The “How” & “Why” in FI

This week there was a bunch of interesting topics floating about the blogosphere that really got me to thinking – What are we all trying to accomplish?   Will financial independence really change our worlds and our futures?  What is our purpose?  Ultimately focusing on the “Why” of FI (which we discussed in the RSF Forums this week-my answer below).  Of course, we will all have different answers to these questions, but for each of us, knowing that purpose helps to lead us in the right direction.

Tuesday, Chris from Keep Thrifty posted about his Financial Compass.  How his wife and him found direction for their finances.  Reading his post made me think back to my own compass.  The same compass I have worn around my neck for the past 15 years…

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A little worn down but always on me…I didn’t even take it off for this pic!

At 23, I was a brand new flight attendant and struggling financially …like most 23 year olds tend to do!  Though I have never been in debt (until the 500 in mortgage debt!), the $14.61 I was making didn’t quite cover the bills and I was using precious savings to bridge the gap.  This job was waaaayyyy different from any I had before.  In the first 6 months, I bounced from city to city, hotel to hotel, and paycheck to paycheck.  I LOVED my new job but trying to balance home life and work life was difficult.

One night a man came on the plane and sat in the front row.  We struck up a conversation and he began to tell me about his family – particularly how he was trying to teach his son what was important in life, the values that would matter greatly to his future.  Those conversations with his son led to an idea that he eventually built a family owned business around, resulting in The Life Compass.  Here is an excerpt from his story on their  website:

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As the man was leaving he reached into his briefcase, took something out, placed it in my hand, and wished me the best of luck in my future.  I watched as he walked up the jetway, then looked down to what he had put in my hand. A shiny new Life Compass key chain gleamed up at me.  I loved the gift and the idea so much that I immediately dug through my bag to add it to my key ring.  A few months later, with one of my first paychecks, I went to his website and purchased a pendant.  I have been wearing that pendant ever since.

Though I didn’t choose the points of direction, the symbolism he built them around speak to me greatly.  I use my Life Compass as a moral compass to keep my life balanced and on track.  Here is what each point represents to me:

  •  I have wavered in my faith throughout the years, often preferring the word “spiritual” to “religious”.  Regardless of what word I choose, I know that God is a part of my path.  He is a constant whirring in the background even if He isn’t present in the forefront.  I find purpose in working with others and helping the underdog.  I know that my gift of gab comes not only from my Italian family, but also from the man behind the scenes.  He drives me to be a better person…even if I haven’t found complete peace in blind faith, I know He is there believing in me.
  • My Family is my rock, even though they drive me crazy and even when I try to push them away, I always know I can go home should I need to.  As I spoke in the forums, my Mom is special to everyone who meets her.  She always goes above and beyond for anyone in need.  She is the person who calls just because she hasn’t heard from me in days and misses me.  She showed me how to be a strong woman even when it seems the world is against you.  I am so proud of my Mom and what she has accomplished…even without a college degree (see Knowledge).  **Because I know mom reads this I must say, Hi Mom!**
  • I know that my Friends are the truest form of love.  They exist in my life because they want to be there – not because they have to be.  They call me on my bullshit and support me in some of my silliest decisions…because they know not to try to change my mind.  And when some of those things go wrong, they are still there to help me fix the outcome!  I wasn’t born into them and they weren’t born to me – it is a choice.   Your friends are your chosen family and when you have that choice you cherish it.  Though some friends have come and gone over the years, the true ones remain.
  • Knowledge.  Oh, knowledge.  I pursue you, for sure.  I read a ton of PF blogs, books from fiction to non, magazines…I read a lot.  But there is one hiccup in my pursuit of knowledge that I have struggled with in my life which is not having had a formal education – not because I feel I need one, but because I feel others think you should have one.  That, perhaps because I don’t have a piece of paper to prove how smart I am, others may not take me seriously.  But in the end I have realized that none of that matters.  Those aren’t the people I want to associate myself with anyway!  The point is to always be seeking.  To always be growing.  I think in this respect I have an advantage.  Without that degree, I have had to work harder to prove my worth.  I didn’t have a piece of paper to fall back on to make me entitled to only apply for the best jobs in my field (FYI I know not all educated peeps are like this!).  Instead, I was a scrapper.  I learned on the fly.  I took any job that paid me money and always moved up quickly because I wasn’t afraid to get dirty.  I’ve been a nanny, florist, realtor, teachers assistant, jewelry maker, seamstess, candle seller, bread baker, waitress (a bunch of times), and of course, a Flight Attendant.  As my mom has posted to her FB wall in the education section – we both graduated from The School of Hard Knocks.

What the man placed in my hand that day was a gift beyond words.  He gave me a symbol to be able to focus my future path on.  The lesson of this story is not to expect gifts from strange men, even though it worked out in my favor🙂 , but to find what it is that speaks to you in life.  What drives you.  Regardless of where your goals might take you, and even if you get a bit off track, if you always know your true north you will always be able to find your way home.

So what does all this have to do with finances?  On the path to financial independence it is easy to get lost in the details of the process.  Budgets (or non budgets like mine), spreadsheets, savings rates, and side hustles.  It’s enough to make one crazy!  But the process is slow.  Painfully slow.  Paycheck to paycheck slow.  So it is good to keep in mind what you are doing all of this for.  Why are you pushing the envelope of “normal” to retire early and live this extraordinary life?  The question posed on the forum earlier this week  was, “What is your “Why”?”.  Here is mine:

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Yes, I used my dog for shameful bonus points!

I want to be able to travel freely – without guilt.  I have no interest in being a full-time vagabond, but I do want to make the most of what’s left of my time with 10-year-old Bubba.  :)

My dog is my best friend…yes, she is furry and doesn’t speak, but she has been with me through every point in my life the past 8 years.  Through a marriage then divorce, financial ruin, financial rebirth, road trips, jaunts around the lake, jaunts around the forest, parties, boyfriends and breakups, and many moves.  She has seen me through the tears, the laughter, and all the joy from each and every one of those moments.  Get the point?  Yeah, she’s my Bestie!

I realize that at first glimpse this may seem a bit silly…”She wants to be financially independent to spend time with her dog?”.  That’s weird.  And I’m likely to agree.  But this is about more than that.  If I had kids and a family, it may not seem as weird.  My “WHY” would be to have enough money so I wouldn’t have to work in favor of spending time with them…and who knows what may be down the road.  But, because that is not my current situation, I focus on the things I have that make me happy.  I love to travel.  I love to explore new cities, meet new people, and eat new cuisines…but I hate to leave my girl behind.  So my plan is to work hard now so I can take a bit of time to enjoy this great country with Bubs by my side as we explore North America together.  And, most likely, I will do this before my goal of FI.

Traveling the country won’t last forever.  I have plans to start a business of my own.  Most likely in relation to travel, food, dogs, or counseling…any way I can put them all together for a super awesome encore career?  Like a food truck where the proceeds go to a dog shelter that I own that employs inner city kids to rehabilitate them emotionally and prepare them for their own independence?  I don’t know – but I do know that given time I will figure it out as I have every other step of my journey.  And knowing I have my Life Compass will help to keep me in the right direction throughout my journey.

So what is your “Why”?  What would your compass points look like?  I always love to hear your stories and hopefully one of you can come up with a grand idea for my encore career!

Until next time…

Your Mind is Speaking – Are You Listening?

**Nothing money related to see here…unless you see following your mind to be a better idea than following your wallet.  In that case, stick around!  Otherwise, if you want to talk money, check out these money posts of like following the KISS rule, Thanking the Money Gods, or Why Beyonce is a Bad Ass.**

 

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It’s Monday!!  I am writing to you in real time because, as I posted last week, I am excited about my “Comment Convo” format and this chance to talk about a post I read today.   It totaly brought me back to my mid 20’s state of mind..and not in the fun, socializing, and making bad decisions kind of way.  It took me back to a scary place that I think many feel (even as we age) but try not to dwell on.  Unfortunately, not dwelling (or listening) to those feelings can cause them to turn into something bigger.  So let’s take a moment to address them and set them free…

I am new to Amanda’s site Dream Beyond Debt.  We are intertwined in the same group of personal finance bloggers and, in the last few weeks, we have begun to build a friendship via twitter.  Today Amanda published a post with an intriguing title – It’s a Gift.  Since other awesome bloggers are writing about frugal ways to save and give during the holidays or no gift Christmases, I truly thought her post would be in similar light hearted relation.  It isn’t.  Amanda has taken this golden opportunity to write about the emotional aspect of the season and the gift of anxiety that comes along with it.  Gift?  Yes, gift.

Continue reading “Your Mind is Speaking – Are You Listening?”

A Lesson in Judgement From My First Hater…kind of.

I have been a bit absent in the past week or so.  I have been working (a little), but mainly, I have been obsessed with my latest outlet for money talk…the Rock Star Finance Forums.  I have been spending  an extreme amount of my time chatting with other money minded peeps, reading all their blog posts, responding to comments.  RSF Forums is like having a new job – but a job I really really love and don’t get paid a dime to attend.  :)

Well, yesterday someone on the forum asked a question in regards to debt:

“How necessary is debt to your wealth building strategy?”

I was the first to respond with “not necessary” in regards to my own tragic story of debt:

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And, due to that link, I brought in a new reader and today received the first negative reaction to that post.  The reaction I have been waiting for since the day it was published… Continue reading “A Lesson in Judgement From My First Hater…kind of.”

The Year is Ending -Did You Do All You Could To Meet Your Goals? I Didn’t…

Wednesday.  Hump Day.  The worst day of the week for some…mainly the procrastinating type.  The best day of the week for others – the week is almost over!!  :)  This Hump day I am feeling a little bit of both.

For me, the week is almost over but my work week is just beginning.  I’ll be flying on Friday and Saturday this week.  Burbank here I come!!  Saturday also happens to be one of the coldest days of the season in Chicago thus far so I’ll be happy to miss it…well, half of it.

Sunday will be my favorite day of the month – the 20th.  Every 20th of the month my company releases all the trips they couldn’t fill for the next month, in this case December.  What happens at 10pm on any 20th of the month is a mad frenzy of computer activity with all of us flight attendants trading trips at once.  It’s hard to explain the trading aspect, but the result is an intense feeling of failure or victory depending on how well your trades went.  I plan for victory.  Oh, and the 20th also happens to be the usual payday but because it falls on a Sunday I will have to wait for…

Monday – Payday!!  Monday also will be my first ever Mastermind with a couple of lady bloggers in this PF space.  I am so excited to see how this goes!!!🙂

Hump Day be damned…this week I’m just getting started!

But as I look at the year so far – Hump Month is long gone.  We are nearing the end of the downturn of the year.  2016 is coming to a close and it is closing in on us fast.  46 days left in the year including today.  7 more weeks including 7 more Hump Days.  Yikes!!!  What goals of the year are you still reaching for?  

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Remember my half-year review?  That was way back in June.  What have I accomplished since then?  Um.  Not much…

Continue reading “The Year is Ending -Did You Do All You Could To Meet Your Goals? I Didn’t…”

Pt 3 -Recovering From the Fall of My Empire

*** This post is the last of a 3 part series.  The first post will discussed the rise, the second the fall, and this post is my recovery.  I hope you’ll stick around to check them out and possibly learn from my mistakes.😉 ***

A quick recap – The first post of this series spoke about my love affair with real estate.  How I stumbled into buying my first condo at 24.  How I quickly sold and bought a new one in the city at 25 and how I turned that one into 2 more before leaving the city for the burbs a few years later.  Part two discussed the outcome of all those properties when the real estate market took a dump.  What happens when the world around you crashes?  When your tenants stop paying their rent?  When the husband you just married turns out not to be the husband you were hoping for?  What happens when you quickly realize that you need to save yourself from the sinking world around you?

And this post?  This post is about starting over.  Regaining perspective.  And becoming the person I was before the shit hit the fan.  This post is my rebirth…

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When we last left off I was at the bottom…well, that’s not true.  The bottom happened before my last place sold.  The bottom came when I gave up hope. Continue reading “Pt 3 -Recovering From the Fall of My Empire”

Pt 2 – The Fall of My Shortly Lived Empire

*** This is post 2 of a 3 part series.  The first post discussed the rise, this one the fall, and the third my recovery.  I hope you’ll stick around to check them out and possibly learn from my mistakes.😉 ***

The first post of this series spoke about my love affair with real estate.  How I stumbled into buying my first condo at 24.  How I quickly sold and bought a new one in the city at 25, and how I turned that one into 2 more before leaving the city for the burbs a few years later.  This post will discuss the outcome of all those properties, specifically, when the real estate market took a dump.  What happens when the world around you crashes?  When your tenants stop paying their rents?  When the husband you just married turns out not to be the husband you were hoping for?  And when you quickly realize that you need to save yourself from the sinking world around you.  This post is about survival.

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~via~

Continue reading “Pt 2 – The Fall of My Shortly Lived Empire”

Pt 1 – The Rise and Fall of My Empire…and How I Struck Back

*** This is post is 1 of a 3 part series.  This first post will discuss the rise, the second the fall, and the third my recovery.  I hope you’ll stick around to check them out and possibly learn from my mistakes.😉 ***

In 2010 I had it all. I was newly married and settling into the house I had I always wanted, with the garden I had always wanted, and the kitchen I had always wanted (apparently I wanted a lot).  I had a great job, a home improvement blog that I loved to write, and 3 rental properties fully occupied.  From the outside looking in, life was good….but from the inside looking out I was suffering a debilitating financial tragedy wondering how had I gotten here?  To figure it out, I had to go back to the start of my love affair with real estate…

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Not mine but close!

I have always prided myself on being financially responsible.  I was financially independent from my parents at 18, I never used credit cards (unless they were paid off each month), I never skipped a bill, and my FICO score regularly hovered around 820.  I loved me some Suze Orman and read everything I could about personal finance.  I was 24, living with my boyfriend in a two flat that his brothers Realtor girlfriend owned (she lived on the first floor and us on the second).  After a year or so, my boyfriend and I decided to part ways (something about him wanting to throw all of my belongings on the front yard may have been the catalyst), so I packed up and moved out.

That break up was a sad one for me and, for the first time in my life, I started to feel dependent.  What was happening?  Me??  The girl who couldn’t wait to get out from under the parental thumb so badly that she moved all the way to Oregon at 18 just to be free!  And now she was back in her mother’s home searching for solace.  Though my mom was welcoming (and super excited to have me there) I hated that feeling and I did the worst thing I could do at that stage – I started to make decisions out of desperation.

Continue reading “Pt 1 – The Rise and Fall of My Empire…and How I Struck Back”