My Retirement Dream & Why I Drive a 13-year-old Minivan

This post is part of Sun Life Canada's #retireinspired promotion.  Check out their site here for some cool stories regarding how Canadians plan to get to – and then spend – their retirement. 

One thing I am never accused of is overcompensating for something by driving a flashy ride.  Rides don’t get less flashy than the minivan you spent part of your childhood in.

A reasonable person might ask why in the world a guy from the YOLO generation, who is in his mid-twenties, and takes home a decent paycheque, would drive an old minivan to work every day.  The truth is that my fiancée and I also own a newer commuter car, but since she commutes farther than I do, I get to drive our back up vehicle – the fly ride that screams “I am a proud soccer mom” to everyone as I drive by.

So, do I have some weird need to identify as a suburban mother of two or the dad that coaches little league?  No. I simply have the weird need to “retire” as young as possible and live each day on my own terms.

SunLife.ca Wanted to Know My Retirement Dream

For me, retiring isn’t about living out a Freedom 55™ or Cialis™ commercial everyday with other “seniors” who look like they are 30-year-old models.  Retiring is really a bit of a misnomer in that I have no idea what I’ll do once I achieve what Moneysense’s Jonathon Chevreau calls Findependence.  When I no longer need my day job to provide income any longer I might still decide to make money doing something I enjoy or I might decide to travel.  I might volunteer for a number of extremely worthy causes or I might disengage with society for a few weeks and retreat to a beautiful sunny deck by a lake, armed with half-a-forest’s worth of reading material.  The only thing I’m sure about is that I want to reach that point of ultimate financial independence very quickly.

Related: Book Review: Findependence Day

There are folks out there who are willing to make larger sacrifices than me in order to build up their nest egg at a faster rate.  For example, my fiancée and I are not ones for cutting our food budget to the bone, we splurge on travel from time to time, and when we badly want a relatively inexpensive luxury good we don’t hesitate to treat ourselves once in a while.  We could live with roommates if we really want to maximize our income potential but instead we enjoy our modest house and the privacy it provides.  If you want someone that pops under the Google Search results when you type in “Extreme Savings” or “Extreme Early Retirement” you need to look somewhere else.

What Are You Willing to Forgo In Order to Make Your Dream a Reality?

While I may not be “extreme”, I think it is fair to say I am willing to sacrifice more immediate gratification than most; consequently, I drive a fully-functioning family-friendly motor with four wheels 4km to work every day.  If there was public transportation available in the rural area I live in I’d likely choose that option instead.  Sometimes I bike or walk to work, but on those January days when the prairie winds can cut through 9 layers of clothing I push my courage and pride to the side and jump into Ol Reliable.

When my parents decided to finally treat themselves to a bit of a newer vehicle after two decades of minivan-supported family adventures, I was fortunate to inherit what could charitably be described as a working piece of nostalgia.  Given the right price (a big hug) and the complete lack of major mechanical issues, you won’t hear me complain.  I know that I could easily get approved for a large new car loan and snag whatever shiny vehicle the marketers thrust into my face at the right moment.  I won't say I never have the occasional weak moment when I seen new cars or pickups drive by or when I pass by a car lot and the newly buffed vehicles seem to wink at me,  but instead I’m content to take that cash and throw it into my long-term investment plan.

Any Plan Is Better Than No Plan

As a young person planning for retirement is a tough task due to the fact there are so many variables that could change and the very vagueness of something that seems so distant can make procrastination a far more enticing option than planning.  I don’t know every precise step I’ll take on my journey to retirement, but I do know that I want that journey to be far shorter than most, that my eventual destination will look pretty modest to many members of the middle class, and that the savings rates I’ll likely need to attain along the way won’t be easy in a world that tries very hard to get me to spend and satisfy my need intense want for immediate gratification.

My retirement dream is worth sacrificing a few looks of envy as I drive by.  It’s worth sacrificing an overpriced status symbol.  The feeling of waking up in the morning and knowing that the entire day is mine to do with what I want and that I am beholden to no one – that’s worth a whole lot of sacrifice.

How many weeks of vacation do you get?  I want 52.  That’s my retirement dream.

Thanks to Sun Life for putting together an interesting look at retirement dreams and various paths to get there as part of their promotion.  Check out their site here to see what other Canadians have to say about their quest for their ideal retirement.

7 Comments

  1. My Own Advisor on October 1, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Nice stuff my friend.

    I’m with you, looking for FI vs. “retirement”.

    I hope to have enough cash flow in 15 years to pay for living expenses. We’ll see…it’s an aggressive goal but like you the goal is to no longer work because you have to, but because you want to 🙂

    Mark



  2. Kyle on October 2, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Thanks Mark. Fifteen years out eh… that’s almost light at the end of the tunnel territory!



  3. Sean Cooper, Financial Journalist on October 3, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    I see retirement is an outdated term. Retirement sounds like you can’t wait to escape your job. Financial independence on the other hand is about working because you enjoy your career, not because you have it. Hopefully I’ll be able to achieve financial independence at age 31. That’s the goal!



  4. Jonny on October 5, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Haha, this post had me at “minivan”.
    I threaten my gf with the purchase of a minivan about every other week. I think I have an emotional attachment as my family had some great (and not so great) memories on some long road trips.
    Props to you for getting your priorities straight and sticking to it despite the snickers you may hear. Not taking yourself so seriously can be one of the best saving methods around!



  5. Kyle on October 5, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Thanks for the moral support Jonny!



  6. Lance on October 7, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    I drove around a 19-year-old car. My favorite car is one that is paid off. Don’t care what others think. They can do all the worrying for me. Then I’ll pass them by as they work and I’m retired.



  7. Kyle on October 7, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    I like that one, “What’s your favorite car” – “One that is paid off!”



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