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.
you aware of your daily habits? Are
they the habits of a rich person or a poor person?
his book Rich Habits Poor Habits, Tom Corley describes how before you begin to
develop good habits you need to assess
the habits that you already have, good or bad.
recommends that for three days you carry
around a notepad or make notes on your phone, of every activity, thought or decision, that is a daily habit. You will know that something is a habit as you will
find yourself repeating it every day.
you have your list decide whether each one is a positive or a negative habit. When
you have done this, take your list of negative
habits and invert them i.e. turn
them into good habits that you can foster.
example, ‘I watch too much TV’ becomes ‘I limit myself to one hour of TV per
For 30 days try to follow your new good daily
habits. Review them in the morning, at lunch time and at bedtime in order
to remind yourself of them and assess how you are doing.
would suggest setting up a habit tracker, i.e. a calendar with the habits
listed and then each day you can tick off the ones that you have achieved. It’s
good to look back over the tracker at the end of the month to review your
progress. If you manage to do something every day for a month it will probably have
become a habit by then.
what are my poor habits?
first one is watching too much TV
with Mr Simple. He will sit in front of the box for over three hours every
evening. Often I slope off to my study to plan or write for the blog (which he
doesn’t know about). I think he wonders what I spend time doing. If I did tell
him at least he would know why I like to sit in front of my computer most
weekday evening, but I am afraid that he will think that it is a waste of time.
too many carbs on the weekend e.g. toast and marmalade, crisps, drinking lager
(albeit it alcohol-free). In the week I am much more disciplined with my diet.
lost on the internet – don’t we all do that sometimes? The trouble is when I
spend too much time on the computer, added on top of my work, I get problems
with my shoulder.
how could I invert these poor habits
into rich habits?
Watch only onehour of TV per day Monday to Thursday. I must admit that on the weekend I quite like to watch a film together after dinner.
not overweight, so at the moment I am getting away with eating more carbs at
the weekend. I am not sure that I want to change it.
Do my physio exercises every day to strengthen the muscles in my shoulders. According to my physio this will stop them getting so tight. This is one that I definitely need to work on. It has been on my habit tracker in past months, but has fallen off. I will certainly get richer if I do it as physio appointments are currently costing me a pretty penny.
I’m sure that I’ve got lots more bad habits, but I need to put Tom Corley’s recommendation into practice and spend time assessing them.
How about you? What are your poor habits?
Are you brave enough to share them? How could you change them into rich habits?
I will devote 30 minutes to exercise every day. I will eat healthy food every day.
the week that the Lancet published a study saying that in 2017 there were 11 million deaths attributable to dietary risk factors it seems pertinent
to focus on this habit for my series on Tom Corley’s book ‘Rich Habits Poor
to Tom Corley successful people have
a system or routine for weight
management i.e. they monitor the amount of food that they eat every day and
they engage in a daily exercise regime.
In contrast, unsuccessful people
have no consistent day to day control over their health. They are always in
search of the latest quick fix diet.
Tom Corley found that rich people have an internal motivation to be able to manage their weight and eating, whereas unsuccessful people required an external motivator and when this disappeared they fell back into bad habits.
Be Well Enough to Enjoy ‘Retirement’
If, by the time you reach FIRE, you aren’t well enough to enjoy it, then one has to ask what was the point of all that hard work getting there. The Lancet study found that cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of diet-related deaths, followed by cancers deaths and type 2 diabetes. The findings showed that a suboptimal diet is responsible for more deathsthan any other risks globally, including tobacco smoking, highlighting the urgent need for improving the human diet. Their assessment showed that the leading dietary risk factors for mortality are diets high in sodium, low in whole grains, low in fruit, low in nuts and seeds, low in vegetables, and low in omega-3 fatty acids.
Schedule Exercise and Make it Easy
In our busy lives fitting in 30 minutes of exercise every day can be hard and I must say I struggle with this. For me it is probably just three times a week. I find that doing exercise shortly after I get up is the best time. By the end of the day I am just too tired to feel like jogging.
I used the NHS ‘Couch to 5K’ programme in order to start jogging. It is a great and free resource which trains you to run 5k even if, at the moment, you feel that you couldn’t run to the end of your garden. If you have ever wanted to start jogging I would strongly encourage you to check it out.
Now, going out for a jog on a bright summer’s morning, with the sun warming your skin and the birds singing in the trees is a wonderful thing. It may not be so great in January when it is cold, wet and dark. During the first winter after I learnt to jog I have to admit that I gave up. I just wasn’t determined enough to drag myself out of bed when it was miserable.
When spring came around I had to go back to the beginning of the programme and build up my fitness again. In the autumn as the mornings started getting dark and cold I decided that I wasn’t going to make the same mistake. I know myself well enough to realise that I didn’t have the determination to go out on those awful mornings and so I bought a treadmill. I didn’t spend a fortune, as I was worried that it may just collect dust, but it didn’t and I now use it several times a week. When the weather is better I will go outside, but the great thing about jogging on the treadmill is that I can watch all those finance YouTube videos whilst I am jogging – getting exercise and educating myself at the same time.
Apart from a good pair of trainers, jogging is a fairly frugal pursuit. You don’t have to join an expensive gym and wherever you live I am sure that there is somewhere nice to run. If you don’t fancy jogging maybe try walking. Download an interesting FIRE podcast to your phone and take a stroll a few times a week.
Eat Well and Cheaply
I have written about diet before in my series about ‘The Longevity Plan’ by Dr John Day. Therefore I thought that I would just suggest a way of getting more of those much-needed vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. An oft-quoted frugal activity is to take your lunch to work every day instead of buying it. As a believer in reducing the amount of carbohydrates I eat, instead of a sandwich, I take some vegetables and fish in my lunch box. Every Sunday I roast and steam some veggies. Simple and cheap things like carrots and broccoli, are great and at the moment I also include courgettes and peppers. Obviously it takes time to do this; chopping the veg is the most time-consuming thing and then shove them in the oven with some olive oil and herbs.
In the morning I fill my lunchbox with a few of the veg, adding some lettuce, avocado and a tin of fish – mackerel is my favourite. So cheap – 70p a tin in Tesco’s at the moment. Tomorrow I will also be taking some butterbeans that I have soaked and cooked and mixed with nettle pesto. I found a recipe in a book by Dan Stevens of River Cottage fame. It was a bit fiddly washing the leaves with rubber gloves on and then blanching them, but after that it was fairly easy. When you’re out on that walk of an evening maybe you could pick some nettles and make yourself a tasty and cheap pesto sauce to go with some pasta.
So do you have rich habits or poor habits when it comes to eating and exercise? What poor habits would you like to change? Have you tried walking or jogging as exercise? How did you get on?
You may remember that last month I had some money left over and I bought four books, with the promise that I may review some of them. One of the books was Rich Habits Poor Habits by Tom Corley and Michael Yardney. I first came across Tom Corley on the Afford Anything podcast. He undertook a study looking at the differences between rich people and poor people. This involved observing and documenting the daily activities of 233 wealthy people and 128 poor people. The book, which summarises his findings, outlines 30 habits of successful people.
Tom Corley’s tenth habit of rich people says that successful people are masters of their words and emotions. They do not fall prey to anger, jealousy, excitability, sadness or other petty emotions. They understand that negative emotions cause them to make bad decisions that result in bad consequences. They replace these bad emotions with positive emotions. When faced with a difficult situation they think, evaluate the situation and then react. On the other hand, unsuccessful people let their emotions rule their behaviour. They easily become depressed and feel as if they have no control over their lives. They react before thinking.
The tenth habit reminded me of Brooke Castillo’s teaching. If you have been reading my blog from the beginning you will know that one of the things that I enjoy doing is listening to podcasts. As well as those about financial independence I have also started listening to personal development podcasts, including Brooke Castillo’s ‘The Life Coach School’. One of the very first episodes talked about the impact of our thoughts on our feelings. Her theory, which is not her creation apparently, but which she has taken from elsewhere, is the following:
Circumstances are neutral
Your thoughts about the circumstances create
Feelings, which determine your:
Actions, which influence your:
A somewhat silly example, which shows how reacting before thinking can cost you money, is that one of my colleagues told me that when a bolt on his wheel snapped as he was trying to change the tyre he threw the spanner in anger and smashed one of the car windows. Obviously this meant that he had to pay to get it mended. His inability to control his frustration caused him to act rashly which led to even more expense than a snapped bolt.
I was then reminded of some of the teachings of the late Stephen Covey who wrote ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. This was one of the first self-help books that I read. It is a book that requires in-depth consideration and repeated reading. There is so much to learn from his teachings.
His first ‘habit’ is to ‘Be
Proactive’. He says that between stimulus and response is our greatest power –
the freedom to choose. According to Covey, it’s not what happens to us that
matters most, but it is how we respond to what we experience in life. He
believes that highly proactive people do not blame circumstances, conditions or
conditioning for their behaviour. Their behaviour is a product of their own
conscious choice based on values, rather than a product of their conditions,
based on feelings.
Each of these authors leads me to the same conclusion, which is that in order to be more successful and happy in life we need to gain control of our emotions rather than just have a ‘stimulus-response’ reaction.
One of the ways in which you could achieve this is, I believe, through the practice of meditation. In my experience it is not the act of meditation itself, but the impact that it has upon the rest of your life. I believe that it creates a calmness and increases your ability not to follow your gut reaction in circumstances which face you each day. This can help on a financial level as you don’t automatically resort to buying yourself something when you have a bad day.
By reframing what has happened and controlling your emotions you can take charge of your life instead of being pulled this way and that by whatever happens to you. When I started meditating I used ‘Headspace’, but it eventually just became paying a subscription to listen to silence for ten minutes. I then read ‘Bliss More’ by Light Watkins, who I had heard interviewed by Dr Chatterjee and now I just set my phone timer and sit quietly for ten minutes. I don’t chant or do anything special. I try to take some deep breaths and concentrate on different parts of my body, attempting to relax. Often my mind wanders and thoughts about the day ahead interrupt my concentration, but according to Light Watkins that is completely normal.
It may feel a bit weird at first, just sitting with your eyes closed for ten minutes trying to focus on nothing, but what have you got to lose? It’s free and you might just feel the benefit. Maybe start with five minutes, or even two and then gradually increase the time.
So how about giving it a try? I would love to know how you get on and if you feel any benefit from it.
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