Finance for Freedom: The Dandelion Book
Lorna shares with us how having financial control has allowed her to plan very exciting experiences as well as live a comfortable lifestyle. I hope that you enjoy this post that is part of a series of blog posts about how using money to your advantage can give you more freedom in life.
Tell us a bit about you and your family
I live in a tenement flat in Edinburgh with my husband.
What do you do to make money?
I’m the Engineering Project Manager at Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd. Home of the worlds largest operating tidal stream turbine.
How long have you been doing this?
I’ve been in marine renewables for 4 years, but only in my current role for 1 year.
What inspired you to do it?
I moved over to renewable energy mid-career as I wanted to work for an industry that was more in keeping with my values and had great potential for growth in Scotland.
What do you love most about it?
The team of people that I work with, they are very creative and intelligent and they really care about the work that they do.
What do you find most challenging about it and how do you overcome this?
There’s always a lot going on. I’m very meticulous with the management of my calendar & to-do lists, and with financial control of my money. Everything either has to be done right away or scheduled, there is no room for trying to remember to do things: that way lies disaster.
Money can make or break a person. Has your relationship with money changed over the years?
I’m lucky that as an engineer, I’ve always had regular reasonably well paid employment. I graduated with large Canadian student loans and so spent my entire 20’s in debt. After paying that all of that, I started, in my 30’s, to save up with my partner to buy a flat, but that was at a time when house prices were rising much faster than we could save a deposit. Eventually, 5 years later we bought a ‘fixer upper’ flat which we have since renovated & expanded, doing much of the work ourselves. A further 5 years of blood sweat & tears later we have a lovely flat with a relatively inexpensive mortgage, which gives us some breathing space to start looking toward saving for retirement. I’m a big fan of Ramit Sethi, Mr Money Moustache and other bloggers who teach alternative ways to think about money and financial control.
How do you feel that having financial control has now made you happier, healthier, or wealthier?
Having lived on tightly managed budgets for the last 2 decades, whilst paying off university debts & getting a comfortable and affordable home, I feel that now I’m in my 40’s I can finally breathe a bit and enjoy things a little more. I still manage my money closely, but there is budget for hobbies and treats now.
What important choices have you been able to make because of good financial control?
I’ve recently been accepted into the next Homeward Bound Cohort which will be travelling on an expedition to the Antarctic. This trip is self-funding and although I will be able to raise some funds to help, most of it I will have to pay for myself. I’ve lived for 2 decades on between 50% and 70% of my take home pay, whilst paying off debt and renovating the flat, which means that putting aside the money for this trip isn’t something that is worrying me. I am very lucky to have this opportunity.
For many, the retirement age is now 67 or 68. Do you still see yourself still working at this age?
Hard to say, I certainly don’t intend to *have* to work, but I’m such a workaholic, I’m sure I’ll be doing something. I volunteer an average of 10 hours a week at present, so if I didn’t need a wage, I might expand my volunteering activities.
What does your ideal retirement look like? At what age? What do you see yourself doing?
My retirement looks more like a portfolio career than a holiday. I’d like to do a mix of interesting things, perhaps run a small business and continue with the volunteer work. I certainly want to be able to have choices about what I do with my time after I’m 60 and not *have* to show up at 9 am everyday.
What plans do you have in place to allow you to live this ideal retirement?
We’ve got less than £100k remaining on our mortgage and plan to clear that within 5 years. Once we’ve done that we’ll have the choice to dial back our careers or to keep working full tilt with the aim of retiring early. I can’t say now, how I’ll feel in 5 years and what interesting opportunities might be available. With the mortgage paid off I’m giving my future self the gift of choice.
Any other comments?
I created the Dandelion Book 3 years ago for my own use, and last year some friends asked for copies. This year I thought I’d see if there was interest in it from the general public. I find it useful to hold an ‘AGM’ with myself and review how the year went and set my compass for the coming year. This is what the Dandelion Book is, a tool for reviewing one year and planning the next. I find it particularly useful when I’m feeling down or discouraged to look back at all the things I have actually accomplished; it’s easy to forget that at the start of the year the stair bannister had been unpainted for 2 years or that I didn’t have shelves in the front hall. It’s great to remind myself that I’m making progress and making change.
You can find the Dandelion Book in Amazon, if you would like to get yourself organised for the year ahead and celebrate your “wins” along the way.
If you have been inspired by Lorna’s story, then check out the other posts in the Finance for Freedom series.
If you would like to create some financial freedom for yourself then why not start with my brand new Finance for Freedom freebie.
It will help you to start to make exciting plans for your future and help you to identify the steps you need to take to make them happen.