Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Category: The ‘why’ of FI. (Page 1 of 15)

Less than a week to go!

This time next week I’ll be in Santiago, Chile, all going well. These last few days before I go, I’m planning on starting to pack and buying the last few things I need to get before I go.

One is a waterproof case for my phone. I’ve decided to buy a waterproof pouch rather than a case, so after doing some research I’ve elected to buy this one. The reviews are good and I think it’ll do the job well. My quilting mat came in handy when I had to measure the phone in inches!

I also bought a sim card for my phone which will work in both Chile and Argentina. Surprisingly, most of the sims I looked at only had one or the other, which was annoying. My travel agent advised me to get one when I was there, but as I’m arriving in Santiago in the middle of the night, I didn’t think there’d be too many phone stores open. Better to be safe than sorry. The sim should be arriving today. I’ll take it with me and swap the sim cards over on the plane. It just occurred to me that I’ll need to learn how to get the sim card out in the first place.

You’ve already seen my pee bottle, which has traumatised people both here and on FB. Steveark’s comment on my previous post made me laugh! I’m hoping to bring back the bottle untouched by human urine, which will mean I’ll have a very useful souvenir to remind me of the trip. It will have been with me on the ice on every excursion. You can bet I’ll be reminded of Antarctica every time I use it.

I’m a big fan of buying useful souvenirs.

This olive oil container is from San Gimignano in Italy. Every single time I pull it out from the pantry I’m reminded of that beautiful village on top of the hill. When my friend Scott and I were going through security at Paris airport, we were looking at my case as it went through the x-ray. “Is that YOURS? What on earth have you bought?” he said as the image of what looked to be a miniature watering can glided by.

I also have a very cheap-looking spatula that I bought in a supermarket in Pyongyang. I was there, mingling with the locals as they were buying their groceries, when I saw it and thought, “I’ve been meaning to get a spatula for ages!” It’s absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, but I know where I bought it and I love using it.

Every Christmas I blog about my Christmas tree which has decorations from all over the world on it. No one has a tree quite like mine!

So having a water bottle that has travelled with me to the end of the world and back seems like a very good fit.

I still need to buy some lip balm. This morning I was looking at the blog 43 Blue Doors. Bonnie and her partner Trin retired in (I think) 2016 and have been slow travelling around the world ever since. It’s a fabulous blog with incredible photography and detailed descriptions of the places they’re travelling.

I posted about ‘My New Goal’ in October 2020, when I had 3 references to Antarctica in the one day. Up until then, I’d never even dreamed about going there. Bonnie wrote a post about her trip, which was the third nudge from the universe I received that day. This morning I looked at the page again and played the video of the chinstrap penguin colony. The sound of the wind made it obvious why lip balm is on the list as a necessity.

I hope Penguindancer! still checks in here and knows that I’m finally going. She was working in Antarctica and used to read my blog. If it wasn’t for her, I doubt I’d be going.

Today I’m going to be getting out my itinerary and hopefully booking a couple of day tours for Santiago and the surrounding countryside. I will only see the inside of the airport in Buenos Ares, but I’ll be spending a couple of days in Santiago and I think that being ferried around in a group might be the most efficient way to cover as much ground as possible.

Unless I buy a horrifically expensive souvenir, I think that all of the major expenses for my trip have already been paid for. I have tiny slivers of time on either side of the cruise where I probably won’t be spending a lot, especially if I’m on tours, and once I’m on the ship everything except alcohol and souvenirs are taken care of. I’m hoping that my pesos for Chile and Argentina will be enough for taxis and food, while the euros and my debit/credit cards will take care of everything else.

I’m known for being frugal in most areas of my life, but travelling overseas isn’t one of them. Being able to see and do everything I want when I travel is one of the reasons why I’m so frugal in other areas. I like to get bang for my buck! So who knows what I’ll end up spending?

I’m already starting to look at where I’ll travel in 2023…

… I have just one continent to go to complete the set.

Dad joke of the day:

How much is enough?

A small grey, white and orange kitten is outside in the grass alone. In this frame the cat is looking curious and giving lots of effort to get out a big meow. In this frame the kitten is sitting next to a dandelion.

What a time to be alive!

Only 5 more days to go before I walk out the door having finished my contract teaching job. I’ve done most of the marking – only dribs and drabs of late projects and 2 tests to give out and mark – and two more yard duties, (unless Rosie hits me with an extra one like she did on Friday), and by 2:30 PM Friday I’ll be a free woman again. Thank God for early finish times when terms end.

Let me state upfrontthe job I’m finishing up is by any sane person’s definition an absolute DREAM job. The money’s great; the students are respectful and funny; the people I work with are (mostly) lovely; I don’t have to attend meetings; I can leave as soon as the bell rings; the biggest physical labour is walking up and down stairs all day (and if I want I can take the lifts), and tomorrow I get a free lunch provided because it’s Diversity Week. (Lamb Rogan Josh, if anyone’s interested.) To add icing on the cake, the admin at the new campus are on the ball and are a pleasure to work with.

So if that’s the definition of a sane person’s idea of a dream job, why am I feeling insane right now?

It’s simple. After experiencing retirement, even in the midst of lockdown after lockdown, my whole mindset has changed. Now that I’ve achieved financial independence, I’m in the position to start valuing my time more than money. This is a whole new ball game.

And yes, I used a sporting metaphor. Ugh. That’s how new and strange this is.

Unless you’re born into money, everyone has to work to financially establish themselves. It takes many years of work, sacrifices and tenacity to get to a point where you no longer have to trade your time for money. Along the way, some of us get divorced, so we have to start over and do the whole thing again.

That’s fun.

But after years of work, saving, and investing while life swirls around you, you’re then at the point where going into work becomes a choice. You can choose to keep building a career that you love, or you can quietly step back from giving most of your waking hours to a job and begin to use those hours for your own pursuits.

Now, I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but even I knew that this would happen once I hit my magic number and stepped back from work. But intellectually knowing it and then resisting the siren call of easy money once I dipped my toe back into working again are two very different things.

Taking this 7-week full-time contract has been invaluable.

It’s easy to say that you want to get out of work if the job you have isn’t great. I mean, why wouldn’t you want to leave a job where you’re overworked, underpaid and you’re unhappy being there? It makes perfect sense.

But this job is fantastic! Yet 3 weeks into the 7 weeks I was the most depressed I’ve been in years. Not clinically depressed of course, but by God, I was miserable. But this was an easy gig that I CHOSE to do myself. It had a definite finish date so I wasn’t locked into years of indentured servitude or anything. Yet I felt like I was dragging my feet through mud to get to perform this fantastic job each day.

Now that I’m nearing the end of the contract, I’ve realised that this was actually the perfect way to experience how financial independence has truly changed my life. It’s one thing to hate going to work if the job is blah/awful, but when the job is terrific and yet you feel you’ve boxed yourself in for no real reason, then it’s obvious that certain priorities have changed.

The final nail in the coffin of knowing that I won’t take a contract again was when I had a couple of parents contact me about their sons’ abysmal performance on their geography projects. The second I see that a parent has phoned or emailed me, my stress levels go through the roof. It’s never good news. People rarely contact teachers to tell them they’re doing a great job.

One parent was pretty standard, but the other one wanted me to “give him the third degree” about why he hadn’t handed in his project because they” have tried to speak to Joe Lunchbucket [not his real name] to find out what caused the work to be incomplete but he has not given me a straight answer, so I would like you to speak to him and find out.”   They signed off the email with their phone number so I could report back to them after the interrogation.

I read the email, rolled my eyes and was like, “Oh, so you want me to do your parenting for you?”

I wasn’t happy, but I did the right thing and kept the kid after class, had a chat with him about the work, resisted the temptation to use the thumbscrews or the cat o’ 9 tails, and he promised to submit the project in the next 5 minutes. All good. I walked upstairs to my desk and opened my laptop to mark his project during lunch.

There was an email from the front desk, sent 5 minutes before the period had even ended, saying that this parent was asking me to call them back and giving me their number again. Seriously??? Give me a chance to have the chat in the first place and then walk upstairs and sit down.

Oof. Some parents.

The talk with the parent actually went better than I expected. They were worried about their son, “so different after having the girls!”, and I understand where they were coming from. However, I think it was fair to say that their anxiety was a little over the top. Joe Lunchbucket [not his real name] is a good kid who is a little lazy at the moment. Sounds like a typical year 9 boy to me.

What I didn’t appreciate was the effect it had on MY anxiety levels. Disgruntled parents can cause a lot of problems for a teacher if they decide to get nasty about something. I don’t need to be here. I don’t have to be feeling this.

I’m definitely over it.

Another little moment was when I was having dinner with a longtime friend a couple of weeks ago. He said to me, “But don’t you have enough money to live on for the rest of your life? Why are you doing this for? How much is enough?”

Hmmm. He got me there!

I’ll more than likely do the odd day of CRT teaching going forward. The job itself is great and it’ll be a nice day of catching up with friends, writing Dad jokes on the board and bantering with the kids.

But feeling miserable in the midst of the perfect job was a definite sign that my life and priorities have moved on. I’ve ticked the “money/security” item off my list of life goals.

Time to get back to living every day on MY timetable again.

Dad joke of the day:

Ok, so not really a Dad joke but it made me chuckle anyway.

I went back to work to see what it’s like- so you don’t have to!

I was searching through “school memes” to find an image for this post and then I saw this one. It’s perfect! Retirement means never having to know which day it is unless you choose to, while being a teacher??? That damned timetable changes day by day so you have to keep track of which day it is.

When I retired at the end of 2020 I had no intention of ever setting foot in a schoolroom again. It wasn’t that I hated teaching – I still really enjoyed being in the classroom and mucking around with the kids. Teenagers are hilarious and never a day went by where I didn’t have a huge laugh from something my students said or did.

The school I taught at is a large school in a wealthy middle-class suburb where the parents and kids are pretty aspirational. The kids are polite, well-behaved and anxious to learn. (Of course, there are a few exceptions but they truly are the exceptions.) Being in the classroom here is usually a pretty nice place to work.

What drove me out was the insidious creep of admin work that kept increasing year by year. The reports. Not school reports that kids have always had… other reports. The data collection. Then the reports on the data collected. Meetings that were suddenly mandated by the government, so even when there was no reason to have meetings, we had to have a certain amount of them each month.

The admin stuff was sucking the fun out of the job, so when it was brought to my attention that I could actually afford to retire, I took action. This led to the best year of my life, even though it was a year full of lockdowns for Melbourne. 2021 – the year that I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

Retirement is magical. The absolute freedom over your time is something that’s so precious. Truly, if you’re working towards gaining financial independence – keep going! It’s definitely worth it.

Then I started teaching again. I wrote about why I decided to trade my time for money HERE, even though I was so happy living the retired life.

So now I’m nearing the second-last week of a seven-week contract teaching Geography full-time. I’m scheduled to come to work every day until the September school holidays, whether I feel like it or not. Sounds brutal, hey?

If you’ve ever idly wondered what it would be like to go back to work after retiring, read on! I’ve lived the experience so you don’t have to:

How does full-time teaching differ from the CRT work you’ve been doing?

Instead of having a grab-bag of different classes, subjects and yard duty every day, along with no free periods, full-time teaching only has 2 yard duties a week, with some free periods scattered through the week for lesson prep and marking. I also have a desk to sit at instead of camping out in the staff common room.

The lesson plans are already done, so I just have to post them on Compass at the end of each week and ensure that any worksheets, projects or tests are accessible for the kids.

I also have to do MARKING. Surprisingly though, I haven’t minded the correction. In Geography, the kids have either got it right or wrong, which makes this subject an easier beast to mark than English or Theatre Studies. I’ve just about finished my 3 X year 9 classes work, just in time for the 2 X year 8 projects and tests to roll in. I’ll make sure I’m finished by the end of term. No way I want to have work hanging over my head when I finish this gig!

CRT is all go!go!go! during the day, but there are no meetings, marking or admin. It’s far better for someone like me who isn’t interested in climbing a career ladder.

What’s it been like going back to work every single day?

Hard. I won’t lie.

Even though I’ve worked almost every single day of term 3, CRT days seem easier because you never know when you’ll get a day off. So each day of working is a separate entity. Working this 7-week contract, knowing that apart from parent/teacher days and a professional development day, I’ll be in classrooms all day for weeks on end was harder than I thought it would be.

Especially in the middle few weeks, when the novelty was starting to wear off and it seemed like it was stretching on forever. Now, with less than 2 weeks to go, it’s easier.

Still… today is my birthday. I’m here at work. *sigh* This is only a 2 day work week for me, so it didn’t seem right to take another day off for my birthday.

I won’t get paid for the parent/teacher and professional development days that I didn’t have to attend, but they happened at the right end of the contract for me, so I don’t mind. After all, if I hadn’t taken the contract and I was just doing CRT, I wouldn’t have been hired for those days anyway.

Is it nicer to have the same classes of kids instead of teaching random classes all day?

In some ways, yes. But it’s a funny thing – even though I’ve had them for weeks, in both my head and theirs, their REAL teacher will be back with them next term. I definitely haven’t bonded with them the same way that I used to when I knew they’d be mine for the whole year.

Have there been any benefits to taking a set contract instead of casual teaching days?

The money. Definitely. Having a guaranteed amount coming in each fortnight has been nice. My super has also been given a boost, which is a sweet little bonus.

Taking this contract has meant that 2 things have happened. The first is that I’ve earned the money to pay for my Antarctica cruise, which is nice. The second is that when Tom30 needed help to get his deposit together for his new place, knowing that I had an income to pay the bills along the way made it far easier for me to give him my Emergency Fund, which was the only large amount of cash I had immediately available. It’s an unexpected perk of taking this job that’s benefited my boy.

I’m also glad that I chose to do it, just to see what it was like. Heaps of teachers do CRT and/or exam invigilation for a bit of pocket money in retirement, but not too many go back to a full teaching load, even if just for a few weeks. Now I know how I feel about it.

Would I do it again?

Yes and no.

This contract has ended up being too long for me. In one way that’s a shame, because Long Service Leave jobs like this come up all the time. It would be a sweet gig to work for a term to earn some spending money, then have the rest of the year off.

I’m normally a very happy and contented person, yet I found that there were weeks, especially in the middle of the contract, when I wasn’t happy. I was whinging to myself so much that I even started to bore myself and I had to keep telling myself off.

“No one made you do this. You said yes to this, so shut up, get a grip and be positive”

“Stop whining! It’s only for ‘x’ more weeks… it’s not forever.”

etc etc.

I think that a 3-week contract would be my limit. It’s long enough to make some nice money but short enough so that I wouldn’t feel boxed in. Sadly, most people take longer holidays than this, so I’m way out of luck on this one.

I’m thinking that next year I’ll definitely do more CRT work, but I seriously doubt that I’ll be doing it at the rate I’ve been doing it this year. 2022 was a year that the school was desperately needing people to work, mainly due to covid, and I felt like I owed the school some help. This job absolutely saved us when the boys were little and now I could return the favour.

But the relentless grind of day after day after day, running on adrenaline and routines is too hard, especially after I said goodbye to it all and had such a long break from it. I’m glad to know that I can still do it, but I’ve learned that I don’t want to.

I’ve worked out that doing one day a week would bring in enough to pay for groceries and basic bills. I’d get to see my friends and still enjoy banter with the kids. Two days a week would pay for holidays.

I have to be careful though. Given all the years of poverty that the boys and I lived through when they were younger, it’s really hard for me to knock back work, especially if I have nothing specifically planned for that day. This year, even though I have the total freedom to say yes or no to work, I haven’t refused a single day’s work offered to me.

Going forward, I’m going to have to be tougher with myself to work far fewer days to guard my happiness.

After all, I didn’t retire so I could be sitting in classrooms every day, no matter how good the money is! I’ve achieved financial independence, so any work I choose to do should be adding to my happiness, not subtracting from it.

I’m really looking forward to getting my freedom back.

Dad joke of the day:

I trapped a couple of vegans in my basement. At least, I think they’re vegan. They keep shouting, “Lettuce leaf!”

What my phone has taught me about Financial Independence.

Yesterday I got to work and realised that I left my phone at home.

That wasn’t a big drama – I prefer to surf the internet on a laptop rather than my phone. I only use the phone for calls, texts and photos anyway. So I got on with my day, knowing that I’d pick it up from my bedside table when I got home and catch up on anything I’d missed.

But when I got home it wasn’t there. The bedside table was bare.

I knew it should be there. I’d woken up to the alarm that morning. I started looking through the house.

Nothing.

I went out to the car, thinking maybe it’d fallen out of my bag in the morning.

Nothing.

I messaged Ryan27 on FB, asking him to call my number.

He messaged back, saying that it went straight to voicemail.

Great.

Well, I couldn’t keep on looking for it. I had things to do. I decided to hang out the washing I’d put on before leaving for the day.

My first clue that something was badly awry was when I opened the washing machine door and saw my sodden phone case sitting on top of the washing.

My phone was lying underneath all of the clothes. Screen smashed, totally dead. As a doornail.

I’ve been an Apple person for YEARS. Yes, they’re expensive as all get-out, but I like the way they synch and I’m used to the way they work.

I’m like the people in the meme at the top of the page; when I get a new phone, I keep it for at least 5 years. Hell, one of my Apple laptops is a 2010 Mac that I bought secondhand 6 years ago. She’s still going strong.

So when I bought a brand new phone LAST YEAR for around $800 I was cool with it. By the time I was ready to trade it in I’d have had many years of photos, texts and calls for around $160/year. Still a biggish cost, but not unreasonable.

Except when I have to buy another one a year later. Suddenly that $800 phone has become very expensive.

I won’t deny that I was very sad last night. What with Tom30’s house deposit, the expensive appliances that died, helping out a couple of the other kids and now this – it’s been an expensive year. Around 28K of extra expenses… not counting my Antarctica holiday in December. The last thing I needed was for this to happen!

The worst thing was that I had no one to blame but myself.

I hate that.

When I posted about what I did on FB, I had people message me, offering old phones I could use until I could get myself a new one.

That’s when it struck me.

Being financially independent means that wrecking my phone is an inconvenience, not a financial tragedy. I’ll be without a phone for another 5 hours. By 4 PM I’ll be walking through the Apple shop doors, looking to buy a replacement.

Being financially independent means that I have the money to pay for it.

Will I be happy about having to do it? Hell no! Financial independence doesn’t mean that people suddenly become happy to throw money away.

But will I be glad that I put in the work for all those years to get to a point where I can simply walk into a shop and replace it without having to stress about the money?

Hell yes.

When people think about being financially independent, it’s the big things they visualise. Retirement, overseas trips and a paid-off house. And yes, those things are there for the taking.

But the enduring joy of it is actually the way it smooths the ups and downs of life – especially the downs. It turns out that the old saying, “If money can fix it then it isn’t really a problem” is true… but only if you have the money to fix it.

Becoming financially free is not easy. But it’s absolutely worth it.

Dad joke of the day:

My boyfriend and I are in a serious relationship. We haven’t laughed for 2 years.

Little Adventures #15: Creswick and Ballarat. July 2022.

Finally – the girls’ weekend arrived! Working towards Financial Independence involves a lot more things than money. One of these things is having the means and the freedom to set up experiences for the people we love. The timeshare that I bought many years ago and then barely used is now really coming into its own.

This timeshare runs on points, so I’m not tied to just one place at the same time every year. Since I retired I’ve been on 6 holidays and have used it to give a week away in New Zealand for David28 and Izzy’s honeymoon next year. I’m determined to never waste a point again. Now it was time for the girls’ weekend at the Sebel in Creswick.

I went up to the townhouse in Creswick a couple of days early, as I had to book 4 nights to secure the weekend that we wanted. On Friday, I was sewing on the 5,000+ piece quilt, (hereafter named ‘The Sea Glass quilt’) when I glanced at the tv. A HUGE kangaroo was reflected in it.

Sure enough, on the other side of the driveway was a big old man roo. I didn’t go near him… those guys can tear a hole in your abdomen if you annoy them… but I took some photos.

You know you’re in the country when there’s a roo outside your house!

The girls arrived on Friday evening and we all settled in. Izzy – David28’s fiancee; Jenna – Evan25’s girlfriend; and Ashley and Kate – my nieces. They’re all really great girls, and are all pretty much the same age, ranging from 25 – 22, so they all have lots of things in common.

After a night spent talking and sipping a few bevvies, we awoke the next morning hungry for adventure. Jenna met Evan25 when they were both doing their acting/music theatre degree in Ballarat, so she was our official tour guide.

The first stop was a patch of bush in Blackwood. Apparently it’s Evan25’s favourite place in all the world, which is a bold claim. Then again, he hasn’t seen a whole heap of the world yet, to be fair.

It’s a pine forest with lots of walking tracks/BMX paths through it.

Ash and Jenna decided to race to the top of one of the bike jumps.

We were walking along and someone saw that a cubby house had been built in one of the trees. It had fake grass, a chair and a pole to slide down.

Noice!

I took this photo of Izzy to send to David28, to show him that his beloved was an intrepid woman of adventure.

(In reality, we bonded over how unfit we were. The others were racing around like mountain goats while we were sucking in air and trying not to sound as if we were dying.)

A cave. Jenna warned us that we didn’t want to go in there. I didn’t ask for further information.

The next stop was Ballarat, to a trash and treasure place called ‘The Old Mill’. Next door was an ugg boot shop. Ash mentioned that she was looking for new uggies so we went in.

She found the perfect pair on the bargain table outside.

Kate found a pair of slip-on slippers inside.

Honestly, I’ve never seen anyone so delighted by a purchase. She was giggling and skipping around like a 3 year old! Definitely an awesome souvenir!

Then we ducked into The Old Mill.

As I was wandering around I saw this massive hexagon quilt. It was double sided, with no filling in between.

And hand-sewn. It must have taken some poor woman YEARS to complete.

Jenna found a most fetching hat to try on.

Everyone but Izzy and I bought something. Izzy has a wedding to pay for and I’ve just given all my money to Tom30, (plus there’s Antarctica coming up!) so we were very restrained.

Good on us.

After all of that, we needed some lunch, so we went to a dumpling bar near where Jenna and Evan25 went to uni.

The lunch special. Not bad for $15.

After that, we went back to the town of Creswick to see what was happening there. It used to be a typical country town, but in the years since I brought the boys here for a getaway it’s become a bit bougie and trendy.

We went to a beautiful clothes shop and what was supposed to be a hardware-type place but had the most bewildering range of utilitarian and gift-shop items that you could imagine. It was obviously trying to please both the locals and the tourists.

The sisters and Jenna bought some beautifully scented bath salts. Did I mention that the apartment we were staying at had a couple of massive baths in each room? So big that you could almost swim laps.

Ashley and Kate decided that they were going to have a bath. This is the shot I sent to my sister.

This weekend was NOTHING like the weekends I’ve spent away with my boys. Conversations about eyebrow threading, hairstyles, fashion, home decor… it was a whole new world.

Ashley decided that part of her contribution to the weekend was to make mulled wine in the thermomix. After dinner on Saturday, as we were settling down to a night of card games, drinking and laughter, she revved up the thermie… I made her use the old ‘antique’ version… and she served us a glass each.

It was so good!

Two girls brought soju.

People who’ve read my account of when I went to North Korea will know that we downed many a bottle of soju while on that tour! I used to say that my lifetime of drinking had prepared me well.

Soju in Australia has many different flavours, which tones the original flavour down. Drinking soju isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s VERY strong. We decided to have a taste test, with Jenna pouring a smidgeon into our glasses and we rated them. Watermelon, pomegranate and peach were the best, though the peach made me think of peach schnapps.

However, I was the only one who could drink the original flavour, which honestly tastes like rocket fuel. The girls couldn’t stand it, but it made me nostalgic. This was the only soju we had back in North Korea. I ended up taking the bottle home with me. No way I was going to let that little taste of the happy times in the DPRK go to waste!

And to finish – here’s one of the games we played. So much laughter and fun!

I decided to try and get the girls together when it dawned on me that despite being part of the family for 4 years, Jenna and Izzy had NEVER had a conversation without some or all of the boys being around.

That’s just ridiculous.

I invited the nieces for a couple of reasons.

First – the apartment sleeps 5, so it made sense. Frogdancer Jones always likes to get more bang for her buck.

Secondly – and most importantly – women are the glue that holds families together. If you’ve been reading this for any length of time, you’ll know that I always have a view for the long game. These four young women are going to be moving the family through into the future. It makes sense for them to get to know each other on a deeper level than merely “meeting for Christmas.”

This weekend turned out even better than I hoped. I mean, I knew we’d have a good time. None of the girls are bitches (thank God!) and they already get along.

It was a weekend of conversations, laughter and bonding. We had so much fun. All 5 of us went home knowing everyone so much better, which made me very happy. Jenna and Kate live near each other and they were making plans to meet for dinner with their partners and to see each other’s houses. How lovely is that?

Now they’re all REALLY looking forward to David28 and Izzy’s wedding, because there’s a deeper connection than just being David28’s cousins.

Kate and Ash got to spend ‘sister time’ together, which is really special once long-term partners enter into the picture. My sister was so happy that they got to do this.

We know that Izzy is a smiling assassin in games of strategy and Kate and I are excellent partners in wordplay games.

We know that Jenna is never happier than when she’s got a task to organise and Ash is that rare breed of sports fan who can actually watch a game of footy with the sound turned down. Thank goodness. I hate the sound of sports commentary.

We also know how much they all love their partners. There was no whingeing about them at all, which is a fair feat seeing as they’ve all been with their partners from 2 – 5 years. They seem to have chosen well… even the ones who chose MY sons!

I knew that we’d all get along, but this was next level. I was so happy to spend time with them all and have time without partners and other family members diluting the mix. I think my family is so very lucky to have them all in it.

They were asking if we could do this again next year. I think that an annual girls’ weekend could be a truly excellent tradition to have…

Dad joke of the day:

What’s the difference between a literalist and a kleptomaniac?

A literalist takes things literally.

A kleptomaniac takes things, literally.

Adult kids – helping with a house deposit.

“Kids. Can’t shoot ’em, can’t tie ’em to a tree!” said one of my American friends in a heavy Southern accent to me when my boys were young. It made me laugh.

Most FI/RE bloggers who have kids seem to be young parents, so their posts are all about paying for child care, sourcing cheap clothing, and optimising after-school activities. Fair enough – I used to be concerned with those things too.

I’m writing this to forewarn you all that even when your kids enter adulthood, there are still possible expenses that you’ll choose to bear. I have 4 adult sons, ages 30, 28,27, and 25. You’d think that as a frugal person, I would have locked them out of the house the instant they turned 18 and abandoned them to let them make their own ways in the world. But it’s a funny thing… parents become quite attached to the humans that they’ve made and even when they grow taller than us, we still want the best for them.

So what’s the best thing to do, financially speaking, once the kids grow up?

We all know the wisdom encapsulated in ‘The Millionaire Next Door‘, (excellent book, by the way), that shows that adult kids who rely on their parents’ “economic outpatient care” end up significantly worse off than those who don’t receive it.

So what is Economic Outpatient Care?

It’s substantial gifts, usually financial, acts of ‘kindness’ etc that allow the adult children to live a lifestyle beyond what they can afford by themselves.

Adult children who sit around waiting for the next dose of economic outpatient care are usually less productive than those who forge their own paths. Cash gifts are too often earmarked for spending and the support of an unrealistically high lifestyle. This Economic Outpatient Care to adult children typically results in:

  • encouraging more consumption than saving and investing.
  • the gift receivers never fully distinguish between their wealth and the wealth of their gift-giving parents. (THIS WOULD ANNOY ME NO END!!!)
  • gift receivers are significantly more dependent on credit than are non-receivers.
  • receivers of gifts invest much less money than non-receivers.

When I read The Millionaire Next Door more than a decade ago, it cemented the decision I made about whether or not to help pay for the boys’ uni fees. I decided that they were responsible for their uni fees, books, and so on.

They needed skin in the game.

I would support them by not charging them board while they were studying for their first degree, and paying for any medical bills they might incur. Typically, this ended up being dental.

Fast forward a decade or so and I have four sons, all with tertiary qualifications that they’re paying off. (Higher Education Loan Program). They pay their own bills and receive no regular financial assistance from me. Anyone who chooses to live at home pays $50/week board, which I put aside in a savings account and will give back to them when they leave. This is a choice I’ve made because I’m in a financial position to be able to do this. Believe me, if I needed the money, I’d be spending it!

When David28 and Izzy decided they were going to tie the knot, I told them I’d contribute 5K to their wedding. Obviously, in my head, I’ve multiplied that by four to account for the other three boys. I’ve also told everyone that this is a first-wedding-only deal… any weddings after that, they’re on their own.

They are also able to take a week-long honeymoon using points from my timeshare to pay for their accommodation. David28 and Izzy will be going to New Zealand using this offer. They’ll be paying for every other expense themselves.

That was all I thought I’d do for the boys. Giving them a bit of help when they get married, as most parents do. After all, the last thing I want to do is weaken them. Life’s tough enough without deliberately making them vulnerable to every strong wind that blows. I raised my boys to be independent men. No handouts from The Bank of Mum!

But then something changed.

When Tom30 unexpectedly boomeranged home at the end of February, he was already saving for a deposit and was about a third of the way there. He’d been out from home for 7 years, paying around $250/week in rent, sharing a flat with a friend. Initially, he was only going to stay a few weeks, but when I told him about the $50/week board, he did some mathematics. He’s an accountant, poor thing, so doing the maths was inevitable.

He asked if he could stay longer, to accelerate the savings for a deposit.

I liked the sound of this, so I agreed. After all, he was 30 now and it was time to start getting some assets together. He changed jobs last year, nearly doubling his income in the process, so I was pleased to hear that he was looking to get ahead.

Then, I sat back and watched.

Would he be a typical ‘Millionaire Next Door’ second-generation child who’d work out how to make it on his own, or would he loll around and expect economic outpatient care?

Tom30 works in a company with mortgage brokers, so he picked their brains and found out about how to harness Superannuation to stretch his dollars, how to avoid paying LMI (Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance) and which criteria the banks would use to assess his loan application, along with a lot of other stuff that I’ve forgotten. When Tom30 starts spitting out numbers, it all begins to merge together for me.

Once he got his head around this information, he set his budget targets, home loan target amount, and savings timeline. We then started driving around and looking at apartments and units/townhouses in his (then) price range of high 400’s. Given this price range, looking at freestanding houses was simply not an option. He works very near the CBD so his commute time was a consideration.

What did I think of his plans?

I admired how clearly he’d laid out his way forward. I thought there was a bit too much fat with his spending money, but then, I’ve been through hard times where I really had to tighten my belt in order for the boys and me to keep the roof over our heads. But then, I realised that this is an area that could always be adjusted if needed. Flexibility is key.

All things considered, I was happy with it. He was finding solutions by himself and was all set to be in a property by the end of the year.

All went along swimmingly for quite a while until the reserve bank started to raise interest rates. That in itself wasn’t a problem – Tom30 had stress-tested his calculations to account for a 7% interest rate which we’re nowhere near (yet) – but suddenly the banks reduced the amount that he could borrow.

Overnight, this went from around 520K down to 475K. Real estate prices were softening, but nowhere near at this rate! If too much time went by, he’d miss his chance to get into the market for a 2BR place. I could see him getting stressed about it. When Tom30 decides he wants to do something, he gets very focused.

I did some thinking.

He needed a little more to get his deposit together, so I told him about the wedding gift of 5K that I’ve earmarked for each child and asked if he’d prefer to use this money as part of his deposit instead. Seeing as he’s single at the moment, he chose to do this.

Of course, I told him that when he DOES get married, he has to tell his beloved that I’ve already paid for my share of the wedding! There’ll be no double-dipping on my watch!

Then, a week or so later, we saw the perfect place for him.

It’s a couple of suburbs over, in an area that is starting to gentrify. It’s a 2BR unit with minimal body corporate fees and is in really good nick, very close to a train station, which will definitely come in handy. He first saw it when I was away on my Little Adventure in Manly, As soon as he was back in the car he rang me and we talked it through. I went with him to see it the following weekend when I was back in Melbourne.

I liked it. It was definitely one of the nicer properties we’d looked at. Honestly, property prices are crazy. The number of absolute dog boxes we looked at that had asking prices around the half million mark was appalling. This one has new flooring, was freshly painted and had new blinds. The kitchen and laundry will need renovating at some stage but everything else was good to go. It was a definite step up from the cruddy little flat he’d lived in during his twenties and, as he says, it’s future-proof. There’s enough room for two, or even two and a baby. And if he stays single, he’d be able to live there for ages quite happily.

The area it’s in is ok, but is definitely on an upward trajectory. In a few years it’ll be described as being in “a most sought-after location, close to beaches, transport and every amenity.” It’s a good buy, if you have an eye for the future.

He wanted to put in an offer, but he was missing a little from his deposit. Interest rates were set to rise and the banks would cut his borrowing power every time this happened. It was a very depressing balancing act that he was undergoing.

I had to do some more thinking. Honestly, all this thinking was getting exhausting. And expensive. But would I be weakening him by helping out a bit more, or would I be helping someone who deserves it?

The good thing was that it was obvious that he was doing everything he could to get there. There was no lolling around going on. All he needed was a start… some seed money, if you will.

I had 10K in cash in my emergency account, sitting in an online bank. I’ve written a few times before about how important an emergency fund has been to me. It’s saved our bacon a few times, turning what could have been huge dramas into mildly inconvenient occurrences, simply because I had the money set aside to deal with them.

That emergency fund was my first line of defense against things going wrong. But I also have 3 years of expenses put aside in a term deposit to guard against Sequence of Return Risk when the stock market falls. Obviously, I have enough money, combined with my CRT work, to look after myself. Meanwhile, my son needed a hand.

I won’t lie; it was hard to withdraw that 10K and flick it over to him. This was the emergency fund that has represented security to me for well over two decades. But once it was gone, I felt nothing but good about it. He’s taking on a loan of around 450K, which is a heck of a lot of money. Me giving him an extra 10K towards the loan isn’t going to ‘save’ him from having to make sacrifices and to be disciplined with his finances, but it’ll help him right now when he needs it.

This isn’t Economic Outpatient Care. It’s a one-time gift to help him as he’s starting out. He’ll have plenty of time to struggle and develop a backbone! It takes quite a while to pay off 450K.

Besides, even if I was inclined to baby him and lavish money on him, I can’t afford it. I have 3 other children, after all. I have to provide the same help to all of them.

Fortunately, the younger two won’t be looking to get into the property market for years, while David28 has a wedding to pay for before he and Izzy can even think of saving for a deposit. I have time to spread out these gifts.

Phew!

Anyway, a week ago Tom30 put in an offer, with a bid of 470K. There were 4 other bidders, all of whom were property investors. One couple outbid him by 5K.

Tom30 got the property! The owner decided that he’d rather sell to a young person just starting out, rather than to someone buying their 9th property. Isn’t that fantastic? Who knows, maybe sometime in the future Tom30 will be able to pay that forward to someone else.

The bank put a spanner in the works by insisting on a 10% deposit instead the 5% that Tom30 was aiming for. Remember how I said that his budget was a little ‘roomier’ than I thought was necessary? Now all of that is gone. After he approached his father for a little bit of help and was rudely knocked back, a family friend who has known him since he was a child offered to loan him the cash to make up any shortfall by the time settlement is required. They were disgusted by my ex-husband’s attitude, as is everyone who hears about it, and they decided that Tom30 deserves a start.

Fortunately, he has a long settlement, so he’ll be living with Ryan27 and me until October. We’ll be looking on Marketplace for free/cheap furniture and appliances, though he already has a free washing machine that a mate from school has given him. He accepted the offer from our family friend and he’s determined to borrow as little as possible from them. He’s selling everything he owns that isn’t nailed down and is actively looking for accounting customers to bring into the company he works for to add to his income through commissions.

I’m very pleased, though not surprised, to see that this son is doing as much as he can to get the property he wants with as little help as possible. He’s always been extremely organised with his finances.

It was interesting to see how my thoughts and ideas evolved around the question of how much or how little to help my adult children. When they first emerged into young adulthood, I pulled back on the financial help I gave them. They were told, “My job was to get you through secondary school. You’re absolutely expected to get a qualification, but YOU are responsible for paying for it.”

They have spent their 20’s learning how to rely on themselves and to become independent, especially the oldest and youngest who’ve both been out of home for years.

Now, when they’ve settled into their adult lives and are wanting to take the next steps forward, I’m prepared to give them a little help along the way – if they’ve already demonstrated that they’re putting in the effort.

I’ve come to realise that it’s fair enough. A little help is beneficial… it’s when too much ‘help’ is lavished upon them that the rot sets in.

As I’ve said before, if you look at the cost of an entire wedding or the total cost of a mortgage, the help I’m giving barely moves the needle. 15K in a 450K loan is a drop in the ocean.

But if you look at the up-front costs of getting that seed money together, the help I’m giving will spit off huge dividends in the years to come. Everyone needs to start from somewhere. Getting a little help at the start is a great gift that I can give my boys.

It’s funny – I began the trek of getting to financial independence for a lot of good reasons. But once I got there, the freedom to do all sorts of things I’d never thought of has been amazing.

This is just one more.

Dad joke of the day:

I would love to get paid to sleep. It’d be a dream job.

Fortunate Frogdancer strikes again!

I’ve always been a lucky person.

Even when things appear to be going pear-shaped and there’s confusion all around, when time moves on and the dust settles, it nearly always turns out that I’ve ended up in a better position afterward. Viewing life from the lens of the long game is something that has made me an optimist.

Look at what happened yesterday, for example.

You all know that I’m going to Antarctica in December. Of course, I would never go to a place without doing my research about it. Even though we’ll be getting lectures on the ship from Polar experts, who knows if I’ll be able to attend? I might be dying from seasickness. Of course, I’ll have to learn about Antarctica before I go there!

Yesterday I was having a chat with a few people in the staffroom and I was asked if I could teach geography. A friend is taking 6 weeks’ Long Service Leave in term 3 and she wondered if I’d be interested in taking over her classes. I laughed and said, “Is there marking involved?” because I’ve stated lots of times that I’ll NEVER do any marking again.**

After being told that it was at the end of term so yes, lots of marking was involved, I politely declined her invitation.

In the class after lunch, the kids were being angelic and I was bored so I decided to look at the curriculum to see what the year 8s and 9s are being taught in Geography. I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw the 8’s are going to be covering deserts – Antarctica and Australia’s deserts. WHAT?!?

I shot an email off to my friend, saying, “You didn’t say that I’d be teaching about Antarctica! I’ll be there in December! I’m interested now…”

She’s volunteered to teach me the ‘mathsy’ parts of the courses before she leaves, so that’s ok. Half an hour later and it was all official.

Fortunate Frogdancer is going to be paid to do her research on Antarctica!

As regards the marking, I’m pretty sure it won’t be as full-on as the English essay marking I’m used to. With most questions, the kids will either get the answers right or wrong. Lesson plans are already written and all I have to do is deliver them. Once the mathsy situations are ironed out then it’ll be a breeze.

And the extra cash will come in handy for the flights and accommodation. This trip will not be cheap. I know that I won’t enjoy having to do the marking, either.

But when I’m waddling around with the penguins on the Antarctic ice and gazing at the moai on Easter Island, I know I’ll be glad I did it.

** Every time I’ve said I’ll never do something, I’ve always ended up doing it. You’d think I’d learn!

Dad joke of the day:

My son turned 4 this morning and it took me ages to recognise him. I’ve never seen him be four.

What’s it like to be happily retired – then go back to work?

In the FI/RE space there’s an abundance of posts about how to get to financial independence. (Quite a large percentage are written by people who haven’t yet managed to get there themselves.) There are fewer posts written about what it’s like to actually reach FI and retire. I’ve written quite a few of these sorts of posts during 2021 – the year of lockdowns and my blissfully happy first year of retirement.

But there aren’t too many posts about what it’s like to retire – then pick up work afterwards.

Surely I’m not the only person to have done this? Maybe it’s seen as a sign of shame; that somehow the financial independence hasn’t ‘worked’?

Whatever the reason that people don’t write about this much, I’m stepping up to shine a light on what it’s like to say a blissful goodbye to a career – with a kick-arse speech goodby that I’m still proud of – to then, a little more than a year later, fronting up back at the school again. As I write this I’m sitting in front of a year 9 class, tapping away here while they’re putting the finishing touches onto a political campaign they’re running. Fiddy bucks in my pocket for 48 minutes’ work, before I move onto the next class for another fiddy.

Here I am, swapping my precious time for money. This is something I didn’t think I’d ever do. Except, in the back of my mind, I had a feeling in my waters that this massive bull market probably wouldn’t keep going for another 5 years. I had a vague game plan in my mind that if the market fell before 2026, I’d probably pick up a few days of CRT, (casual relief teaching), to ease the Sequence of Returns Risk.

So, as we all know the market has taken a tumble. At the same time, schools are desperate for CRTs due to covid and the flu, along with regular things like school camps etc. I went back into the classroom as a perfect storm was hitting Australian schools.

I was lucky, in that I still loved being in the classroom when I retired, so it wasn’t as if I was dragging myself back to a job I hated. And as luck would have it, all the boring admin, report writing and diagnostic testing are things that CRTs don’t get asked to perform. Talk about a win right there!

When I began, I had a couple of weeks of a day or two of teaching, then I was suddenly plunged into a month of full-time teaching. The last two weeks have been back to the retired life with no work days, with today, Wednesday and Thursday being back at school in this last week of term 2.

So it’s been interesting to see how I adjusted to going back to work, especially during the month when I was essentially full-time.

To be honest, it was a little scary how easily I went back to the old routine of getting up when the alarm rang and racing around the house to get out by a certain time. I’d had over a year of leisurely mornings waking up when I felt like it, (or really, when Jeffrey decided it was time to wake up and he’d shake the bed with his scratching. ) In retirement I tend to ease into my mornings, staying on the couch until 9 or 10, laptop on my lap and the dogs snoozing by my side.

Heavenly!

Now, suddenly I was pitchforked into day after day of early starts, one after the other. I honestly thought it would take longer to adjust back to the old routine than it did. It took the middle of the first “full-time” week and I was back in the swing of it.

Clothes organised, lunch organised, water bottle filled and my bag packed with everything I’d need for the day ahead. No lollygagging around on the internet, oh no! Pour a coffee, solve the Wordle, post a couple of Dad jokes on Facebook, check my timetable to see what the day will hold and then it’s off the couch and into the shower. Keep moving! Time is ticking!

In the car, podcast on. Driving on the freeway, having a goal in mind of being at the last main intersection before school at 8:20. Winning if I shave a minute or two off that time. Walk into school, grab a laptop and keys, up to the staffroom to see what’s in store for me today. A couple of minutes before the bell, start walking to the first classroom to let the kids in and be ready to call the roll at 8:50 when the bell goes.

It’s honestly like riding a bike.

The ease of slipping back into that old rushed routine was, as I said, a little scary. I’d absolutely adored my 2021 year of being absolutely free and it was astonishing how quickly it was overtaken by the requirements of the work routine. Even the little woofs quickly worked out which day was going to be a “Mum’s home” day or not. During 2021, every time I left the house they’d freak out and wait for me all day, if necessary. Since I started work, Ryan27 says that it took a week before they went back to their old routine of sleeping through the day and only starting to wait for me at the front window at about 4PM.

We’re all conditioned by The Man!

It’s not just the blissful retirement morning routine that was affected. After a calming 2021 free of the tyranny of having to fit things in on the weekends, I was suddenly doing the ironing on a Sunday afternoon, making sure I did the bread baking (for lunches) on the weekends, and generally cramming all of the activities that I used to spread luxuriously through the working week all into two days.

I realised that I was starting to think, “I don’t have TIME for this!” whenever something went even the slightest bit wrong. Apparently, I used to say that a lot before my retirement. Time suddenly switched from being my beloved friend to my enemy.

Once I’m at work, my days are a strange mix of watching time drag and being really entertained. There’s no denying that I talk to a hell of a lot more people when I’m at school. The kids are always funny and up for a bit of banter, while my free times are spent chatting to work colleagues and having a laugh.

The social side of going back to work is lovely. Don’t get me wrong; I adore my hermit life at home, but I’m also enjoying being with the people at work.

The downside of being with people is that I’m mixing with around 900 of the hormonally challenged. Yes, I’m talking about teenagers.

Now, teenagers are sometimes hilarious, sometimes deep and sometimes thoughtful. The kids at our school are, for the vast majority of the time, polite, considerate and lovely. However…

… occasionally you’ll strike a kid having a bad day. They don’t WANT to be told to do their work, they don’t WANT to be quiet and not disrupt the class and they’ll be DAMNED if they’ll listen to a ‘sub’.

Ugh.

As I’m in the middle of doing the dance that is maintaining control of the class without pushing this sort of kid into open rebellion, I’m thinking, “What the hell am I doing here? I don’t need this shit. I could be doing anything else right now…”

Or you’ll have a class at the end of the day or week who are just over it. Their regular teacher has left screamingly dull work for them to do and all they want to do is get through the next 48 minutes so they can go home. Low-level talking gradually rises in volume as more and more kids switch off and start talking to their friends. It seems like every 3 minutes I’m saying, “Ok year 8! Too loud!”

And I’m thinking, “I know. I’m bored. I feel it too. Only 15 minutes till the bell goes and we’re free! Oh no. I’m clock watching again.”

Man! Clock watching is definitely a THING. When you’re a regular teacher you have to be conscious of the time. Every lesson has an arc and you have to know where you are within that 48 minutes to drive the lesson to a successful conclusion. So clock-watching is a necessary part.

CRT is a different beast. I enter the room, call the roll and introduce the lesson. Then, unless kids have specific questions that I can help them with – which is never when I’m taking a Maths class- the rest of the time I’m pretty much making sure that the kids stay on task and aren’t misbehaving. I find that I’m watching the clock a lot. Not in a productive “lesson arc” way but more of an “oof, there’s still half an hour to go… I could be doing anything with my time… hmmmm, if I was home right now, what would I be doing?”

I REALLY don’t want to get covid and, as we all know, working in schools is a high-risk thing to do. I’m one of the few teachers to mask up. I wear a KN95 mask from the moment I get out of the car in the morning to when I get back into it at the end of the day and this, coupled with being triple vaxxed and vaxxed for the flu, has so far kept me covid safe.

(Touch wood, as my grandmother would say.)

But then, every fortnight I get paid. I like getting paid.

In this post I designed a chart to track where my earnings were going. So much more motivating than just plodding into work every day! I’ve modified it slightly since then, but I’ve basically worked my way down the chart “paying off” every item in turn.

Of course, the money I earn usually goes to my credit card, which I always keep in the black, to pay for our day-to-day expenses. But this protects my savings, which is incredibly important. Six months into a market downturn, I haven’t had to sell any shares or touch any savings or emergency fund money due to the combo of earnings and dividends. I’ve even been able to top up my savings.

This makes me feel very good.

Later on today, I have an appointment with a travel agent to find out about airfares etc to Easter Island and Ushuaia for my Antarctica trip in December. I know I should probably bring a defibrillator with me to start my heart after I hear the prices. I’ve already earned 2K towards airfares, but now that I’m definitely going to Easter Island, I’ll be adding an extra line to that chart for lots more funds needed.

Tom30 is looking to buy a place of his own and is living here to turbocharger his deposit savings. I’ve offered to give him 5K in lieu of wedding costs and lend him a further 10K if he needs it. I’m chipping away at that 5K on the chart – just under 3K to go!

I won’t deny – knowing that giving up some of my days to be able to provide extras for myself and my family without tapping shares during a bear market feels like a good trade-off long term. Knowing that I’ve actioned the flexibility in my FI plan is satisfying.

Would I have gone back to work if we were still in a bull market?

That’s an interesting question.

The catalyst for me starting CRT work was that I heard that the school was desperate for CRTs because so many staff were getting sick. I owe the school BIG TIME for the financial security I was able to build for my boys when they were kids. Part of why I went back was that I was giving back to the place that had saved our financial bacon, back in the day.

I think that I still would have gone back, but I would probably have worked fewer days. Still, I can’t deny that it was interesting to see that I still had it in me!

After working off and on for 3 months after experiencing nearly 18 months of retirement, I have to say that it’s been ok. In fact, it’s been better than I expected. To be fair, I have a huge amount of flexibility. I can say “no” to work whenever I want, and if the school doesn’t offer me enough work I can always work elsewhere as well. There are many, many secondary schools in Melbourne!

The feelings of regret over my loss of freedom in the days when I’m in the classroom are definitely offset by the security offered by an extra income stream during a market downturn. I absolutely know that I did the right thing when I decided to pivot. I’ve had too many years of being terrified by my financial situation to want to risk having sleepless nights again! A few days back in the classroom in the early days of my retirement is a very small price to pay for the huge benefit of feeling like I’m doing the right thing for Future Frogdancer’s financial security in her golden years.

The intangible positives of returning to work are a nice bonus. I enjoy 98% of my interactions with the kids and I work with truly lovely people. I’ve met some other CRTs who are great, but I was always too busy to sit down and get to know them when I was a ‘real’ teacher. I also like the pattern of the days as a CRT – you are given every single period on AND a yard duty, but at the end of the day you can walk out right on the bell, instead of having to attend meetings etc. I’m getting home at a reasonable time nowadays – with no marking!

My mindset about this shifted when it occurred to me that my 3 year stash of living expenses that I’ve put away in case of a market downturn could be stretched indefinitely if I earned just half of my yearly expenses doing CRT.

How many days a week would that be over the first 3 terms of the school year? (Term 4 is pretty much a write-off for CRTs. Once the year 12s start having their exams, the year 12 teachers start taking all the spare classes.)

Two days a week. That’s all it would take.

Hmmm. Interesting…

… Or I could get sick of it and decide to simply stop doing it. Financial Independence is a wonderful thing.

Dad joke of the day:

The kids loved this one today!

Wednesday W’s #21.

What’s top of my mind: Helping Tom30 with his house deposit.

The boys know that I’m not in a position to be The Bank of Mum and Dad when they’re looking to put a deposit down on a home. My gift to them is the same gift my parents have given my brother, my sister and me – to be financially independent in their old age so they’re not a financial drain on their kids.

Tom30 has floated the idea that I might help out… I’ve said no to hints that I might go guarantor or that I might lend a sizeable chunk of money. If he was an only child it might be different, but with any help given having to be multiplied by 4? Forget it.

However, he asked if I’d be prepared to lend him the money to pay off his car at the end of the year when he’ll be in a serious position to start looking. It’ll be around the 5K mark by then. I told him I’d be prepared to do this for him. I know without a doubt that he’ll pay me back, and having this debt wiped from his liabilities would mean that the banks would look at him slightly more favourably.

It’s such a fine line between wrapping them in cotton wool and weakening them by helping too much, or not helping enough and putting them behind the 8 ball! He doesn’t know that I’m saving his $50/week board to give back to him when he moves out.

I don’t know – I’m happy that I’m in a position where I can do this for the boys. I really wish I could help them more, but I’m definitely not prepared to put my own financial standing at risk. I’ve worked too hard for that!

(The boys’ father suggested to Tom30 that instead of borrowing the money from him, he should ask my father for a loan… “He has HEAPS of money.” Wow. Seriously??? Every now and then I get a little reminder as to why I left him all those years ago.)

Where I’ve been: 5 minutes in the most stressful place ever.

Every teacher in a school gets a set of keys to use. We lock most classrooms after every period, especially those rooms like music rooms and computer labs that have expensive equipment in them. We all know that we have to guard those keys with our lives. If a set of keys go missing, then every single lock has to be changed in the entire school, along with issuing new keys to every single staff member. In our school, there are over 200 people who work here.

Imagine how expensive that would be?

At the end of the day yesterday I handed in my laptop and my lanyard and walked to my car. I’d just started the engine when the principal of the campus phoned me.

“Frogdancer, you’ve handed in the lanyard with no key fob.”

My blood went cold. This meant that the fob had fallen off somewhere. The classroom I’d been working in didn’t need to be locked, so I hadn’t looked for the fob at the end of the day. It could be anywhere – and anyone could’ve found it. Shit…

Luckily, the class I’d had after lunch for a double period was so quiet that I’d barely got up from my desk to walk around. I’d had a full lunchtime in the staff room because I’d had recess yard duty that day. The areas where it could ossibly have fallen off were pretty limited. I told the principal where I’d been teaching and he said he’d call me back with any news.

I kept driving. I felt sick with stress. This is the one thing that everyone dreads. Why am I doing this? I don’t need this stress in my life! Is avoiding Sequence of Returns Risk worth it? I’ve pretty much covered my share of David28’s wedding. Does Tom30 really need me to loan him the money for his car? Maybe I should just go back to my beautiful retirement life?

A couple of minutes later the phone rang. He’d found the keyfob on my chair. It must’ve fallen off as I bent over to pick up my bag and laptop at the end of the day.

PHEW!!!! I drove home, listening to my audiobook and feeling like all was well with the world.

This morning when I came in, the receptionist in the office said that they’d noticed that every single lanyard had dodgy clips on them. They’ve fixed them. So maybe my panic-stricken moment was actually a gift to the school…?

Still – how great is it that I’m in a position to instantly decide whether or not to keep working? For anyone still working on getting your F-You fund together – keep going! It’s worth it. The stress I felt until I got the second phone call would’ve been so much worse if I’d not had the option to walk away if I wanted to.

Where I’m going: to the supermarket.

I’ve accepted a Flybuys quest to spend $50/week for a month at Coles to earn a $50 voucher. Sounds like free food to me! Once I publish this post, I’ll have a look at the weekly specials and work out what I’m going to buy this week.

Once I spend $50, I’ll pick up the rest of what we need from Aldi.

What I’m watching: a loom video on the trenches in WWI.

I’ve just come out of a year 9 history class where they watched a video made by their teacher before they were to go on and complete some work. I found it interesting – my great-grandfather fought for the English in those trenches.

I told them his story. How, as a young married father of two he did the patriotic thing and signed up for the war. He was allowed some time to go home when his wife was due to give birth to their third child. It was an awful labour – the baby was 13 lb/6 kg and both he and his mother nearly died. My great grandfather overstayed his leave until he was sure they’d both live.

When he reported back late for duty, they sent him to the front lines as a punishment. He was dead in a week.

What I’m reading: A Single Thread – Tracy Chevalier.

I’m enjoying this book, even though I’ve never tackled embroidery and I don’t intend to try! I remember going to my Mum’s cousin’s house as a child and seeing embroidery literally EVERYWHERE. It put me off.

Clearly, the author visited Winchester cathedral and noticed the kneeling pads and cushions, and researched how and when they were made.

What I’m listening to: A Home Like Ours – Fiona Lowe.

I just finished this audiobook this morning on my way to work. It’s a marathon 16 hours worth of listening time. I enjoyed the story. Now the plan is to get back to the podcasts that have been stacking up! Then, once I whip them into shape, then I’ll borrow another audiobook.

What I’m eating: leftover goulash.

A few nights ago I made the most delectable goulash using a Skinnymixer’s recipe in the slow cooker. There was enough left over for two serves. Tom30 said he’d probably buy a pizza tonight, so Ryan27 and I will be so happy to tuck into the rest of the goulash!

What I’m planning: a delicious meal for tonight!

See above.

Who needs a good slap:

Whoever designed the dodgy clips on the lanyards. If my hair wasn’t already going grey, it would’ve started when I got that first phone call from the principal.

What has made me smile: 9H.

I taught 9 of these kids in year 7 and I haven’t caught up with most of them since I’ve been back. It was so lovely to see them all again.

It’s especially nice that they’re in a great class who are all quietly working. The loudest sound in the room is my keyboard as I’m typing this.

This class is a CRT’s dream!

Dad joke of the day:

I don’t know why some people insist on using fractions instead of decimals.

They’re pointless.

Those who don’t read, live only one life…

… But those who DO read, live thousands.

This thought occurred to me when I was sitting in a year 8 classroom earlier today, watching as they were silently reading at the beginning of the class. Normally, I’d be reading right alongside them, but I’d intelligently left my book in the car and so I was waiting for the 10 minutes to be over.

As I drew my gaze back from the window with the beautiful sunny day outside, I saw that a couple of kids were looking at the same view. Two boys were yawning, so clearly they’d picked dud books and were bored. But the rest of the class were buried deep in their books.

As I looked at the bent heads, I started to wonder where they all were.

Some of them were reading from the class novel, ‘The Outsiders‘ by S E Hinton, preparing for the work that they were going to have to do in the rest of the class. I knew they were in 1960’s Chicago. But looking around at the others, they could have been anywhere.

Far into the future, perhaps? Way back in the past? Maybe they were experiencing life from the point of view of a different gender or nationality. All of us were physically together, but within their minds they were anywhere but here.

Once their 10 minutes of wide reading time was finished, I wrote the saying I began this post with up on the board and we had a quick chat about it.

The thing is – this saying doesn’t just relate to novels. It also relates to any kind of reading, but of course, seeing as this is a FI/RE blog, I was thinking about financial independence blogs and books.

I think it’s a real shame that the Australian government has chosen to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it came to the new rules they’ve put in place about fin-fluencers. Strong Money Australia and Late Starter Fire are two bloggers who have written about this, and they’ve both done a good job. I don’t need to repeat what they say.

It saddens me, though, that these new ‘guidelines’ about what we can and cannot say are going to take valuable stories about life experiences away from those people who can learn from them. When most people realise they need to get their sh*t together when it comes to money, they are scared and worried.

I know for sure that I was.

I think, like most people in this space, I started to learn about investing, the stock market, financial independence etc from American bloggers and Australian books. American content is all very well for gaining an understanding of the basics, but when it comes to knowledge that’s applicable to Australia, there’s no substitute for Australians sharing their knowledge and experience.

When I first started blogging on my personal blog back in 2008, I was part of the crafting/gardening niche and it was wonderful. So many people sharing their knowledge and inspiration online, helping each other and creating a really supportive community. It was wonderful – and still is.

I was so happy to find a similar space for the people interested in gaining financial independence. Clearly, our life stories are all very different, but that didn’t stop me gleaning what I could use in my own situation, while enjoying watching people’s stories unfold.

Over the years I, a single mother of 4 boys on the shady side of 50, have learned so much from the blogs of Australians who lead lives vastly different to mine. Let’s face it – not many people have travelled the same pathway to financial independence than I have! If I was holding out for information from someone who began their journey with 4 boys under 5, $60 cash, and was driving an ancient Tarago whose sunroof leaked when it rained, I’d still be sitting around, 8 years later, terrified about how I was going to prepare for the future.

Instead, I’ve learned from single people in their 20’s and 30’s, coupled up people without kids, and coupled up people WITH young kids/teenagers/grown families. Some of these couples are married, some are not. Some are straight, some gay and some don’t disclose. A few are older than I am, and I learned a lot about what retirement life is like and what to prepare myself for.

Some write under a nom de plume, others (like me – obviously) write under their own names. Some have degrees, while others have barely finished secondary school. Most seem to live in cities on the east coast, but there are also people living in regional towns or in the bush.

We’re all very different but we all have one thing in common – we want to learn about how to handle our finances responsibly and we want to help others by sharing what we’ve learned.

The huge variety is a strength. We all come to this problem of how to gain financial independence with different ways of thinking, because we’ve all led very different lives. This means that someone who has come at this whole “FI/RE” thing from a totally different angle to you can offer valuable insights into angles that may never have occurred to you.

Sure, it may be a little confusing at first, but it doesn’t take long to sort the wheat from the chaff. I know that the more I read – and listened – the more familiar the concepts became and I was gradually able to move forward with a growing confidence that i wasn’t going to muck things up.

One of the most interesting things about hanging around in the space over a few years is to read when people have decided to pivot in their financial independence strategies and they give their reasoning. One of the most fundamental tenets of the FI/RE movement is the importance of flexibility and being able to change what you’re doing if the situation demands it – or if you discover better information.

My fear is that now that the rules have changed, people will be too scared to share valuable insights and information that could add value to the whole space. People coming up, like my sons, won’t have the same freedom to information willingly and freely shared, that I was lucky enough to benefit from.

I’m not sure where we go from here. Some people are massively editing their blogs and removing specific bits and pieces that are suddenly forbidden for public consumption. Podcasts are suddenly in hiatus (or stopped altogether) while the podcasters work out where they now stand.

Fortunately, due to me being scared of numbers and also – as a single woman – being very conscious that there are a lot of crazies out there, I was never granular about the topics I talked about, so I think this tiny blog should be ok.

I’d like to thank all of those creators who enabled me to live many lives as I was navigating my way around this financial independence thing. Your work has been so very huge in enabling me to gain my freedom and to provide a secure base for my sons.

Thank you.

Dad joke of the day:

To whoever stole my dictionary –

I’m at a loss for words.

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