That is, if the dream of the 90’s is running a half-marathon. That’s right, dear reader, Mrs. Dragon and I ran the Shamrock Run Half Marathon in Portland last month. It was an awesome week long trip to the Pacific Northwest.
One of my best friends lives in Portland and Mrs. Dragon has a good friend who lives in Tacoma, Washington. So last fall we booked some flights to go out and see them. It also happened to be my buddy’s 30th birthday, so we decided that we should all run a half-marathon to celebrate. Right. Cuz that’s a celebratory activity?
While we were out there, we also drove down and spent two nights at Crater Lake National Park. It is seriously beautiful there.
The reason I’m writing about the trip on this blog is twofold. The first is that this trip wasn’t cheap. Plane tickets, a few nights at the cabin, lots of eating out, the race registration, the list goes on and on. But that’s OK. The point of monitoring your spending (at least for us) is to make sure you spend your money on things that make you happy.
This trip definitely falls into that category. We had an absolute blast catching up with friends, running the race, and visiting Cater Lake.
Of course, every dollar you spend is a dollar that you can’t save. But it’s important to make sure that you are living your life in the present, not just chasing financial independence.
It’s really easy to get caught up in thoughts about how saving an extra $1000 every year will shave an extra couple months off your FI date. These thoughts are great, and help to push the needle further towards retiring early. But you have to know when enough is enough.
We don’t have non-mortgage debt, and we are currently making good progress towards our financial goals. We planned for this trip months in advance. Was it expensive? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely. All work and no play makes Jack a dull dragon.
Before I get to the second reason for this post I just want to make something clear. I don’t like running. I mean, I’d rather run than get sprayed in the face with mace, but it’s not really high on my list of favorite activities. I would rather lift weights, play basketball, play disc golf, swim… you get the picture. Before training for this race the furthest I had ever run was 5.5 miles. And that was only one time.
Keeping that in mind, the second reason for this post is to point out that you should have more than just financial goals. In particular, anyone who wants to retire early should be laser focused on health, as well as finances. I’m not saying everyone should run long distance. But I do think that it is a good idea to have exercise goals. Maybe try the couch to 5k program. Maybe start swimming. Run some sprints. Do some yoga. Whatever puts wind in your wings.
Just make sure you have concrete, measurable, and obtainable goals. For example, “I want to run more” is a terrible goal. Shame on you if that was the first thing that popped into your head. The idea is great, but it’s a horrible way to phrase the goal. It’s much better to say “I want to run 3 days a week” or “I want to run 5 miles a week” or “I want to be able to run 5 miles at once.” See the difference?
The “good” goals are all easily measurable. But what, exactly, does “running more” mean in the “bad” goal? Running more as compared to what? As compared to how much you run right now? What happens in two weeks? How much is “more” then?
You are much more likely to stick with goals if you can stay motivated. You are much more likely to stay motivated if you can see you’re making progress. It’s much easier to see if you are making progress if you have a concrete goal. This is true of all goals too, not just financial goals.
“I want to save enough money to retire.” What does that mean?
“I want to save $600,000 and have a paid off house.” Very clear and easy to measure your progress.
Don’t half-ass it. If you want to make goals for yourself, and I think you should, then make them well-thought-out goals. I’ll be rooting for you!
Also, in case you were interested, we tried out a dispensary while we were out there and it was freakin cool. They have this huge menu of different strains, edibles, oils, you name it. They talk to you about the buzz associated with different stuff and where it’s grown. It was pretty fun to nerd out about it. I don’t regularly partake but, as they say, when in Rome.
What are your specific goals for reaching FIRE? Have you calculated your number? Feel free to share it with us!