My plan for 2013


Late last night I finished the IRS certification process for VITA: Tests in Basic, Intermediate, Advanced and Ethics.  It was bit easier time around as it is my third year.  Still, travel and other play put me behind the learning curve and the deadline was closing fast.  Our site opens next Tuesday and Thursday night I’ll be putting in my first shift.  From there, it gets easy: most Thursday evenings and Saturdays for about eight hours a week.

Retirement is not working out like I planned.  Somehow I expected a bunch more downtime.  I like downtime.  Nursing a cup of coffee.  Wondering what, if anything, to do next.

When I was working my jobs tended to be all-consuming.  It wasn’t them, it was me.  It’s just the way I approached them.  Little time for much else.  I was never good with balance.  That might explain my short attention span with them and why I stepped away for months, sometimes years at a time.  The need/desire to do that is why F-you money has always been so important.

But the nice thing about having a job was that it was just one thing.  Now, in retirement, there is a seemingly endless stream of cool stuff to take on.  Maybe not endless, but enough that I find myself thinking “Opps.  I forgot about that one.”  Spanish is a good example.

Like many, I took Spanish in high school.  Learned a handful of words that I used on my occasional travels to Mexico, Venezuela and Spain over the years.  But when we spent the summer of ’11 in Ecuador I decided to get serious.  We engaged a tutor and made some real progress.  Since then a focus on travel to mostly Spanish-speaking countries has gotten me to the point I can carry on basic conversations badly.

Sitting on my desk is a terrific book, Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish. A few hours a week with it would do wonders in moving my skills forward.  But between trips, I never think to touch it.

When I launched this blog a year and a half ago, I had never read one.  Barely knew what they were.  Now I follow several.  Many, if not most, seem to provide their readers with a year-end review post followed by another on their plans for the coming months.  The thinking seems to be, going public helps to keep one on track.  Makes sense to me, and readers seem to like reading this stuff.  I know I do.

With that in mind, here’s how I plan to spend 2013:


1.  Working on languages.  Ever since I was young I’ve wanted to be multi-lingual.  I’ve always admired and envied those who are.  But I made a critical mistake in high school and convinced myself I lacked the talent. Making up for lost time now.  As mentioned above, I’ve made some sound progress on Spanish.  That will continue this year, and Mrs. jlcollinsnh and I have signed up for French classes.  Our first was last Tuesday evening and this will be our Tuesday evenings for the next couple of months. It was great fun.  Engaging teacher and interesting fellow students.  Our daughter is now fluent in French.  It will be nice to share with her and helpful if we make it back to France one of these days.  It certainly gives us a reason to return to Quebec later this Spring.  If nothing else I’ll finally learn how to pronounce the names of French wines.  I already know how to drink them.

2. VITA.  As already mentioned, I’m volunteering as an income tax preparer in our local community.  This commitment runs until (surprise!) April 15th.


3. This blog needs work.  In addition to writing posts, I have been convinced that I need to seriously consider moving it to another platform.  Seems ads already appear on it, I just never see them or any revenue from them. While a labor of love, this is a bunch of labor none-the-less.  I’d like both more control and more benefit from it. But this is going to be a tough nut.  Not only do I have no relevant knowledge on how to make it happen, I have no interest in the process.  But, I do have friends!

monk writing

4. The book.  Since the beginning I’ve wanted to morph the financial posts here into book form.  One of the reasons for the blog has been to provide the motivation to write. The material is mostly done, but there is still quite a bit of organizational work and rewriting needed to make it what I want it to be.  Plus I need to decide and explore how to publish it.  As with these posts themselves, the book will be what I want my daughter to know about money and investing.  If others find it helpful and of interest so much the better.


Arasha Resort, Ecuador

5.  The Ecuador Retreat.  I’ve alluded to this in a few earlier posts.  Too much so for at least one commentator, but I’m really pumped about it.  The speakers are in place, the resort booked, the excursions arranged, the plans laid and the website just about finished.  Very shortly I’ll be publishing a post with the details. Maybe come September we’ll be hanging out in Ecuador together.


6.  Off-road motorcycle training.  As regular readers know, I ride a motorbike.  Recently one of my riding buddies has been luring me further and further off-road and into the dirt.  It is great fun, but I have zero skills for the task and motorbike riding is not something you want to do without some skills.  So this March I’m headed out to California to have these guys spend a couple of days teaching me.  Afterward, we’re going to head out into the Mojave Desert for a couple more days to see if I learned anything.  I’ve signed up for the Intro course and the Base Camp Alpha ride starting March 22nd.  I think they’ve still got a spot or two open if you want to come. Should be an absolute blast!

6a.  Motorcycle mechanics.  As with languages, a long time ago I convinced myself I had neither the temperament or the talent for such dark arts.  Maybe that’s still true.  Maybe not.  But this year, I’ll find out.  When I put my bike to sleep for the winter I found a carburetor float bowl leaking.  Ordinarily, I’d just cart it over to the dealer for some professional attention.  This time my pal and neighbor Tom is going to teach me how to deal with it. I met him last year when he came puttering past on his old ’48 Harley while I was walking the dog. Of course, I flagged him down. Tom’s hobby is restoring old bikes and he’s got some beauties.  More importantly, he’s got the skills and fully outfitted garage to keep them running.  All I need now is a relatively clear day and ice-free roads to get my bike over there.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics

the league of extraordinary gentlemen

7.  Cleveland.  We used to live in Cleveland and I’ve still got a soft spot for the place and quite a few friends out that way.  Last year I spent a week visiting and had a grand time.  I intend to make it happen again. My pal Dennis recently emailed me to suggest the time has come for “the league of extraordinary gentlemen to convene” again. Yep, that’s us! As you can see, ego will not be in short supply.

house on an island

8.  Sell the house.  Word is the housing market around these parts has improved so we’re going to take another run at selling the house.  We’ve tried unsuccessfully a couple of times over the last few years.  When our daughter was young the house and the school system it is in made sense.  Now, not so much.  The first thing is to give it a thorough scrubbing.  We started last weekend and it should eat up a couple more between now and March 1st when we plan to list it.  Of course we’ll also have to spend some time interviewing realtors.  Our last realtor told us if she couldn’t sell the place we shouldn’t re-list with her.  We’re taking her at her word.  It will be on the market from March thru May.  If it doesn’t sell by then, we’ll set it aside until Fall because….

luggage old style

9.  We’ll be living abroad for the summer again this year.  We haven’t decided where – and that will take some time and effort – but as before we’ll be renting an apartment somewhere and exploring from that base.  I’m inclined to head back to Latin America for more Spanish practice.  But with the Euro dropping against the dollar, Europe is becoming attractive and potentially affordable as well.  Plus we have that French thing going on…..

10.  Credit cards and frequent flyer miles.  We use reward cards and travel on our frequent flyer miles.   This is not something I’ll much enjoy, but I think with a bit more effort we might find more benefit to be had.  File this under: I really should get around to it.

11.  Cell phone and cable plans.  Ditto what I said about cards and miles.


Harrisville, New Hampshire

Painting by Jon Holiday

12.  Come autumn we have the most beautiful time of year here in New Hampshire.  The trees burst into color, the air is crisp and the sun (mostly) shines.  Last year I spent a good part of it in Ecuador.  While that was a wonderful time, it left me scratching my head as to why I’d leave at the best possible time to stay.  It’s a good time to be here, watch the leaves change and ride motorbikes.  This year I’ll be sticking around come Fall. Nursing a cup of coffee.  Wondering what, if anything, to do next.

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  1. Mark says

    Hey Jim,

    I’ve been reading MMM and your blog for quite a while now and have noticed a few times that you’ve mentioned improving the blog in layout/revenue/what have you. I’ve been wanting to jump into the blogging universe for a while now but have yet to come up with a topic. In the meantime I’d be more than willing to help you out with improving your blog. I am pretty well versed in basic HTML, design, and revenue sources.

    Let me know how/if I can help!



  2. Trisha Ray says

    Jim, I LOVE this post. (Not least because of the “knowing how to drink wine” comment-).
    Still running my import company, but I want to change that. (Not sure how to go about that-) And knowing the transition from business owner to non-business-owner might be difficult.
    Your list is fun. Yes, I just started Italian lessons again! Yes, I am working on finishing a book of watercolors and adventures! (you’re mentioned in it, and there’s a photo of you on an ancient dolmen) Yes, I travel a lot! Yes, I just signed our house up for exchanges on! Yes, skiing and scuba and bicycles…and like you, visiting friends I haven’t seen for years.
    Your post gave my weekend a little extra energy. Now, about that import company….

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks, Trish…..

      I almost didn’t put it up. Glad to hear it struck a cord with you!

      You’re one of those multi-ligual folks I had in mind writing it.

      Sounds like you’ve a fun list there yourself! Maybe this will be the year our paths cross again. Been too long….

  3. robdiesel says

    First you have to ask your French teach how to say “The mayor’s mom is on the sea”.

    I agree with being multi-lingual. It’s always impressive to see my cousin(s) be able to switch between four languages fluently. My sister is fluent in three languages and conversational in a fourth too. I really should brush up on German, French and Italian. Going to Spain for a year to totally immerse myself in Spanish would be nice too. When I am early retired, that might have to be one of the major goals. Travel to learn languages!

    Aahhh… motorcycling. I’ve ridden since I was eight years old. I started on “naked” bikes, then sport bikes, then sport tourers a then dual sports and back and forth.
    I ended up with the dual sports because I found dirt bikes tedious as you need to load them on a trailer, get all the gear, drive somewhere, unload everything, gear up, ride, load everything up, drive home, unload everything, clean it, put it away.

    Did I mention I am lazy? 🙂

    So I figured that a something street legal that has the capability for mild off-roading would be perfect, and it is. I rode my KLR650 to and from work and either on the way home or on weekends, I’d hop on the bike and head up the Rocky Mountains (I lived in Denver) and roam the trails and forests.
    Commuting is most of what I do, so a streetable bike allows me the joy of riding without the hassle of going somewhere to ride.

    Which reminds me, since you’ll be in the Los Angeles area, there are good people there who would probably enjoy taking out a traveller on a bike. It’s where I spent my formative years and I spent a lot of time out in the Mojave desert riding dirt bikes and quads. El Mirage dry lake bed is great for beginners too, with flat desert, bumpy fire access roads and technical trails. Everything for all levels. Only a few hours out of Los Angeles proper.

    If you get a chance and have the desire, an early ride (6am or so) in the Santa Monica Mountains to the Rock Store and thereabouts is very nice. It’s right above Malibu so you’re not leaving civilization at all.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Rob…

      Googled it: “Mère du maire est sur ​​la mer” Sounds even better than it reads! 🙂

      I’ve heard great things about those KLRs. Versatile, tough, cheap and fun.

      One of my riding buddies used to say that, unlike with the boat he’d once owned, the fun on a bike starts the moment you roll out of the garage. I’ve linked to this video before but never get tired of it. Great shots of El Mirage.

      My time is flexible. I just might be adding a few days in LA before or after…..

      • Trisha Ray says

        Hmmm…”sur la mer” – ON the sea.
        (Must be a heck of a mayor!)
        We’re looking at swapping houses this summer with someone in Italy – if you’re in the area.
        And yes, Stan still has the 3 motorcycles. Including the KLR 650, which he loves.

          • Trish says

            Stan’s other motorcycles-?
            The ’71 Honda 350 CL and the ’82 Virago 750 (which used to be mine, and which you rode at one time)
            Where in Italy? Don’t know yet. With house exchange, it’s always a surprise.

            On another note: In this blog, you covered a number of subjects, but the one that most people responded to was learning a new language!
            That surprises me. Guess it’s one of those things that people take up when they have a little extra time. Nice. Being a “language-o-phile” from way back, I’m glad to see it.

  4. Michael Crosby says

    I just read MMM’s post on blogging yesterday and proceeded to buy my domain and webhosting service.

    Last week I also started writing a book. My goal is to take a motorcycle ride across the US and that’s going to be my book. I’m thinking of titling it “Where the road and the sky collide”. It’s a line from a Jackson Browne song. I don’t know much about copyright law. Can anyone tell me, is that copyright infringement?

    You’re pictures are inspiring. I still love the picture of NH best. NH just has a special place in my heart. Good thing NH doesn’t have SoCal weather. It might end up looking like SoCal.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      sounds like a grand adventure, but a lot of people do it. you’ll have to be an outstanding writer to hold interest.

      how about riding cross country on only back dirt roads? The road less traveled so to say…..

      Yeah, Jon Holiday is a remarkable artist. hope you had a chance to click on the link…..

  5. Carolina on My Mind says

    I don’t know which commenter is tired of hearing about the Ecuador retreat, but I’m looking forward to hearing more! In fact I’m hoping to attend, if I can swing it.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Carolina…..

      We love to have you there!

      The commentator is a big fan and strong supporter of the blog, so his concern was raised with the best of intentions. no worries!

  6. vinoexpressions says

    With all due respect, you need to slow down and take it easy. If you want to learn Spanish, then take lessons while you are in a Spanish speaking country. If you want to do financial seminars and also be in Cuenca, then do them both at once. There is this danger in having too much time in the United States – that everything is important, and that you must do it all…..Forget it. Go Somewhere (really, and I mean anywhere) and weave yourself into the local taprestry. Get the locals to teach you cooking, learn about the geography and wine, and forget the life behind. If you want to build a business then, go for it. But Slow Down. And move to where you want to be! It’s actually easy for me to give this advice, because (aside from acquiring a wine cellar somewhere more then ten miles away rom home ) I have not followed it as much as you have…! But you sound on the verge of a Breakthrough. So, take it! And keep us posted on what happens afterwards.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      your mouth to God’s ear!

      although, in my defense, what little Spanish I know I’ve learned hanging out in Spanish speaking countries.

      your travels are many and a pleasure about which to read.

    • Trisha Ray says

      You have a great attitude towards life! -Working in Pakistan, writing books about wine…
      Between you and Jim, I’m in some good company here.

  7. arebelspy says

    This is one of my favorite posts of yours, and that’s saying a lot, because there’s a ton of gems. This post is so inspirational; almost every one of those items I have dreamed about doing. “Year End Wrap Up/New Year” Blog posts tend to be a bit dull usually, but this was filled with exciting things. I’m jealous of your 2013, and it makes me want to achieve FI ASAP!

    This is the post I’m going to be linking people to when they say I’ll be bored when retired, or ask what I will do all day, or say that retired people just sit on the couch and watch TV. No way, they live exciting lives, like JLCollins!

    Can’t wait to hear about these adventures as they occur. Along with, of course, the advice posts for us poor schleps still workin’ for the man to get us to where you are. I’m hopeful I can make it to see you and MMM in Ecuador!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thank you, sir!

      I was delighted to find your comment just now. Made it worth waddling in from watching TV to check the blog before my nap.

      as I said to Trisha below, I almost didn’t put it up since so many others do. glad it stood out.

      You’d be an awesome addition to Ecuador!

  8. renewablewealth says

    I’d be very happy to help you migrate to a self-hosted platform as well, if you’re still looking for a hand. And I’m pleased to hear you’re considering a redesign. I love your blog to tiny little bits, but your current design makes my eyes bleed 🙂

      • renewablewealth says

        Perhaps I misunderstood, or perhaps it was just wishful thinking 😉 In any event, preserving the current look should be no problem at all if that’s your druthers. Since you’re hosted on, the transition should be quite easy.

        “Stark Elegance.” I like that.

        By the bye, I am intrigued by the Ecuador idea. Going to talk to DW about it.

  9. Mortgage Mutilator @ Mutilate The Mortgage says

    Wow that’s a big lost you got there! I tend to have a lot of spare time thanks to my job but even still I’ve found that if I don’t focus on just a few things (three seems to work well) then I end up being split between tons of things and never getting anywhere with any of them.

    Even three main goals or projects is more than enough to take up heaps of my time. I’d love to learn a language as well though… Maybe that will be my next serous project 🙂

    • jlcollinsnh says

      “I tend to have a lot of spare time thanks to my job…” 🙂

      love that line. maybe I need to get another job. you know. just so I have time for this other stuff……

      • renewablewealth says

        My Dad always says when he wasn’t working he felt like he never had time to get anything done. How Zen!

        My uncle, by contrast, who is retired, always says he can’t figure out how he ever had time to work, what with all the other stuff he does.

  10. Executioner says

    Go easy with the motorcycle when off-road. Motorized vehicles do a really good job of scarring the earth and mucking with the ecosystem, especially in fragile locations like desert soils. In my opinion the best way to see the backcountry is in a pair of boots: quiet, respectful, and relatively impact-free.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Point well taken, E.

      “Off-road” is really incorrect in my usage. Dirt roads and jeep trails are what I meant and what I believe the course I’ll be taking focuses on. Their website makes a point of the fact the vast majority of the world’s roads are unpaved. So having some skill for riding them is useful, as well as fun.

      I don’t plan to be or have any interest in riding on hiking paths or across pristine meadows.

  11. femmefrugality says

    This is such a great/interesting post! 2013 will be so busy for you, but it sounds like in a very good way! I feel the same way about my high school French…I actually learned a lot, but I’ve let it go so much. I want to get back on the bandwagon with that one. I dabbled in Russian and Turkish, but never got too serious about either. My grandfather could speak seven languages fluently. I’m still incredibly jealous of that skill and would love to work to make it a reality.

  12. Mad Fientist says

    Great stuff, Jim!

    Since we live close to each other, I’d be happy to meet up one weekend to help you move your blog. Doing things like that in person are usually easier than emailing someone back and forth. Plus, that’d be a good opportunity for you to teach me what you know about drinking French wine 😉

    I know I could offer a hand with your frequent flyer miles as well so definitely shoot me an email before you book that flight to Europe this summer!

  13. studentdebtsurvivor says

    I’ve always wanted to be fluent in another language. I took 4 years of French and had planned to study abroad, but then wasn’t able to due to my course load. Spanish actually would have made more sense, in retrospect, but French seemed so much more worldly and eloquent at the time.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Never too late. Why not pick up the French again. Once you’ve made progress there, my guess is Spanish will come all the more quickly.

      If all goes well, I’ve got Italian and Portuguese in my future sights…..


  14. Shilpan says

    Wonderful thought, Jim! You remind us all that life is all about finding happiness from activities that you enjoy most exciting! I also love those pics you interject in your posts. What if you write an article in French for your daughter? It may inspire all of us to learn French!!

  15. Brett @ wstreetstocks says

    Good to see that you are learning French. I tried to learn for a couple of months in 2011, but I ultimately abadoned it because I was working on other projects at the time. Hopefully you will be able to stay with it!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Baby steps for us with it: Class only once a week.

      What makes it challenging for me is looking how the words are spelled and then hearing how they are pronounced. Big difference. Hopefully, with time, it will become more obvious to me.

      With Spanish, I can look at a word and be pretty close at guessing the pronunciation. With French, I’ve a lot to learn! 🙂

  16. chronicrants says

    These are some great plans for 2013! I hope you accomplish all that you want to, and still have plenty of time to sit back and relax. I quit a job years ago when I was feeling burnt out, and I thought I’d be bored. I ended up takin a year off before returning to work because I was having so much fun and felt too busy to work! If I hadn’t needed the money, I wouldn’t have gone back. I was exercising more, cooking better, volunteering, working on fantastic projects, spending more time with the people I love…. it couldn’t have been better. I hope for early retirement, one day!

    I just wanted to give you a word of encouragement with your language lessons. French can be tough at the beginning, but if you stick with it, it should get easier after the first course or two, and the long-term benefits are fantastic! I’ve studied many languages, and I’ve found (as others have) that the more languages you learn, the easier it is to learn others. So enjoy!

    It sounds like you have plenty of people to help you switch over your web site, but if you change your mind and want to do it yourself, let me know and I’ll send over some useful tutorials and youtube videos. I haven’t done it myself, only because I don’t have the readership, and I don’t think my type of site should be monetized, but I’ve still read up on it, just in case 🙂

    • jlcollinsnh says

      thanks CC!

      Bet that year went by in a flash!

      I’ve also heard the third + language(s) are easier. Now that I’ve a bit of Spanish under my belt I’m curious to see how the French goes.

  17. Bonnie says

    Love this post, I have been making yearly goals ever since I left corporate world. I’d love to hear how you tackle cable, internet and phone charges. Once again, cable and internet have gone up and they are a monopoly! I’d like to hear how you wean yourself and your family

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Bonnie…

      Yeah. I want to hear how I do that, too. 🙂

      We have dropped our land line phone and just have the cell phones now, but that’s really the only step. I plan to wait till we move and are settled in the new place before turning my attention to this.

      Open to ideas!

  18. vinoexpressions says

    “The French Thing…” I want to know more! If you head that way, please let me know. I’m going there again in March – Languedoc and Bordeaux – and would be happy to pass on any information I might gather…..even non-wine related.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      “the French thing…” refers to our Tuesday evening French classes. Being only once a week and considering I’m a slow learner, progress is glacial. But still, unlike my college French language experiences, this time it’s fun.

      France is also on our short list of places to head for this summer. Maybe here:

      Any suggestion as to where to settle in for 4-5 weeks are welcome. We look for walkable cities just large enough to have interesting cafes, parks and local flavor.

  19. Jeremy says

    We are in the process of learning Spanish. We spent a month in a Spanish language school in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, 4 to 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. We are in Mexico and headed south through all of Latin America, so hopefully when we pop out the other end our Spanish is respectable. Being immersed in the language accomplished more in a month than 3 years in high school ever did

    • jlcollinsnh says

      We did the same in Quito during the summer of 2011. You are absolutely right. Nothing like learning a language in a country where it is spoken.

      How did you like San Miguel? We were there in the mid-1980s and remember it as a beautiful little mountain town.

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