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