February Update: What Cycle Are We In Now?
Get the joke? I'm cycling on a bike path and the title of the post has the word cycle in it! Ok, that's my lame joke for the year, I was just trying to be cheeky like some of my journalist friends!
Well, we're already into the second month of 2023, and I already missed one of my New Year's Resolutions, going to sleep by 10 and waking up by 6:30. I used to be so disciplined when I was in my 20s, around the time most 20-somethings are not.
I woke up at 6:10 am to go down to the gym in our building, workout for an hour, and then get ready to bike 10 minutes to the office. I tried my best to be at work by 8:30 am to compete with my colleagues, but also to avoid the walk of shame across my boss's office to my office since he was right next to the elevator.
Now, since I work from home like many professionals, there isn't that same pressure to be "online" by a certain time.
And since I don't have to commute or wear a tie every day, it cuts down on the time to get ready (though technically I guess I commute to the gym, that's 5 minutes slightly downhill on my longboard, and let me tell you, and amazing way to start the day).
Tomorrow is New Day, a Gift that Keeps Coming
There are numerous benefits to doing things early, as our minds are more focused in the morning and I also enjoy getting to see the early morning run and smell that crisp morning air.
The difficult thing for me is, I like to work on side projects after dinner, and then just tell myself I deserve to watch random news and CNBC YouTube clips to unwind, with some mindless videos mixed in.
To compound that, I also FaceTime with faraway friends a few times a week, and you can't really rush those conversations!
The Plus Side to the Shortest Month of the Year
February, being the shortest month of the year does come with hidden benefits.
Let's say you want to get up at 6:30 am every day or go swimming laps after lunch every Thursday. There are fewer of those days in February, so it's easier to reach your goal! Add in a few holidays and I can't think of any other month except December where you work less.
Another update I have to share with you all this February is I've set a timeline for buying a property. I've been lucky to save like crazy the last 12 years and figured that if prices are still crazy high by November of this year, I will plan to close on a smaller, less expensive home by January 2024.
How Much Time Should You Spend Preparing to Take Action?
We often find ourselves in analysis paralysis when we look into things such as what laptop or car to buy, so one tip I received a while back was to give yourself a time limit on making a decision.
This means researching which laptop has the best features, reliability, and speed before pulling the trigger. Tell yourself that you have 1 hour to make a decision, and if you can't decide between 2, sleep on it.
Now a house is a much larger investment obviously, so I've done all the research I can on which markets I want to buy in, what amenities are important to have close by, and the condition of the home.
So, I figured by giving myself a deadline, I am planning on making a purchase, whether it will be my primary residence or an investment property.
While there is something freeing about nomad life and not being tied down to any one place, there is also the opposite effect of feeling unestablished, like you don't have a "home".
I fully recognize the privilege I have of my parents letting me live in their house, but I know that you can't progress in life if you give in to lethargy and mediocrity.
Sure there are people living with their parents until middle age, but normally they are recovering from a setback and trying to get on their feet (at least I hope so).
To Plant Roots in The City or The Burbs?
I also found after living in a very large home and living in a smaller apartment in the city, that most of the suburbs and city just doesn't cut it for me. Like many FIers, I love being able to walk and bike everywhere, having change encounters at the local coffee shop or farmer's market and just living where there is more energy.
The thing is, I realized you spend a lot of time in your home, and that matters too. Where you wake up, how big/nice your bathroom is, where you prepare meals and eat, etc. I love entertaining, and that was made possible in the apartment by our club room.
Once you have a family though, your mindset shifts because now you have to think about things like schools and rowdy pedal cabs roaring down the street. I don't mind being harassed by transients on the walk home, but I don't know if I'd want to introduce my kids to that so early on.
Yet when this happens, and you inevitably trade balconies for backyards, your social life and inner light can suffer.
"The Burbs Are So Boring"
Many people who live in the suburbs may know their immediate neighbors, but those chance encounters I mentioned are harder to come by because you go from your garage to the nearest Costco.
It's not like before when you'd be walking home from a yoga class and run into someone in your building's lobby, who then invites you to a live music event just down the street.
I hear guys all the time saying "Oh I'll have friends over and I'll create a man cave" yet that rarely happens because it just takes too much effort in coordinating and people get lazy when they have to go somewhere on a Friday night. They'd rather hang out watching a movie with their partner and order GrubHub. Nothing wrong with that, but friends are crucial in life.
Another issue about just having people over at your place is that you don't run into people you normally wouldn't hang out with like you would in an urban environment. You don't get the chance to challenge yourself and your beliefs/opinions because we naturally tend to associate with people like us (and we wonder why our country is more polarized these days).
Who Says You Can't Be Hip and Friendly in a Cul De Sac?
So when I become yet another suburban homeowner, I'm going to try my best to make sure I can at least walk to a grocery store, park, and gym. Then, I want to be able to bike easily (less than 3 miles) to a library, bike/running trail, body of water, and shopping center that isn't stuffed with distasteful chain restaurants.
I'm also going to revive the concept of "love thy neighbor". Having a Christmas Festival, a 4th of July parade, and regular hangouts on our driveway or porch, instead of the backyard.
If living in Tennesee taught me anything, it reinforced the concept of " a stranger is just a friend you haven't met yet". I'll smile, wave, and say hello to those I come by. If they don't seem to be in a rush, I'm going to try and be a good friend by asking them genuinely how they are doing and listening with care. And I might even invite them to one of our driveway hangouts.
So, the gist of my February update is that I decided I'm going to be a homeowner by January 2024. And I'm going to keep trying to make getting up by 6:30 a normal occurrence.
Wish me luck, and see you guys next month in March for a special Marvelously Money March Update!