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sorry for the drama!
Old 04-19-2011, 02:31 PM   #1
Dryer sheet wannabe
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sorry for the drama!

Ahhh! I am absolutely thrilled that I found this forum. I should have known though that there would be something like this. I wonder why I never thought to check. And I just stumbled upon you...

I am 40. About to turn though. My husband is 41 and is in the military. We've got three kids, ages ten, eight and almost four now. We both have defined benefit pension plans. He can leave after 25 years service and I've got 30 with an NRA of 50. But I was a late starter so have to wait 'til 57. But won't! Which is part of why I'm here.

I can't say exactly when I became interested in personal finance but it was fairly recently (six years or so). Mostly because I wanted to buy a sailboat. Then live aboard a sailboat. Then retire early and live on a sailboat... you get the idea.

I am happy to find this place.

I'm sure you're all familiar with this. Most people have no interest in personal finances, early retirement or anything like that. It's hard to find someone to share your enthusiasm with. Living below your means, spending less than you earn, saving for the future... pretty much foreign concepts to the general population. And I wish I'd know then what I know now.... All that stuff. So I'm so happy I'm here right now.

I belong to another forum. Sailing variety. Same concept. Just different shelter. But then there is a broad range of finances in that group. It's still about living on your own terms, on a fixed budget.

I didn't have much uncertainty about our plans until just recently. I'm not 100% certain our pensions will be there. It only takes a little bit of doubt though.

Our financials:

We paid off the house three years ago. Current market value is $400,000

We've got our RRSPs topped up.

RESP for kids optimized so that we contribute to receive the maximum CESG (Canadian Education Savings Grant - government grant)

Current living expenses $3300-$3500 per month including an exorbitant amount for childcare. We have a live-in caregiver because I work shift work and my husband travels all the time. No cable, just got high speed in January, basic phone. All the little things you can do to decrease expenses. We cannot give up the caregiver yet though or I'll go insane. It's all about balance though, right?

Our net worth overall is $656,000. This includes the house. But not the pensions.

Our plan... it's really mine, but husband says he is onboard with it, is to retire in 2016. At this time he'll receive a pension of $45,000 per year. I'll defer my pension. We'll keep our savings invested for the longer term and maybe even contribute more. We'll live off that $45K pension. I'm fairly certain we can do it.

We wanted to buy a sailboat and go cruising. We still do. Though with five people you need a fairly large boat. It took me a long time to learn, but this may be too much of a financial drain on our resources. This dream is still on the table. It's more of a dream than reality though.

I know we have the financial resources, sell the house ... buy a boat. Security may just be too big a thing for me though. Depreciating assets and all. So over the last few years I started to examine exactly why I wanted to go cruising.

Financial freedom, simplicity, spending time with family, travel. Freedom. Travel. Family. And it sort of petered down to just having the freedom to do whatever whenever with my family.

So here I am.

Five years to go. (Did I say I'm thrilled to be here?!?) With my plan. That keeps changing. I've got no doubt that I want financial freedom. And want to spend time travelling with my family. And when they (and us) are young enough to enjoy it to the max.

Our fixed budget is limited at $45K before taxes. But we've got savings, our house and additional savings to fall back on. I'm pretty sure we can do it under the $45 though.

And now I can get an idea if we're right from you!

I subscribed to International Living magazine. Thought it was a ton of advertising with only a few gems (and I've only received my second copy). I can't find enough blogs that sustain my appetite for early retirement and international living or travel.

I know it can be done.

I didn't lurk here at all. I hope I gave the right info and get great responses. Though I don't have many questions at this point. I'm kind of wandering about wondering if I'm going in the right direction.

I am thrilled to find you all!

Hi from

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Old 04-19-2011, 02:36 PM   #2
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Colleen, welcome. We lived aboard a sailboat for a summer, just to see if we wanted that as a permanent lifestyle. We didn't, but it was still a blast. We now have an old trawler (Marine Trader) and love it!
We are very glad to have you "aboard" here at the ER board!

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching.”
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Old 04-19-2011, 02:47 PM   #3
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Welcome. You have written a good and long first post. If not all of your questions are answered, you may need to break them down into bite size chunks.

Also please make use of the FAQ section and the search function - there is a lot here to mine.
Yes, I have achieved work / life balance.
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Old 04-19-2011, 02:54 PM   #4
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Awesome! I was just as excited to find this forum as well, but you're much closer to ER than I am.

Welcome and I hope you find this forum as helpful as I have.
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Old 04-19-2011, 03:05 PM   #5
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Welcome and that sailing thing really sounds great; don't know if I could do that for long. As for the finances, you may want to run some numbers in FIRECalc link at the bottom of the page. I ran it and found some good and bad results, but still planning on FIRE in 2013 and DW in 2014.
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Old 04-19-2011, 03:08 PM   #6
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Welcome to!

Originally Posted by travelover View Post
Also please make use of the FAQ section and the search function - there is a lot here to mine.
Here's a link: Early Retirement FAQs - Early Retirement & Financial Independence Community
Numbers is hard.

Retired in 2005 at age 58, no pension

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Old 04-19-2011, 03:39 PM   #7
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It was fun reading your post -- you're a fine writer. Well, who among us hasn't dreamed of setting sail on the seas of the world (perhaps with auxiliary engines)? I hope you can make it work out. (My wife gets sea sick.)
Greg (retired in 2010 at age 68, state pension)
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Old 04-19-2011, 03:49 PM   #8
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Colleen -

It looks like you have the dreams as well as the right combination of prudence and sensible risk-taking to achieve them. You're onto a winner.

Best of luck on your road to ER and welcome!
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Old 04-19-2011, 04:40 PM   #9
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Welcome from a fellow Canuck .
I can only be nice to one person today! Today is not your day...tomorrow doesn't look good either.
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Old 04-19-2011, 05:37 PM   #10
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Welcome Colleen. I enjoyed your first post. Sounds like you know "what you want to be when you grow up" - a very important first step to making it happen. Good luck. I suspect you'll like it here.

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Old 04-19-2011, 05:49 PM   #11
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Welcome, Colleen.
Very conservative with investments. Not ER'd yet, 48 years old. Please do not take anything I write or imply as legal, financial or medical advice directed to you. Contact your own financial advisor, healthcare provider, or attorney for financial, medical and legal advice.
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Old 04-19-2011, 08:18 PM   #12
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Loved your writing style on your first post Colleen - great enthusiasm, so I'm sure you will be successful in your retirement strategy. My best advice is to track your spending now and forever. Without this data it's kinda like the saying "we're lost, but we're makin' great time."
Retired on 5/31/2011 at 54
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Old 04-19-2011, 08:44 PM   #13
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Colleen, welcome! It sounds like you're really well set for the future (if you can live off your DH's pension starting in 2016 and defer your own, that is awesome). My advice is to enjoy the journey--go ahead and pop for cable .
Go Cubs
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Old 04-20-2011, 05:53 AM   #14
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Hi Colleen! You and your family sound like interesting, active people, and I enjoyed reading your first post.
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:33 AM   #15
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Welcome Colleen, it's good to see another refugee from the Frozen North.

Here are another couple of similar sites for your Canadian content requirements:
Canadian Money Forum - Powered by vBulletin
Financial Webring Forum • Index page
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who can extrapolate conclusions from insufficient data and ..
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Old 04-20-2011, 09:14 AM   #16
Dryer sheet wannabe
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Welcome Colleen from a fellow sailor! I was wondering if it might be a good idea to do a family sailboat charter for a week or two? This is a good way to see how all adapt to the water and all that goes with it. I have chartered the Great Lakes many times, Chesapeake Bay and Virgin Islands and had the opportunity to test many boats and explore many waters, as well as learned what makes a good ship mate! Maybe could address any uncertainty you and DH have!
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Old 04-20-2011, 12:33 PM   #17
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Welcome Colleen from yet another Canadian (Irish Canadian in my case so the name Colleen resonates!). You don't far more animated than a typical Ottawa government type. Where do you sail? Do you have a boat now? How much of a money pit is a boat?

(confession: I am thinking of buying a boat)
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Old 04-20-2011, 01:04 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Meadbh View Post
How much of a money pit is a boat?

(confession: I am thinking of buying a boat)
As I once heard, the two happiest days of a sailor's life is the day they buy a boat, and the day they get rid of it...

PS: My father had a 32' cruiser...
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Old 01-04-2014, 07:09 AM   #19
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Well... This won't happen again... It must have been a bad week for me... Or maybe I was inebriated!?!

I've been reading this forum the last two years. Apparently since I registered and created my first post. But I thought I was a lurker all this time!

Today I wanted to post a reply (and as per my New Year's resolution be more engaging and outgoing) so I went to register. Oddly enough my preferred user name was taken. So I logged in for the second time and here I am ...

Replying to a thread I started a long time ago. No longer the lurker I thought I was.

I'm actually quite embarrassed about this. I thought about just logging out and pretending it never happened. But that's just worse.

Thanks for the great welcome!! Again, I'm not quite sure how I could have forgotten about registering. A new beginning in a New Year....

Please forgive me. It won't happen again. Promise.

We've had a few developments over the last two years. We had previously chartered sailboats in BVI and the Exumas. Lots of fun. I continued to follow cruising blogs and forums. And the maintenance stuff started to make me nervous. I'm the handy one in our family. My husband is good at destroying things. But I don't think I could develop the skills or desire to fix so many of the problems that come up on boats. And as 'they' say, cruising is fixing boats in exotic destinations. So I've veered more toward just FIRE and traveling around living in a house or apartment in exotic destinations. Forget all the boat work. We can continue to charter. That's better balance for me.

We had put in a pension buyback for my husband's work back in April 2007. This was a new option to buy back reserve service and pension services were so inundated with responses we only got the details last year. And although we did the paperwork in April 2007, they only asked for a fund transfer this last October. The first chunk of an RRSP transfer came out just before Christmas. Phew! I'm not complaining as we got to sit on that money all these years and accumulated a lot of gains all while the buyback cost to us did not change.

So we've added another five years of service to my husband's pension formula. And his magic date is December 15, 2015.

One evening about 18 months ago, my husband and I were having a quiet evening at home with the kids in bed. I was jabbering away about travel and early retirement and investing and our net worth and Jabber Jabber jabber. Normally DH just nods and smiles and occasionally says something. But this time he told me he didn't think we could do it......

I experienced a cartoon like moment. I can't even describe it properly. Kind of like all my plans were in a cloud bubble and it just went plifthhhhing up into the air.

I'm the CFO in the family. Although DH is happy to go along with low spending and high savings and all that, he has no interest in personal finance at all. I on once did a PowerPoint presentation to update him so he'd actually pay attention. But really he's got no clue. He's been brainwashed by the 'you need millions of dollars to retire' camp.

So as a compromise... To show him we can do it... And well...

I had put in for a Sabbatical year at work. Last January I started a 20 percent pay cut for four years. In 2017 I will receive that deferred 80% as a salary for a year off. And we will all live abroad for a year. DH thinks we are coming back and both continuing to work until we have a crazy assed normal retirement.

All joking aside, I'm sure you can imagine how I felt. And the agreement is that we'll give it a trial run. He doesn't buy into the concept that slow and long term travel is often cheaper than living at home. He should read a blog or forum or something!

So that's where we are now. I can't mess with his worries of financial insecurity. I have to show him we will be quite comfortable.

Hello again, Colleen!
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Old 01-04-2014, 09:12 AM   #20
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Welcome Colleen. I think you know exactly what you are doing and your husband should just listen to you and go along for the ride. Something tells me you will find a way to make that happen. Glad to have you on board. I enjoyed reading your posts!

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