Ask anyone who has kids and they will tell you – going on holiday is a drastically different affair compared to those carefree, pre-parenthood days.
Not in a bad way. As a matter of fact, my holidays have become a far richer experience now that we have kids.
The two weeks we just wrapped up in Spain are a case in point.
It’s tough to explain, but there’s just something special about watching the kids catch their first glimpse of the sea upon arrival.
Seeing my daughter run up to my wife after I convinced her to go on a giant water slide (“I was scared at first but daddy taught me to be brave!”)
Or simply helping our son build (and watch him destroy) his first sand castle.
And yet, it’s fair to say that we hardly utilized the two beach loungers we reserved for the duration of our stay. Young children aren’t exactly conducive to relaxation.
The rare exception was in the afternoons.
With the older child in the kids club, and the younger one happily asleep in our room, I would sneak out for an hour of peace and quiet, relaxing my gaze over the Balearic sea.
Inevitably, my mind would wander to holidays past.
Comparing the quality of the beach, the facilities, the food, and the entertainment – all in that never-ending quest to pinpoint the ideal holiday destination.
More importantly, taking stock of where I am today compared to the summers past.
Nothing quite like abstracting from the daily routine, and the busyness of the job in order to take a bird’s eye view of this journey we call life – and our position on it.
And the one particular holiday I kept coming back to was the summer of 2018.
The Three-Year Rewind
As all good things often do, this one started with a somewhat unpleasant experience.
It was a Friday afternoon, the third day of our holiday, when the dreaded email landed in my inbox.
A long-running deal was suddenly back on the cards. It was all hands on deck. And I was no longer junior enough to simply hand it off to whoever was still in the office.
I spent the next few days camped out in the living room, taking call after call while wistfully gazing through the window.
The deal ultimately died – but the thought process it set off was already in motion.
For it was at some point in between those calls that I busted out the spreadsheet to see whether I had enough money to leave it all behind.
The result was surprising, not to say sobering.
Yes, our net worth had been well into the seven-figure territory by then. If a millionaire can’t afford to retire, then who can?
And yet, having stacked up the numbers, I simply couldn’t make the math work.
The subsequent three years have been kind to us, financially speaking.
Courtesy of two successful careers, a high savings rate, and a rising stock market (and notwithstanding another child and a maternity leave in between), our net worth has more than doubled.
The math works far better today than it did three years ago. But, as anyone who had spent any length of time pondering the topic will tell you, the number is just a part of the story.
The money can facilitate more control. It will give you more free time. But it won’t give it any more meaning.
Hence, it’s probably even more important that I have two other things today that I didn’t have back in 2018.
The first one is an active property investing business.
While we have been landlords for over a decade, the last three years have seen a massive acceleration in our real estate investing activities.
We now add $1m+ to our property portfolio a year and will be in the market for another deal shortly.
The second one is this blog.
With roughly 20,000 visitors a month and almost a thousand subscribers on the email list, it’s becoming quite a community of like-minded individuals.
Not too bad for a creative outlet!
Both are by-products of that ill-fated email, and I expect both to occupy a big chunk of my life going forward.
The one phenomenon I’ve observed over the past couple of years is that it has become much easier to interrupt people’s holidays.
In the early days of my career, I once watched in amazement as my former employer refunded the cost of a $30k California vacation for a family of six – all because an MD had to come back to the office to work a deal.
These days, they would just tell him to go back to his hotel, hop on Zoom, and get on with it. Talk about efficiency gains!
My own holiday wasn’t without interruption, but overall it was manageable, thanks to opportune timing, some very capable juniors, and strategic pushback.
Incidentally, the bigger interruption came on account of one of our properties. We are in the process of bringing in a new commercial tenant and had to work through quite a bit of paperwork while away.
However, it didn’t feel that way.
I had full control and agency over when and how much I was working (including the option to punt it all until my return). On top of that, we get to keep the full economic benefit of the work – a $300k+ increase in the value of our property, provided things go to plan.
The broader point here is that fully uninterrupted holidays are likely a thing of the past.
Comparing notes with my friends, those in professional careers have all spent some time in the hotel business lounge with their laptops.
The entrepreneurs didn’t have it any easier.
One is gearing up for a sale of his business and has spent his mornings reviewing the latest version of the information memorandum.
Another one runs a very large Bitcoin mining operation. Sufficiently well off to spend five figures on a night out without blinking. But not sufficiently well off to untether himself from his phone for more than a few hours.
In other words, you don’t get to escape – but you do get to choose your poison.
Another Day, Another Year
We are now back in cool, rainy London.
Based on experience, the time between now and Christmas will go by in a blink. Another year to cross off the calendar.
Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – as long as you have a strategy you are happy with and are executing on it in a state of flow.
And if you don’t, those lazy August days might well be the best time to consider your life – and any changes you want to make.
In the meantime, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming here on this blog.
Thank you for reading – and enjoy the rest of your summer!
About Banker On Fire
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Banker On FIRE is an M&A (mergers and acquisitions) investment banker. I am passionate about capital markets, behavioural economics, financial independence, and living the best life possible.
Find out more about me and this blog here.
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