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Go Bungee Jumping

bungee jump


This is a guest post that I sent to Aloysa at My Broken Coin a couple of years ago. I thought this would make a nice follow up to the more serious Go It Alone post since I compared striking out on your own to bungee jumping or skydiving.

In 2006, I flew to New Zealand to meet up with my parents. We planned to caravan around the North Island for 10 days before going to visit my Aunt in Melbourne. I guess it might sound strange for a 32 year-old guy to be going on vacation with his parents, but I haven’t seen them for a few years and I wanted to drive them around and show them a good time. Mrs. RB40 was working on her Master’s degree and she went to Oaxaca for a class at the same time so we had separate vacations that year.

New Zealand was just awesome. The country side was lush, green, and beautiful; it really reminded me of Hobbit country. The people were very friendly and relaxed so this was my kind of place. Auckland felt like any city, but outside of that big city most places had a small town feel. Anyway, I had always wanted to try bungee jumping and what better place to do it than the home of bungee jumping – New Zealand. I researched before I left and found a good spot at Taupo bungy. This jump is off the cliff above the beautiful emerald Waikato River and you have the option to touch the water!

One of our stops was Lake Taupo, but my mom really didn’t want me to bungee. I could see it from her point of view, who would want to see their kid jump off a 150 foot tall cliff? So I thought to myself, I’ll do it another day when the parental unit is not around. We checked out the gypsy/carnival caravan, explored the town, hung out near the lake, and had a relaxing time in general. On our way out of town, I figured – let’s stop and see what the jump looks like.

We got there and it didn’t look that scary at all from the parking lot. The viewing area was level with the cantilever jumping platform so you only saw people jumping off and not how high the drop was. Then I saw a couple of girls doing a tandem jump and I thought to myself, “COME ON, girls are doing this!” So I told my mom, hey look everybody is fine.

That’s how I found myself at the plank looking down 150 feet to the river. And yes, I elected to touch the water. They told me to be stiff and fall forward like a board. But I tell ya, when you’re looking down that far, your body won’t edge forward like that. I only hesitated a second and then bent my knee and down I went. I saw the platform falling away and it was a perfect ZEN moment for me. My mind went completely blank and it was a great feeling of freedom.

So what did I learn from this experience other than bungee jumping is awesome? I learned that if you want something, just keep moving toward it. Even if you don’t get it right away, keep edging that direction and someday you’ll get there. Once you’re at the edge, just do it and don’t put it off. Tenuous? Maybe, but I’m sticking with it.

2012 update: Some of you may have seen the story of the Australian woman’s bungee jump over Victoria falls. The chord snapped and she fell into the river. Yikes, that is scary! I still think bungee jumping is pretty safe. She survived didn’t she? However, I will not do this again until baby RB40 is off on his own. Having a baby really change your perspective and I am not willing to take much risks anymore. Have you tried bungee jumping? Did you like it?

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he hated the corporate BS. He left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. At Retire by 40, Joe focuses on financial independence, early retirement, investing, saving, and passive income.

For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
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{ 46 comments… add one }
  • Money Infant February 15, 2012, 4:47 am

    I haven’t had the chance to try bungee jumping…yet. I don’t think I’ve ever visited anywhere that offers it. Maybe Chiang Mai, but I don’t recall ever seeing it. But, like skydiving (and like yourself) I think it may need to wait until the smallest Money Infant is grown. For the time being I will stick to safer pursuits like snorkeling and hiking.

    • retirebyforty February 15, 2012, 9:14 am

      I like snorkeling too. Skydiving was fun, but bungee jumping was a lot more thrilling.

  • Alexa February 15, 2012, 5:11 am

    To be honest bungee jumping sounds pretty scary to me…but I have been sky diving! haha I don’t really know how there is a difference. Sky diving was really fun and I would do it again if the opportunity presented itself. I think if I were to get the nerve up to bungee I would do it where it was invented just like you did 🙂

    • retirebyforty February 15, 2012, 9:15 am

      There is a big difference because you are way closer to the ground with bungee jumping. 🙂
      Bungee jumping was a lot more thrilling for me.

  • Shaun @ Money Cactus February 15, 2012, 5:24 am

    I haven’t tried bungee jumping, but I wouldn’t mind giving it a go. I figure the odds are pretty good, but those incidents every so often make you think twice.

    • retirebyforty February 15, 2012, 9:16 am

      The odds are a lot better than getting in your car and driving to work, that’s for sure. There had been only a handful of death since bungee jumping started in the 80s.

  • Michelle February 15, 2012, 5:32 am

    I really want to go bungee jumping! I’m going skydiving this spring.

    • retirebyforty February 15, 2012, 9:16 am

      You will love skydiving!

  • Roshawn @ Watson Inc February 15, 2012, 7:56 am

    I don’t think this is really something that I ever had a desire to do. I am glad it was such an awesome experience for you. I really don’t see this in my future though. Cord snap equals major YUCK!

    • retirebyforty February 15, 2012, 9:19 am

      But now she can say she survived that! 🙂

      • Roshawn @ Watson Inc February 16, 2012, 12:02 am

        True Joe: that’s very glass is half full 🙂

        • retirebyforty February 16, 2012, 1:06 pm

          Haha, great comment. 😀

  • Dollar D @ The Dollar Disciple February 15, 2012, 8:53 am

    I’ve done few “thrill rides” but never bungee jumping. We’re about to have kids soon so that probably won’t be in the cards for a while 🙂

    I can only imagine the sense of freedom and invigoration from surviving something death-defying like that!

    • retirebyforty February 15, 2012, 9:19 am

      It was very freeing. Kid changes the equation so much. I am much less risk averse now.

  • Steve February 15, 2012, 9:04 am

    I have always wanted to go skydiving. Bungee jumping seems less exciting to me (since it’s shorter) and yet, I think it might actually be more dangerous! (No, I do not have statistics to back this up.)

    But, I also have a little one running around. I had the same thought originally: once there’s a kid around, it’s irresponsible to do things like sky dive and bungee jump.

    But I have reconsidered that original position. Maybe it’s because my wife refused to let the baby change our life. We took the baby out with us to restaurants and board gaming for the first year. We have continued to go on vacations, domestic and international. I have plenty of life insurance coverage so why not continue with the plan? The risk isn’t necessarily any higher than, say, driving to work every day! (The risk on a per-trip basis may be higher, but the overall risk of a one time sky dive is probably lower than the combined risk of 500 driving trips to work and back.)

    Who’s with me?

    • retirebyforty February 15, 2012, 9:23 am

      I’m with you. 😉
      Bungy jumping was A LOT more thrilling for me. You are way closer to the ground and that made it much more heart pounding. You should try both of them.
      The little guy changed our lives a lot. I welcome it. We put a brake on international travel for now and will travel more in the US in the next few years. We’ll travel abroad more when he can appreciate it.

      • Steve February 15, 2012, 9:34 am

        It’s true that we’re traveling in spite of the kidlet (rather than because or even with her). We did find on our last trip that we have to be flexible about things. We travel very roughly once every six months, and kids change fast at first, so every trip is a whole new experience.

        • retirebyforty February 15, 2012, 10:28 am

          I’m glad you guys can enjoy yourselves. Some of my friends take their babies everywhere too.
          I don’t know how you guys do it. 🙂

  • BE @ BusyExecutiveMoneyBlog February 15, 2012, 9:35 am

    Com’on…Girls are doing this! I haven’t heard peer pressure like that since grade school. Glad you enjoyed it and it was safe RB40. With little ones i agree with you that the risks outweigh the thrill these days.

    • retirebyforty February 15, 2012, 10:29 am

      Heh heh, I hope I didn’t sound sexist. 😀

  • CG February 15, 2012, 10:15 am

    No but always wanted to skydive. Now that I have three kids, I’m too important to take the risk. I do plan on going on my 80th birthday. I’m going to do all kinds of fun and dangerous stuff in my 80’s. 😉

    • retirebyforty February 15, 2012, 10:29 am

      That’s a good plan. My whole inhibition is coming down when I get to 80. 🙂

  • krantcents February 15, 2012, 5:22 pm

    Bungee jumping and sky diving are similar things I will never do. Why leave a perfectly good plane up in the air or go to the top of something and jump off? I am willing to test my metal differently such as business or investment risks.

    • retirebyforty February 15, 2012, 9:51 pm

      It’s thrilling. 🙂 Seriously, it really cleared my mind. Different strokes.

  • Thad P @ thadthoughts.com February 15, 2012, 7:05 pm

    Wow! That sounds like fun!

    You are right about having children changing your perspective on risk!

  • Buck Inspire February 15, 2012, 8:46 pm

    Haven’t done the bungee jump and won’t be doing it anytime soon with Baby on the way. Skydiving was awesome for me. Need to write up a post. Great lesson of creeping to the edge and doing it!

  • Savvy Scot February 16, 2012, 5:51 am

    I haven’t tried Bungee Jumping, but I have been skydiving. Nothing can describe the chill and adrenaline rush of freefall!! 😀 –

  • Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter February 16, 2012, 7:44 am

    Great post. You are totally right. We just need to keep going one step at a time. We will eventually make it. The worse thing to do is stop. As long as we are headed in the right direction, we are doing great.

    I have never tried bungee jumping but I have done paragliding, zip lining, and a few other adventure sports. Having worked in Neurosurgery in the past, I am not too inclined to try bungee.

    • retirebyforty February 16, 2012, 1:08 pm

      I am usually a bit slower than everyone else, but I know if I keep it up, I’ll get there. 🙂
      Paragliding and zip lining sounds like a lot of fun too and less dangerous.

  • Tie the Money Knot February 16, 2012, 8:34 am

    Sounds like a great experience. As a Dad, I don’t want to take such risks – funny how being at different life stages changes your risk tolerance!

    However, I can see the point of just learning to have confidence and move forward. Sometimes we can push past our fears or inertia and get going.

    • retirebyforty February 16, 2012, 1:25 pm

      I was going to take Mrs. RB40 bungee jumping, but now I don’t think so. Maybe when we’re 80. 🙂

  • AverageJoe February 16, 2012, 11:35 am

    I love the analogy of moving forward. I have a friend who’s climbed Mt. Everest. I have to say….bungee jumping and Mt. Everest climbing aren’t bucket list things for me. Then again, seeing every baseball park in the US isn’t a bucket list thing for my wife, either.

    • retirebyforty February 16, 2012, 1:25 pm

      I know I can’t climb Everest. 🙂

  • MoneyCone February 16, 2012, 12:10 pm

    Sounds like you had a swell time in NZ RB40! The closest I got to Bungee jumping was at a theme park with a safety net at the bottom! 🙂

    • retirebyforty February 16, 2012, 1:31 pm

      I love NZ. It’s probably my favorite English speaking country. I would love to live there for a few years.

  • Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog February 16, 2012, 12:13 pm

    AWesome story joe – i’ve always thought about doing bungee jumping but have always been too much of a wuss – same with sky diving. Great follow up to your post the other day.

    • retirebyforty February 16, 2012, 1:31 pm

      You should try it before you have kids. 🙂

  • Aloysa @My Broken Coin February 16, 2012, 6:10 pm

    Still, after all this time since you sent me that post a year ago (not two years ago! :)) I cannot believe you did it! I would be so dead from a heart attack on the way down. It scares me to look at it. You are a very brave man, Joe.

    • retirebyforty February 16, 2012, 8:32 pm

      Really? I must have rounded it up. 🙂

  • [email protected] February 18, 2012, 8:13 am

    Congrats on doing this. I sometimes wish I was the type of person who would bungee jump or skydive, but that is not me. I want my feet firmly planted on Earth at all times. I don’t even like flying!

    • retirebyforty February 19, 2012, 6:21 am

      Thanks. I don’t think anybody like flying. 🙂

  • Marianne February 18, 2012, 8:04 pm

    “COME ON, girls are doing this!”
    Just what do you mean by that?!


    • retirebyforty February 19, 2012, 6:29 am

      Heh heh, I was hoping I didn’t offend anyone. 😀
      You know guys are macho and are full of testosterone right? Luckily, I’m moving past that phase.

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