Is This your Handbag?

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That’s a question I hear regularly. Yes. It’s my decluttered handbag.

Size: 20 cm x 10 cm (8 inches x 4 inches).

A small (if not minimalist) wallet is enough for me, it fits a couple of cards (debit/credit card, driver’s license, ID). I used to have a bigger wallet but then decided to get rid of some of the cards I seldom use.

I have a small physical pocket calendar. The logic behind it is that if my meetings and appointments don’t fit into the small space, I have too much to do. The paper planner doesn’t beep and send any reminders, but then again, it doesn’t need to. I take a look at my schedule the night before and again next morning and that’s it. I have thought about using an electronic one, but so far the paper calendar seems easier. I don’t need to worry about running out of batteries or receiving some error messages while trying to enter events into a digital calendar.

Financial Independence and Early Retirement – Another Point of View

Is your goal to reach financial independence and be able to retire early – or even extremely early? This blog is not about saving money and investing it in dividend paying index funds, because there are certainly better blogs already about this topic.

Instead I would like to introduce another point of view. It might sound like a difficult project to get enough money saved and invested in some funds which pay enough dividends that you will be able to live on. And if you haven’t tried what it means not going to work every day you might be trying to reach the wrong goal. Not going to work may sound like an easy life, but sooner or later you realize that most people you know are working hard all day long and you don’t have a social life sitting home alone. Either you like to sleep and read books all day long by yourself or have a very time consuming hobby that takes most of your time – otherwise you might get bored very quickly.

Take a longer time off from work (not during summer or any other holiday season) to find out if it is the right choice for you. Or start thinking about semi-retirement, where you have a part-time job (e.g. two days a week) but still enough time to do whatever you want. It does not take years or decades of extreme money saving or an extremely frugal lifestyle to be able to be semi-retired or to take mini-retirements or several sabbaticals.

Turning Adversity into Opportunity

Did you get fired? How can it be possible to see this setback as a possibility to achieve something better? During my career so far I have been fired three times, of which two times were during the same pregnancy. It was a chock back then. And very stressful. Perhaps the worst thing was to get fired for the first time. It was embarrassing to tell people I didn’t have a job, and the reason for that was that I got fired. I didn’t quit, no, they kicked me out. It’s easy to start blaming oneself, being afraid to say or do anything if you get a new job, because you start feeling that it might be another risk that’s again causing you to get fired.

What should I say at an interview when they ask me what the reason is why I’m not working at the previous company? Will no one want to hire me if I tell them I got fired? And then it’s the concern about money. How to get enough money during the unemployment to pay my bills? What if my next job sometime in the future isn’t offering a good salary?

How to turn unemployment into an opportunity? When you DO have a job, don’t spend every cent each month, instead start saving immediately. Live your normal life with a smaller budget than you would have to. If you get fired, you can continue your life by using your savings, take advantage of the time to attend courses, do sports or whatever to feel better and develop your skills and improve your health.

It was a great chance to see that living on a smaller budget actually made me happier and the periods of unemployment brought opportunities I otherwise would have missed. I understood that the key to everything was to have enough money saved to survive for, let’s say, 6 months because in that time it’s likely that I have a job again. When I got a job and an income I immediately started saving again. This way I don’t need to be afraid of getting fired. And if I do get fired, I know it’s an opportunity for me to spend time learning new skills, to travel or do whatever I want.

It’s possible to extend this concept to get out of the rat race. You don’t need to save millions, invest the money and strive for extremely early retirement. To probably most people it sounds like an almost impossible plan. If you live with a smaller budget and are able to save money, there are so many opportunities out there waiting to be explored! You can choose to take fixed-term projects and save some of the money, then have 6 months off and start your next project! Just gotten out of that rat race! Call it a mini-retirement or whatever. Take several mini-retirements regularly! You’ll have more energy for work and be able to do things you really want, like travelling, sports, carpentry, and gardening or just be there when your kids come home from school. To do this, it is of great advantage to have an accurate enough understanding of your expenses.

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You can adjust this philosophy to your own situation. How about working for a year and saving more than half of your income and have a year off…? Then do the same thing again. The most difficult part is probably the downsizing, giving up stuff and getting rid of expensive habits. It’s about making choices. Without getting fired I would never have seen this kind of life as a realistic possibility. But this is how I managed to study full-time and complete a degree. It’s possible.