Accidental FIRE

I was on the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) path well before it became an internet movement. I’m a numbers geek at heart. I tracked my spending in Excel since I was twelve. I loved–and still love–the sense of control of knowing how every penny I earned was spent or saved. I started investing not long afterwards–and made countless, costly mistakes 😖 but learned from (most of) them.

At fourteen, Freedom 55 sounded nice so I decided Freedom 45 would be even better. I didn’t have a clear cut plan on how to achieve Freedom 45, but it was always in the back of my mind as I lived my life. I finished high school, went to uni, wandered aimlessly around Europe, and finally came home to start my first “adult” job. I spent money a tad recklessly but always knew to not spend more than I made (thanks, Mom!). My aversion to debt continues to this day. I’m lazy so I put my finances on autopilot with automatic bill payments and automatic investment purchases.

In 2012, I decided to make an annual budget and track my net worth because I thought I should have a plan for Freedom 45. I wasn’t strict on sticking with my budget; it was more to help me determine how much I would need for retirement. I continued to track my net worth on a quarterly basis, even during my stint with major depressive disorder. Some years were better than others but seeing my progress (or lack thereof) helped me tweak my spending habits when needed.

Last year, once I started coming out of the anti-depressant-induced haze, I met with a financial advisor. Although I neglected my finances for 2+ years, by some miracle Freedom 45 is still on track. Even Freedom 40 is doable. In fact, I could retire right now…provided I get control of my luxury handbag obsession (I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I was planning to go to Paris this April to pick up a Hermès 🙈; only the recent yellow vest protests put a damper on my plans). It’s freeing to know I could walk away from the day job whenever I want.



The Lost Years

OCD and an addictive personality are a dangerous and expensive combination.

  • 1000+ comic books
  • 300+ books
  • 200+ movies
  • 30 place settings
  • 20 water bottles
  • More cookware than I could possibly use

I bought an iPad Mini in fall of 2014, downloaded a few games, deleted some games, then tumbled down a long, dangerous rabbit hole.

Within a few months, gaming was sucking more time than a full-time job. Worse, I spent thousands of dollars on this game. (Friends spent tens to hundreds of thousands.) It is a diabolical combination of a slick mobile game that rivals any on a console and global player community with some incredibly funny, incredibly supportive, incredibly smart people. We spent thousands of hours strategizing, venting, commiserating, and laughing. We talked about the game and our lives. I formed life-long friendships. I met up with people in Europe and the US. I have another trip planned for December.

I finally quit the game this summer. It was awful. There were bribes and arguments. There may have been tears. Three months later, people still ask me when I’m coming back. We’re a community of addicts and we’ve all seen relapses. However, I know quitting was the best thing for me on many levels and have no intention of ever going back.

Balance is not in an addict’s vocabulary. Between work and the game, everything else in my life fell to the wayside. I considered hiring a cleaning service because housework was getting in the way of my gaming. My nephew resorted to taking my iPad away from me when I visited so I would play with him. Writing trickled down to almost nothing. I kept putting off funding my TFSA. I didn’t rebalance my portfolio for three years. I cringe at the thought of how I hurt myself financially.

To be completely honest, it wasn’t only the game and the community that made me neglect other areas of my life. I lost two cousins fairly recently. One at twenty-seven and one at thirty. I grew up with them. I imagined our kids playing together one day. I fell apart to the point where I could barely think of my family and friends, let alone myself. I dropped down to 80 lbs. I no longer cared about work. I expected to be terminated in the last year; it would’ve been a relief. The game and the community kept me going for a while. Eventually, they weren’t enough, and my doctors and friends pushed me into therapy. I made progress. And now I’m ready to take back control of my life.