, is gone. But more than sadness and grief for Dan’s absence, I feel pride, gratitude, and awe at his courage and his strength. For twenty years he lived with the reality of this disease, and it didn’t hold him back. For the last eighteen months, despite an impossibly heavy burden, he faced every day with an uncompromising determination to make the most of life. And in the last few hours and minutes, he did not back down from his decision, he did not stop asking questions, and he continued to give and love even as he nodded to the doctor to take that final step.

Sharing in this experience and learning from my brother as he walked this path has been the most profound experience of my life. I hope for all of you and for myself that these feelings of gratitude for Dan’s courage and strength continue to outweigh those of sadness and loss. But I also know that Dan wouldn’t hesitate to call BS on this optimism, and that he would instead be more interested in the truth that can be found only when we take the time to reflect and ask ourselves the toughest questions.

So when (not if) you are struggling, and you are walking that line between light and dark, pull out your Danny Card, and know that he is there to help us, no matter which side we happen to be on.

====

Hi everyone,

It’s been a year now.

I cycled the long way home tonight, along the beach with the setting sun and not even thinking about where I was a year ago. Just enjoying the sound of my tires crunching the gravel and all the signs of spring.

I am reposting what I wrote a year ago because it is still how I feel today, and how I’ve felt every day in between. Every day I think about Dan and every day I live in gratitude and awe of his courage and his grace. I gladly accept that some part of me will never move on and will stay in those months and moments forever. I want it that way.

And I keep my Danny Card handy, under my transparent phone case, where I can see it every day: when I’m in meetings, when I’m on the bus, when I’m stuffing my pockets as I rush out the door. Never stop asking yourself, “Who am I?” Be honest with yourself, and with others. Passionately pursue the things you care about. Value community, friends, and family. I pull it out and look at it all the time – it is my talisman.

If you know me well enough you probably know I like to think about things, over and over and over… When Dan was in the hospital, he and I started to exchange emails every night, if I wasn’t sleeping over: three things we were grateful for that day. It was tough, and awkward, often repetitive. And like all good lessons, it didn’t really sink in until much later. A couple of weeks ago I was up late sitting on the couch and thinking about gratitude. And I finally got it. If you can end every day by saying, and genuinely meaning, “That was a good day, thank you,” then you’ve got it.

That is Dan. Missed and loved. Very definitely still with us. And always giving.

Thank you, brother. 🙂

/////////////

 

Everything is awesome

With that, I’ll end the post with this…

Life is not about having a certain amount of money, and life is not about crossing of specific goals.

Life is about appreciating each breath we take and each day we live.

Life is about influencing other people in positive ways.

Life is about knowing that you have made the world a better place when you are gone.

Everything is awesome, everything is cool when you follow your dream.

So follow your dream. (We just watched The LEGO Movie and I couldn’t resist. :p )

 

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34 Comments

  • Reply
    Accidental FIRE
    April 30, 2018 at 4:29 am

    I was talking to a friend in my cycling club yesterday and regarding the housing he’s in the same boat as you. We live in the Washington DC area – one of the most expensive housing markets in the US. He has a house that would probably sell for 1.3 million or higher. Believe it or not it’s only 1400 sq. feet, but it’s all about the location. I asked him why he doesn’t sell it and just move somewhere cheaper and enjoy the good life, retired. But he likes it here too much. He’s not a FIRE guy nor has probably ever heard of the concept, so I don’t prod him. But there’s something to be said about enjoying where you live.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      April 30, 2018 at 10:54 am

      One of the problems of living in an expensive housing market is that if you decide to stay in the same city, even if you sell your current house, you end up having to buy something that’s still expensive… that’s true even if you downsize.

      Enjoying where you live does improve your quality of life.

  • Reply
    FullTimeFinance
    April 30, 2018 at 7:06 am

    Honestly I take it one step further. I could sell my home and rent here and be retired. But I like my home and my life in it. I have no desire to live in a 2 bedroom apartment for the rest of my life.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      April 30, 2018 at 10:56 am

      Totally agree. Some people enjoy owning, some enjoy renting. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

  • Reply
    aGoodLifeMD
    April 30, 2018 at 7:22 am

    I have found my job satisfaction to be much higher now that we’re FI and could RE. Like you, we continue to work becuase it is enjoyable.

    I’m interested in homeschooling for 1-2 years as well. Kids are 4 and 1 so just getting info on that. I’ll be looking for some posts you make on the subject.

    ~ GLMD

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      April 30, 2018 at 10:58 am

      That’s awesome you have found your job satisfaction to be higher now you’re FI.

      We haven’t spent too much time doing research on homeschooling but I’m sure if we spend some time we can find that info pretty easily. Gets a little bit trickier when you’re travelling around the world perhaps.

  • Reply
    Ivory
    April 30, 2018 at 8:09 am

    I agree of what you all said in here. I’m a nurse in neuro ICU and it given me a better perspective, Im constantly reminded to set my priorities and spend more time with my favourite people. Life can be taken from us just like that. One minute youre alive and well, next minute you’re fighting for your life. I’ve seen it many times. If I die now I will have a lots of regret. Thanks for reminding me to make more memories, spend quality time with family and friends. FIRE would be nice sooner but I’m just taking my time too. Just balance is sound about right!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      April 30, 2018 at 10:59 am

      Working in neuro ICU must have given you a lot of perspectives in life and death situations. And I’m sure you get reminded all the time about spending quality time with the important people in your life.

      Finding the right balance so you can live life without regret is a good idea. This way you won’t regret about things you haven’t done on your death bed. Rather, you can be content and at peace with all the great things you have done in your life. 🙂

  • Reply
    Mr. Tako
    April 30, 2018 at 9:06 am

    I’m with you Bob — after a certain point it doesn’t really matter how much money you have. Other things become far more important in life.

    I’ve definitely reached that stage in my own life. Sure, I could go back to work to earn more… but what would I do with the all extra money? We’re pretty much doing everything we could possibly dream of right now.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      April 30, 2018 at 10:59 am

      Wouldn’t you want to have extra money so you can go to the casino and put everything on black? :p 😉

      I’m kidding of course. That’s awesome that money is no longer the top priority for you in life.

  • Reply
    Joe
    April 30, 2018 at 9:10 am

    Bob, a lot of stuff in this post. Can we come visit when you move to Denmark? 🙂
    We like where we live too. The schools are good and we don’t want to move yet. Once our son is done with high school, I’ll consider moving.
    Our son is also starting to forget older trips. They have so much stimuli and it’s hard for them to remember. The trips were fun, though.
    Anyway, it sounds like you are doing very well with your life. There is no need to rush to FI.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      April 30, 2018 at 11:03 am

      Sure, visit us when we move to Denmark. 🙂

      I travelled to many places when I was a kid and I have forgotten some of the details of the trips. So that’s not uncommon.

  • Reply
    Whymances
    April 30, 2018 at 9:48 am

    Agree with this article. I’m far from FIRE. About a year and a half ago I was fixated on maximizing savings and achieving FIRE as fast as I could. Since then, I’ve stepped back to really think it through. FIRE at the cost of what? Why FIRE? It’s still a goal that I have, but there’s no longer a fixed date. It’s something I’m slowly working towards while I live life.

    Hope your trip to Denmark is as enjoyable as Maui!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      April 30, 2018 at 11:04 am

      Exactly, you don’t want to achieve FIRE at the cost of having a low quality of life for many years, only to find yourself hating your own life. That’d suck. It’s better to live and enjoy your life but keep your long term goals in mind.

  • Reply
    Lily | The Frugal Gene
    April 30, 2018 at 10:52 am

    Someone mentioned we could FIRE already (it would be very lean tho) but there’s a big difference in retiring early and working for something. I’ve said it so many times (and I’m glad to know I’m not alone) that retiring early is not a concrete thing. To me, it’s just the ability to be able to explore new ventures. If early retirement means giving up a good life you have and kids became accustomed to (neighborhood, walkability etc) then that’s not something I would be interested in either.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      April 30, 2018 at 11:05 am

      Honestly, if you retire early and not do anything at all that would stimulate you both mentally and physically, you’ll probably end up dying early. Better to keep yourself stimulated.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    April 30, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    I’m not yet FIRE but I think we could get there a lot quicker if we sold our co-op in NYC and moved to a lower cost area. Of course, being that our family and friends are here makes it hard to leave especially when our parents are older and dealing with more health issues. We feel some obligation to stay close by. Many seem to say renting is cheaper than owning in high cost areas but the reality is renting or buying are BOTH expensive!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      April 30, 2018 at 2:41 pm

      Yea staying close by friends and family make sense. Living at a place that makes you happy is certainly an important factor.

  • Reply
    Lady Dividend
    April 30, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    Well rule one of FIRE is that the whole point is to be able to do what you want! So if you don’t want to retire fully that’s your choice to make in am empowered way! It sounds like 2018 will already be an exciting year!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      April 30, 2018 at 8:08 pm

      Thank you Lady Dividend. FIRE certainly bring that flexibility of doing what you want with your life. And that’s what many people look forward to.

  • Reply
    Michael CPO (Christian Professionals Overseas), From the Far Side of the Planet
    April 30, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    F.I. is enough, working overseas is fun, but I need to smell the roses too – literally ! 🙂 It is Spring here! Went strawberry picking this long holiday weekend too 🙂 … besides teaching overseas gives me enough for travel time or staycations ….. Vancouver is good for hiking … though Maui or somewhere south sounds nice too! 🙂

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      April 30, 2018 at 8:11 pm

      It’s not quite strawberry picking season in Vancouver yet, maybe in late May we’ll be able to start picking strawberries in our backyard.

      Sounds like teaching overseas gives you quite a bit of flexibility, and that’s what FIRE is all about – having that flexibility in life so you can do what you want with your life.

  • Reply
    Dividend Earner
    April 30, 2018 at 10:18 pm

    Somewhat in the same boat where I could retire but I am not yet. Paying for university tuition over the next 6 years (2 kids overlapping). We are ready to move out of Vancouver, a.k.a Raincouver 🙂 to get more sun over the year. I have had my fair share of winter darkness now.

    I don’t think I can officially stop being busy though, my mind would not stop looking for a project.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      May 1, 2018 at 1:16 pm

      Yes university is expensive, no way around that but hopefully your kids can get scholarships to help that aspect.

      I don’t really mind the rain to be honest. I think overall Vancouver gets bad vibes when it comes to rain but it’s really not that bad.

      I’m like you, I need to have something to work on, or I go crazy. 🙂

  • Reply
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life
    May 1, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Forgetting details is why I think that the all-encompassing “prioritize experiences over things!” advice is flawed. I think a good balance means that we will remember more and enjoy more – and that goes for the pursuit of FI as well. We also enjoy where we live, though it’s a bit harder without anyone nearby to help, because it’s a good fit for our personalities and we make it work. It’s much better than selling and moving to much more traffic congested areas.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      May 1, 2018 at 1:18 pm

      Avoid traffic congested areas will give you peace of mind in the long run, that’s for sure.

      I have a slight problem with prioritizing experiences over things because that will lead you down the YOLO route. It’s about finding the balance that works for you so you can enjoy life now and enjoy life later.

  • Reply
    Troy Bombardia @ Bull Market
    May 2, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    Why not move to Vancouver Island? I think Vancouver just lost its crown as the most overvalued real estate market in Canada. But still, prices are sky high.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      May 2, 2018 at 8:20 pm

      Vancouver Island is getting pretty expensive as well but certainly not as expensive as Metro Vancouver. Vancouver Island also has a more relaxed vibe. Good point.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    GYM
    May 7, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    Wow, lots of stuff to think about in this post- very introspective- thanks for sharing.

    The sun really makes my love affair for Vancouver rekindle! The darkness and rain is difficult for me.

    I believe children do not remember anything before the age of 3-4 usually, but age 0-3/4 are very important in shaping who they are 🙂 So the memories you spent in Maui are well worth it!

    Living in Denmark and Taiwan would be amazing and a great opportunity. Would you homeschool your children then or try an international school while you are there?

    My husband and I felt our trip to Oahu for 5 weeks was so great too, we think about it often. It would be awesome to move to Hawaii.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      May 8, 2018 at 10:07 am

      Hi GYM,

      I have some distinct memories when I was before 4 so I hope both Baby T1.0 and Baby T2.0 will remember some stuff from their younger years. Would be interesting to see how they remember Maui, that’s for sure.

      If we can, we think enrolling the kids in public school would allow them to learn the language best. But we’ll have to see. Homeschool is obviously an option as well.

      Oahu for 5 weeks, that would be so awesome if we can stay longer in Hawaii. Next time. 🙂

  • Reply
    Adam @ Minafi
    May 11, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    Selling a house to become FI is a pretty massive life change. I

    > I enjoy what I do at work and my job is challenging me in many different ways, in a good way.

    That definitely sounds like a great place to be! I’ve something similar too: by knowing that I have a finite amount of time left, I seem to enjoy and cherish things in the workplace a little more. That sounds like running the last mile of a marathon, but it has a nice feel to it!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      May 14, 2018 at 10:27 am

      Enjoy and cherish things in the workplace a little bit more because you know you only have a finite amount of time left working sounds like a good idea. But maybe what we should all do, regardless whether we plan to leave work or not, is try to enjoy what we do. Afterall, we do spend a lot of time at work so no point feeling miserable about it all the time…

  • Reply
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