Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

“If the plan is to have no money, you’re doing f***ing awesome at it!”

The title is a quote from this clip. This is so true. Our actions speak louder than our words. I particularly like what he says about following the plan, towards the end of the clip. Plus there’s the wonderful Scottish accent – what is it about UK accents?!? I’m an absolute sucker for them. This made me think of a conversation I had a week or so ago and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

I have a very dear friend who, along with her husband, lurches from one financial disaster after another as time goes on. I’ve known them for 20 years and in that time they’ve lost jobs with no Emergency Fund behind them; had cars written off with no insurance; a mortgage that after 25 years of payments is still owed exactly as much as they originally borrowed due to frequent equity withdrawals; bills/rates/mortgage repayments being ignored until they get chased by the company concerned and a huge bill being owed to the tax department. They own a small business and have not paid themselves superannuation and so they look to be relying on the age pension to support them when they reach retirement age. Financially, they’re a trainwreck. Personally, they’re fun, lovely people and I love them both dearly.

A week or so ago, after the last financial disaster struck, we had a phone conversation. Her husband was pulled up by the police for a random breath test, (no, he wasn’t drink driving!!), and the police discovered that his car registration was 3 months overdue. Instant confiscation of his car = no way to get to work.

She was livid. Even a week after it happened, she was practically incandescent with rage on the phone to me. Which, on the face of it, I can well understand. Who doesn’t pay their rego? It’s obvious that bad things are going to happen if you ignore your bills. I was really sympathetic… until it suddenly occurred to me… this has been happening to them for over 20 years. Why is he still entrusted with taking care of the bills?

My mind flashed back. Every so often we have this conversation and it’s always the same. Everything appears to be going along ok and then an unpaid bill/mortgage payment/a.t.o payment surfaces and reveals that things are NOT ok. All hell breaks loose, they scramble to find the money to get back on an even keel, then life goes on ok until… etc etc.

When I gently suggested that maybe she should take control of the family finances, she groaned. You could almost hear the eye rolling.

“Yeah, I suppose I should,” she said. “But it’s so boring. I hate that stuff.”

I didn’t say anything else. What would be the point? It really hurts to see them in this loop of financial drama upon financial drama, but it’s not my place to wag the finger at them. They’re adults and they’re not stupid. They know what they should be doing; it’s not rocket science. They’re simply choosing another plan, for whatever reasons. And so far, I guess the plan is working for them, despite what she says.

I hope that when the plan ceases to work, they’ll come and have a chat. I certainly won’t have all the answers, but I’ve picked up a bit about how to get a stranglehold on my finances and wrestle them under my control. Until then, all I can do is lend an ear, love them both and keep my mouth shut.



  1. Snoskred

    I do sometimes feel like technology is not helping us. Back in the day, you used to have a little sticker on the car that made it clear when your rego ran out, and you would get a letter in the mail with the new sticker. Once we’ve taken that away from people it seems a lot easier for people to forget when rego is due. Me, I set a reminder in my phone and it is also in our budget to remind me.

    I don’t think there is anyone out there who finds their own personal finances fascinating or especially fun, but it is part of adulting. Each week we sit down together for about 15 minutes, going through what we’ve spent and adding it into the budget and looking at where our money is going this week.

    The reason we do it together is because if I leave him to do the budget, money seems to get directed towards gadgets we most certainly do not need. 🙂

    I think for some folks they prefer to put their head in the sand rather than deal with their real situation. It is difficult to watch and very hard to be a friend to someone insisting on doing that. :/ So good on you for sticking in there. 🙂

    • Frogdancer

      Yes, it’s hard to nod and smile and keep my tongue between my teeth, but we have a LOT of shared history and that’s more important in the big scheme of things. I like your weekly budget meeting – sounds like a good idea.


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