I find myself thinking about time a lot. Not so much in how to do everything I want within a day. More along the lines I can shake the feeling that I’m running out of time. Like I don’t have enough years left to do what I’d like. It feels like it’s slipping from me as fast as ocean waves come and go.
I’m in my mid thirties and for the past 6 months, there’s a constant low level anxiety that I’m running out of time to pursue what I want and where I’d like to be financially. Not unlike many others, I came to the party late and now I’m left scrambling; I feel I need to choose between some life goals or having financial freedom sooner.
I’m not anti real estate but I’m also not super convinced in home ownership. To me, at best it’s an asset, not an investment. Earlier in my adulthood, I owned both a house and a condo, so Ive been there, done that and got out of it. At the time, renting was cheaper than owning. And honestly my life and former relationship weren’t really stable enough to make that kind of commitment. In my previous post, my biggest financial lesson, you got a glimpse into what was going on in my life. Since then, things have stabilized, I even got married! I wedded back into real estate.
We live in a small but cozy space. We’re happy there, it works in all ways but one: Mr Whymances is a professional artist and finds himself unable to paint at home. He has a day job he’s happy with but the inability to do personal work at home has been a radical shift. We’ve lived here for over two years and gave it a shot. It’s not happening. Upgrading to a slightly bigger space isn’t easy. There’s a huge step up in price for a little more space.
Renting Studio Space
Living in a city, the obvious go to was looking into sharing economy: renting artist studio space. Location and price would be important factors; average price is between $200 – $500 a month. While we did find a location not too far from us, we’re not fond of dedicating that amount of money each month. Assuming we come in on the low end $300/mth, it would be $3,600 a year and an opportunity cost of $41K invested over 10 years (assuming historical average market return of 6%). One advantage is being able to walk away from that commitment whenever we want. But we both agree between all factors, this advantage does not make up for the other downsides:
- opportunity cost
- it would be additional travel time on top of what’s spent getting to and from work
- we wouldn’t be working together creatively
Moving to The Suburbs
When looking at options, I’ve made a personal rule to come up with as many creative options as I can, and for at least a few days while researching one, approach it with the resolve that it’s the right one and figure out what is good, and how to fix the drawbacks. We can totally think of alternative geographic locations where we could be happy and have more space for less money. The wall we always come up against is job opportunity. For our lines of work, city really is better. And we have no urge to commute.
If It’s Not Real Estate, It Would Be Something Else
When I take the time to step back, I know it’s not really about real estate and achieving my savings goals. It could be a combination of anything. Lots of people don’t even begin to get established until their later 20’s. And somehow, even though I’m only in my mid 30’s, it feels like I missed the boat on a great long term financial future. I might still have time for a decent traditional retirement, but that isn’t sitting well. So where do I go from here?
It’s Not Too Late
I’ve seen evidence through other finance blogs that it’s possible to achieve early retirement even with a late start, on a lower income or after big financial mistakes. Theoretically I know it’s possible. We never know what will happen. Assuming things stay relatively the same, I’ve done the math. We can reach independence before traditional retirement age. And not just by a few years. But that doesn’t dispel the constant hum of anxiety. I still feel like I’m running out of time.
Is It A Case of Wanting My Cake and Eating It Too?
I’ve wondered if it’s a matter of not being willing to make hard choices. Like Paula Pant says, you can have anything, just not everything. At least not at the same time. Or maybe I don’t really know what I want? I’ve spent a lot of time coming back to this and trying to see if it’s the case. I did make choices earlier in life that set me back. The past is past and doesn’t matter. But I can’t gain back that time. Perhaps that’s a price I need to live with? Having fewer choices or having to decide on one big financial goal over another.
I Want To Know I’ve Lived Now
According to statistics, Canadian life expectancy averages around late 70’s to early 80’s. So if that’s true, chances are I have over 40 years left. That’s lots of time. I’ve seen my grand parents live into their mid 80’s, with one heading towards mid 90’s. Some family members weren’t so lucky. They topped out at late 50’s, including my own mother. I guess what I’m saying is that I have no idea how much time I have left. No one does really.
While I don’t want to live just for today, I also want to feel I’ve lived NOW on my journey towards whatever financial goal I have. I won’t put up with an unhealthy work environment, bad situation or stress that harms my health for the sake of reaching any goal, including financial independence way down the road.
And that’s what it really comes down to. I don’t want to start living only after I’ve reached some financial goal I set. I want to feel like I’m living passionately RIGHT NOW in a way that allows progress towards some financial goals. And who knows, life may hold surprises that nudges us closer to our financial goals faster than expected. Still, I feel like I’m running out of time.
Maybe that’s the secret. If I can find that balance, the ever present hum of anxiety will fade…