A Mad Dream or an Exciting Goal?

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This post started out as a look at Rich Habit Number Two in Tom Corley’s book Rich Habits, Poor Habits and has ended up with me coming up with a mad idea for my future.

So, let’s start with what Tom Corley says. The second ‘rich habit’ is:

‘I will Define My Dreams and then create goals around each dream. I will focus on my dream goals every day.’

According to Tom Corley dreams are broad objectives, whereas goals are physical actions. He recommends completing a daily to do list, which you should populate with daily action steps that will help move you towards achieving each one of the goals that, when achieved, will move you closer to realising each one of your dreams.

You should set a specific time in which you will tackle each goal-related action item. He believes that early morning is a good time, as you are least distracted.

Create a vision board to keep you focused

A useful technique to assist you in keeping your dreams in sight is the use of a vision board – a picture of each one of your dreams. Review your progress towards your goals/dreams and adjust your activity accordingly if you are not making progress.

In summary he states that:

Successful people build goals around their dreams.

Unsuccessful people have either not defined their dreams or they give up on their dreams when success does not happen overnight.

All of this is fairly standard stuff when thinking about long term goals, but how many of us actually do it. I have tried to get Mr Simple on board, but I think he believes that it is a bit too ‘pop psychology’ for him. To be fair, he is working towards our goal of having a lovely home, which he works on every day. I do think though that having those dreams really helps with motivation; knowing what you are aiming for. The ability to go that extra mile, to make the decision to walk instead of take the car or put on another jumper instead of turning the heating up, is easier to make if you feel that it is getting you closer to your dream life.

I then moved on to think about popular bloggers and podcasters who have articles/episodes on goal-setting. One of those is the first episode of Ruth Soukup’s ‘Do It Scared’ podcast which recommends setting what she calls ‘stretch goals’. Her method is:

  1. Visualise – dream big
  2. Focus – narrow options to one thing you want to make a reality
  3. Commit – write it down, say it out loud and make it real.
  4. Execute – rearrange your schedule and put your big goals first every single day. You might have to get up half an hour earlier, do a class or go back to school.

You can get her worksheet and listen to the podcast .

Now that’s what I did. Listened again to her podcast. I had already heard it a while ago, but I wanted to revisit it in order to consider in this post. The first time that I thought about my life in five years’ time it was really just the completion of the tasks on which we are already focusing e.g. the house and the garden. I bored myself just writing it.

France – a country full of beautiful villages

Then my mind took a different turn and remembered an old dream that I have had for a long time. When I was 26 I spent five months doing a volunteer project in France and have always loved the country. Since Mr Simple and I have been together we have been going on holiday to France every year. Over that time I have dreamed of having a house in France. I have waivered between just having a holiday home or selling up and moving there. I used to subscribe to three different magazines about life in France and buying properties there, but I found that I spent so much of my time focusing on what could be and this led me to feeling dissatisfied about my current life. I felt that I was dreaming about something that was never going to happen. In my bid to save money I decided to cancel my subscriptions and focus on enjoying where I am rather than wishing I was elsewhere.

Ruth’s advice to dream big led me to think about this again and then when she talked about focusing she suggested choosing the goal that both scares you and excites you the most. I can’t say that any of my initial goals did that. Most of them were very safe, but when I think about living in France it brings me such joy, but the practicalities of doing it scares me. I dream of living somewhere warm. A place where the sun shines for a lot of the year and where I can have breakfast outside. Where you can plan to spend a day hiking and be sure that you won’t have to cancel it because there’s torrential rain in July.

Mr Simple is spending a lot of his time doing this

All of this thinking made me slightly anxious as our focus at the moment is on renovating and decorating our current house. Mr Simple is spending most of his time doing this and we are spending a lot of money on it. If at this point I suggested to him that we sell it I think that he might leave me! Up until now I have thought of this as our forever home and it is a lovely place to live. My question to myself is whether if we don’t ever try living in France will I regret it. On the other hand, if we sell up, move to France then hate it, will we regret selling our current home.

There are no easy answers and it is something with which I think I will have to battle over the next few years. Part of the attraction is that most of our net worth is tied up in our house, whereas if we sold this and invested the money, along with other savings that we have, we could easily live off of the interest.

So what would you do? Sell up and take the risk or play safe and stay put? Do you have any mad dreams for the future? I would love to hear them.

Treat Yourself

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We had some friends for lunch yesterday. They were passing through on their way to a week’s holiday with family and stopped by to say hello. Their suggestion was to go out for lunch, but I kept to our current frugal principles and offered to make lunch at home. We have a lovely house and a fairly nice, albeit very much ‘in progress’, garden. A much better place to eat than a dark pub on a bright spring day, and much cheaper.

During lunch Mr Simple surprised me. When I talk about FI/RE (Financial Independence/Retire Early) I don’t always think that he is listening, but yesterday he mentioned it to our friends and asked me to explain it to them. We talked about our staycation in March and how we had found pleasure in being at home. We also talked about changes that we have made to save money. One of them being that since we have become more frugal we are cooking much less fish (I am pescatarian and Mr Simple is a meat eater), so our meals are mainly vegetarian.

Our friends, who live in London, invited us down to stay and we talked about the great variety of restaurants there are in the capital, as compared to where we live. As well as economising on our home cooked food, we don’t go out to eat very often and that is when Mr Simple gets to eat meat. One would expect that he has been missing it, as now he only gets ham or chicken sandwiches, but never meat for a main meal. Some months, we don’t go out to eat at all, therefore his meat consumption at dinner is zero.  Surprisingly, Mr Simple shared than going out less often means that he enjoys it more when we do. He said that it feels like a treat.

So how do you define a treat? According to my little Oxford dictionary it is something that gives great pleasure. So, what makes it a ‘great’ pleasure? Back to the dictionary and one possible definition of ‘great’ is ‘more than ordinary’.

And that’s it isn’t it? It’s not something that you have every day. It is something that is out of the ordinary or extraordinary – unusual or remarkable; out of the usual course of everyday life. When you have your treat every day, or at least several times a week, that event doesn’t stand out anymore and therefore it’s not something to look forward to with anticipation.

Pleasures have become the mundane, the every day.

Having things less often means that you take more pleasure in them. In this day and age, we have forgotten what a treat is, as we treat ourselves every day.

In some ways I feel sorry for those who treat themselves every day. Their pleasures have lost their sparkle, their thrill. Maybe they have to spend more and more money to get that same feeling that I get when I buy a latte from a coffee shop once a month.

So, what treats do you have in your life? Or are there things that used to be treats, but aren’t anymore? How about giving them up for a bit and then just letting yourself have them occasionally? Try it for a little while and see how you feel when you do finally get that treat. You might just enjoy it all the more.

The Latte Factor – A Work of Fiction about FI/RE

A cup of coffee - specifically a latte
Cutting out these is a quick win

For those who follow Marc at www.financeyourfire.com you will know that he has challenged FI/RE bloggers to write a short story, of no more than 350 words and the first round of his microfiction as he calls it, has to be based on the word FIRE. Several people have taken up the challenge, including Quietly Saving, CashFlowCop and Saving Ninja, but I’m not sure whether it is my forte. I was reminded of this challenge though when I came across this episode of Afford Anything. Paula Pant, host of the podcast, interviews David Bach, author of the Automatic Millionaire (which I admit that I had never heard of) and several other financial books. His most recent book, entitled The Latte Factor, is a work of fiction.

Now even though Marc’s challenge using the word FI/RE does not have to be about the Financial Independence/Retire Early movement, this is exactly what David Bach’s novel is about. It follows a young woman working in New York in the publishing industry who goes on a financial journey. I have not yet read the book, partly because it is not being released in the UK until 16th May, but I have been able to listen to the first three chapters, being read by David, on his new podcast ‘The Latte Factor’.

To me this novel appears to present the perfect opportunity to spread information about FI/RE without trying to persuade your friends to read what they may perceive as a dry financial book. You can give them this, tell them it’s just a novel, whereas actually you’re clandestinely educating them about the benefits of the FI/RE movement.

So, if you live in the States you will already be able to get your hands on this book. You will know from my post on libraries that my first choice would always be to try your local one for any books that you fancy. Unfortunately my library does not hold any of David Bach’s books, so it seems unlikely that they are going to have this new one when it is released. I may just have to spend some money to get a chance to read it. If I do, I will let you know what I think of it, but if you get there first I would love to hear if it delivers on what it appears to promise in the first three chapters.

April Spending

April felt like an expensive month, but actually when I sat down and looked at the figures, it wasn’t too bad at all.

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Food spending for me totalled £109.83. We were away for a few days and although we did take quite a lot with us the extra we bought whilst we were away came out of the holiday budget. Mr Simple did the shopping this week, on the last day of the month and won’t charge me until next month. Therefore the total it was unusually low.

Petrol was only £97.05. Usually I buy a tankful every week at about £35, but I didn’t need any in the fourth week of the month, when we were away for part of the week.  We went in Mr Simple’s car to Dorset and although I paid towards petrol it came out of the holiday budget.

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Personal care totalled £68.15, which included toiletries and three pilates classes.

I upgraded my blog and finally parted with some money for a proper domain name so that cost me £48.

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I spent £95.63 on the garden, although Mr Simple paid more, as the plants we bought were a present for my birthday – it’s amazing what makes you happy as you get older. We have bought two wisteria plants. One to grow against the garage wall at the front of the house and one to train up the pergola in the back garden. (If you don’t know what a wisteria looks like check out my post about our Dorset walk).

An unexpected expense was a new sat nav. I seem to go through these very quickly. As I visit different addresses every week for my job it makes like so much easier than when I have to rely on maps. I had forgotten how expensive these great gadgets are. In the end I opted for a second hand one on Amazon for £34.96. It is very basic, but it gets me from A to B. Let’s just hope it lasts.

Payments from my ‘bills’ account i.e. expected expenses which I plan for throughout the year, were:

£85 for the short break in Dorset – I had already paid for the accommodation last month. This included two meals out, tea and cake and petrol. The most expensive thing, the cottage, was already paid for. Although it was an AirBnB rental, it was quite expensive for three nights. I am not convinced that AirBnB is actually always cheaper than a standard holiday rental.  

Travel hacking is something I am yet to try. I have looked at house-sitting sites. Mr Simple and I love dogs and the thought of caring for someone else’s four-legged friend for a week sounds ideal for us. The practicalities though might not be so fun, as we wouldn’t be able to go out for a whole day and leave the dog. If we did take him/her walking with us this may present problems. We have seen lots of ramblers with dogs have difficulties when walking through cow fields e.g. instead of running off the cows have surrounded them. In fact, we have had problems with curious cows following us and we don’t have a dog. I have thought of cat-sitting, but we are not cat lovers. I just wondered if anyone has tried house/pet sitting and how it worked out. I have considered trying it for a weekend just to see how we get on, although many of the sites charge a sign-up fee.

I also paid for two sessions of physio at a total of £64.00.

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My stocks and shares ISA leapt up from £6788.51 to £7033.10, an increase of £155.97. I also received £250 for my birthday so like the good little saver I am, I added that and the total now sits at £7283.48. I made my usual automatic deposits into two savings accounts of £435.00. One account now has over £10,000, which is enough to buy a car should my current one decide to pack up on me. Fingers crossed it lasts for a few years yet. I will therefore not be paying anymore money into that account and the £185.00 will go into my ISA from May. My savings now total £32,995.95.

When I look at others’ posts they calculate their net worth which includes the equity in their house and their pension pot. Although we have over £350,000 equity in our house, as we are not planning to sell I don’t count this as available money. Secondly, being fortunate enough to have a defined benefit pension I only know what I am going to receive when I get to retirement age, but not how much I have in the pot. My issue is not whether I will have enough money to live on when I get to my sixties, but whether I can finish work earlier and if so what savings I will have to live on. At the moment I have a long way to go. In five years’ time, at my current savings rate I will have about £64,000 saved – taking account of the fact that I may need to buy a new car in that time.

As you know, the only debt that we have is our mortgage and I paid £1108.89 towards that in April, taking it down to a total of £80,217.97.

So that’s all folks. How was your April?

What is there to see on a walk?

We have recently returned from a few days away in Dorset to celebrate my birthday. On the way we broke our journey by stopping for lunch in a lovely pub in Somerset. The waitress who served us was very friendly and we got chatting, talking to her about our holiday and our plans to go walking. Her response was to ask, ‘What is there to see on a walk?’ indicating that she would find it boring as there is nothing to look at.

The following day we did a walk in the picturesque Dorset countryside and as I was enjoying the wildlife, the flowers and the scenery I realised how much there is to see on a walk. I wished that she had been there with us so that I could show her all the interesting and beautiful sights that our countryside has to offer. As that wasn’t possible I thought that instead I would share them with you, in case you’ve never been on a ramble and are of the same mind that ‘there isn’t anything to see’. So here we go, a few of the things that we saw…

Picturesque villages

Where we started our walk

Thatched houses, many with wisterias in flower

We saw so many houses with beautiful wisterias

Cowslips

Bluebells

Where we stopped for coffee

Deer

We saw deer on two occasions in one day – a single one and then a group of three

A kestrel catching a vole

A nuthatch

A yellowhammer

A wren

Rape fields

The footpath went right through the middle of this field

Cerne Abbas chalk giant

Thought to be a fertility symbol

Curious cows

Fortunately they were on the other side of the fence

This wasn’t a walk through the wilds of Scotland or some exotic land, it was a few miles across English countryside and yet we saw all of this. I must admit that we wouldn’t have seen some of the birds as well if we hadn’t had our binoculars with us – if you read my staycation posts you will know that we like to do a bit of birdwatching.  A good pair of binoculars can be expensive, but they are usually a once in a lifetime purchase. If you just fancy having a go to see if you might enjoy looking at our feathered friends you can buy a small pair on Amazon for under £20.

As the weather is improving, why not get out into the countryside and find out what you can see. At this time of year the bluebells are amazing – creating a blue carpet in many of our woodlands and the smell is divine. You can find some near you on the Woodland Trust website. You may want to take an ordnance survey map with you if you have one, but if you don’t try just going to a country park for a few hours. If you take a picnic you can make a day of it – a no spend day!

I must admit ours wasn’t quite that as we treated ourselves to tea and cake in Cerne Abbas – we were on holiday after all!