Begin to Invest 1 – What Are Our Goals?

In 2015, I happened across the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) movement. I wasn’t actively looking for direction in our financial life, but I had been living with a vague discomfort that we could be doing more. FIRE galvanised me to once again take control of our money.

In 2016 we tracked spending, and saved an emergency fund. The next step was beginning to invest – but how? The idea of investing was scary. There are so many options, traps and pitfalls for the unwary that I wanted to be fully prepared before we started. This series of posts is about the resources we used, and the steps we took to ensure a level of comfort before diving in. Mr. ETT and I sat down once each weekend to work through these steps together. At the end of each post, there is a link to the resources we used.

Sheep in front of Lake George with water in it.
We’d like more time to visit places like this…

Why Begin to Invest?

You are more likely to invest successfully if you have a reason for investing in the first place. We know from personal experience – without having a goal, it’s easy to lose focus. We worked hard to pay off our mortgage early, which was about 8 years ago now. Unfortunately, because I hadn’t discovered FIRE, we became aimless. We’d reached our goal, and hadn’t made a new one. Because of this, we simply wasted our money. Think how much closer we could have been to FIRE already! (Deep breath – no regrets, no regrets, no regrets. The best time to start was 8 years ago, the second best time to start was last year – which we did.)

The first question you need to ask yourself is “why invest at all?” Yes, we all know it is something we should be doing, but investing is a lot more risky than simply saving money in a bank account. Unless something terribly drastic happens, you can happily store your money in the bank, get a small amount of return in interest, and be fairly confident you can predict how much you will have after a time.

No matter how you begin to invest, there is an element of risk involved. If you want higher, stronger, faster returns, then the risk increases proportionally (occasionally even dis-proportionally). Even if you try to minimise your risks by diversifying for balance, there will still be periods of volatility along the way. Knowing why you want to invest will help you behave sensibly when everything looks like it is going to fail. Pete Matthew puts it succinctly: “Begin with the end in mind”. Investing and making money for its own sake isn’t healthy. What is your reason for wanting your money to grow in this manner?

A cafe table with flowers and menus.
… and this …

So, What Are Our Goals?

Essentially we held a brainstorming session, where we put out everything we thought we could possibly want. Doing it together achieved two aims – we were able to bounce off each other and generate or inspire ideas in each other that we wouldn’t necessarily have come up with on our own. We were also able to envision a future for the both of us where we were in agreement as to what we wanted to do. This doesn’t mean we have purely couple goals – we have our own activities and interests now, and we don’t expect that to change in the future.

We came up with:

  • Retire early.
  • Work part-time.
  • Catch up with friends.
  • Be with family.
  • Spend time with the kitties (like Tristan from DDU, sometimes I feel like the are a bit neglected).
  • Be able to keep weekends purely for social activities and leisure.
  • Volunteer at a school and/or hospital and/or with animals. (Mrs. ETT)
  • Do more theatre work, and branch out into helping with production. (Mr. ETT)
  • Get an RSA Certificate to be able to serve alcohol at shows.
  • Go on day trips, sit in a cafe, or have lunch at a pub.
  • Have overnight stays.
  • Travel both inside and outside Australia.
  • Go to museums and art galleries.
  • Watch more movies, more anime, read more comics and books.
  • Make jewellery.
  • Learn lampworking.
  • Attend U3A and other groups (Recently, it was Seniors Week, and our local Council ran some celebrations. They also published a list of activities for Seniors in our area. There are so many things to do, ranging from exercise to cooking, gardening, computing, learning, crafting, music and travel. I had no idea there was so much available; the majority is very low-cost and accessible. I wanted to try it all!)
Jelly the cat poking her tongue out.
Jelly says “Pffft. You’re at work too much. Spend more time with us!”* (*but only when we want it)

Quantification

We also sat down to quantify what it was that we wanted, to give us an idea of how much it would all cost. Before we begin to invest, we need to have an idea of how  much we want to achieve, as well as how long to stay invested to achieve it. We then allocated our desires to short, medium and long-term spending.

Short Term (1-2) Medium Term (3-5) Long Term (5-20) Retirement (>20)
Replace Car Mrs. ETT $15,000
Replace Car Mr. ETT $50,000
New Motorbike Mr. ETT $20,000
House Reno/Move $100,000
Retire $1,000,000
New Zealand $5,000
England & Germany $20,000
Adelaide $5,000
Japan $10,000
Tassie $5,000
Canada $20,000
Total $25,000 $85,000 $140,000 $1,000,000 (!)

Hmmm, that is an awful lot of money. We’ll be looking further into this table in a later post. While this first meeting was enough to get us started, I have realised this is more about concrete goals, rather than identifying our “why” in-depth. There are further exercises we will be doing in order to flesh this out a bit more, and build a solid vision of our future life. Still, this was enough for us to move on to the second step. Stay tuned!

A small butterfly on a yellow flower.
Why invest? More time to stop and smell the … well, look at butterflies on weeds.

Resources

The resources we used to help us begin to invest step by step.

Meaningful Money Podcast, Season 2, Episode 1: Why Invest?

6 thoughts on “Begin to Invest 1 – What Are Our Goals?

  1. $5K to go to Tassie *jaw drop*! Mr. FIRE and I had a two and a half week trip in October last year for under $2.5k. We weren’t travel hacking at the time, and we took separate flights in and out, and spent the first and last weekend in separate places (he went for mountain biking, I went for roller derby)

    Trick was we hired a camper van. We barely spent a day in the one place because there was so much to see, so many beautiful short walks and so much scenery. We made it to the Southern most point, went to Treetop Adventures at HollyBank (seriously, check it out, amazing!) and had plenty of fancy wine. I think you could hack it for less and still have an amazing time!

    • We considered camper vans last time we were there, because driving is so good. Mr. ETT absolutely insists on his own toilet, though, so the cheapest I can find is $2,500 just there. Add the ferry/plane tickets, food, activities and petrol, and it really adds up fast. We will definitely do better with food next time around (we’re learning). We have skipped the Treetop Adventures both times we were there – I will add it to the list of must do’s next time, appreciate the tip.

      • Treetop is double A -mazing! You must go. If you’re outdoorsey climbing type people. The zipline tour ($125) through the treetops is okay. But the Trees Adventure is so much fun! For a mere $25 each. The courses are graded so the green ones are easy fun, the red is tricky and the black was absolutely hell, but I felt proud that I finished it. And went back on a green to sooth my ego! haha.

        Also, toilets – download the Wikicamps app! You can filter it to tell you where camping sites with toilets are. And voila! No more toilet troubles 🙂

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