How to invest your time wisely

A few meetups ago, it became clear to me that the end goal of the whole FIRE journey is not hitting a well calculated number. The whole point of the journey is to discover yourself  and design a life that is perfect for you and your family. In essence, it comes down to writing an investment plan for your most limited resource: TIME.

When you first discover FIRE, it is logic to start with a focus on the money aspect. That is what most blogs deal with. That is what I dealt with at the start as well. With hindsight, that is the easy part

Spend less than you earn and invest the rest

And there are many ways to invest. All these ways are well documented: index investing, DGI, options, real estate,…. Plenty of excellent content to read on investing and increasing the GAP between income and spending.

And then it is time for the next step in your FIRE evolution: Money is not the real driver, Happiness is what we life for.

happiness

 

With this picture and flow clear, I hoped to find an as simple approach as investing. Here is what I found

not a lot

Investing your time wisely turns out to be harder than expected. There are no simple general back tested formulas with percentages of success. That makes it harder.

This is what I have found so far that could work for me

1- be happy with what I have now

other people will always have more. Do not try to keep up with the Joneses, even the FIRE Joneses. You can be ambitious, just make sure you know we all have other back grounds and challenges that lead to other decisions and outcomes in life.

Look around and be grateful for what you do have, rather than being sad for what you do not have. Wife and 2 kids, almost paid off house, social interactions, holidays, fun money to splurge. It can be a lot worse

2- avoid unhappiness

Items I do not like: house cleaning, so we have a paid solution for that. Screw the delay on my FIRE. not having a discussion with my wife on who does what is worth it. On the other hand, I do not mind mowing the grass and other maintenance work in the garden, so, that, I do.

When a job makes you unhappy – or you can not bring on the energy to change the job circumstances, move on. Looking back, I have been doing this often already. Note to self: is it running away or going to better places… The judges are still out there.

Simplify: do not run after each white rabbit you see. Try not to do all at once. Is a busy life really good? Or do I need some me/we/us time? Here I struggle. For now, I want it all. I also learn the hard way that this is not possible.

3- Have a purpose in Life

Find something that makes you jump out of bed each morning. Nothing wrong with a sleeping… It is just not me to have nothing to do. It seems that I like sharing knowledge, understanding a persons problem and provide a solution. The question is: what can I do with that? Both in my job and as a hustle… I have some ideas…

Avoid too much “useless” time. To me, that would be avoid watching too much TV and too much time on Facebook. Why not plank or run in stead? Or write a blog post? And avoid screen time with the kids around. Recently, I suggest to play a game and the reactions are always positive. I should do more of this.

Build memories with people you like by having joint experiences

4- stay healthy, also mentally

Doing sports is a great way to stay healthy. I bike every day to the train station. better than nothing. And I plan to do an obstacle run this year.

And recently, I started meditation. It brings a lot of rest in my head. It allows to destress even more. It takes time, about an hour a day… That is a lot. For now, I am happy

 

Conclusion of all of this

In theory, it is easy. In practice, we humans are weak and have a hard time to overcome our bad habits. Especially with social media and screens… I will keep this an attention point and turn it into a habit

Building memories is great. And it does not have to take a lot of time and energy. I am often jealous of other people when they go out on a day trip. In fact, what is holding me back? Maybe scale back a little bit the kids weekend activities? I am happy that we have some extra family holidays planned this year. We add a night in the woods and an extra week at the Belgian coast to our plans this year. What else can we come up with?

Every 2 years or so, the doubt on the job pops up. And since a few weeks, I even think often: why work full time. Why not work 80 pct and be home on Friday… Why not indeed… The question is: what useful activity can I deploy on Friday other than hanging around in the digital space. Ideas: write a small book for my kids on how to invest (and yes, many others exists, this would be a personal gift I hope they once appreciate), develop a few presentations on investing and find organisations that are looking for that content.

 

Let us see what the future brings

 

 

 

 

 

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12 thoughts on “How to invest your time wisely

  1. Great reflection post. After seeing Taboe with people who have no money, I think point 1 is key as people always compare against others. Having a purpose in life is key to avoid unhappiness. Unhappiness can be caused by many factors and it is not necessarily your own fault. Cutting out negativism and other people’s opinion is according to me an important step to happiness. Do what maks you happy as other people don’t need to understand your life decisons and path.

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  2. Great to see you so active on the non-financial part of this whole journey. Because in the end, money is only a means to an end. A tool so you can buy your own time instead of trading it away for money.
    Keep up this quality content, it’s a great reminder for all of us to sometimes take a step back from the numbers and enjoy the ride.

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  3. Nice story! You definitely have to find out a purpose in life other than working and facebooking:-)
    For me, do-it-yourself stuff, teaching and gardening makes a nice purpose, because the reward it gives.

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  4. Definitely explore reducing your work to 4 days / week.

    For me, it made a big difference in increasing happiness and decreasing stress. I reduced to 4 days / week 3 years ago and I haven’t regretted it once (in fact, I’ve recently reduced further to 3 days / week). I have more time to do other things, such as chaperone school activities, do errands / household chores so evenings / weekends are more free for family, pursue personal interests / health (avoids overlapping with family time), etc. I’m basically trading days free now for extra days to work in the future.

    Depending on where you are on the FIRE journey, it can become close to a 1-to-1 trade. See the math in Living a FI’s analysis on taking a gap year, it applies similarly to working part time (sort of a series of “gap days”): https://livingafi.com/2015/08/04/taking-a-gap-year/

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  5. “For now, I want it all. I also learn the hard way that this is not possible.” I am with you on this one. Easier said than done.
    Anyhow, I do work part time since more than 12 years. The best career decision I have made so far. Do not worry, this free time will be consumed joyfully by you before you even realize!

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  6. i here you. Three months into the new job and I am again discovering I only have 30 to 35 productive hours in me. With work demanding 40 hours i am slipping into bad habits at home again (not eating well, spending too much time on the couch watching crap tv …). The girlfriend is taking one month unpaid leave in the summer. we’ll see how that goes and perhaps next year we will both take a month off …

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  7. Haha I love the openness Amber Tree Leaves when it comes to the challenge of happiness! Too many people claim to have a ‘formula’ for it – but there is no such thing. You also can’t process map it because it is also constantly changing.

    I do wholeheartedly agree with your point above though – except perhaps the cleaning part, I must admit I enjoy that as well as the gardening 🙂

    I have been playing with my kids much more recently, which has the added bonus of keeping them away from screens, and we have started taking many more trips away together as a family. They don’t need to be extravagant, as the kids seem to get excited wherever we go!

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