Use your imagination

The other day I was playing Lego with Baby T1.0. He found some wheels from his Lego box, where we keep all the Lego pieces, and went on to build an “airplane car” with random Lego parts. While busy constructing, he was telling me stories about the airplane car and how we could use it to go to Taiwan.

Once the airplane car was constructed, he then started telling me even more stories about all the adventures the airplane car was capable of.

After talking non-stop for 10 minutes or so, he went on about his imaginary dog called Doey (we have a friend that has a dog called Zoey, so we think that’s how Baby T1.0 got the name Doey from). According to Baby T1.0, Doey also had an airplane car so he could come to Taiwan with us. But Doey needed to go back to Vannuver (a place he invented based on Vancouver) first to get some clothes for the trip to Taiwan.

Needless to say, as a 3 year old, Baby T1.0 has pretty good imagination.

I remember having wild imagination when I was a younger. I used to play with Lego for extended period of time and making up adventures with the Lego pieces I was building. Ah the good times.

Sadly, as I grew older my imagination faded. Reality set in and I used less and less of my imagation.

As I listened to Baby T1.0’s stories and stared into his innocent eyes, I wished this kind of innocence and imagination could stay forever. But I knew things can and will change.


Use your imagination!!!

When it comes to the FIRE community, many of us like to run simulations and calculations. Hence, there are tons of FIRE calculators available on the internet; for folks looking for standard retirement age of 65, there’s also the retirement freedom calculator.

Do these simulations and calculators make us fall into the“finish line trap” where we care more about the end goal than the present moment?

Sometimes, we are so laser focused on the end goal of being financially independent, we forget what it means to enjoy the present moment.

Some of us are so set to become financially independent on a specific date, we fail to see the big picture.

We fail to use our imagination and have some fun during our journey of becoming financially independent.

Life is pretty boring if you can’t have some fun along the way.

Let me be frank, talking about money all the time is pretty damn boring.

There I said it!

*Wait for the angry mob to throw stones at me*

*Crickets* LOL!

So, use your imagination and imagine what it would be like to be financially independent. What would your daily life be like?

Better yet, practice being financially independent… because practice makes perfect.

Why not have some fun and book a Wednesday off work and live that day as if you are already independent? Use your imagination on all the possibilities and make them happen!

The key message I am trying to get is…

If we are not happy right now, reaching financial independence will not magically make us happy. Financial independence is not a magic pill that fixes our present problems. Whatever problems we wehave now, you will most likely have the same problems when we are financially independent.

Remember, happiness comes from within; happiness does not come from an outside source.


The waiting till problem…

Now imagine that you are already financially independent, what is one thing you would do immediately?

Now ask yourself, what’s prevent you from doing this?

For example, one thing Mrs. T and I would love to do when we are financially independent is to explore the world.

But not being FI should not prevent us from setting foot on different parts of the world. I can book vacation time from work and explore the world a few weeks at a time, despite not financially independent yet.

Have you ever told yourself that you will wait to do something until something else is finished first?

It’s very logical on the surface but it doesn’t make any sense.

Take traveling and exploring the world as an example. Should you wait till you are financially independent or retired before you start traveling and exploring the world?

That’s what my grandparents did. My grandpa kept telling my grandma that they would go to Japan once he retired. Unfortunately, my grandpa never saw this dream come true… he passed away 2 years before his retirement date.

Some things are worth the wait, some things aren’t. Don’t keep waiting until it’s too late. Life is too short and too precious.

Use your imagination, dream up, and make it happen now!


Finding your personal balance

So many of us that are thriving for financial independence by sacrificing the present moment. This is what delayed gratification is all about.

But how much sacrifice is warranted? How much sacrifice is too extreme?

Is having a frugal lifestyle so we can save as much money as possible to invest a warranted sacrifice?

Is not having TV at home an extreme sacrifice?

Is eating instant noodles on a daily basis to cut down your food expenses too extreme?

Is driving a 15-year-old car a warranted sacrifice?

I truly believe living on either extreme ends is no good (i.e. spending like YOLO or extreme frugality). The key is, finding your own balance between spending now and saving for the future.

The correct balance for you is probably not the right balance for me; what’s my balance may make sense to you. But that’s the fun of personal finance… is it personal!

Isn’t it amazing and fascinating how much kids can teach us about life? Now only if they can learn to sleep through the night like their parents. But that’s another post for later. 🙂

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19 thoughts on “Use your imagination”

  1. Enjoying time with the kids is so important. Before we know it they grow up and we miss out. I missed out on my eldest growing up as i was always at work. I am not making the same mistake with my youngest. But it does not mean that my finances are going to get into a mess. I have it all worked out.

  2. “Financial independence is not a magic pill that fixes our present problems.”

    So true! I had trouble sleeping before FI, and I still have the same problem today!

    Some problems do go away though…like commuting! That’s a problem I’m happy to never have again!

  3. Agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment here, in that the journey to FI should be rewarding and enjoyable. Things aren’t going to magically just get “better” once you’re retired if you can’t enjoy daily life today. Assuming you even make it to FI.

    • Assuming you even make it to FI.

      That’s the sad part because not everyone will make it to FI despite having a plan to get there.

      Best to enjoy your daily life now.

  4. I will echo the comments above. I loved your post. While I love talking about money / saving, I have to remind myself that it is a means to an end. It is not the end. Life is entirely too short. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  5. My son is around the same age and I love when he uses his imagination and thinks up creative stories and ideas. That’s why I like legos and those types of toys rather than the battery operated ones which makes sounds and moves…kids are less inclined to use their imagination with those. You’re absolutely right about having balance. My main thing for me is time (the lack of it!) I’m sure you understand as you have 2 kids yourself around the same age as mine. The lack of time can only be cured by FIRE =)

    • Good points Andrew. We don’t have a TV at home and Baby T1.0 doesn’t get to use the computer that much. That means he’s “forced” to play with non-battery operated toys and use his imagination. Hopefully we’ll get the solution to our lack of time problem soon. 🙂

  6. Haha I was actually playing lego with my son today and hes created the weirdest house, and had the best stories to go with it. Got to love their imagination, and for reminding us to relax and just have fun.

    • That’s awesome you were playing Lego with your son. Kids certainly have lots of imagination and we all need to encourage them to continue with the imagination.

  7. Great post Bob. I wish we could capture kids imagination and honesty and bottle it for when we are older in life. What’s the saying – stop and smell the roses. Always a good idea to strike a balance for today and the future.

  8. Very good post Bob. I’ve been of that philosophy for a long time. What is the point of saving all that money for retirement if you die of an accident or illness? Kids grow, and will never be kids again. We get older, and will never be young again. Better spend time with kids now, enjoy things we love, and not keep everything for an uncertain future. As you say, you need to strike the right balance.

    • Thank you. Exactly, better spend time with kids now, enjoy things we love, and not keep everything for an uncertain future. Finding the right balance between enjoying things now and saving for the future is the key.

  9. This is one of the best posts I’ve read on any financial blog in a long time. Well done. You should be so proud of this piece of work!
    I am as guilty as the next FIRE seeker about using too much delayed gratification. There’s no point waiting for the future if you aren’t enjoying the present too. As Matt said above, thanks so much for this reminder.

  10. “Now imagine that you are already financially independent, what is one thing you would do immediately?

    Now ask yourself, what’s prevent you from doing this?”

    This is such an important exercise that everyone needs to be doing regularly. It is so easy to get caught up in the goal and skip out on happiness during the journey. Thanks for the reminder.


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