Wow, 10 days into the new year already, and no year-summary, no new-year-resolution post or anything the like so far.
In the past I was much quicker with the “assessment” of the year passed, with summarizing if it was a “good” or a “bad” year, which specific events were unique, and above all: How Woodpeckers performed financially. Questions like that were answered quickly in the past: “Was frugal living a success the year before?”, “Did I earn more than year?”, “Did the stash grow?”, “Did my investments perform?”.
So how come that I did not feel like a summary post this time, and even did not yet comprehend Woodpeckers financial performance in 2015 for myself?
- The first reason is:
I start to get bored by my own statistics. Somewhen during this year I recognised that concentrating too much on counting money is indeed a sign that you get old, and more than that, that you obviously do not find much other thrill in life anymore.
So you watch your stash grow in the secret hope that this – one day – will buy you back adventure, a “kick”, the lust for life.
Bad news: This will not happen.
The feeling of being alive cannot be bought. Literature and Myth is full of this, so it is amazing that it took Woodpecker so long to recognize he was on the very same way. Needless to say that this is not the right way to happiness.
- The second reason is:
Financial Performance was crap anyway. Earnings were down (this was intentional as I took two months unpaid off in summer), spending up (we did a hell load of traveling and great short trips this year!) thus savings were down (while still much higher than anticipated), and investment performance was really bad (some not so fortunate investments done).
Overall my current gut feeling is: Earnings were down 10%, spending up 5%, savings down 50% (but still +-15% of income), stash down 10% (due to bad investment performance). The last point is obviously not at all satisfying.
- But the main reason is:
I refuse to let myself being dragged down by a loss of money.
I will be honest: This did drag me down for some time during this year. But now this is overcome.
Thus one of the two great gifts to me this year was that I overcame my addiction to “make money” and to overcome the correlation of my mood with the performance of my portfolio. The increasing focus on financial performance is THE great danger when going down the frugal living, early retirement, and the “I let my money work for me”-road. You may also simply call this temptation greed. Despite what some idiots today may try to tell you, greed is not good, not even for yourself. It will dry you out and make you a lifeless and bitter person if you yield to it. I see it all around and I am thankful I was allowed to pass this test.
Please be careful here and very honest to yourselves!
- The fourth reason is:
It was easier for me to shift away from penny counting because offline social life expanded tremendously during 2014. I made a row of new friends, old friendships that lay in hibernation for a decade were revived.
Most important Woodpecker joined an international organization and met more different and inspiring people during this year than the total five years before. This was my second gift and continues to be an amazing and vitalizing experience. Very much recommended to everyone. Look around you and instead of counting money, go out and invest in people. Find clubs, societies, associations, whatever and give it a try. Contact people of your youth and propose to meet. Shut down the internet and get out! Drink beers (or juice if you prefer), travel and intentionally mix up with people you found strange or different before. Open yourself, listen to them, talk about god and the world and the big things. Connect on a deeper, personal level. Do things together, enjoy nature together, plan and dream.
This is life! And not your bank-account or you facebook chat.
So if you are solely looking for advise for extreme early retirement or perfection in frugal living, you might better want to leave this blog, I will not follow that extreme road anymore.
If you feel like there is something more in life than retiring early or frugal living, and that efficient spending is merely one tool helping you on your search for those “bigger” things, then you’d better stay, there is more to come.
OK, having said all of this, was it a good year then?
Oh yes, it was. It was not always an easy year, and Woodpecker plus family had their share of crisis this time. But I firmly believe sometimes crisis is needed to muster the energy for real change.
And without change, life is nothing for me.
This is what also gives me hope when I see the world around:
Yes, there seems to be crisis everywhere you look.
But what if this crises will lead to a change to the better instead of doom?I think this is very well possible, and if you look carefully you will see a lot of signs that most crisis today turn out much less bad than anticipated by the hysteric public mood. Young people (and those young at heart) seem less and less willing to follow yesterday’s black and white schemes to solve today’s complex problems.
And most if not all doom scenarios are simply void after some years (and get postponed again and again by their advocates 🙂 ).
This is a good sign, although few people yet seem to write about it.
Thus: Spirits up and forward to a great 2015 and a bright future beyond!