Dec 292017

When we’re young our perception of time as a linear, even flat-line, progression has us believing in our own immortality.

As we get older we begin to realise that time is actually an exponential race to the end, ones latter years ever-accelerating toward the finish line.

And all the while our health, our vitality, our strength are in decline.

So, just how much of yourself are you prepared to sacrifice on the unholy altar of corporate consumer slavery? How many years of sitting on your ever-growing butt in cubicle nation, accelerating your own demise through self-induced stress and inactivity?

It’s time to be strong, courageous even! Time to put the important before the urgent.

Time to live a little more and work a little less!

Jun 172017

“They’re thinking of selling their Astove 31,” a friend tells me.

“What’s the plan?” I reply.

“Thinking to maybe one day head offshore” he muses.

“What’s wrong with the Astove?” I wonder.

Same thing holds true for dual-purpose motorcycles. If you don’t have at least 1000cc underneath you then you can’t possibly tour the remote places of the planet.

4×4? Same thing! Have to get all the gear before you can think of going outside the parking lot.

In my opinion, bigger isn’t always better or even necessary.

That’s why I’m happy with my 30’Miura [and we will cruise offshore one day], my tiny X-300 [yes we will adventure far and wide and on the dirt] and my aging Isuzu 4×4 [perhaps we might even head off-road one day].

The irony though; I cannot possibly have enough time in my current life to use all these properly. Even by going small I’ve crossed some paradoxical line.

Perhaps going nothing at all would have been better under the current circumstances?.

Certainly – bigger is not always better. Sometimes though even smaller isn’t better. Sometimes total abstinence is the only logical path.

Why is that so hard?

Dec 072015
Time vs t

Time vs t

When we’re young our perception of time as a linear, even flat-line, progression has us believing in our own immortality.

As we get older we begin to realise that time is actually an exponential race to the end, ones latter years ever-accelerating toward the finish line.

And all the while our health, our vitality, our strength are in decline.

So, just how much of yourself are you prepared to sacrifice on the unholy altar of corporate consumer slavery? How many years of sitting on your ever-growing butt in cubicle nation, accelerating your own demise through self-induced stress and inactivity?

It’s time to be strong, courageous even! Time to put the important before the urgent.

Time to live a little more and work a little less!

Jul 142014

It’s hard sometimes to not fall for the “compare yourself to the world” yardstick. It’s hard to ride through the kind of sustained universal wobbly that we’ve had the last 2 weeks.

When I look at a peer, someone who basically started out same time as myself, who has amassed a rental portfolio of 10 properties already, its hard to think that I haven’t but one and even that is on the verge of closure.

I mean, how can he be so “successful” in that arena while I struggle so much?

I’m reminded of the need to not compare oneself to another, especially when there is no real understanding of all the factors that make up the person’s life. The rental portfolio is but one aspect of life, an isolated feature that doesn’t make any sense out of context with the rest of that person’s stuff. In addition, how much freedom has this person given up? How much debt is there lurking in the background?

The expensive life-style, private schools etc. The bigger the burn, the more income is necessary. The corporate politicking, the daily grind, travel away from home etc etc. Do I want that in my life?

Right here, right now – A well lit, cosy home. Food in my belly. Enough financial buffer to know I’m OK even if we should choose not to chase more.

That’s key. How much is enough? Time to branch out and live life differently. Time to live, rather than work. Time to throw caution to the wind and take a calculated step toward a future we both keenly desire.

You can never tell anything from the man’s car, his outward visible-to-the-world lifestyle. The only thing you can tell from these is how much he spends. And even then you cannot tell whether he’s spending his own money or is up to his eyeballs in life-sucking debt.

No matter what our status in life, no matter what our financial worth, we all have been allocated a finite amount of time on this planet. Time that once gone we never get back, no matter how much cash we have in the bank. So when he’s at the office every day until 7pm, in Europe on business for 2 weeks at a time, I’ll still prefer being home to watch the sun set, spending my weekends on the yacht, working toward the plan, even if my plan is much more modest than his.

Is he happier than I? Don’t know. Don’t actually care.

What has he achieved? Nothing that grabs my heartstrings. What does he do and experience in the world that doesn’t take wealth and spending? Nothing that I can see.

So besides that, maybe his rental investment strategy bears study. Not because he is the best, but certainly because he seems to be functioning better in this specific arena than I am (and because I feel the need to diversify our income streams for ER)

I’ll be keeping the current cars, even if they require time and money. Until the spreadsheet proves otherwise it’s cheaper to repair and maintain than buy again (and it’s really greener as well)

May 062014

The early retirement goal is more time, more flexibility, more freedom in the way one earns.

A stepping stone in the plan is to relocate to CT somewhere in the next 5years or so and take up another ‘corporate’ style job for the last 5 years of stashing the pensions and RA’s.

But maybe there’s an interim step?

Over the years I’ve often thought of contracting [or own business] but that hasn’t worked and the tradeoffs for the corporate salary have been analysed and deemed acceptable in light of the overall plan. But there is a way to muscle yourself some additional free time in the corporate without giving up the financial perks.

It’s called unpaid leave.

The key thing is, don’t get hung up on the 20-days leave p.a. thing. There is virtually as much leave as you are willing to sacrifice salary for, exactly the same as if you were working an hourly rates contract. Main thing is to understand that the tradeoff is money for time.


Apr 202014

Much of the old-school, and in that I include the majority of the modern corporate workforce, understand only full-time employment or full-on traditional retirement. You work for ‘the man’ until 65 and then you hope for the best living off whatever assets you’ve managed to accumulate in your corporate pension and your personal savings.

It’s one way of doing things I suppose and there are certainly many examples of people who are successfully living comfortable lives in their later years having followed this path. But, if you read the popular press, not many people have enough stashed away by the time they are put out to pasture to continue with the standard of living they had while earning a full-time salary.

In part I think the system plays on the individuals lack of knowledge, fear and greed. The fact that the future is uncertain and unpredictable fuels this and the common, overiding belief that a person should put their back to the grindstone and suck it up, endeveaouring to earn the max before the inevitable happens.

The major problem with this approach is a parallel, overwhelming dissatisfaction with the status quo. This unhappiness in the job leads to excessive cosumer spending [read debt] and everything in the system is geared to keeping people [consumers] on the treadmill. The compensation for this soulless, drudgery is a new car each 3-4 years and that kills the dream so self-sufficiency.

But, to be honest, I can’t do another 20 years of this. It’s killing me!

So the goal is semi-retirement which, if we’re honest, is the only way to live another 30-40 years of your life  after full-time employment/work. Basically the premise is that you have some income generating assets that provide you annual income. Perhaps not 100% of your needs but enough to take the edge off having to work a 40-60hr week for a living. This you then supplement with income from working but work with a difference – this is part-time or flexible work that doesn’t tie you down to a desk, a specific ‘must-do’ routine, a cubicle prison. You are freeing yourself up to not have to work for maximum pay, to not have to take the first assignment that comes along.

Chatting to S and we’re agreed – she has been semi-retired [according to the above definition] for many years now. Her income generating asset has been my income. She works from home, she works damn hard, but she is also free to do as she likes. This is our common goal. No more Jhb treadmill. Here’s looking to a life of more flexibility and time.

Apr 172014
The unseen costs of your 9-5 job

The unseen costs of your 9-5 job

Sure, owning a car is expensive and if you want it to last it needs maintenance. But there are more cost effective ways of doing it than relying on the official agents. I think that will be the last visit to the dealer for routine maintenance. In future it will be either my own labour or that of a trusted independent workshop.Isuzu 195000km

One of the keys to validating the ER-Plan is a proper understanding of which expenses are a necessity for your chosen lifestyle and which are really just there because of the way life is at present.

That brings me to a niggling thought that  just won’t leave me lately. The Isuzu, while filling a future ER dream of 4×4 touring off the beaten path, is currently not put to that use and is expensive overkill for the present home-to-office commute. Expensive to maintain, expensive to fuel up. In a sense this is tantamount to ‘pre-purchasing the RV or the golf club membership’ prior to retirement. Maybe not the way to go, especially with a machine that has a very good chance of wearing out / failing before there’s ever the time to realise that travel goal ? Yet, now that it’s done, does it make sense to sell it and get something else? I’m not so sure.

Gut-feel tells me it’s always cheaper to keep and maintain the vehicle you currently own rather than giving in to the temptation to get something different. Besides, I still hold to the belief that an old 70’s gas guzzler is greener than a new hybrid because the hole for the former has already bee dug in the earth. I’ll need to follow this up with a detailed xls calc [such an engineer I’m told], but I think I know what the outcome will be. Deep down it’s just this irrational emotional urge to buy a ‘new’ car and it’s the tricky bits looking for rationalisations to justify this.

Our present life and future vision is what it is, what we’ve chosen it to be. Take the yacht as a similar example, or even Glencairn. It’s also ‘pre-paying the future’ dream. Is it the wisest strategy? In terms of some of the ER-thought out there it’s ridiculous. Rather used the value in the boat to bring your ER-date closer. On the other hand, I am me if I’m making any sense here. I’m human and just like all humans everywhere, I have irrational personal quirks when viewed against the popular ‘science’ of ER’ing.

The yacht is a big part of me, my lifestyle, the way I want to live. For me, what purpose is served to spend the next 5 years without Ocean Blue in my life? It’s not a sacrifice I choose to make and I believe that where I am now is the best balance for me between my interests and my need to pump the stash to step off. When I do step off then I want no debt on Glencairn and so we’re compelled to get it behind us now, using the space in the current mortgage facility to access ‘cheap’ money.

Easily rationalised for the sweet little boat and the dream pad by the sea but requiring a bit more mental gymnastics to apply to the Isuzu me’thinks.

Anyhow, in terms of road transport, my current philosophy is “if it aint broke then don’t fix it”. While it’s reliable and not emotionally draining I’ll stick with and be happy with what I have – ‘Suzi and ZR7 – here’s to many more miles together.

Apr 122014

I have this lingering low-level ‘flu. Just can’t shake it. So, rather than doing anything too strenuous this weekend, I’ve been a couchy, lying in front of the telly with the dogs most of the day.

I caught the last episode of “Long Way Down” and as usual, that has me wishing for something ‘more’ than just the ZR7.

It’s not the thought that is bad. It’s acting on the thought. A new GS1200 is a beautiful and desirable beast. Let’s be totally honest here – if I had cash under the pillow then there’d be one in the garage! But, at this stage of the game there is neither the pillow-stash nor the time to do a bike like that justice.

I noticed a post from a Facebook acquaintance – “1 week road trip solo through Namibia on a GS”. Wonderful. I love it and wish him well. I’d love to join him. But, my life is not geared up that way at the moment. There are other aspects of life, core activities, that I have chosen and judged more important at this phase of life – like family, sailing, Glencairn and stepping off! One day I may do the GS thing but for now it would just be an expensive distraction.

Watching McGregor and Boorman tour through Namibia has me wanting to do that. And I may one day. But for now it’s not top of the priority list, not something worth damaging the stash or the dream for.

I recently started a new ‘old’ job and have been bumping into, and catching up with,  old colleagues. “Still riding the same old ZR7? I thought you would have upgraded to a BMW by now?” was the comment I received from one. All I can do is smile. To replace a ZR7 with a GS is not an upgrade, it is just something different! And for what I use the bike for 99% of the time [i.e. weekly commuting to the office] a GS would be awkward, overly large and overkill.

A new GS, fully kitted is currently around R 185 000. I’m stepping off in 5 to 10. R185k invested for 10 years at a conservative 12% gives a stash of …. R610k. There’s no way I’m willing to stay on the treadmill a moment longer just to ride a cool bike in the Jhb traffic.

Nope. The ZR7 will suite me just fine.



Jan 222014

There is a lot of good kit out there these days! And a lot of exciting activities and adventures to be had.

Adventure Biking

Adventure Driving

Some choose the route of trying to cram as much of everything into life, ticking items off a to-do list. Others ‘specialise’ and focus on a few core activities. And some just never get past the arm-chair stage. And then there are the Joneses. You know, the guys who always have to have the best kit in the group and who want everyone to know it. They generally compensate for their inadequencies with cash.

In a time-scarce world of work and 2-week holiday’s a year, it’s easy to fall for the trap of advertising. That picture of a fully kitted 4×4 in the Namib, the GS1200 on a dusty track in the outback, the top-spec MTB climbing a forest trail… desperately want to be there, to do that and so the temptation is to buy the kit, to get ready, to be prepared. Then, maybe, just maybe, you get to be there – maybe just once or twice. But then, for the rest of life, the kit goes into storage gathering dust.

For me the key is to focus on the few activities and adventures that are really important .. important to me. The yacht, while not new, flashy or lavishly kitted out is seaworthy. The 4×4 truck is not decked out with all the gear but is capable. The MTB and shoes are old but still serviceable and the ZR7, while not top of the range, is still a blast to ride and a traffic-killer. And without time all of this is enough.

Top priority in life is to now engineer some time !