Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Locking in the profits.

I’m going to do something that I never thought I’d do. I’m going to pull some profits out of my investments and spend them on some projects around the house. In other words, I’ve decided to harvest some profits and lock them in.

Again, this was something that I never thought I’d do. I’m still working, so income is flowing in to pay for my day-to-day needs. That sweet sweet compounding is doing its thing with my investments and I was sure that I’d continue to let them ride. But then something happened.

I arrived home a week or two ago and it was raining. As I got out of the car and turned towards the house something caught my eye. A steady stream of water coming from the left front corner of the guttering. It fell in a straight line right onto the wooden supports of the verandah.


I glanced across at the other corner and sure enough, the same thing was happening, but fortunately, this one was falling onto the brick paving. But the wooden balustrade near both corners was needing to be replaced. I was going to wait, but suddenly this looked like I might now have a rotting verandah on my hands.

It seems like it should be an easy fix – just replace the guttering. Done, right?

But look at this shot. The yuccas at the front of the house have grown up past the roof and are dangerous. The leaves are thick and very pointy and sharp at the ends and the previous owner intelligently planted them next to walkways. A couple of times when I was on the way to the recycling bin, I’ve narrowly missed being poked in the eye. So removing the yuccas has been on my list of Things To Get Done for a while now and the guttering can’t be replaced while the yuccas are there.

So it should be easy. Cut down the yuccas, then replace the guttering, right?


If I cut the yuccas down, our big front windows would then be open to the street. Any stray marauder strolling by would be able to see straight through into my bedroom and our living room. Not exactly ideal. So do I put up some sheer curtains for day-time? Or do I put up a tall fence?

I already have a front fence, but it’s rusting. I’m very close to the beach. The dogs bark at every dog that walks past, so it’s been on my list of Things To Get Done, but in some dark, misty future, aeons from now. But that is going to change, it seems.

Our electric gate is broken, so we’ve been opening and closing it by hand for about a year now. If I get a new fence – a non-see-through one – I’d have to replace the gate as well.

It’s a cascading list of repairs and replacements. So! It all starts at the front fence.

Once I get the new fence, I’ll be able to call an arborist to cut down the yuccas and grind out the stumps. THEN I can replace the guttering and fix any wooden bits of the verandah and balustrading, without worrying that the carpenter will get his eyes poked out.

It’s so annoying. I had a really good plan in place to keep my investments in place and to keep a wage coming in to pay for retirement-proofing the house and so far the plan is working. But the good part about biting the bullet and getting all of these things done now is that once they’re done – they’re done. I can cross them off my list and keep moving forward.

My investments have done really well over the last couple of years, so in effect, I’ll be locking in the profits when I withdraw them and use them on the house. Of course, I’ll be losing any future compounding on those dollars, which is a shame, but the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that if I delay this water problem until I save up the money to deal with it, I’ll just be giving myself a bigger, more expensive problem down the track.

Ah well. At least Future Frogdancer will be able to walk out onto her front verandah without risking life and limb (or eyes, when I think of the yuccas.) It ruffles me that I’m changing my plans, but I think that the situation warrants it.

Any thoughts?


  1. Liesel

    Replace the yuccas with your favourite fruit trees ?

    • FrogdancerJones

      I’ve already bought 2 avocados. Got to keep the millenials in the family happy!

  2. J

    Think this sounds like a sensible and calculated decision!
    If you put it off, the situation could deteriate and may even develop larger structural problems. Why chance that when you can get a quote today and use successful investments to pay for it…
    Good on you for writing a post that is actually ‘against your plan’, too!

    • FrogdancerJones

      I woke up this morning and thought, ‘Even if I do it and then the stock market crashes and my portfolio shrinks, I’m still going to be happy that the front garden is done. I don’t think there’s a downside.’

  3. Latestarterfire

    I think it’s the right decision too. Water and timber don’t generally get along! You will enjoy looking out at the front garden, at the avocado trees instead of being irritated by the yuccas – that’s surely a win!

    • FrogdancerJones

      Yes, I don’t think there’s a downside. I had a quote come in for the front fence and it was cheaper than I thought it’d be, so that’s a good start.

  4. Lucinda

    Current and future Frogdancer needs to be happy and safe from blinding caused by marauding plants. Sounds like s good plan.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Imagine if I couldn’t read any more…
      It doesn’t bear thinking of.

  5. Mr. Groovy

    Hey, FDJ. Mrs. Groovy and I were thinking of you this past Saturday night. We rented The Man from Snowy River. What a great freakin’ movie! The brumby chase scene wasn’t as eye-popping on the small screen but it was still awesome nonetheless. Anyway, we love your house and not maintaining it would be a crying shame. Thank goodness you’re a proud member of the FIRE community and you have the ability to be a good steward of it. Hope all is well Downunder. We miss you…and vegemite…and Tim Tams.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Happy to send you a care package for Christmas!

  6. freddy smidlap

    we’re likely about the same age in our house and most of the heavy investment lifting is done. we did the same exact thing you’re talking about this past winter/spring. we sold an old index fund that had doubled and partially paid for our attic/studio renovation. i think sometimes people get obsessed with the big numbers on the screen and forget those number mean nothing until you buy something with them. good for you, ms. jones.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Glad to hear I’m not the only one!
      Just got a couple of quotes for the fence and gate – they’re cheaper than I thought they’d be. 🙂

  7. Ginger Megs

    We’re in a similar position. Our house needed major work if we are going to stay where we are (big decisions made last year about down-sizing/moving/staying put). We could do nothing to the house and have it slowly deteriorate until it would be financially better to knock it over, or we could spend money now while there is still a good household income and ENJOY living here. So now we’ve had a whole new tiled roof, new stormwater drains, new gutters and fascia boards, new driveway and concrete paths. And a new paintjob on the outside. Next year we’ll tackle the bathrooms and kitchen. All this means is that when we do finally retire (in about 18months) the house will be a comfortable, worry-free home for our ‘twilight’ years. What is financial security worth if it doesn’t enhance one’s life and just sits in the investment pile ? We work to have a better life, not just in the future but now as well. 🙂

    • FrogdancerJones

      You’re on the same wave-length as me. Future Frogdancer will be living in the perfect house for her – it’s Present Me’s job to get all of that done!

  8. Anthony @

    Got to stay on top of those dilapidations. What you put off today could become a huge problem for tomorrow.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Yes, I’d prefer not to have to replace the whole verandah if I can avoid it.
      Getting quotes for the first 2 jobs (fence and garden) now.

  9. Caroline at Costa Rica FIRE

    Good for you for knowing when to take profits off the table and actually use them! We had a terrible bathroom in our NY apartment and didn’t renovate for 3 years, and that is a big regret b/c you use your living quarters SO much. We’re much quicker to go for renovation projects now — hindsight is 20/20!
    Love that you’re putting money into the front garden — every time you come upon your house you’ll have something you love to see right away. That’s worth a lot!

    • FrogdancerJones

      I’m starting to plan out the oasis my front yard will be once all the work is done and I can plant a garden. It’s going to be a mix of flowers, fruit trees and veggies. I’m hoping in around 3 or 4 years it’ll be beautiful.

  10. Ana

    That’s the problem with a small repair. It quickly becomes a remodel! I’ve had so many quick fixes turn into bigger, more expensive jobs. But, I figure if I’m going to spend the money it may as well be while I live in my home and enjoy the improvements. Good luck!

    • FrogdancerJones

      I’m planning to be here until I’m 103, so yes – I like your thinking!

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