Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Sometimes you’ve just got to do it now.

This morning I woke up to the news that Notre Dame in Paris is burning. My heart is so heavy. Back in 2015, on my big 9 week trip to Europe and the Uk, I went to Notre Dame on my last day of the bus tour through Europe.

Thankfully, if you blog, you keep the memories. Here is my account of that day, complete with photos of that beautiful cathedral. It’s been standing since the 1100’s… how could we have any inkling that less than 4 years later it would be alight?

When I woke up today, I reached out to grab my laptop from the bedside table and saw the news. After my first feeling of horror, my next thought was , ‘Thank God I got to see it.’

People who are on the path to FI are very focussed. We’ve found out about the 4% rule, the amazing benefits of compounding, frugality, side hustles and the importance of our savings rates. We know that if we keep our eyes on the prize and hustle, we can shave years off our need to go and work for the Man.

I first saw Notre Dame on a river cruise we took on our first night in Paris.

But life is a balancing act. How much do you put aside to work for the future and how much do you ‘YOLO’?

For those of you who don’t know my story about my trip to Europe – I first planned this trip when I was 15. I’m a history buff, particularly English and French history, so I had a huge burn to get over there and see all the things I’d only read about.

But then life intervened.

Ironically for a teacher, I’m not a natural student. While most people who were going to travel took a gap year after high school, I knew in my bones that if I took a break from study, I’d probably never go back. I wanted that degree under my belt, so I decided to go straight to Uni, get my Bachelors and then go travelling. What could go wrong?

My biggest mistake, that’s what. I met the man I was stupidly going to marry and he had no desire to travel at all. I put my dreams on hold again.

I kept snapping as we glided past. The spire is gone now.

Of course, once I divorced him, walking away with $60 cash and with 4 small boys under the age of 5 to support, there was no money for travel. I was scrabbling just to keep the roof over our heads. Europe and the Uk faded away into an impossible dream while I kept my head down and worked to support my family.

But if you work hard, things have a way of changing.

I paid off my mortgage. My kids were growing up. I could see light at the end of the tunnel. I discovered FI/RE and got excited about investing for the future.

But I still wanted to see Europe.

I had a choice. Keep going as I was going, putting everything aside into investments and working towards a comfortable retirement where I could travel as much as I want – or bite the bullet and go now.

The rear of the cathedral.

I decided to wait until Connor17, my youngest child, was finished with high school, take a term of fully paid long service leave and Just Do It.

When I got there, I was 51.

That’s fully 36 years since I first planned a trip there. (I know – I did some Maths. I did it so you don’t have to.)

I spent around 30K on that trip. I don’t have exact figures – it’s too scary to tot everything up – but after a lifetime of waiting, I decided to deny myself very little and do, see and experience everything I possibly could. The investment opportunity cost of that trip is huge – but do I regret it?

Not for a moment. Especially this morning, when this awful thing is happening and it brings home the fact that in this life, some things can’t be put off. You never know when things or people are going to come to an end.

It’s all very well to be practical and have an eye to the future. After all, it’s one of the things that Frogdancer Jones knows all too well how to do, being a natural long-term thinker. But also…

Sometimes you just have to do it now.

This shot captures my trip.


  1. Bev

    Yes, it’s a real tragedy. So much beauty and history gone. They may restore it but it wouldn’t be the same. We saw it in 1979 on a Seine river trip. Thanks for your more recent memories.

  2. Tom

    When you say “Just Do it Now” , I partly agree. Timing is the essence though as a parent.
    With children at school, university or just starting out in careers. This all plays into the timing of when to do things and whether you want to experience these things on your own or with your family. I’m a big believer of giving your kids life experiences as apposed to just giving them a gift. Especially before they become indepedent (young adults) and start building their own path in life.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Money definitely comes into it though.
      I took my boys overseas to the close places when they were young – Bali, Thailand, Singapore.
      No way I’d take them to Europe – 4 extra people would have blown the budget out of all proportion and it wouldn’t have been the same holiday at all.
      I hope that by taking them overseas, I’ve given them a taste and they can go further afield when they can afford it. So far, Tom27 has been to the US and England, so I guess my clever ploy has started to take effect.

  3. Latestarterfire

    I feel exactly the same – sometimes you have to do it now.
    I woke up to this tragic news too and was so grateful I had a chance to visit it three times in the past twenty years – first time on a bus tour through Europe in my late twenties, then again about 7 years later when I climbed up the tower & was up close and personal with the gargoyles then finally 10 years ago when I enjoyed an organ recital in the beautiful space.
    I keep thinking today … what if I never experienced any of these? I wouldn’t have my precious memories.

    • FrogdancerJones

      What marvellous memories you have – I’m envious.
      I wish I had’ve taken more photos when I was there.

  4. Fretful Finance

    These were my thoughts this morning. I’ve never been to Paris despite being in London and therefore a quick and cheap journey away. I think because it’s so close I always had a “I’ll get round to it someday” attitude. I’m hoping they’ve managed to save a fair bit of the cathedral.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Yes, we always think people and places will be around forever, so we’ll get to them later.
      When I was in the UK, I didn’t get to see Windsor Castle. I hope nothing happens to Henry VIII’s tomb before I get back there…!

  5. Rebecca

    I needed to read this. Recently, someone close to me was diagnosed with a life changing diagnosis. It made me realize that time might not always be there. Even if you are healthy however, history may not always be there. We are currently planning our honeymoon. We at first had big dreams to travel and have the trip of a lifetime. Then, we decided it wasn’t financially responsible at this time in our life while we have our debt, so we should instead take a smaller, less expensive trip and stay in the U.S. However, with being reminded that you don’t always have time and history isn’t guaranteed to be there, I more than ever want to take the trip we dream of. Thank you for posting this, I needed it!

    • FrogdancerJones

      I picked up the phone this morning and it was my Dad saying that he’d called an ambulance to take my Mum to the hospital for shortness of breath and dizziness. She’ll be ok, but it brings home to me that the day is getting closer when the prognosis won’t be as good.

  6. Abigail @ipickuppennies

    So glad you got to see it before this terrible thing happened! I can’t imagine how devastated many people around the world are (I’ve even see a few on Twitter) that they won’t get to see it the way it was.

    I agree that some things shouldn’t be put off, especially travel. I mean, money is a limiting factor, but if you can get the money together then I say put off retirement a little bit and live a bit in the present. Because that’s all that’s guaranteed.

  7. dissertation services good choice

    This is historical value! It is very difficult to look at the photos, which carry with their image the grief and sadness of what is happening.

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