Wednesday Reads

Wednesday Reads: Soul

A round up of interesting or cool stuff I’ve read.

Image from the Disney+ Twitter account.


Those aren’t purposes. That’s just regular old living.


Soul, the latest Pixar film on Disney+, is well worth watching. It’s a fantastic film which gives plenty to think about, especially for those on the “path” to FIRE.


**Mild spoilers ahead**


There’s a parable towards the end of the film. Joe Gardner has just achieved his lifelong dream to play at a local jazz club, after a career as a middle-school teacher. He psyches himself up before the big event:

“Get ready, your life is about to start”


Bear in mind he’s 46 years old! After the set finishes, he’s stood outside with the singer, looking somewhat perplexed:

“I’ve been waiting on this day for my entire life. I thought I’d feel different.”


She replies:

“I heard this story about a fish.

He swims up to this older fish and says, “I’m trying to find this thing they call the ocean.”

“The ocean?” says the older fish. “That’s what you’re in right now”

“This?” says the young fish. “This is water. What I want is the ocean.””


Joe spends his entire life so focussed on his goal, that he becomes oblivious to the wonders he experiences day-to-day, and the impact he has on those around him.

How many of us are guilty of doing the same thing?

We go to university, get a decent job, and start putting money away for retirement. We then hear about the “FIRE” movement. We think that, if I work hard now, put off any luxurious purchases, save 25x my annual expenses, then I can retire from this job I hate and really start living!

But what kind of life is that, where you put off fun until retirement?


**Spoilers finished**


Achievements = Happiness… ?

One of the biggest achievements of my life so far was successfully finishing my PhD.

I was elated! Ecstatic! On top of the world!

And then I woke up the next day, went to work, continuing as if nothing had happened…

For me, some of the best moments are those that are easy to take for granted. Going for a walk with Ms FIRE. Playing a videogame with my brothers.

The big things come and go. If you’re only happy when you’ve achieved something, presumably that means you’ll be unhappy the other 99% of the time!


Appreciate the moment

A bit of a tangent now, but it’s all related:

I remember a moment whilst I was living and working in China. I was on a bus, returning home after another day at work. It was an unremarkable day, much the same as the previous week.

But, looking out of the window at the surroundings, I took a moment to just appreciate where I was and take it all in.

I was in China! Me! Of all the people. Of all the places. On the other side of the world, a completely different language, a completely different way of life.

For the most part, the unique had become humdrum. But in that moment, I really appreciated just how fortunate I was to be in this place.

It was easy to take it all for granted. I’d return to the UK for a short holiday, catching up with friends and family eager to hear about my adventures. But to me, it had quickly become normal.

How ridiculous is that?

It’s only now that I’m back in the UK that I can truly appreciate everything that I got out of that experience.

One of the biggest things I learned was that, wherever you go in the world or whatever you achieve, you are still the same person (More To That did an excellent post which really captured that feeling).


Life is for living

I’ll finish up with following quote (often attributed to John Lennon, in the song Beautiful Boy, but apparently originally coined by Allen Saunders):

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making plans”


Of course it’s important to set big goals, and to celebrate those milestones and achievements.

But don’t forget to enjoy all those moments in between.


Interesting links that caught my eye this week:


  • FIRE DaveClara (Charity worker) Interview

    “I do not want to wait for retirement to enjoy life, and so, I make time to responsibly enjoy it now in a balanced way.”


  • Meaningful MoneyNext-Level Diversification.

    “It’s important to strike a balance between healthy diversification and unnecessary complexity. You could add all kinds of things into your investment mix, but my contention is that diversification isn’t really the main reason to do this.”


  • The Belle CurveHow to Make Millions with Bitcoin.

    “Perhaps the secret to long-term investing success is not to lose your password, but to entrust it to a neutral third-party who doesn’t allow you to pay attention to the short-term fluctuations in value.”


  • Wealth and RiskThe story of your life has many chapters.

    “Investment decisions can be simple, but idiosyncratic to each household. We all have different circumstances, needs, objectives, experiences, values, priorities, challenges, opportunities, and things that keep us up at night. Advice needs to be tailored to all of these factors.”


  • Chasing FIRE Down UnderYour Money or Your life?

    “Consider your spending in terms of life energy, instead of dollars. Is that takeout you bought during your lunch break actually worth an hour of your life?”


  • FIRE V LondonWhither London?

    “So, while I accept that London is feeling ‘neutered’ by the current lockdown, and Brexit will leave a bruise and probably put some fur on the arteries, I am confident London will remain the pre-eminent city in democratic, liberal Europe.Those network effects aren’t going away. Nor is London’s pre-eminence. Don’t bet against the place.




  • IT InvestorPassing it on.
    The IT Investor has a good financial checklist that everyone should consider. Reminds me that I should think about setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney. It’s the sort of thing that you really want sorted before something bad happens!


  • Total BalanceNew lessons learned (analyzing my returns from 2007-2020)
    Nick finds that his returns have been less than desired, due to a more conservative pension portfolio. (Also a reminder to myself that, on starting a new job, you should check your pension and make sure it is invested in line with your risk appetite!)


  • FI ScribblesCharizard vs. The Stock Market
    A blast from the past. I always like reading things that take two of my, seemingly unrelated, interests and combine them to make something great.


  • Quietly SavingAdjustments to My Investment Strategy
    Weenie shares her asset allocation and the reasons behind it. Not too dissimilar to my own approach. I mostly stick to global index trackers, and occasionally allow myself some fun with picking a stock here or there!






  • Sign up to Trading212 via this link and we both receive a free share.


  • Sovereign Quest – A new personal finance curation site launched by Indeedably. It’s already off to a great start. Definitely worth checking out.



Thanks for reading. Hope you all have a great week!

2 replies on “Wednesday Reads: Soul”

Hey Doc, I’ve really enjoyed reading this blog post, love the deep connection you’ve put into your words. Every person has a different perspective of the world, which is defined by our personal values and believes. Same happens with every FIRE journey, none is the same. For me studying a career that pays the best money just for the fact of being able to retire earlier doesn’t call me, instead finding something that truly adds something into the world does.

It’s all about finding the right balance for oneself that works out for the long term. Being a heavy spender makes you broke, being a obsessive saver is negative for your mental health. Balance is the key.

I’ll need to watch Soul, thanks for writing about it! It’s a shame I’ve recently cancelled my membership, but I’ll keep it on my wish-list for next time.

Btw, make sure you keep this post for your future book!

Thank you, Tony! I’m glad to hear that it resonated. I agree with you – whilst there will be similarities, ultimately each journey and perspective will be unique. I look forward to seeing what calls you next, since you recently handed in your notice.

“Balance is key” – clearly Nick (Total Balance) had the right idea when naming his blog!

Definitely check out the film if you get the chance. It’s a slow burner at first, but overall was great on a number of levels.

Very kind words, re. a book! I don’t know if that will ever happen, but if it does, I’ll be sure it makes the cut 🙂

Thanks, as always, for reading and commenting!

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