All posts tagged early retirement

Perfecting the 4 Hour Workday

By Brad Beckstrom

What if you could wrap up your work each day by noon? Would it improve your life? Would you have more time for family, friends, exercise, and other pursuits? If you could work just four hours a day, would you ever need to really retire?  These are some of the questions I had in 2007 after reading Tim Ferriss’s book “The 4-hour Work Week.” The book isn’t about working 4 hours a week, it’s about taking control of your workday, and your life, so that you’re focused on the part of your work that you really love.

Failing at the 4 hour workweek

I’ve yet to pull off the four hour workweek, but after 10 years of working at it, and about 5 years of writing about it, I’ve gotten to a place I’d like to call the 4 hour (workday). The idea was pretty simple. If I’m able to eliminate, commuting, needless meetings, the office, and other time killers, I’d already be part of the way there. Staying focused and eliminating distractions like breaking news, social media, and email could get me there.

So, I’ve done it. I’ve gotten to a schedule where I can start my morning’s early and be done right around lunchtime. I’ve realized that if more people could create four hour workdays, our working life, retirement, and even our education would look different.

3 Boxes Read more…

Living like a Lightweight.

By Brad Beckstrom

You still hear it occasionally. “That guy’s a lightweight.” When I was a kid, it may have meant you couldn’t hold your own on the playground. In college, this term was often used to describe someone who was a sloppy drunk or couldn’t hold their liquor. In business or politics, lightweight may be used to describe someone who can’t take a little heat, or bails out when the going gets tough. Today the word lightweight implies something very different. If you’re a lightweight who can compete or dominate above your weight class, then you have something. If you’re talking about a boxer like Roberto Duran, a legend like Bruce Lee, or the UFC fighter Conor McGregor then lightweight can take on a whole new meeting.

Look at any sport in the racing world, “lightweight” is the hottest thing going. Carbon fiber tubing is used to make incredibly fast racing boats to compete in the America’s Cup, and superlight racing bikes that weigh as little as 13 pounds. In a competitive world, lightweight can have great advantages.

If you’re not a professional athlete, or in the market for a $9,000 bicycle, you can still live like a lightweight. Let’s apply this term in three areas: Health, Life, and Work.

Health, Physical and Mental.

There’s a memorable scene from the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. The movie is about Joe Cross who lost 100 pounds juicing. You hear stories all the time about people losing tremendous amounts of weight. What Joe did differently is he that he visually demonstrated how much weight he’d lost by carrying around six professional bowling balls to represent the weight. This really clicked with people and helped him kick start the green juice trend. Most of us could not imagine carrying around even one or two bowling balls all the time.

The bowling balls Joe carried around are a great metaphor. Think of all the excess stuff we carry around, garages and closets full of stuff we don’t use, those extra pounds, guilt and regret about things that happened in the past, huge SUVs to haul all this around, while sitting in traffic. It’s time to start looking at the benefits of becoming a lightweight. Read more…

A Short Guide to Lean Investing.

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By Brad Beckstrom

Have things gotten too complex?

Today we have more savings and investment options than ever before. Online tools and investment options that give us access to over 10,000 mutual funds and exchange traded funds, with another 40,000+ publicly traded stocks worldwide. Most of these investments are accessible without setting foot in a brokerage firm or bank. Online banking, trading, and mutual fund supermarkets give us access to sophisticated investment tools available only to professionals just a decade ago.

Yet, despite so many options, the US personal savings rate is hovering between 5% and 6% and has been in steady decline since the 50s. The retirement savings picture is even worse, one in three American adults has zero saved for retirement and 62% have less than $1000 saved. Many Americans like to blame the government for this predicament but in fact many countries with significantly higher taxes have savings rates that are 2 to 3 times ours.  On top of our tax advantages, we have a wide selection of pre-tax and post-tax savings options many other countries don’t have, including 401(k)s, IRAs, SEPs, Roth IRAs, Health Savings Accounts, 529 college savings plans, and about 10 more with various combinations of numbers and acronyms in the name. All of them are underutilized by any standard of measurement.

Part of the problem is complexity. We’ve made it easier to go out and get a loan for a new SUV or a 5,000 square foot house than to start saving or put that money away for retirement.  We’ve been incentivizing people to take out student loan debt instead of starting college savings accounts.

To solve the complexity problem we need to make it easier to save and invest. We need to create a simpler path to wealth through regular and efficient investing. I like to call this Lean Investing. Read more…

Creating a list of musts, because you’ll need it someday.

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By Brad Beckstrom

Must. That’s a funny word, but it’s a word that came to me along with some serious thoughts. Not so much as a verb, you must do this, or you must do that, more like a noun. As in something that should not be overlooked or missed.  More like, going deep on the important things is a must. Don’t overlook the musts.

About a year ago, I was pondering what old age would be like. I was struggling with what it might be, what risks or new discoveries may be in store.  Would I be healthy or sick?  Would I  be rich or poor, and in what, friends, time, money, freedom?  Outside of work, what was I doing to impact this.  Did I even know what “this” was?

Instead of making another to do list or a list of goals, I decided to write down some things that I felt needed to be musts in my life moving forward. I decided that a must is something that needs to be considered before anything that’s not on the list. A must is something that will influence all decisions. The first few were pretty straightforward: family, friends, health. They are easy to write down, but when you consider the commitment to make these three words musts, that would be a pretty complete list in itself. It was too broad.

For example, when I put something like health on the list that means it’s a must, something that’s in my life every day, not just a “to do” that I may not get to. Family and friends seem pretty obvious, but how many of us let work commitments, travel or commuting get in front of these?  I’ve done this in the past. After our first son was born, SuperK would  turn up the volume whenever the Harry Chapin song Cat’s in the Cradle came on. A reminder that you could miss much of your child’s years at home if you blink. So if family and friends are at the top of your list of musts, understand the size of that commitment.

If your musts are too broad, big categories like family, friends and health may get replaced with other broad categories like work, sleep, decompress, and spend money. So, it’s best to break those musts down into actions that can can become good habits.

So, for example, under health my musts include: Read more…

Opening up a new world of possibilities by living lean. Why I created thefrug.com.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stewf/393637283/

By Brad Beckstrom

You hear the word “lean” in business a lot. Writers talk about the lean startup. Optimal, minimal, hyper efficient strategies for getting a business to run like a well oiled machine. Big companies are in this game as well. Workers are asked to do more with less. In many cases, a lot more with a lot less. Fewer resources, fewer coworkers, “re-defined” compensation and benefit plans.

We tend to jump right in, even with a few of our own ideas to make things run just a little leaner.  If we save enough money for the company, this could impact bonuses at the end of the year. We later realize that bonuses being impacted when lofty goals are missed is not always a good thing. I remember a recent car commercial, where an enlightened Mazda driver was now so confident in his epicness that he had no problem leaving his office at 5:15 PM. His co-workers stared in shock as he’s confidently strolled out the door, flipping his jacket over his shoulder. Coworkers wonder, what’s his secret? Apparently his new Mazda has made him confident enough to leave work on time. Actually, he may be headed to a second job to pay for it all.  Maybe he just wants to get a jump on his one-hour commute. In the ad we’re not privy to that part of the story.

The Living Lean Philosophy

Let’s put a positive spin on this. Maybe this guy knows about living lean. Possibly he had come across studies that show the peak of productivity comes in at just under 40 hours a week.   Maybe he just convinced his boss that he should ditch the commute altogether, save the company some money and get more done working from home, especially once you add in the time he’ll save not commuting.  With this extra time, an entire new world of possibilities will open up to him.

If he’s smart, he will spend that newfound freedom, that extra time, exploring a living lean philosophy versus just putting in some extra work.

What is living lean? Read more…