When I retire, I will…

Last Sunday, whilst watching Germany pip Argentina to take the World Cup home for the first time as a unified nation, I started off on one of my usual end-of-weekend monologues. Mrs JAL is very patient when I get going on these, and I suppose it proves that we’re on the same page regarding where we are, where we’d like to get to, and why.

 

The oration was along the same lines as my usual Sunday evening wine-induced vocalised daydreams:

 

“Once I can stop working, I/we will be able to…”

 

I guess plenty of us do this, but it’s good to dream a little, at least just to keep the motivation – especially if the end goal still feels “a bit far away” (all relative of course).

 

Usually my list(s) involve a combination of travel and spending time with JAL junior, getting him out there to see the world with us. This time though, I had decided that if I didn’t have to go out to earn the daily bread the following day, I would be able to get much done around the house. We only moved back in earlier this year after renting it for 5 years, and there’s an endless list of things to be done. As my father told me: “it’s just the usual maintenance tasks that go along with home ownership, but they’ve been stacking up for the last 5 years so you’ve got them all at once”.

 

Apart from meaning that I get less time with junior, I don’t complain about this stuff and I’m really enjoying “doing it myself” and learning some skills that hopefully will serve us well when we pop a cap in the ass of the office life and try to survive (or even thrive) without job income.

 

I like the fact that when something needs doing, there’s often more than one way to do it. I’ve always had quite an analytical, technical mind, and I love problem-solving. These are useful enough traits in my career, but the fact that I can transfer some job skills that I do actually have – designing and building computer software to solve a specific problem or meet a specific need – into my new world of DIY, makes it more fun. I only have to learn the technical elements – how to handle the tools, which bits to use for which jobs etc. My Dad has always been so good at this practicaly stuff, he always did it himself and I never really got much of a look in as a kid (Note to self: let junior go wild with the circular saw if he wants.. or maybe not.)

 

Yep, I’m really getting into this DIY lark, and along with this increased confidence in “doing stuff” is growing an ever-stronger feeling to aim for efficiency, re-use, reduction of resources, and making the most of what’s available. By the time I jack in the job, we’re aiming to be able to provide roughly 35-50% of the food that we eat ourselves, by means of a small-ish vegetable patch, greenhouse and pots. We’ve started on this mission this year – our “trial” patch is going pretty well now, but whilst the endless supplies of lettuce and peppery rocket are pretty cool, we’re eager to start reaping some proper rewards! (AUBERGINEs, I’m looking at you!)

 

So, anyway, back to last Sunday’s sofa waffle, and combining the 3 things I’ve just alluded to:

1) Growing your own veg
2) Making the most of the resources you have
3) Designing and building systems to bring things together

Out of nowhere I heard the following words coming out of my mouth:

 

“You know, if I had the time – if I didn’t have to go to work – then I could build an automatic irrigation system for the veggies”

 

Wow. Eh? Dear 30year old JAL – did you ever think you’d be saying that in 6 years’ time?!

I expanded on that strange outburst:

 

“Yeah, we could harvest the rainwater, store it at the top of the garden, and then pipe it back down the garden to be released along the way, watering all the vegetables.”

 

Ok.. actually, this sounds kinda cool. And not really that difficult. Probably.

 

I wasn’t done:

 

“I’d build it as a modular system.”

 

Ohh, get me!

 

“Start with the basics.”

 

Now we’re talking.

 

“Collect the rainwater off the house roof and store it in one or more butts, depending on some calculations I would make about how much we need. Then we could fill the watering can from the butts, rather than the mains tap.”

 

Sounds sensible. We’re actually metered for water these days (i.e. not a fixed bill) so every drop counts. Not that we’ll save much ££ here – on the contrary, it’s gonna be years till we can hope to break even – but that’s not the point. We’re going “green” remember. Water is a vital resource, despite what many people in this “green” and pleasant land may think.

 

“Then, I would work out a way of getting the water to go “uphill”..”

 

(Ok, this could be the wine talking now.. good luck with that..)

 

“.. so we could store it at the top of the garden – get the butts out of the way of the house, out of junior’s way. From there, it will be a nice, easy, gentle downhill journey passing all the plants along the way. So I’d build an irrigation system that works directly from the butts.”

 

Ok, a bit lazy maybe, but hey, I’m really going on this now..

 

“Then… then.. I guess we could add a timer of some sort to automatically turn the taps on to water at the right times, morning and night, and we wouldn’t have to rely on Nan and Granddad to come and water for us if we’re away.”

 

Actaully, they’re thoroughly enjoying their own retirement and are rarely around these days, so we can’t really rely on that!

 

“And by the way, if there were pressure problems..”

 

… what, like with getting water to run uphill, for example..?

 

“… then a small pump would sort us out, you know, like the one we had in our campervan for the sink.”

 

Yep, that would do it.

 

“And of course, we could power it with a small solar panel and a generator – which I could knock up!”

 

Could I?! Hell yes, I’ll learn!

 

“Obviously we’d need some sort of system to keep track of the water levels, and maybe adjust the inflow and outflow accordingly..”

 

Amazingly, I already had something in mind for this. Once you get going with the creativity, it really flows. In my mind, it was already flowing like that water off the roof.

 

“And maybe a soil moisture monitor – no point turning the tap on at 9pm when it’s been raining all day..”

 

Ok, possibly a bit much, but this is the beauty of a modular system. You get to keep adding bits and improving things.

 

Well, Mrs JAL’s eyes were lit up. Who was this dynamic, creative, green-thinking man sitting (actually, standing at this point) next to her?

 

An automatic watering system to take care of our food production, using 100% natural resources (sunlight and rainwater) that are in plentiful supply to us and going to “waste” almost every day?

 

I finally slumped back on the sofa, regaining my former Monday-is-coming blues.

 

“If I didn’t have to go to work, that’s what I’d do. Anyway, back to the real world.”

 

I got up, went out the back of the house, filled the watering can from the tap and started the evening watering. As I padded back and forth, enjoying the warm dusky air and lubricating the leaves and soil – a pre-bedtime activity which I’ve really begun to enjoy – I started picturing the system of pipes and containers that I’d just been raving about.

 

I could do that shit, definitely.

 

If only I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow…

 

 

 

JAL

 

 

 

 

 

PS – To be continued..!

 

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Confessions

Since I’ve started writing this blog, I’ve noticed I’m getting REALLY good REALLY quickly at dishing out advice and orders. But how good am I at listening to others’ advice and orders, or even my own?

 

Well, I’m self-employed these days – so that probably answers the one about orders; I take ‘em from nobody except myself 😉

 

And the advice? Well, I generally do try to practice what I preach. But in the last week or so I’ve noticed I’ve started to slip in a few areas. Since one of the main reasons for starting this blog was to make myself accountable, I feel like ‘fessing up to a few things. Hopefully I’ll shame myself into action (or in the investing case – inaction)!

 

So, here goes.. In the last 10 days I have…

 

1)      Done resistance exercise only ONCE (it should be 3 times in this period)

2)      Been running a grand total of 0 (ZERO!) times (I should have been once or twice really)

3)      Caught myself researching funds that AREN’T INDEX TRACKERS! OH THE SHAME!! 😉

4)      Considered buying a motorbike (not instead of the car, but as well as the car)

5)      Looked at long haul flights to take a decent break over the other side of the world

 

Stop, stop, that’s quite enough! Ok, so nothing really serious – we’ve still been socking the savings away, living under budget etc. – but you gotta nip these things in the bud early, or else! This time next year I could find myself still sitting at this desk, 2 stone overweight and invested in the latest Neil Woodford fund.

 

Better get back to it!

 

JAL

PS – As there always are, there are “reasons” for the things in my list having happened (or not). But since “reasons” is just another word for “excuses” I’m not even going to go there. There’s always a way to squeeze in some exercise, as Mrs JAL has shown in the last couple of weeks. She’s put me to shame!

 

Owning your home

I mentioned in Introduction To.. Wealth that money is an extremely emotive subject. So it stands to reason that if you stick absolutely truckloads of money into the place that you and your family live, then we’re on seriously dodgy ground! Strap in.

 

There’s plenty of people out there that will tell you that:

“owning your home is a terrible idea”

and there are people that will tell you that:

“owning your home is a great idea”

 

So, first up, my personal viewpoint; I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with owning your own home (and yes, in the interests of complete transparency, I’m biased because I currently do own my own home!). But it does depend on the circumstances; everybody’s situation is slightly different.

 

Run some numbers; it might be evident that it’s not the right thing for you to do, not at this point in your life anyway.

 

Alternatively, after running the numbers, and depending on what’s happening in your life, then owning your home might turn out to be a great idea.
Looking back, it was right for me to buy, it’s served me well. Paying off the mortgage last year felt amazing, and now we sleep at night safe in the knowledge that no landlord or bank heavy can come-a-knocking and tell us to “get orf their land”  (yes, yes, my house is freehold). And of course, we also have a much higher savings rate than before as we’re not currently paying rent or mortgage.

 

But here’s the thing – for people looking to become financially independent as soon as possible, you may be able to use your house as a way to reach FI earlier than you had previously thought possible.

 

Imagine that you’re planning to move towns, areas, or even better – countries. Or maybe you weren’t actually planning to move, but you are able to move, and you would consider it if that brings your FI date closer. Now then, if your current house (the one you own, or part own) is worth more than houses where you are going, then that could obviously work in your favour. (If you currently own a house in London, then I guess this applies to you if you’ll consider moving just about anywhere else!)

 

And things could be even better if the rent-houseprice ratio where you’re going is low too.

 

Here’s an example, and it’s a real life one; it’s our situation.

 

Our house is a 3-bed semi on the outskirts of town, with a current value of about £160,000.
Where we’re planning to move to, a similar sized house could be bought for €100,000 (or possibly even less, at the moment). At the time of writing that is about £80,000.

 

OR, here’s another idea – we could rent a house there for about €5,000/year (currently about £4,000).

 

So our £160,000 house sale would give us about €200,000, which is 40yrs rent money to stuff under the mattress. (Yes, that’s in “today’s money”.. obviously rising rentals would bring that number down.. although if the €200k was wisely invested then we’d hope to at least beat that nasty inflation).

 

OR, another idea – instead of selling our current house, we could rent it out for £600/mth (€750/mth) and bingo, it now pays our euros-rent, plus currently gives an extra “left-over” income of €330/mth. So that’s the food bill and the ‘leccy paid for. And assuming that rents rise fairly evenly in both countries, our rent (plus hopefully that extra bit for food and lights) would be covered for life.*

 

I would say it’s worth thinking about! Like I said – everyone’s situation is different, but there’s always more than one option, and I think that the process of thinking through these options – and thinking of new options you hadn’t previously considered – will stand you in good stead for this financial independence lark.

 

JAL

 

 

 

 

 

* Hopefully we’re talking about a period of at least 40 years here, and obviously the currencies could do all sorts of wacky things over that period! But again, if you’re willing to look at options, be flexible, “think outside the box”… then I think you’ll always find a way to make things work

 

Use it or lose it!

Hi there!

 

Due to various reasons, it’s been a long time since I managed to post anything. My most humblest apologies, but – if you know me at all by now, you’ll know that there will be no excuses! Time to get back to it, there’s so much still to say.

 

As has been the case for the last couple of months (but this time largely down to something more trivial) I don’t have an awful lot of time right now, so this will be brief. Nothing wrong with that – brevity being the soul of wit, and all that – and that’s what we’re about here at thejustaboutlifeblog; distilling things down to a few simple, easy to remember points that get us ahead and keep us there.

 

Anyway, I digress..

 

To set the scene – I’ve started doing quite a lot of work for one client, and most of my time with them is currently being spent at one site. I always try to take a lunch break, to reap the many benefits of a little exercise and fresh air, and occasionally I walk past the village library. Now, I had always assumed that you had to live in a certain area to join the local library of that area, and as we don’t live in the same area as the library in question, I never even stuck my head in the door. Until yesterday lunchtime, that is, when I finally plucked up the courage to go in there for a nose around. And guess what? I found out that I can indeed join – they don’t care where in the UK I live. So I did, I joined that there library, and took 3 books out immediately.

 

I still consider myself incredibly fortunate to live in an age and society where we have these oases of resource-filled calm within stumbling distance of most Wetherspoons. The library in question is not a huge one, but it’s still got plenty of decent-looking reading material to keep me busy, internet access, wifi, it’s air conditioned, and did I mention – it’s FREE? Over the last few years I’ve probably been guilty of buying too many books – I bet you know the drill; you buy far more books than you could possibly ever read in the time before you go again and buy some more! I could have saved myself a bit of dough had I just used the library, and I wouldn’t have had the storage headaches at home either.

NOTE: I very,very rarely buy new books, I’m a charity shop book-buyer. It’s one of my simple pleasures in life. Browsing through their endless shelves of as-new books, and looking for the hidden gems amongst the mountains of “I’m A Celeb (Except I’m Not.. Or Am I.. Who Cares?)” autobiographies.

 

Once I’m done with chastising myself for not having re-discovered the wonders of the local library sooner, I’ll be posting again. Until then, enjoy the football and, if you’re Spanish or Australian, maybe pop down your local library at half-time and get yourself a self-help book on “Coping With Loss”.. and return them again soon before us English need them 😉

 

JAL

 

 

 

 

 

PS – This post is deidcated to Mrs JAL, who quietly (what other way is there?) joined our local library a couple of months ago and brought home some books to help us:

a) grow a higher quality, and a bigger quantity of crops in the JAL trial vegetable patch
b) prepare interesting and healthy foods for a 1-year old who’s allergic to almost everything :/

– Mrs JAL (and junior JAL) – you are my inspiration!

 

 

Popular excuses for not exercising today.. and my responses to them

Excuses, excuses..

excuses

 

 

 

 

Just ask Mrs JAL – I don’t like excuses! If you just don’t want to do something, then fine – don’t do it. But don’t pretend you would if this, if that and if the other.

 

I’m starting this post tonight, and it’s quite short.. But beware – I intend to add to it as-and-when, over time, whenever I hear a new one. So don’t let me hear one from YOU!

There are NO excuses!

 

In no particular order then…

 

1- It’s raining

And? You’re in the UK, it rains a lot – get over it. Besides, running in the rain is an absolute joy! Not many things that are that invigorating. Lace up, get out the door.

 

2 – I’m tired

We’re all tired, and whatever you think – tomorrow you’re not going to feel any better. Although.. you probably will feel better tomorrow (and tonight) if you get off your butt and start sweating now! The increase in heart rate, fresh air through the lungs, muscles moving.. you’ll feel a lot better. And if after 10 minutes you really don’t feel it? Stop, that’s fine. Sometimes – just sometimes – we really are too tired to go for it. But it’s very rare – and you don’t know for sure until you get going and give it a go.

 

3 – I’ve got a baby

Great, congratulations! So kill two birds with one stone – get your exercise done and entertain the little one at the same time.

How about taking bubs out for a long brisk walk in the pushchair? Or even a run. The fresh air will do you both good and you both might sleep better tonight!

Or if you fancy home exercise, involve the nipper! I sometimes “bench press” my son – it’s a game, and he loves it. PLUS he’s the perfect barbell – he increases ever so slightly in weight each session. Thanks, son 😉

 

 

Introduction to.. Wealth

Well, after being paid the ultimate compliment this week – Mrs Just About Life read the blog (I didn’t ask her to) and sent me an unexpected and wonderful message at work to say how much she loved it – I’m stoked and back as promised with the next of the “mini-series” of articles on the three main themes of this blog.

“Money can’t buy me love” sang the Beatles (they obviously never played Amsterdam). It can buy you all sorts of crap though, or it could be used to get you out of your boring job earlier than expected.

Yep, today we’re talking about a big, ugly subject: Wealth.

money-case-163495_1280

Since Mrs JAL liked the 2-step plan from the Introduction to.. Health so much, I’m going to repeat the trick for Wealth, here it comes.

Wealth – the 2-step plan

  1.  Spend less than you earn
  2.  Invest the rest (wisely)

 

Got that? Sounds simple doesn’t it? And that’s because it is.

If you follow Step 1 and Spend less than you earn, then you will have some left every month.

Which means you can get stuck in to Step 2 and Invest the rest (wisely, of course).

So what does that mean? As with last time, let’s now go into a bit of detail.

 

1. Spend less than you earnscales

Exactly what it says. Every time you get paid, that’s all your money until the next time you get paid. Don’t spend it all. Simple.

 

But plenty of people don’t do this. Many people just spend without really thinking about it. Some months they get lucky and might not spend what they’ve earned, and some months they definitely do spend more. Over the months and years, things might even just about balance out, but one thing is for sure – those people won’t be getting rich any time soon. (Some people even consistently spend more than they earn, and get into debt. This is a horrible place to be, and something I might look at in a future post.)

 

So, what can you do to consistently achieve this goal of spending less than you earn? I’m glad you asked. For a start, you could consider making a household budgetI know, I know.. But stay with me! The JAL family started doing this last November, and since then we feel a lot happier, far more in control, and – dare I say it – it’s actually fun and enjoyable to be prepared, to really think about your spending, and to keep track of what’s going on. Not to mention the tremendous feeling at the end of every month when we review and realise we’ve hit our targets again, bringing us one step closer to our goal of financial independence. Yep, budgeting can give you the laser focus that can really ramp up your efforts and get you to financial independence much quicker.

More on budgets in an article soon, because they’re really important! See? I put it in bold and with an exclamation mark to prove just how important they are. But for now you can stop sweating, that’s all on budgets. For now.

 

Next, you have to change attitudes. Again, in bold.  Because attitude is everything. Our society seems to have developed this “I deserve it” mentality – “Hey you! Yes, you there in the smart suit! You’re working hard every day, so you deserve those shoes, that new leather-trimmed executive car, AND that holiday to Barbados!”

And you probably do deserve those things! If that’s what you really want..

But looking at this another way – you buy the shoes, the car, and the holiday now, and you’re effectively robbing your future self. And your future self might not be happy about that. So, how’s about not blowing every last penny every month, and when you’re 60* you’ll be able to stop work, go to Barbados for 2 years if you want, and wear new shoes every night. (Ok, maybe not, but hopefully you get my point. And anyway, by the time you get to 60 I reckon you’ll realise that the shoes don’t make you that happy anyway, and that there’s a lot to be said for walking around barefoot – especially on the beaches of Barbados)

 

 


2. Invest the rest (wisely)money_increase

Ok, so you’ve made a budget (or maybe you haven’t… yet) and you’ve got that “bit” of money left over every month, remember? Well, I guess you have several options for what to do with it. For example, you could:

 

  1. Go shopping and blow it all on designer gear and expensive coffees, or
  2. Buy a new flat/round/curvy/voluptuous/whatever television, or
  3. Invest it (in about a million different ways)

 

Now, I know that plenty of people will see options 1 and 2 as infinitely more exciting than option 3. But I can tell you that if you choose one of the first two options, you won’t be financially independent any time soon. Like, not in the next 40 years. If you take the 3rd option – and you regularly take the 3rd option (as in “EVERY month” regular) – then you WILL GET RICH. You will get rich slowly, but you WILL GET RICHRemember – it’s all about attitudes. Change your attitude, change your life.

 

A reminder here that none of this is financial advice – and the usual disclaimers apply – but as an example of what you could do with your leftover dosh each month, you could probably do worse than opening a stocks and shares ISA with an online platform (investing through an ISA takes advantage of some tax benefits) and setting up a monthly direct debit to invest a regular sum into a low-cost index tracker fund. Let this direct debit carry on automatically and forget about it.

 

 

Pay it forward

You could even really commit to this and pay yourself first. Set up your direct debit into your investment account for the next day after your monthly pay day. This way you always get paid. Hopefully, your investments will – over time – just grow and grow, until one day you can just not go into the office any more. Wahey! (How to work out when this day might come? Check back for future articles, I’ve got some ideas on this one and maybe even some useful tools for you!)
Control yourselfkeys

The most important thing we’re talking about here is taking control. By budgeting, and socking some dosh away on a regular basis, you’re taking control. You can’t control the stock market, or the housing market, or the job market, or any other market for that matter.. But you CAN control how much YOU SPEND and therefore how much YOU SAVE. And the fact is that people who do this have a much, much, much better chance of achieving their financial goals.

What the Dickens?


So, as a final note then, how does wealth relate to happiness? This is obviously a subject for much debate – money is an extremely emotive subject, and I look forward to writing plenty more about this. But since we’re looking for simple, straight-talking views, look no further than the advice of Charles Dickens, who sent this message to the Victorians of 19th century England via the character Wilkins Micawber** in “David Copperfield“:

Annual income twenty pounds,

Annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six,

Result happiness.

 

Annual income twenty pounds,

Annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six,

Result misery.

 

That sounds a lot like “Spend Less Than You Earn” to me…

Cheers Wilko me ole mucker, sound advice!

 

Until next time – pay yourself first!

JAL

 

 

 

 

 

* Obviously if you’re aged 58 and reading this, this may not quite be true

 

** Interesting “back story” on the character of Wilkins Micawber, from Wikipedia, he was:

..modelled on Dickens’s own father, John Dickens, who like Micawber was incarcerated in debtors’ prison (the King’s Bench Prison) after failing to meet his creditors’ demands.

..(later) Micawber is hired as a clerk by the scheming Uriah Heep, who assumes wrongly that Micawber’s debts arise from dishonesty. But working for Heep allows Micawber to expose his boss as a forger and a cheat. To start anew, Micawber and his family emigrate to Australia with Daniel Peggotty and Little Em’ly, where Micawber becomes manager of the Port Middlebay Bank and a successful government magistrate.
 

DISCLAIMER

I am not a financial expert. I do not work in the financial industry. Nothing on this blog is intended or can be considered to be financial advice, and I cannot accept responsibility for any of your actions. Always do your own research, or seek the help of a professional, and make your own decisions. I am merely expressing an opinion here, based on my own experience.

 

Introduction to.. Health

Attention, lifer! Let’s get this thing started!

Ok, the initial introductions have been made, and as promised, today I’m going to start my “mini-series” of articles on the three main themes of this blog. We’re not messing around; today we’re going to get stuck into the big one – Health.

Use it or lose it!

It is the big one, which is why we’re covering it first. If you lose your health (I mean lose it big-time) then obviously you’re not going to be happy, and as for your wealth – you could have £400m in the bank, it ain’t going to be a whole lot of use to you. Ok, ok, it could buy you the best health provision available to man.. but wouldn’t you prefer to have to rely on healthcare as little as possible? Well your best (and cheapest) health insurance policy is to stay healthy. Simple, right? That’s what we’re trying to do here, remember – keep things simple.

Buy one, get 2 free

So here we have a radical simple 2 step plan to getting fit and staying fit.

But fitness isn’t all you’ll get – added bonuses of the plan are:

  1. Your wealth should (and almost definitely will) INCREASE
  2. Your happiness levels should (and almost definitely will) INCREASE

Whaaaaat? I thought we were only talking HEALTH today, not WEALTH and HAPPINESS too?

Well, yes, strictly speaking, we are only talking health. But as I make my way through life, I find that the 3 things are often more related than we can ever imagine. Which is partly why I went for the “just about life” name for the blog, because even if I was just writing about health, or personal finance.. I know I would ultimately end up talking about “more” than just that every time I sat down to write.

So, let’s get stuck in. I mentioned a simple 2 step plan. Are you ready?

Health – the 2-step plan

  1. Eat sensibly
  2. Do some exercise

I warned you it was radical.

And if you really really really can’t stick to step 1, then just make sure you do step 2.. and make sure you crank it up a bit. Reason for this get-out clause? Again, simple – if you’re burning more calories than you’re taking on, you’ll be losing weight. So even if you consume 4,000 calories a day, so long as you burn 4,000 you’ll not be putting on weight. More on this stuff in the future, no doubt.

However, assuming you can handle TWO steps to your radical plan for staying alive, let’s have a closer look at each of those steps.

1. Eat Sensibly

Just.. Be Honest

If you’re putting on weight, you should know about it without the need for a set of scales. Trousers feeling a little tighter? Chances are that they didn’t suddenly decide to shrink. Look in the mirror, and just be honest with yourself.

Especially as we get older (usually around mid-thirties onwards, so I’m told.. I’m just reaching that age now and preparing for it..) we can’t keep chugging back the beers and scoffing down the cake without repercussions.

There used to be a girl in an office I once worked in, and she was conscious of her weight. She’d constantly be telling her colleagues:

– “I just don’t understand it! I eat a small bowl of cereal for breakfast, a sub-250calorie sandwich for lunch and yet I just don’t lose any weight!”

Most of us who overheard this constant outcry could tell that it was the 10am chocolate bar, mid-afternoon cake, and the frequent take-away meals and boozy nights out that were quite possibly the cause. But she wasn’t being honest with herself, and so wasn’t therefore going to be able to fix the problem. Ever.

2. Do some exercise

And after that particular gold nugget, straight away I’d like to say this:

GYM memberships are NOT necessary to maintain a good level of health. Absolutely NOT necessary. At all.

If you’re the kind of person that can only get motivated in a “gym”, fine, go for it.

If you currently have – or have had – injuries, and you need to exercise on certain machines etc., fine, go for it.

For the rest of us – the vast majority of us – they are just not necessary. If you have a membership, go ahead and cancel it right now. You’ll probably be saving something like £600 a year – for most people that’s going to be akin to pumping an extra month of savings into your investments every year. Imagine that! Your savings account says you worked an month this year.. except you know that you worked the usual 47 weeks, same as last year. Over 20 years, you can expect that £600 a year to be worth something like £18000*. Again, for most people, what that really means is that you could give up this work thing at least a year or two ahead of your current target.

Another way

So now we’ve got no gym membership, what do we do? Here are a few ideas that are available to anyone and everyone:

– Home circuit workout (ZERO equipment required!)

– Running (outside! in the fresh air! for free!)

– Shadow (or bag) boxing (freak the neighbours out!)

I currently use those methods – and only those methods – to control my weight and muscle tone. And you too can achieve your goals, or just “maintain” your current condition (if you’re happy with it). More detail on the workouts to come in a future post.

Benefits with friends

So, what are the downsides to cutting the gym membership? Umm.. none for me. I dislike gyms!

Upsides?  Fresh air (instead of that lovely gym air..), nature, much less time required (no travelling, changing, parking..), running with a friend/relative/loved one/future loved one

If you’re used to only running on a treadmill (yuck!) and don’t go running outside much, do yourself a favour and go outside for a run today as soon as possible (i.e. NOW, or straight after work). Then when you get home, after you’ve done your stretches, come back to this blog and leave me a comment to say “thank-you”. I guarantee you will be wondering what the hell you were doing on the treadmill all that time.

(Bonus: If you’re in the UK, then you’ll have noticed that spring has well and truly sprung, so the feel-good factor of running outdoors will be ramped up even more!)

Just.. Get outta here

That’s it for today – so stop reading, lace up your runners and get out there! And don’t forget to check in next week for my Introduction to.. Wealth.

Until next time – be honest with yourself!

JAL

PS – If anyone’s interested in details on the circuit workouts, or any other aspect of what I’ve said, let me know and I’ll gladly put some info up on this blog sooner rather than later.

* somewhat conservatively assuming an average 4% investment increase each year

DISCLAIMER

I am not a medical expert. I do not work in the medical industry. Nothing on this blog is intended or can be considered medical advice, and I cannot accept responsibility for any of your actions. Do your research, make your own decisions, and if you have a medical concern then consult with an appropriately licensed and qualified physician or other health care worker. I am merely expressing an opinion here, based on my own experience.