Yesterday, to celebrate Thanksgiving, Kim and I instituted what we hope will become an annual tradition. Yesterday, we held our first annual family meeting.
Kim approached me with the idea last week. “I think it'd be nice to sit down and talk about our goals,” she said.
“I agree,” I said. I was thinking of the article Matthias shared here in August. Matt and his wife create five-year plans to co-ordinate their shared future. They spend a day drafting couple goals to build their dream life. I've been thinking that Kim and I should do something similar.
So, yesterday morning over coffee, we sat down for our a family meeting. We talked about the current state of our household — and we talked about where we'd like to steer things in years to come.
J.D.'s Rocky Year
“It's been a rocky year for me,” I said, although Kim already knew this. “I've been fighting anxiety and depression since March. I've had a few patches of amazing productivity and good self-worth, but I've spent a lot of my time trying to keep from drowning. Metaphorically.”
“That's true,” Kim said, “but you're making good changes. You're exercising. You're drinking less. You're seeing friends more often. You've stopped wasting time on videogames. And you have your big project coming up.”
“Right,” I said. I've been recruited by Audible and The Great Courses to create a ten-part (five-hour) series on financial independence and early retirement. “That work is going to take most of this winter. The first five lectures are due at the end of January. The rest of the course is due at the end of March. I'll fly to D.C. in early May to record the audio.”
“Will the project pay enough to fund your lifestyle?” Kim asked.
“Sort of,” I said. “It's four months of work, and it'll probably end up funding about four months of expenses. That's not bad, but it's not great either. But I'm not really doing it for the money, you know.”
“How are your finances?” Kim asked. Believe it or not, in our nearly eight years together, we've only talked about money in-depth a couple of times. We trust each other, so we haven't felt the need.
“Things aren't as good as they were three years ago,” I said.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“Well, when we returned from the RV trip in June 2016, I felt completely at ease financially. I had enough saved that I never felt like I had to work again. I could do what I wanted, when I wanted.”
“That's not true anymore?”
“Not really,” I said. “You know I'm not squandering my money, obviously, but let's look at the numbers. Over the past three years, I've spent $400,000 on a bunch of big stuff: buying back Get Rich Slowly, remodeling this house, those investments in other businesses. I'm not blowing the money on gambling and hookers. These are all financial decisions that made sense in the moment, but which have left me feeling pinched.”
“Are you running out of money?” Kim asked.
“No, not really,” I said. “I just don't have as much as I want. Look. I'll show you the numbers.” [Read more…]