This is not the post I was planning on writing for you today. According to my calendar, I should be delighting you with the simplicity of asset allocation. Instead, I find myself tired and lacking motivation.
The path to financial independence is sloooooow. We are looking at 15 years if:
- We (continue to) work at it
- The sharemarket gods remain benevolent, or at least continue to provide the historical average return
- We don’t do anything stupid when markets drop, as they will at some point.
We are still in Year 1 of those 15 years.
Besides being slow, working towards financial independence involves making lots of little daily decisions. Day in and day out, we have to decide to not spend money. To take our lunch. To plan meals and go grocery shopping. To cook and freeze. To keep an eye out for bargains on things we’ve identified we need.
For some reason, this month, I’ve rebelled against the discipline. For probably only the second time this year, we wasted food. Last time was because of a change of plans that was out of my control. This time, it was a deliberate ‘I don’t want to eat that even though it’s perfectly good food, I’m buying takeaway’. This meal sat in the fridge for so long that even I had to admit it wasn’t worth the risk. These days, if someone were to ask, I would state with complete conviction—‘We never waste food’. Yet, we did.
Another example—it was Sunday. We had to do meal planning and grocery shopping for the week ahead. I didn’t want to do it. Mr. ETT eagerly agreed, and that was the end of it. That night, I said I couldn’t be bothered cooking tea. He jumped straight to ‘I’ll go out and buy it’. More takeaway.
My poor attitude this month has made me realise that at this point in our lives, I am the primary driver on our trip to FI. Mr. ETT is along for the ride, but if I run out of petrol, then we sit and wait until I walk to the station to top up. I’m the one responsible not only for identifying behaviour change, but also for ensuring it’s continually practised.
I’m still not the binding nominee on Mr. ETT’s Super. I gave him the form to fill out. He did that, got the witness signatures, yet hasn’t put it in an envelope and posted it. Also, remember how we had to replace our lost life insurance certificates? While I filled everything out, received the replacement policy certificate and subsequently reduced my premium, Mr. ETT hasn’t started filling out the form. I even had to hassle him to make sure he paid his own tax bill.
I guess it’s not surprising that I’m tired. I’m doing the heavy lifting for two. I’m the un-fun parent, the one that always says ‘no’, and tells you to clean your room.
To understand this in context, we all have different limits to our mental capacity. Right now, Mr. ETT is at a point where he needs to leave his job. I’m sure many of you can understand how draining and soul-sucking a job that no longer fits can be. I’ve been there, to the point of crying before and after work each day. Some trips I had to pull over because I couldn’t drive and sob at the same time.
It isn’t a matter of just getting another job for Mr. ETT. We are looking down the barrel of at least 15 more years in the workforce. Does he even want to stay in his field? Should he retrain? Step sideways? Take a role that pays less? Travel further? These are huge life decisions that take a lot of investment of time, energy and mental capacity. Although being FI now would solve some issues, we’re still far away. Until we work through this, I will remain on my own as chief pilot and navigator of the Enough Time machine.
But you know what? I’m resilient. I can see my rebellious behaviour for what it is. I will pull myself up by my bootstraps and get back in the driver’s seat. The advantage of a long journey is that this month only represents 1/180th of the time it will take. That’s a smidge over 0.5%. We may not have even wrecked our daily spending rate goal. I just have to be careful that this behaviour doesn’t become embedded and ongoing.
Also, this is a snapshot of our lives now. When Mr. ETT gets a new job that he loves, it will free him up to help keep me on track when I fall over. As for next week? I’ll be right back with the promised post on asset allocation.
If you are in a partnership, is the day-to-day of FI shared equally? Is there someone to pull you up if you begin to make poor decisions?
Disclaimer: this is a whinge and a first world problem, but it’s also about the feels.