Spreading the FIRE

As a flight attendant, there are no two things more important than your base and your seniority.  The base becomes your home and your seniority gives you access to the best trips and vacation weeks possible.  For a few years now, my seniority in Chicago has been stagnant due to the droves of flight attendants jumping ship from MDW (Chicago Midway Airport) in favor of the DEN base.  To add insult to injury, DEN has been voted Best Base 4 years running (dethroning MDW from our own winners streak) and has quickly become the more junior base.  What does that mean for me?  My decent seniority in MDW would be muuuuch better if I too took the DEN bait.  Hmmmm…  In early July, I decided to jump a flight to Denver to see what all the hullabaloo was about.  Maybe I too would jump ship.

Let me start by saying, I love the mountains and all the fresh water lakes that they create.  I also love the oudoorsy life and all it has to offer including the fresh air, camping, hiking, kayaking, swimming.  With the exception of skiing (grace is not a word best used to describe me), I love it all!  The closest I ever got to that type of lifestyle was when I worked in the ski shop at a resort in Ashland, OR.  Being surrounded by the mountains and their constant unrelenting beauty, made me feel alive.  In that regard, Denver didn’t disappoint…

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Breathtaking, right?!

After a few days I decided that as much as I loved Denver and all it has to offer (and despite the urging of my DEN friends), I have no plans to move at this juncture. 🙂  Instead, I made a mental tally of the things I liked (Happy Hour, dog friendliness, mountains, outdoorsy peeps) and didn’t like (altitude sickness, cost of living, car dependency) in the event I decide to revisit the DEN base idea in the future.  But don’t worry, folks, this trip was not for nothing.   I’m happy to report I did accomplish something while I was away…

Anita

While visiting, I had the pleasure of staying with my dear friend, Anita.  I spoke about Anita in my last post, how we met through a volunteer trip in Thailand, but I failed to mention we are the SAME EXACT person…minus the fact I am 10 years her senior.  Up until now, our lives have followed similar paths including adventures in real estate, travel, and flight attending. While both of us have no children, we are both dating men in their mid 40’s with teenagers (I happen to live with mine, she doesn’t).  We are both entrepreneurs in various outlets, and love to create new streams of income.  We don’t eat meat, though she is vegan and I a pescatarian.  We both relate to our spiritual sides more than religious.  She has solo traveled all over the world, as have I.  She cranes her head out the window to yell at people riding in horse-drawn carriages on a sweltering city street (witnessed by my own eyes in Golden, CO) and I yell at people who leave their dogs unattended in hot cars.  We both love animals, after all.  😉

Oh, and we are both complete dorks.  But that’s beside the point.

During my stay I was able to catch a small glimpse of Anita’s life in Denver and, ever more fascinating to me, her overall spending habits.  This is where I discovered one glaring difference between us.  She is a spender, ya’ll. Continue reading “Spreading the FIRE”

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Make The First Move

Today on the plane I opened a chocolate and was greeted with this message:

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This could mean anything, right?  Depending on where you are in your life, “Make the first move” could be aimed at your love life, a project at work, or something else completely.  It could mean that it is the time to stop procrastinating and start doing.  In fact, that is exactly what it meant for me.  And last week I FINALLY made the first move.

This past Friday I told my boyfriend, John, that I am moving out of our place and back to my city condo for the month of August.  In an effort to keep this post as short and sweet as my chocolate message (my first attempt was 3k words!), I won’t go into the intricate details of what led me to this decision, but I will tell you that it took MONTHS to get to this point.  Though it sounds counterproductive, I needed a certain amount of discomfort to push me out of my comfort zone.  Last week I hit it.  And then the rest miraculously fell into place.

First, a bit of back story… Continue reading “Make The First Move”

Why I Travel Despite It Delaying FI

Some would argue that we have everything we need in our own backyard and, for those some, that may be true.  If you have had the great honor of meeting your mate, having a child, and/or retiring in a home you love with a community you are involved in, you very well may have won the game of life and may not feel the need to search further.  You have cultivated your own utopia and are completely content with your surroundings.  If that is you, I give you my most sincerest congratulations.  I, on the other hand, am not quite there.  My seeds are still being sowed.  🙂

Last week I tweeted about my gypsy soul and my homebody nature always being at odds with one another.  From the responses, it seems I am not alone.  This is a constant battle I fight within myself.  While I appreciate all that I have, my ideas for utopia and my reality are not quite matched up.  Some of that is work related, a fair portion is timing, and some other shit I have brought on myself.  I love the idea of “home” and being completely settled…I can even picture what it looks like in my head!  But a life of contentment takes a certain amount of polishing.  It takes time to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.  It takes time to build that tribe around you.  And it takes freedom to fully explore the ideal life outside of the glimpse you get before or after work.

All that being said, I can’t pretend that once I find “home” I won’t still be tempted to travel.  Because travel does more for me and my insight than any book in the world can.  I’m one of those weirdos who needs to actually touch and feel something to have it make an impact.

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Few books would have included this fabulous street art on a random wall in Cuba.  Even if they had, could they also describe the wet heat of the pavement or the smells emanating from the gutter while lingering to take it all in.  Guess you had to be there!  😉

While I don’t often write about my travels, they are always being planned or occurring behind the scenes.  For someone who writes about money, that may seem counterproductive.  And I get it. Continue reading “Why I Travel Despite It Delaying FI”

An Aha Moment… Reverse Engineering FI

This post was featured by Rockstar Finance. If you clicked over from there, THANK YOU, and I hope you enjoy the read. If you just happened to wander over here and are interested in all things Personal Finance or FIRE (Financial Independence/Early Retirement), I highly recommend you hop over to Rockstar Finance to check out their site and all the awesome bloggers they host weekly.  Oh, and don’t forget to check out the Rockstar Finance Forum where you can chat PF to your hearts content. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you will follow along on my long and winding road to FI!

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It occurred to me last week that I have been looking at this whole FI thing the wrong way.  Building your wealth is a long process and it takes time…1,979 more days in my case but who’s counting?!  In an effort to not feel overwhelmed, I decided to flip the script.  What if I started looking at FI from what I have already saved?  What if I start looking at it with an attitude of abundance and not destitute (a tad dramatic but I love the striking opposition it induces 😉 ).

The basic formula for FI is 25 x yearly expenses.  Whatever that number equates to is considered safe to use a 4% rate of withdraw.  If all these numbers are true, we can instead flip it around to calculate how much I would receive each month if I quit working today based on what I have already saved!  Here’s a semi random example:

Bianca has $333,000 in assets.  Divide that number by 25 and you’ll get $13320 per year which is equal to $1110 per month.

$1110 per month.  That is how much all my years of work combined have afforded me to live.  For reference, I have been working and earning a W2 since 1993 when I was 14.  That’s 24 years of working for the man and all those years of labor have afforded me 1110 dollars per month of FREEDOM.  Isn’t that incredible?!  Not from a high or low standpoint but just that it is actually calculable?!  Isn’t it strange to compare your future life’s enjoyment based on the amount of hours you worked to earn such jubilee?  It’s hard to wrap my brain around!

So the question is, forgetting all tax implications, could you live off $1110 per month?  If forced to do so, I’m fairly certain my answer would be yes.  I’ve crafted my life in such a way that I have few responsibilities which results in my cost of living being lower than most.  Granted, my studio is paid for and I would likely have to stay there, I’d have to remove all travel from my agenda, sell my car in favor of my bike, eat a shit ton of beans and rice (which I do anyway), and never get sick.  Pretty risky with some of those variables but I could probably make it work, and many people do.* Continue reading “An Aha Moment… Reverse Engineering FI”

Knowledge Gained From A Month Of Financial Celibacy

May came and May went and I survived.

For those of you following along, you are very much aware of my addiction to spreadsheets and tracking.  It is a nerdy hat that I wear well and take much pride in.  The hat, however, started to stretch out from overuse and was slowly slipping further and further down my face to the point that it was covering my eyes.  I needed a break and I took that break in the form of a month long challenge.  May began my month of Financial Celibacy.

The month started out slow.  I had to delete all financial apps from my phone, iPads, and bookmarks from my computer in an effort to make logging in less habitual and more intentional.  Each time I felt the urge to do so, I was stopped by the fact that I no longer had quick (relatively) access.  If I wanted to log in I now had to go online and do so manually or download the app again.  Taking those extra few seconds to reflect gave my mind the space it needed to move on to a different task.  In time, the habit faded and I was no longer reaching for that crutch to fill random moments of downtime.  So, Goal #1 to break the habit was accomplished.

My second goal was to spend my time doing more fulfilling activities.  Two weeks into May I found it easy to disconnect when my BF and I went to Cuba for a few days.  Without access to data or wifi I was pleasantly surprised how much more focused we were.  I didn’t check in with Twitter.  I didn’t text with my friends.  And, without the use of Google, I was tasked with lead navigator using a simple paper map.  How refreshing to find that my brain still works in an efficient manner!!  The last week of the month found me in Seattle attending Camp Mustache, making new friends and enjoying every moment of it.  One thing that I noticed, and couldn’t help but comment on, was the lack of cell phone use during that weekend.  We were all able to chat and get to know each other without endless interruptions from outside realities.  Each of us was there 100%.  Due to my experiences in Cuba and CM, I am starting a new June goal of less online activity.  So far so good.  I do love my interactions on Twitter but I completely deleted my blog FB page in an effort to simplify my interactions in general.  At one point, in an effort to keep my life compartmentalized, I had 3 different FB profiles: my regular one, one for work, and Miss Mazuma.  It was time consuming and ridiculous.  I am just me, after all.  I don’t need FB for the blog or for work.  If you need to find me, look here or on Twitter – I’m always lurking. 😉

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See the bee?  Yup, that’s me…lurking.  😉

On a (more) personal note, I can’t stress how perfect the timing of this challenge was for me.  I learned first hand that time is more important than money.   Continue reading “Knowledge Gained From A Month Of Financial Celibacy”