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What does retirement mean to you?

Early retirement has always been my biggest financial goal. I talk about it all the time on this blog: I want to retire by the time I’m in my mid 50′s. But what does “retire” actually mean?

My dad retired this year at age 65. He had wanted to retire earlier, but since he didn’t have a pension with the company he worked for, he had to wait and save. As for my mom, she’s got a nice government pension waiting for her when she retires – likely while she’s still in her 50′s. She worked at the government for almost her entire career, and as I look back at the first 8 years of my career, I haven’t had that kind of stability at all. And without a company pension to look forward to in 25 years, the cost of early retirement stresses me out a bit.

When I do my retirement calculations, I don’t include CPP or OAS payments, because I’m not sure I can rely on that money being there for me 35 years from now. But that being said, the average combined annual payout from CPP and OAS is currently $12,528 and the maximum annual payout is $18,372. So if that money is still there when I retire, it will be a significant amount of cash coming in that I haven’t been planning for. Wouldn’t that be nice?

So when I think about retirement, what does that actually look like for me? Retirement to me means having the freedom to do whatever I want to do, without the obligation to work for a living. I guess you could call it financial independence, rather than retirement. I know myself pretty well, and I know that I likely won’t stop working completely when I retire. But I’d like that option, if that’s what I want to do. Maybe some people wouldn’t consider that actually retiring. But retirement can mean different things to different people. Maybe I’ll volunteer. Maybe I’ll travel (I’ll definitely travel). Maybe I’ll become a landlord, or work part-time in a coffee shop, or maybe I’ll still be earning an income through this blog. Who knows what I’ll be up to! But whatever it is, it’ll be my choice, and it won’t be based on the need to bring in an income. Freedom.

Related: Why 20-somethings might have trouble retiring by 65

I’m 31 right now. I envision retiring back in my hometown, with a modest home by the ocean. But, a lot can happen in the next 25 years. I may have this exact lifestyle for the rest of my life, or maybe marriage and kids are in my future. Maybe my retirement will look completely different than what I’m thinking of. So while I have very little financial obligation right now in my life, it only makes sense to try and save as much as possible in case I’m not able to later on in life. Kids are expensive. Emergencies will happen. Health will deteriorate. I want to work hard now while I’m young(ish) and able-bodied, because when I’m older I know I’d rather be doing anything instead of working for a pay cheque and worrying about money. :)

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my 2014 goals, and since early retirement is still a priority for me, you’ll see that reflected in what I have planned for next year.

What does retirement mean to you? At what age are you looking to retire?

Spending Recap: December 9-15, 2013

Monday 9th
+ $350 sold my iPad
$450 42″ LG Smart TV
$45.35 gas

Tuesday 10th
No Spend Day!

Wednesday 11th
+ $250 freelance income

Thursday 12th
No Spend Day!

Friday 13th
+ $76.73 Great Canadian Rebates
+ $125 sold my Canon camera
$5 potluck lunch
$16.74 wine

Saturday 14th
$41.56 gas

Sunday 15th
$56.95 J.Crew sweater
$18.79 dinner
$7.32 groceries

Freelance Income: + $250 (+ $551.73)
Expenses- $641.71

TOTAL: + $160.02

A solid week of spending and selling things. :) I bought a new TV this week – my first TV in two years – and promptly sold my iPad and old Canon camera to cover the cost of it. I also brought in a bit of freelance income, and got a Great Canadian Rebates payment.

As for my expenses, gas was a bit more this month as I’ve been driving around the city a lot more for field hockey, running, and to see my boyfriend (who lives downtown – about a 30-minute drive). I also bought a J.Crew sweater off eBay. I had been wanting it for a while, but the $118 (+ tax) price tag on the J.Crew website scared me. Even with their 30% off sale. So I was pretty happy when I saw it on eBay brand new for $50 (+ $6.95 shipping).

That was my week of spending! How was yours?

Spending Recap: December 2-8, 2013

Monday 2nd
No Spend Day!

Tuesday 3rd
$9.41 lunch
$37.36 gas

Wednesday 4th
$15 drinks & food

Thursday 5th
No Spend Day!

Friday 6th
$15.67 dinner

Saturday 7th
$24.22 groceries
$11.35 dinner

Sunday 8th
$23.45 lunch
$5.30 parking

Freelance Income: $0
Expenses- $141.76

TOTAL: - $141.76

This was a fairly good week for me in terms of spending, although I did go out to eat a lot. I want to blame it on the holidays, but in reality, I’ve just really been in a social mood. I’ve been trying to keep it low-cost, and I think I did for the most part – except for Sunday’s lunch. But it was good food, great company, and a beautiful day spent out in Steveston.

I didn’t bring in any money, but I did list 4 things for sale online (1 has sold, 2 have pending offers, and 1 is still listed on eBay). I also billed out for about $1,000 in freelance work, so knowing that chunk of money will (hopefully) be coming in is a nice feeling.

How was your week of spending?

Is a TV a luxury or a necessity?

lg-tvI finally did it: I bought a television.

My original plan was to check out Black Friday/Cyber Monday flyers to try and snag an awesome deal. But I wanted a name brand TV with a lot of options, that wasn’t happening for me in my < $500 price range. :| I wanted an LG, and since I don’t think I’m going to subscribe to cable, I was really interested in their Smart TVs. So, I headed to Craigslist to see if I could pick up something used within my price range.

Thanks to a sweet Telus deal (where customers could get a 42″ LG SmartTV for free after signing up for a 3-year contract), Craigslist was flooded with these brand new TVs (MSRP close to $800 + environmental fee + tax) going for anywhere from $550 to $700. After lowballing a few sellers, I finally got somebody to sell me his for $450 – and with free delivery! :)

To help offset the cost of the TV, I sold my iPad for $350. When I first bought it a year ago, I thought it would be perfect for traveling. But even with the keyboard accessory, it is extremely annoying as a blogging tool. So I rarely ever used it. I’m also trying to sell my Canon G10 digital camera… but the $350 I got for my iPad means that the TV only ended up costing me $100.

Related: Can lifestyle inflation be avoided?

Finally having a TV in my house gives me mixed emotions. I know it’s not something I need (or have needed for at least two years), but it’s nice to have it. And I can honestly say that in the few days that I’ve had it, it’s been pretty great. Watching Netflix on a screen bigger than my 15″ laptop is nice, and I can finally have people over to watch movies, or to play on my Wii.

But buying the TV also reminded me of a report I read a long time ago (2009) about luxury vs. necessity. In this report, they polled over 1,000 Americans and asked what consumer goods they considered to be a luxury, and which they considered a necessity. The report is old, and it’s polling Americans and not Canadians, but I think it’s still pretty interesting. Here are the results:

Vehicle 88%
Landline phone 68%
Clothes dryer 66%
Air conditioner 55%
Television 52%
Home computer 50%
Cell phone 49%
Microwave 47%
High-speed internet 31%
Cable or satellite TV 23%
Dishwasher 21%
Flat-screen TV 8%
iPod 4%

I would consider all of the items above to be luxuries… but would feel extremely inconvenienced and miserable if I didn’t have a home computer, high-speed internet, and access to a phone (landline or cell). Those items are borderline necessities for my current lifestyle (obviously I wouldn’t die and my health likely wouldn’t deteriorate as a result of not having these things), but they would definitely be luxuries if my lifestyle changed for whatever reason.

So for fun, I created the same survey for you to answer! It’ll only take a few seconds, and I think it would be interesting to see the data after a few days. Note, you’ll have to scroll a bit with the survey. :)

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Spending Recap: Nov 25-Dec 1, 2013

Monday 25th
$12.56 dinner

Tuesday 26th
$5.30 parking

Wednesday 27th
No Spend Day!

Thursday 28th
$41.67 gas
$8.91 groceries
$64.50 Chilly Chase Half Marathon registration

Friday 29th
$12.02 lunch

Saturday 30th
$94.35 groceries
$64.41 Banana Republic

Sunday 1st
$65.68 personal care
$104.82 Lucky Brand

Freelance Income: $0
Expenses- $344.13

TOTAL: - $344.13

This week I committed to running a marathon at the end of January. This seems like a pretty foolish thing to do, considering the name of the race is the Chilly Chase. :) But it will keep me running throughout the winter, and that’s worth it. Although, I’m still trying to convince someone (anyone) to run with me. :)

I also bought some clothes this week – yes I took advantage of Black Friday sales. :) I like good deals, so if I have money budgeted for it, I have no problems shopping on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day, or any other big shopping day of the year. I bought a beautiful sweater from Banana Republic (40% off), as well as a pair of jeans from Lucky (30% off). Between November and December’s budgets, I had earmarked $325 to update my wardrobe. The rest of the cash (approx. $155) will likely be spent after Christmas during the Boxing Week sales.

How was your week of spending?