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Forget retirement--how much is everyone investing in themselves?
Old 09-03-2007, 01:54 PM   #1
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Forget retirement--how much is everyone investing in themselves?

I'm in my early 30's, and retirement (even early), is still a ways off for me. Lately I've come to realize that if I don't take care of myself between now and retirement, I'll just be a miserable old coot with lots of money. I think most people on this forum, by the very nature of them being on this forum, have a good handle on their finances or are at least heading in the right direction. However, I'm curious how everyone else is investing in other areas of their life.

For me, I think the things listed below are most important. I like thinking of these things as investing in some sense, because I think the more energy you put into them, the more you reap the divendends in the long run. BTW, this doesn't mean I currently have a good balance of all these things; in some cases far from it.

- Getting regular exercise. From what I've seen, people who've been active throughout their lives have a much easier time being active as they get older. It's not like I can just sit at a desk for the next 23 years, retire, and then jump up and expect to be active and do whatever I want.

- Eating well. Here, my biggest challenge is not eating the cheapest or most convenient thing possible. Sure, you can save a lot of money eating Ramen noodles, but that's going to produce poor dividends in the long run.

- Setting aside time to do nothing. This is especially important for me, as I tend to be a compulsive do-er. If I don't force myself to step away from the "To Do" list, I'll just keep going.

- Have fun, both with my wife and by myself. Everyone once in a while, I'll get so caught up in being productive that I forget to have fun. I'll start feeling pretty depressed without knowing why, until finally I realize that it's been a while since I did something for the pure enjoyment of it. Once I take care of that, everything seems back in place again.

- Get together with friends. Again, investing seems like an appropriate term here. When my wife and I are old and gray, we hope our kids will come to visit us as often as possible, but I realize they'll have their own lives to live. Friends will be just as important then as they are now. BTW, I guess I should clarify that I consider investing in family to be a given.

- Doing something to remind myself that there are more important things in life than just saving money. I really believe that most people's "problems" are pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things, especially with all the wealth and opportunity we have in this society. It's easy for me to forget this sometimes.

So how about everyone else? What other areas are you investing in? What's important to you?
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Old 09-03-2007, 02:05 PM   #2
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Yup. Balance is important. All of the things you listed are important. Your outlook changes some as you age and the importance of certain things can shift. When I was your age, I was not focused on ER. But now that I am my age it is very important. Because I can do all the things you described and not w*rk.

Look at it like this; in another 20 years, you will be very glad that you prepared for ER and have the option available.
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Old 09-03-2007, 02:54 PM   #3
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Quote:
how about everyone else? What other areas are you investing in? What's important to you?
I am investing in my kid's education, time to exercise, time to read spiritual books, time to play tennis, to bike.
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Old 09-03-2007, 05:41 PM   #4
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I am investing in my kid's education, time to exercise, time to read spiritual books, time to play tennis, to bike.
*perks up*

Which books?

As to the OP, my wife and I are minimalists so we tend to not spend much on most things, but we do have a ridiculous food budget. Usually $600-$800 per month for the two of us. We eat almost exclusively organic or natural (no pesticides).

Sometimes we pick up a few spritual books, we have Netflix (our tastes have moved towards family / spiritual / self-growth). We go for walks regularly.

I also attend spiritual workshops / seminars sometimes, which if you've ever looked into can be quite expensive.

Still, with our priorities I'm still able to sock away a decent amount. We don't invest "regularly" (other than 401k contributions up to the match), but when we do invest we rarely (so far never) take money out of investments to cover life expenses.

Though recently our savings took a hit with moving to a new area (also a matter of taking care of ourselves to be in a place more nurturing for our soul), so we haven't been investing lately as we're trying to re-build our cash buffer first.

So all in all, I feel like we have a good balance between investing in our future and investing in our present.
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Old 09-03-2007, 10:58 PM   #5
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CompoundInterestFan,

I agree with you than one has to work on more than just the financial aspect to prepare for retirement: eating well, exercise, managing stress are all important aspects of life in general and they will have an impact on your well being as you get older. Spending time with my wife, friends and family is very important for me as well. But I also like spending time by myself sometimes, just to be able to reflect on things or empty my mind. I also like, every once in a while, to escape our everyday routine and take a trip out of town, even if just for a few days. Another area in which I invest my time is learning. I love to learn new things, be it a new language or a new skill. This has allowed me to develop many hobbies outside of work and it makes the propect of retirement far less daunting for me than it does for all those who are scared to retire because they wouldn't know what to do with themselves all day. I also think that, as a rule, it is good to keep challenging your brain on a regular basis.
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Old 09-04-2007, 02:16 AM   #6
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Sounds like you've got your priorities together. Perhaps adding them to your to-do list will help you remain accountable to yourself.

As far as my own investments, you pretty much nailed them all: family, friends, exercise, and reading top my list.
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Old 09-04-2007, 03:00 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by CompoundInterestFan View Post
I'm in my early 30's, and retirement (even early), is still a ways off for me. Lately I've come to realize that if I don't take care of myself between now and retirement, I'll just be a miserable old coot with lots of money.
Good for you! I didn't figure this out until my 40's.

I currently invest in my health by eating healthy, exercising regularly, and maintaining my weight. I also spend a lot of time with family, both immediate and extended, as family connections are important to me.

DH and I purchased a used RV this year as we want to go camping and travel more often. We won't be able to do extensive trips until retirement but we are learning now how to use an RV for comfortable yet affordable travel. One thing I have just learned is that hiking/biking/reading are great but not enough variety when we are on the road, especially in the evenings. So I need more 'RV-suitable' hobbies so I am now investing some of my time to discover what those could be. I just started working on crossword puzzles and this seems to be a hit. I am looking for additional interests to add to the list (knitting? digital photography editing? others?)
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Old 09-04-2007, 10:45 AM   #8
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Interesting topic. We, too have branched out from financial preparations to other areas. Right now, my biggest interest is food/nutrition (we've already started the exercise part and lost a lot of weight). The Omnivore's Dilemma really started a lot of my thinking about my food choices and we are trying to get to the same place--not just eating cheaply, but well. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to explore their place in the universe and how our food choices reverberate through our culture.

Also looking at the spiritual/fulfilling part for the future--what activities will enrich us and the world? Haven't gotten as far with that, sorry to say!
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Old 09-04-2007, 10:56 AM   #9
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eat well and exercise. Since kids I have not been able to get back to the pre-kid level of exercise, So, I exercise not to my goal, but better than 90-95% of people I know. No time for crossword puzzles, but I do read novels - sometimes only 3 pages a night, but there it is. The parts I have the hardest time with: spending time alone and simple relaxing. J*b and family mean there is always someone around, so I take my commute seriously - it is my solo time. As for relaxing - the "to do" list is long. I drop the "to do" items to do things with the kids, and whole family, but it is not quite the same thing.
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Old 09-04-2007, 11:09 AM   #10
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Yes, balance is important. I am 38, and plan to retire at around 52 (give or take a few years, we'll see. To answer more specifically:

1) Exercise - Let's see...over Labor Day weekend, I biked 20 miles, ran 4 miles, and played about 6 hours of beach volleyball. Oh, and that doesn't even cover my "primary" sport, which is racquetball.

2) Eating well - my sometimes bad eating habits (pizza etc) are offset by salads and other good for you stuff. I should eat more fruit, though.

3) Setting aside time to do nothing - I've been watching the US Open Tennis whenever I can, which to me equates to "doing nothing". I also tend to find time to lounge around and read on a regular basis.

4) Have fun - see my above list of things I like to do. That's only a partial list, but I am definitely of the mindset to work hard and play harder.

5) Get together with friends - see #4 above! The main thing I spend my money on is getting together for dinners/drinks with my friends (in addition to all of the different sports, and camping/hiking etc). I can LBMM because I spend money on experiences, but not things.

6) Doing something to remind myself that there are more important things in life than just saving money - I volunteer my time at various charities, for one thing. Oh, and can I mention that I am going to Alaska with my aunt next summer!

Karen
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Old 09-04-2007, 12:31 PM   #11
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Hi -

Great topic, and I agree that balance is important.

1 - Exercise - I try to stay as active as possible. I run an average of 40 miles per week (depends on travel schedule and workload). I bought a new tri bike not too long ago, so I try to cycle on the weekends for the time being until I buy a trainer and can cycle indoors and multi-task. I try to swim, but it's tough to be consistent with a swim schedule and long work hours/travel schedule.

2 - Eating well - I'm fortunate that my employer has snacks available for free. I try to eat an apple, banana, and usually another piece of fruit when I am in the office. I buy boxes of green tea at Walmart and bring those into the office, so I limit myself to green tea and water while at work. I usually 'reward' myself on weekends and may get some pizza or the like since I don't eat out weekdays (cook at home).

3 - Setting aside time to do nothing - This is tough for me as I too am Mr. Productivity. I don't watch television, and I dropped video games from my regime about 2 years ago (I'm 25). When not working, then I'm trying to learn something new in a book or class, or I'm running errands, etc. Always staying busy. I need to do better in this area - maybe some time each week where I just relax or veg out for a while? I tend to overstretch myself.

4 - Have fun. I used to be Mr. Fun, and then I started working
Honestly though, this is important as it gives me the re-charge that I need to hit the floor running again. Sometimes I tend to get too wrapped up with work, errands, etc., that I need to peel myself away from it so I can re-charge and not let life pass me by.

5 - Similar to 3 & 4. It's important to meet up as schedules permit and unwind.

6 - I'm a Big Brother with BBBS of America, and will start volunteering at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago soon. I've mentored/tutored high risk, low income students on and off as well, and volunteered as a peer counselor when I was younger, albeit I still try to stop by the old place and say 'hi' but my schedule won't allow for any additional commitments. In case you can't tell, I love kids, I feel 1000x better after working with them because they make me realize that my worst day at work (or in life) would be a great day for most of them, and it helps bring back so many things into perspective (i.e., money isn't everything and my life is very rich {in many ways} compared to most).
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Old 09-04-2007, 03:22 PM   #12
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I agree! This group seems to have the primary balance down pat! Since my saving methods are all on auto pilot (whisked out of payroll and into appropriate accounts)...I take advantage of each opportunity for fun and satisfaction that fits my vacation and budget schedule. Some trips are planned long range, and others are just for spur of moment fun. I LOVE football (NFL and college) - which is often cheap entertainment...camping, biking, skiing, kayaking, etc. I also do the gym thing and can be anal about eating good (and healthy) food - this helps to balance the random donut, fried calamari or hot wings. Housemates have followed suit after telling me they have never seen someone enjoy life so much (pretty neat compliment ) They are taking advantage of social networking events and stopped making excuses for not attending dance (and art) classes (which they love, but used to be "too tired" for). So many people decline on the fun stuff because it requires a bit of effort out of their regular schedule (or a bit in the pocket Don't let this be you!
Yesterday I did nothing but lounge in bed, read a great book, and napped off and on - recovery from a 2 week vacation before crossing back to the other side! (the ol j*b thing!)

Hey, just in case we only get one life, I'm taking advantage of this one!
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Old 09-04-2007, 05:51 PM   #13
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I start every morning with a short walk around the block, a 1 - 2 hr bike ride (fixie ride around town yesterday, mtn biking today) and then half an hour of Yoga. My SO and I go night hiking 2 - 3 times a week.

Exercise makes me more productive and simply feel better about my life. Its nice to have the time each morning to get it in.
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Old 09-04-2007, 07:10 PM   #14
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Since kids I have not been able to get back to the pre-kid level of exercise, So, I exercise not to my goal, but better than 90-95% of people I know.
I hear you. My wife and I are getting ready to have our first kid, so we're trying to get into good shape as much as we can, because I know we're not going to have much time for it afterwards!

To echo what some others have said, I also see time by myself as very necessary (luckily my wife does too). We're both introverts, so we both find it rejuvenating. Also, I 've been trying to focus on things that replenish my energy (yoga, exercise, etc.) and avoid things that drain it (surfing the web and TV are the main culprits).
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Old 09-05-2007, 10:53 AM   #15
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Good topic.....trying to have balance in life is critical.
My investments are:

3 beautiful little cats.....it just makes me so happy to see them waiting for me on the stairs when I get home....sleepy eyed and so adorable.
Hanging out with my friends, group bbq's, hanging out, dinners.
AA meetings, step work, and therapy.
Meditation and Yoga.
Walking.
Reading at least a book a week.
Painting and promoting my art work.
Always culling through my things to give to others.....I hate clutter.
Learning how to cook with healthy ingrediants.
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Old 09-05-2007, 03:41 PM   #16
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Citrine -

I never knew you were a friend of Dr. Bob's. Congrats to you. I'm a distant friend of his - I used to volunteer at an adolescent clinic and the 'kids' had to go to 4 closed meetings a week. I've snuck into a couple, read the BB cover to cover, and have been to some open meetings. It's an amazing program; I've tried to apply the principles into my 'normie' life as well.
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Old 09-06-2007, 02:18 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by kaudrey View Post
Yes, balance is important. I am 38, and plan to retire at around 52 (give or take a few years, we'll see. To answer more specifically:

1) Exercise - Let's see...over Labor Day weekend, I biked 20 miles, ran 4 miles, and played about 6 hours of beach volleyball. Oh, and that doesn't even cover my "primary" sport, which is racquetball.

2) Eating well - my sometimes bad eating habits (pizza etc) are offset by salads and other good for you stuff. I should eat more fruit, though.

3) Setting aside time to do nothing - I've been watching the US Open Tennis whenever I can, which to me equates to "doing nothing". I also tend to find time to lounge around and read on a regular basis.

4) Have fun - see my above list of things I like to do. That's only a partial list, but I am definitely of the mindset to work hard and play harder.

5) Get together with friends - see #4 above! The main thing I spend my money on is getting together for dinners/drinks with my friends (in addition to all of the different sports, and camping/hiking etc). I can LBMM because I spend money on experiences, but not things.

6) Doing something to remind myself that there are more important things in life than just saving money - I volunteer my time at various charities, for one thing. Oh, and can I mention that I am going to Alaska with my aunt next summer!

Karen

I used to do a LOT of those same things, before kids. But at least I get to play with them for exercise.......
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Old 09-06-2007, 02:40 PM   #18
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I used to do a LOT of those same things, before kids. But at least I get to play with them for exercise.......
Isn't it ironic how kids can simultaneously help keep us young while driving us to an early grave?
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Old 09-11-2007, 09:25 AM   #19
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I hear you. My wife and I are getting ready to have our first kid, so we're trying to get into good shape as much as we can, because I know we're not going to have much time for it afterwards!
I've actually lost 12 pounds since my daughter was born in July 2006, and I only weighed 165. I go on a lot more walks now because of her. She and DW like to go down the road to see the horses and goats, so we get about a mile every couple days.

But it's not just because of her. I actually started looking at investing and coming out of my financial shell (i.e. I was ignorant as hell) about a year ago. After I woke up and realized that it was me after all who was responsible for my family surviving long term, I began reading about investing. Since then, there has been a residual effect in many other areas of my life. I guess my daughter's birth woke me up in many ways. It boils down to this: I realized that there was no point in my working my tail off to FIRE and take care of my family if I wasn't going to be around to enjoy it. I eat much better now than I did a year ago, I exercise more, and I have put work in a box so that it is a part of my life but not its focal point. It's amazing what a year and a daughter can do to your life.
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Old 09-11-2007, 05:44 PM   #20
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Good topic.

I exercise regularly (but not enough),
eat a lot of whole grains and fruits (plus pizza and sweets and not enough veggies),
am an expert at doing nothing,
have fun (but could probably use more),
definitely don't spend enough time with friends,
volunteer (but have slacked in this lately),
and regularly exercise my brain by taking classes at the local U.

I'd give myself a C+.
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