Imagine You Only Have 10 Years to Live

A good friend of mine sent me this link from the Afford Anything blog. The topic is “Imagine you have 10 years to live” and asks you to think about this question for yourself. The aim is to get to the heart of what really matters to you and how you can achieve it.

Here are my answers below: (brace yourself, its a long one)

Question 1:
Imagine you’re financially secure.
You have enough money to support yourself, your family and your dreams.
You’ll need to continue working, but it’s fulfilling work with a reasonable schedule.
What would you do?

I would continue working, continually making sure that my work keeps providing me with fulfillment of a combination of career goals, salary expectations (and self worth) and growth. I would also continue to strive for financial independence by saving at least 50% of income.

Imagine you’re financially independent.
You DON’T need to work anymore. Your investments create enough money to support
yourself, your family and your dreams.
What would you do?

Interestingly, while I am far from being financially independent, my current situation has allowed me to know EXACTLY what I would do in this situation.

Similar to what I’ve spent the last 4 months on, I would do these things: spend more time with friends and family, go on holiday, play guitar/drums/bass, sing, watch movies/tv shows, exercise more, and stay home and read about everything that interests me.

That last point is exactly what makes staying at home EASY. There are soooo many things that interest me that I’m forever reading up on something or other, and this all takes up a lot of time. I doubt there will ever be a shortage of things for me to do at home.

Question 3:
Imagine you visit your doctor, who tells you that you only have 5-10 years to live.
You’ll never feel sick, and you’ll have no advance notice of the moment of your death.
Your financial position is the same as it is today.
What would you do?

I would quickly work out the minimum I need to live for 10 years (max). Then I’d balance that with how much I need to work to get to that point and take the remaining time off to enjoy the rest of my life with Jared, friends and family. There would be no need to save for future retirement or anything else like that so I’d hope I wouldn’t need to work for very long. Or maybe, I’d just do odd jobs here and there only.

Basically, if I only had that long to live, my focus in life would be family and friends, nothing else.

Question 4:
Imagine the same scenario as before:
– You have the same 5-10 years to live.
– You’ll feel healthy throughout this time.
But in this scenario, you have unlimited funds.
What would you do?

Same as question 3, family and friends. I guess if funds are unlimited I could take trips wherever I wanted and Jared wouldn’t need to work either, so we could spend even more time together.

Question 5:
Imagine you visit your doctor, who tells you that you only have 24 hours to live.
What feelings come up? What regrets would you have, if any? What did you miss?
What would you do?

Yikes, what a scary scenario! Obviously, I would immediately feel an overwhelming sadness at my impending death. I would regret being afraid for most of my life. Despite that, I wouldn’t feel like my life was a waste, or that I should have changed major things. I am happy with where I’m at and I do believe that any hardships I have endured have made me who I am today.

I would go on a 24-hour date with Jared, culminating in a final farewell dinner with my family.

Question 6:
Brainstorm a list of EVERYTHING you’d buy or experience if you have unlimited funds.
Do not hold back. Do not fear judgment. Do not self-censor.
What would you buy?

Travel the world, literally every corner of Earth that seems interesting to me. Then live beachside somewhere nice. This place needs a nice outdoor patio like I have now. Spend my days playing guitar, singing, exercising, reading, relaxing. Allow Jared to build his dream career/business from my money.

It is funny that I can’t think of anything big to buy… like a car or some fancy pants contraption.

Question 7:
Cross out anything that is not realistic within your lifetime, then circle the top 3 items on
your list.
Next to each one, write down how much you think it’ll cost.
Example:
Goal: Backpack through South America for 6 months.
How Much: $50/day for 180 days = $9,000.00.

Travel the world, literally every corner of Earth that seems interesting to me.

Then live beachside somewhere nice – could cost as low as $800/wk for a 2br apartment right next to the beach.

This place needs a nice outdoor patio like I have now – might not need it if I’m right next to the beach, but lets just add another $200/wk anyway.

Spend my days playing guitar, singing, exercising, reading, relaxing – this could be free, unless I wanted to buy a new guitar, or recording equipment, or more books. Lets give this area $10,000 for the rest of my life.

Allow Jared to build his dream career/business from my money.

Question 8:
Next to each item, write down how soon you’d want to achieve it.
Example:
Goal: Backpack through South America for 6 months.
How Soon: Starting next March when my lease ends, and continuing through next
September.

I have a problem with this question because one of my main goals right now is to gain financial independence. The question is still talking about spending money. If I framed the question around my gaining financial independence, or retirement, then the time spans are:

Beachside living – Rent is say $800/wk for a 2 brm place, so $400/wk for me. Other expenses would be $900/month. Cost per year = $31,600. If that is 35% of my income I would need to earn $127,500 a year before tax (or $90,000 after tax) to retire in 10 years. If that was 50% of my income I would need to earn $84,000 a year before tax (or $63,200 after tax) to retire in 15 years. However, I am not earning those rates yet, so it might be up to 5 years before I can even allow myself to think about this. Not a big deal at all.

Everything else, guitar, singing, exercise, reading, relaxing – I do ALL of these things right now. The next step would be doing everything even more, improving my skills in each area.

If I had to give a preference for these goals, then the beachside living could easily fall off the list altogether so long as I’m working towards financial independence. After all, I can still visit the beach any time I want.

Question 9:
Next to each item, write down how much you’d need to save per month.
Example:
– Goal: Backpack in South America
– How Much: $9,000.00
– How Soon: 7 months from today
– Need: $1,285 per month if you don’t plan on making any money during the trip

In order to gain financial independence, I will need to save 65% of my after tax income if I want to do so within 10 years. 50% will let me get there in 15 years. I think 50% is a realistic goal right now. The idea that I can potentially retire by 40 years old, or in the worst case scenario 45 years old, is exceptionally exciting to me.

Question 10:
Next to each item, write down creative hacks that could reduce “how much” or “how
soon.”
Example:
– If: I make $500/month as a freelancer while I’m traveling…
– Then: I only need to save $785 per month for the next 7 months.

I could make some money on the side by sellings things on eBay. How much is dependent on how much time I want to put into it.

I could make more money at work by negotiating better for each salary rise.

Question 11:
Choose ONE of these three goals that you can realistically achieve within a reasonable
“how much” and “how soon” framework.
– How wide does your monthly “gap” need to be?
– How much will come from earning more vs. cutting back?

Two scenarios:

Stringent spending (no big holidays, no big purchases)
Total spending = $13,780 rent + $10,800 everything else = $24,580
I can “retire” in 10 years if I earn $95,000 before tax ($70,300 after tax).
I can “retire” in 15 years if I earn $62,000 before tax ($49,100 after tax).

Normal spending (allowing one overseas holiday, or some other big expenditure)
Total spending = $13,780 rent + $10,800 everything else + $6,000 holiday = $30,580
I can “retire” in 10 years if I earn $123,000 before tax ($87,400 after tax).
I can “retire” in 15 years if I earn $80,500 before tax ($61,200 after tax).

 

I think this is a worthwhile exercise for everyone to do, and I will certainly go back to it regularly to make sure I’m on track.

~~~

I went back to edit this when I remembered that I’ll be paying more rent soon because we are choosing to live without a housemate for the first time. It makes a surprisingly HUGE difference to the calculations. Unfortunately, that’s the price to pay for my sanity so I’m happy to buckle down for this. After all, we won’t be living with a housemate forever.

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