This is a great exercise that I do quite often, but never really thought it was a “thing” until I saw Get Rich Slowly’s awesome post on finding purpose. As he and others have well put it, if you don’t know WHY you are being frugal and spending endless hours reading personal finance blogs, you probably won’t be successful in reaching financial independence. Or worse yet, you might reach some financial goal, then start backsliding because you no longer have anything to strive for. Neither of these outcomes is what any of us are trying to achieve.
So in the Ideal Day exercise, I lazily daydream about what my financial independence looks like for me. A good thing for all of us to remember is that very few of us want FI so that we can sit and stare at our portfolio balance. We want that financial freedom to do something, or have a specific lifestyle.
I always try to remember that money is nothing more than a numerical representation of what we deem our hard work is worth. Minimum wage? It is what we, as a society, have decided is the minimum value of one hour of human labor. It’s not an amount, it’s a value we place on our time, our energy, our knowledge and skills. We could say that waiting tables for one hour is worth 1/83rd of rent for a month or ½ a moderately priced dinner out, but instead we fix all these values to an arbitrary baseline call a dollar (or euro or renminbi or whatever).
So my personal parachute number or f**k you number represents an endless series of the following days. One beautiful, idyllic day after another. I am no fool, life will still be life, with all its ups and downs, but this is how I can best picture that life. And for the record, my FI number means living off of interest (or rents) alone. The principal should be able to grow at inflationary rates and leave a lump for the kiddos. They should save, earn, and do the same so that the grandkiddo’s lump is exponentially bigger and on and on. Anyway, on to the day.
My financially independent day
5am – Wake up
I love getting up early. This was not always the case. In fact, for a good number of my years, if I was home by this time on a Sat or Sun, it was a pretty good night. But now-a-days, the natural sounds of morning are a welcome start to my day. In some locations, those natural sounds are birds and other critters of the wood, and in other locations, morning is the early commuters or the late, late, shift going home. Urban. Rural. Whatever the setting, getting up with the day is how I want to start things.
5am – 6am – Walk
I gave up coffee some time ago, but I now start my day with a thermos of loose leaf tea. To roll out of bed, fix some tea, and then just take a stroll. Again, it can be around the block, the neighborhood, or along the shoreline. A nice mile or so to connect with the day and my thoughts.
6am – 7:30am – Groom
Just because I am FI does not mean I want to sit in PJs all day. For some, that may be your ideal day, and good for you, but I like looking as nice as my god given limitations will allow. So the next hour is spent showering, shavings, dressing, etc. If I am going to spend my days as a man about town, I want to look good doing it.
7:30am – 9:00am – Prep and deliver the kids
Mine are still young and this fantasy starts tomorrow in my head, so this part of the day is spent making sure everyone is dressed, teeth brushed, fed, and packed for the day. I’d love to split this with Mrs. Sloth where one of us can be doing breakfast while the other makes and packs lunch. Regardless of the division of labor, this time would be spent making sure everyone is up, fed, and out the door.
9am – 11am – Read
You will see that my day will consist of a lot of reading or studying. One idea I have for financial independence is getting a PhD. Or maybe a couple. I love to learn and if given the chance, I would be a lifelong academic. This part of the day could really be for any type of learning. Catch up on the news, markets, gardening, music, whatever. It could also be getting a paper subscription to the Times or WSJ and going old school page by page. The point is that I want to allow myself 2hrs in the start of the day to better myself.
11am – 1pm – Lunch
I love to cook. To be able to spend a solid two hours prepping, cooking, and eating would be fantastic. I typically skip breakfast so lunch is my biggest meal of the day. I hope to have a garden of some sort (although I also have a knack for killing most anything green), so this would be time to select some fresh produce, find a new recipe, put on some music and make an awesome lunch with the wife. Our FI home has a badass deck overlooking something worth conversing about so this is some nice catch-up time with my better half.
1pm – 3pm – Mind my own business
For those of you who haven’t picked it up yet, this comes from Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I like to have an active role in my investments. And just because we are FI doesn’t mean that we will stop investing. This part of the day is spent looking for new market opportunities, evaluating our existing portfolio, dealing with RE inevitabilities like PM companies, repairs, tenants, sales, purchases, etc. We like to make money and being able to spend a part of everyday managing and growing our assets is something that will keep us mentally and financially fit.
3pm – 4pm – Pick Up
Gather all the offspring and make sure they get home okay. This can be a one parent or two parent activity, but it’s good to make this pickup an active part of the day. As reluctant as they can sometimes be to answer any questions about the day, I am always so curious about the independent lives my kids are forming while they are away from us. Getting the info out of them while it is fresh on their minds is key.
4pm – 6pm – Homework / Reading / Studying
This is a catch-all “quiet time” in the house. We can all be doing homework or reading and I am available to help with whatever. Wife works on language studies and I do math. The rest we split 50/50. Not only is it good to help the little ones with their homework, I think it is also good to let them see you, Mr. / Mrs. Parent, reading, learning, and practicing new skills. I want to instill lifelong learning in my children.
6pm – 7:30p – Dinner
Making this a family activity is great. Everyone is involved and not only does it work to strengthen the bond between us all, but also teaches the kids some practical life lessons about cooking so that they don’t end up looking at a vegetable or a piece of meat and wondering how to make it look like something they can eat. This includes prep, cook, eat, and clean-up.
7:30pm – 8:30pm – Work out
I like a quick, intense, at home work out with light weights and high reps. Just something to keep the blood flowing and allow me a few extra calories during the day. The wife and kids usually join in and do whatever they want / can. It is not unusual to have yoga, jump rope, weights, and general running in circles all going on at the same time. Controlled chaos.
8:30pm-9:30pm – Kiddo bed prep
Shower, change, and into bed. This is also story-time or general question time. Why is the sky blue? where to babies come from? what killed the dinosaurs? type stuff.
9:30pm – 10:30pm – Unwind
This is usually a guilty pleasure like late night clips on YouTube or playing cards with the wife or something like that. I like to have spent some time at the end of the day half reflecting on the day and half zoning out. It’s also a good time to think a little about what is coming up for tomorrow.
10:30pm – 11:00pm – Read / Listen / Bed
Grab a book or put on an album / audio book and do that until I’m out.
What does your perfect FI day look like? Leave it below in the comment and remember what we are all working towards! – FS