Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Freedom beckons…

Oh thank goodness! Term 1 finishes today, (oh happy day!), and I marked the last essay from my year 9 class yesterday. I’ve cleared the decks of all the corrections and I can leave for my overseas holiday with nothing at work to mop up before I go. I’m taking an extra week so it’ll be 3 glorious weeks of freedom before I come back. Whoopee!

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in the school’s lecture theatre watching two year 12 kids trying to learn to waltz. It’s part of a dream sequence in the play we’re putting on – ‘Jasper Jones’. It’s the first rehearsal of this scene and they’re stressing about stepping and counting and turning. The boy playing Charlie looks a little like an adolescent giraffe, all arms, legs and elbows, while our ‘Eliza’ has a look of fierce determination on her face as another student counts, “Step 2, 3… turn 2, 3…  step 2, 3…”

Learning a new skill is always hard at the start, but I know that by the time May 2nd, 3rd and 4th come along, they’ll be floating, seemingly effortlessly, around the stage.

As I was watching them I was thinking about writing something for this blog and it occurred to me that learning how to get control of your finances is a bit like learning how to dance. At first it all seems really hard. You step on your partner’s toes, you misstep, then start to move smoothly, then stumble again…

Once you have control of your budget and you become debt-free, it’s all smooth sailing. Then you realise you have to learn about investing. You discover the world of FI/RE and all of a sudden it’s like learning the tango. It’s a whole new dance. All those scary numerals!  The new terms and acronyms! Argh! What’s an ETF? A CAGR? ROI, IPO and a REIT? Why are they important and why should I care?

I’m sure some people take to this like a duck to water, but personally, I found it hard. I’ve spent a lifetime actively avoiding anything to do with Mathematics and there are far too many numerals involved with investing for me to be comfortable with it. As it is, it’s taken me around 5 years to become what I’d call a moderately educated investor. Anything too spreadsheet-y and I still mentally run screaming for the hills, but I’ve reached the stage where I’m now gritting my teeth and slowly chipping away at it.

By the end of the rehearsal ‘Charlie’ and ‘Eliza’ were waltzing around the stage in each other’s arms, still stumbling occasionally but for most of the time, they were in step with each other and in time to Doris Day’s singing. I smiled as I looked at them and at the other student who was still counting time, “Step, two three; Step, two three!”

It’s a work in progress but I know we’ll all get there in the end.



  1. Tread Lightly, Retire Early

    Three weeks!!! Enjoy the break.

  2. Ms Frugal Ears

    What wise words, and what a lovely analogy. I hear you re taking time to get the flow of savings and investing. My fiance has been trying to teach me how to drive his manual ute, and I feel so awkward with it. I keep doing kangaroo hops! Meanwhile, since he has met me, he is learning more about the value of savings and investing. It started with an Acorns account. Then he started talking more about super. Now he has become interested in share investing and many of our conversations are about investing. It is so much fun! It seriously is. And it is so lovely to have someone who shares my interest. As to my driving skills, welllllll, it’s still a bit of a work in progress.

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