15 Feb 2014
Here at Fortress Peschel, we spend a lot of time considering the future. What do we want? Our hopes, fears, concerns: all come up regularly in discussions while sitting on our salvaged couch on the Florida room watching the fireflies come out. If you do not set goals, you will drift along aimlessly like a leaf in the stream.If this is all you want out of life, that is OK. However, if you want more financial independence, a smaller ecological footprint, disaster preparedness (including economic), a house you can age in, or children for whom you set a good example, then you had better get planning.
In short: Failing to plan means you plan to fail.
I understand that plans may collapse upon meeting reality. Planning means that at least you thought about what might happen. Failure is always an option because the universe does not care about you or what you want. No one plans to have a tornado strike or cancer or a car accident. Terrible things happen every day to all kinds of people.
As they say, the rain falls on the rich and poor alike. The difference is the rich have better roofs on their houses.
Planning ahead for various contingencies and acting upon those plans gives you breathing space when bad things happen. You can strategize various scenarios and what ifs, role play every possible eventuality. What would you need to do if you had a natural disaster? Hope for the best and then plan for the worst. What actually happens will be somewhere in between.
The Fortress Peschel mission statement has the goals of
- energy efficiency
- self sufficiency
- cost effectiveness
- self supporting
- becoming part of the community
- true green as opposed to being a greenie-weenie
- able to age in place
- prepared for zombies (if you are ready for zombies, you are ready for anything)
- financial independence
Quite a long list of goals! And yet they interlock and support each other. Being energy efficient means less money spent. Less money spent means getting closer to financial independence. Less energy used means being greener and more sustainable. Less energy used means sending less money to terrorists. Needing less money means it is easier to be self supporting.
Everything we do ourselves (self sufficiency) means less money spent and more useful skills learned and being more self supportive. Being able to age in place means less money needed for future, expensive nursing home care. Being involved in the community means more support for us, being part of pass-down networks, being more secure.
Be Green, Not Greenie-Weenie
True green means doing all those hard things:
- Turning down the thermostat (less money spent! less $$ sent to terrorists!)
- Growing our own veg and fruit (less money spent! fewer carbon miles! more sustainable!)
- Staying off of airplanes and visiting faraway places to see zoo exhibits of unusual people ? pardon, indigenous, exotic locals (less money spent! less air pollution and climate change!).
I could go on for hours and bore you, dear reader, into silliness. But you see my point. Goals build upon each other, reinforce each other, and they lead, eventually, to financial independence.
So Bill and I spend time talking about what we, as a couple, want. How do we want to get there? What needs to be done to get there? I have lengthy lists of home improvements and yard upgrades and financial goals and gradually, things get done and checked off.
- Attic insulated? check.
- Raised beds built? check.
- Lever doorknobs on every door? check.
- Savings plans with increasing dollars in them? check.
- D-handles on the repainted kitchen cabinets? Still waiting to be done.
The Power of Partnership
You and your partner must pull together as a team in order to get everything done. The world is becoming more uncertain and a reliable, hardworking partner who wants the same things you do is to be cherished and appreciated.If you and your spouse want radically different things; i.e., you want a paid-for house and he wants a new car every other year plus expensive overseas vacations, you will have a lot of problems. Unless you are very, very rich, there simply will not be enough money for all that. You could charge everything and become a debt slave for all time, paying for a vacation or dinner out three or four times over with the interest charges. This is a solution, but a really bad one.
If you want a cozy, well-insulated house that will save you energy dollars and your spouse won’t go along, you have a problem. If you want to have money in the bank but your spouse prefers to live on the very edge of bankruptcy, you have a problem. Do you want the same things? Do you want to end up in the same place? If you don’t already know what your partner wants, it is time to find out. You must have these conversations with your partner or you risk working at cross-purposes and never getting anywhere except frustrated.
What do you do if your spouse won’t cooperate? Getting anywhere with any of the above goals will be far more difficult as they all require saying no to “I want this now because I want it” and they all require focused work. Spouse conversion is possible but not easy. Partner doesn’t care about climate change? He may care about spending less money. Spouse doesn’t care about energy efficiency? She may care about sending less $$$ overseas to terrorists. Spouse is afraid of looking and feeling poor? She may care about not being a debt slave to Visa and having a fat savings account.
Go for the Goal
Where do you want to go with your life? to be snow birds, to travel the world, to retire at age 53, to never have to set foot off of your property again unless you want to? Decide on your goals, both near- and long-term. What changes do you need to accomplish them? Write down your goals and post the list where you can see it every day and check things off as you come to them. Do you need to cut expenses to pay off more debt? Do you have more skills to learn? Insulation to install? Gardening to do? Sit down today with your partner and decide what you, as a team, want for the future. Agree on your plans and make those lists. Then get to work as goals are only achieved when you work to make them happen.
Next Week: Adding a Canine Companion