How to start you own death spreadsheet in Excel – part 1

death spreadsheet overview

Grimly titled but the death spreadsheet is the most useful spreadsheet I have ever created.

I created the first version of this document back in 2014 when I felt like I was trapped in an awful job, earning quite well but job stress was out of control and I wondered if I had to tolerate this level of angst and frustration for the rest of my life.

To wrestle back some form of control, I decided to create a spreadsheet to work out exactly how much we needed to earn to live a reasonable life – for the rest of our lives. To build this spreadsheet, David and I had many conversations, over a period of time, to think about and design the type of financially independent lifestyle we would be happy with. An extravagant, luxurious one? No – not really our thing. A really nice lifestyle that includes international travel once a year, travelling within Australia, going to other capital cities, money for our hobbies/passions, time for volunteering and one home renovation project a year? Yes, definitely. I’ll take that version of financial independence any day of the week.

In 2014 we were close to paying out our mortgage, so our expenses were about to change considerably. I also knew both had good superannuation or retirement savings, so I wanted to understand, excel spreadsheet cell by cell how much we needed to earn in order to be financially independent.

And so the death spreadsheet was born. On the top line, I created a table out to David’s average life expectancy and mine (there is a little age difference 😊). Then I plotted out our expected income and expenses until we died. Fun, huh!?!

Key assumptions for the spreadsheet:

  1. Indexation of 2% for wages and our superannuation pensions (except for mine – I’ll take a flat rate)
  2. Inflation over our lifetimes (around 2%)
  3. Conservative estimated earnings on our investments at 5% over the next thirty or so years.

I created detailed expenses tabs that adjusts for this year and next when our expenditure circumstances will remain the same. In 2020 we expect to be paying for only one child in total – the other children may be living here and eating with us, but they will be largely responsible for their own expenses.

I have highlighted the current year we are in, and the year my husband’s superannuation commences ( I LOVE to see those two drawing closer together – means we are closer to financial independence).

You can see our net result bounces around a little but that’s ok – over the 12 year period, it works out about even. In my next post, I will detail how I have calculated our expenses over this period, and how I have calculated how our investments will support us in our two stage financial independence plan, paying down like an annuity.

Excel has saved my sanity! Never thought I would say that out loud to the world…..

 

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92 days of winter survival plan

autumnThe last surviving autumn leaves in our garden

Here in the southern hemisphere, winter has hit. I live in Australia’s capital city, Canberra and it really turns winter on. So the 92 days of a Canberra winter have begun and I’m frantically thinking of how I can enjoy winter, rather than endure it this year.

The summers in Canberra are perfect – it rarely gets beyond 40 degrees, and the overnights are very bearable with a sheet on the bed and the quiet whispers of a cooling ceiling fan. We love our house in summer because we have a pool and various outdoor eating areas to enjoy alfresco dining. It’s on those long summer nights with a glass of wine and the sun setting I thank my lucky stars and can’t believe the life I am leading.

But that lifestyle is still 910 days away and I need to live for now, rather than focusing on when my life will be better once we are financially independent. So I have started a survival list of things to inspire me during the 92 days of winter.

  • Knit my cosy bed blanket. I have purchased some chunky Peruvian wool (like 10 skeins) and have started knitting a large blanket to really keep us toasty during the -6 degree over nights here in Canberra. Just knitting that thing keeps me warm as it continues to grow beyond my lap to my knees as I am knitting.

 

  • I have discovered chai lattes. A little late to the piece, but I made this yesterday, along with some cashew milk and OH MY – it’s like a hug in a cup. Beautiful winter spices in a warm mug in my hands. Yesterday’s recipe was a little ad lib, but worked beautifully:

Chai Latte

  • In a small pot, fill up half way with water and put on the stove top
  • Add to the pot a couple of cinnamon quills, some fresh ginger chopped, grated fresh nutmeg, some allspice, some vanilla pods or paste and some cardamom. I haven’t given quantities here because it really is an individual preference about how spicy you like it.
  • Simmer for five minutes to enable the spices to infuse, and then add two earl grey tea bags for another five minutes.
  • Cool and transfer to a container for the fridge you can use when you need a little warm pick me up. You could either drink this tea heated, or whip up some milk/cashew milk or other nut milk and add half and half with a teaspoon of honey, warm it through and enjoy.

 

chai tea

My chai tea mixture next to my favourite smokey wintery smelling candle

  • If you are home, follow the sun around your home. I have written about this before but I watch how the sun heats up particularly areas of my home naturally and I design my day around where I can catch the most sun.

 

  • Of course days like today are no good for sun catching – it’s overcast and super cold. So basic one I know, but for now I put on more clothes to stay warm, rather than using the indoor heating. I was listening to a financial podcast where one FIRE interviewee just wears a onesie all day and doesn’t put the heating on at all. I’m not at that extreme yet, but I will spend the time to design my stay at home days around the weather.

 

  • Right now the house is 18 degrees but the temperature will fall throughout the day without any sun to warm up through the double glazed windows. So I am doing my indoor work this morning; will grab a bite of lunch here and then head out in the afternoon to complete my tasks – taking an old chest of drawers and office chair to the second hand place; visit my daughter; read up on my favourite magazines in the library and find other cosy, free spots to relax until David comes home and I can justify putting the heating on. One of the greatest pleasures for us is the gas fire we installed during our renovations. It has a mesmerising flame and pushes out heat.

 

  • Make slow cooked soups and stews that are homecooked, without anything artificial and fill up your belly with yummy warm, flavourful, rich food. Last night I made bone broth too, which is a great base for soups, with bones from the butcher, left over vegetable scraps I collect in the freezer, bay leaves and apple cider vinegar.

bone broth

So there’s my top six for now. What do you do to enjoy winter?