You Have About 20 Good Years Left

“You have about 20 good years left”

This is what a good friend of mine said to me about 3 or 4 years ago when I was about 41 or 42. This statement sticks with me because it is so true, and often, the truth hurts.

Many people, like me, put up with a situation they are not happy with just because it is difficult to make major changes and also the fear of what those changes might bring. They figure it is better to just suck it up and continue on their path in the hopes that things will get better.  People that are 40 or so think they have another 40 or 50 years to make those changes or follow those passions.  They think they will take care of all the pent up desires or projects after they retire and have the time to do it. The sad reality is that those things you want to do now either will not be possible when you are 60 or older. Even if you can still do them to a certain extent, it won’t give you nearly the satisfaction that you will get if you do them now.  So if you are around 40, you really only have 20 years to change, accomplish, or experience what you want. Don’t wake up when you are 60 and still be in an unhappy situation or have a long bucket list of things you wanted to do that now you don’t have the desire or energy to do.

Hey, I’m 60, are you saying my life is over?

I don’t want to offend anybody close to or over 60, and I’m sure some of those people will take exception to what I’m saying. They might argue that they can still do the things they did when they were 40 or even 30. Also, the commercials on TV tell you that all you need to do is drink their chocolate flavored supplement drink and you will be playing basketball with your grandkids, hiking that mountain trail, riding through the desert in a 1950’s convertible top down with your buddy of the same vintage, or just throwing a football through a tire hanging from a rope on a tree (whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean). Yes, you can probably still do some of those things above 60, but the effort it takes may be more than the enjoyment you get from it. I don’t plan on giving up on life when I’m 60, but I expect that I will slow down and do things that are less taxing on my body and my energy.

 

Here are some things you can’t put off until after you retire:

Spending more time with your kids and family instead of spending more time at work. Your kids will never be the same age again, but there will always be more hours to work.

Traveling to see the world as it is today. Also, experiencing travel through younger eyes will be totally different than doing it when you are older.

Moving or changing jobs. If you don’t like where you are or where you work, 20 years from now it will be that much worse and you will regret not doing something about it.

Doing anything physically demanding like hiking, swimming, running, cycling or even competing in races. If you don’t do it now, it is even harder and less likely you will do it later.

Start a project, renovate a house, start a business. These all get harder to do, the older you get.

Getting into a new relationship or getting out of one where you are not happy. You only get one life, don’t wake up at 60 and realize you are not happy in your relationship. If you are not happy, your partner is probably not happy either.

This sounds like one of those “quit your job and sail into the sunset” kinds of articles. What about accomplishing something or leaving my mark on society?

Technology will advance and progress will be made in society with or without you. The desire to make the world a better place or have the world remember your name is really a rich person problem. Most people in the world are worried about keeping a roof over their head, feeding their families and not getting killed in a war.  People in some of the richer countries have the opportunity or luxury of even being able to consider retiring, let alone retiring early. The truth is most people’s jobs aren’t that important. Increasing your company’s toothpaste sales by 5% or getting an award for “Best New Stapler Design” is not really important in the grand scheme of things. Even if you think you might be the next Thomas Edison or Henry Ford, last time I checked, they are still dead.

I have about 15 good years left, how many do you have and what are you going to do with them?

Americans Average Only 1.5 Years of Vacation Per Lifetime

How much time do Americans take off in their lifetime?
Americans take only 1.5 years of vacation in a lifetime?

Wait, what?

Yes, when you add up all the vacation time that an American gets throughout their working life, it only comes out to 1.5 years of vacation.

Here is the math:

Assume you start working at 22 and stop working at 65 for a total of 43 working years.

The average vacation time given in the U.S. is 2 weeks.

14 Days of Vacation x 43 Working Years = 602 days = 1.65 Years Off

But, out of your 14 days vacation, 4 of those days are weekends that you have off already so:

10 Days of Vacation x 43 Working Years = 430 days = 1.18 Years Off

It gets worse. If you consider two days lost in traveling back and forth on your vacation you get:

8 Days of Vacation x 43 Working Years = 344 days = .94 Years Off

And one last thing, 658 million vacation days went unused last year.  If there are about 160 million people in the workforce, then they each lost about 4 days each. So now:

4 Days of Vacation x 43 Working Years = 172 days = .47 Years Off

Some might argue that my assumptions are a little extreme, but even if you take the best case scenario of getting 1.65 years off, is that really much better?  Think about that, you work for 43 years only to get 1.5 years off to yourself.  Are you okay with that?

Okay, that sucks so what can I do about it?

     At a minimum, you should make sure you use every vacation day given to you even if you are just going to stay home and do laundry.  This is the low hanging fruit if you just want more free time without changing your lifestyle.  Unfortunately, many Americans do not take all the time off they are allowed because they are afraid for their job or think their work is too important to leave to someone else while on vacation.

You can try to get a job in Europe where they get double or more the amount of vacation time. This is a little better, but you will have to disrupt your whole life and move out of the country just to get twice as much time off. This is not for everyone.

Another idea is to save up a year or two living expenses while you are still young and take a year or more off from work to do what you want to do. You might find out that when the year is up, you want to do something completely different from the work you were doing before.

Or, you can do what my blog and many other blogs advocate and work, live below your means, save, invest and retire early. This is not easy, but if you can do it, then you can really see what you want to do with your time. I know people say that work is a purpose in your life that you need, but if the work you were doing was so purposeful to you, they wouldn’t need to pay you because you would do it for free.

Welcome

Welcome to Maximize Freedom

          What is the maximum freedom someone can have? Freedom means different things to different people. It also depends on your age and your situation in life. If you are 10 years old, your idea of maximum freedom may be to stay home from school, play video games and eat ice cream all day, every day. If you are an adult, it may mean not having to work for someone else, or just being able to do what you want, when you want. For someone with kids, it may mean being able to home school them. Some people may consider freedom to be working 60 hour weeks in a job they love. I’m not one of those people.

A little about me

          My name is Nick and I am 45 years old and currently live in the Tampa, FL area. I moved here almost 2 years ago from NJ and was laid off from my job in May 2015. My background is in engineering and finance. I consider myself financially independent, not because I am rich, but because I have been planning for this for a number of years. It also helps that I am single, have no kids, and have learned to enjoy a simple lifestyle. I like to travel and may consider moving abroad in the near future.

So what will I do in this blog?

          I intend to write articles that help people and maybe make them think of things from a different perspective.  I like simplicity, efficiency, minimalism and not wasting time. This blog will differ from the other blogs because I do not follow the belief that anytime is a great time to throw all your money into an index fund and it will all work out great in the long run. I also believe in diversifying not just within your stock portfolio, but with assets physically in other countries.

What I won’t do in this blog

         I will not pretend to have all the answers all the time. There will be no vague low information articles just to get you to buy some overpriced e-book with the “secret information they don’t want you to know”.  You won’t see a cliché article telling you how cutting out Starbucks every day will put you on the road to riches in no time. Also, there will definitely not be a “Top 20 list” article with a 20 page slideshow with a stock photo and one sentence on each page.  In other words, I don’t want people to feel like they wasted their time after reading my articles.

I hope you stick around for my future articles.

Nick