August Ups and Downs

August has been interesting.   For someone who spent only 6 nights in her home in the entire month, you would think I could have saved more on household expenses.  While I saved big bucks between travelling to DC and working (I never buy food on the road), other things were a bit out of my control…

  1. The car – my poor car.  I wrote about Muffy taking a dive.  That was brutal.  $460 and she is good a new…for now.
  2. Payback from last months colossal mistake in budgeting.  I had to re-fund my travel fund as Thailand is only weeks away!  $500 and $300 to go…

These extra expenses dropped my monthly savings rate to 65.7% (or 72.06% including 401K).  Ok – I realize that’s not bad at all…but it is a drop nonetheless.  I was expecting BIG things out of Augusts paycheck with my July hours being the highest of the year thus far…but unfortunately things don’t always work out that way.  Out of the 8 months of 2016, August was ranked 3rd highest in income.  Yeah!!  At the same time – it was ranked 6th lowest in savings percentage.  Boo.

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But It’s not all bad news…  Regardless of the relatively poor savings numbers – I am still at an average savings rate of 76.29% (80.98% with 401K) for the year.  75% is right on track for my FIRE date of 6ish years from now.  Perhaps that realization is worth celebrating despite my perceived downfall of the month?  You betcha…

Continue reading “August Ups and Downs”

FI Pioneer – How to Get Your Posse On Board…Oregon Trail Style

Are you the first in your family or group of friends to take on the challenge of financial independence?  Are you the first to speak of early retirement and the possibilities of doing so?  If you have answered yes to either of these questions then YOU, my friend, are a part of my tribe and together we are pioneers.

It is oh so hard to be a pioneer – just ask Lewis and Clark.  Christopher Columbus.  Madonna…being the first to wear a cone bra has got to be hard…and pointy!

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But, seriously.  Coming up against “the norm” in life is difficult.  I mean, who doesn’t want to commute an hour to work, put in 40+ hours a week at a boring job, drive home in traffic, eat a shitty meal in front of the TV, then head to bed before doing it all over again every weekday (minus 2 weeks vacation!) for the next 40 years.  Who?  Sounds exhilarating!!  Why would anyone want to stray from that path?

But WE do.  And maybe you were one of those naysayers.  Maybe you too thought, “there is NO WAY I can retire early.”  But here you are.  You have done the math.  You’ve read the blogs of other brilliant minds.  You KNOW shit!  But they don’t get it – and now we have to penetrate the wall of insanity that social and economical norms have them trapped behind.  Enter – The Oregon Trail.  For pioneers and then some…

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Financial independence and early retirement are the Wild West of lifestyles.

It is the unknown that most people fear but others are freed by.

True pioneers can handle the hardships that may come with it – an older car instead of a new one.  Meatless Mondays instead of steak dinners.  Saving instead of spending.

Going it alone can be hard.  Doable, but hard.  You can’t move your family to the promise land without making room in the wagon.  And you need them on board – out on the trail there is safety in numbers…

To help you along your way, I have come up with a few steps to help you on the wagon ride out west…

Continue reading “FI Pioneer – How to Get Your Posse On Board…Oregon Trail Style”

Frugal Friday – Tacos With Teens

Can you believe Friday is here already?!  The weekend has crept up and I’m still reeling (and weeping 😦 ) from my unexpected expense of the week.  Turns out having Muffy dying did not make it into the forecasted car budget for the year.  Someone once said to budget $50 a month to unexpected car repairs…this year the 01 Honda got new breaks, a new radiator, and now a new muffler.  I’m no mechanic but I think that $50 was a gross understatement in terms of budgeting…then again, I heard it over 10 years ago and my car is rounding out her 16th year.  Well, I just did a quick google search – apparently the new rule (probably not so new) is to budget $100 a month for car repairs.  Huh.  Don’t worry – the doctor mechanic assures me going forward she is fit as a fiddle.  Yeah, right…

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Pretty Sure My  Mechanic is Behind This…

Anywho, this weeks spending fiasco has led me to want to shine the spotlight on the flip side of the coin.  The saving side.  I would like to start a weekly series showcasing my (and yours!) frugal tips from the week.  What I saved, how I saved, and any kind of household updates that help to contribute to our financial bottom line.  I hope you will join me in posting your own frugal wins in the comments section so we can all help each other out.

This week, Frugal Friday is focusing on food.

Despite that tiny car repair issue, I saved major dough on meals.  Not my dough – but dough none the less.  You see, my BF and I are at the delicate stage of expanding our relationship and the responsibilities that go along with that.  He has kids.  And not any kid of kids – TEENAGE BOY kind of kids (ages 13 and 15).  Yikes!  This situation is not entirely new to me – I nannied for a family of two boys for 7 years – but they weren’t teens.  There’s a whole set of rules that go along with teenagers.

  1. Don’t ask them direct questions – they shut down (true for all teens not just boys).
  2. Don’t expect them to understand the full cycle of “cleaning up”.  Getting dishes close to the sink or garbage near the trash can is close enough.
  3. The toilet seat now belongs in the up position.  If it is down, it deserves to get peed on.  Pay no mind to the fact that they too have to sit while doing certain “functions”.
  4. Never, ever, ask the about girls.
  5. Never try to use slang terms like “On Fleak”.  We just aren’t cool enough.

And the biggest lesson I learned this week was:

Continue reading “Frugal Friday – Tacos With Teens”

FI Just Got a Few Days Further Away…

My muffler decided to jump ship…and she did it in the most gruesome of ways…

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I’m No Mechanic But Something Looks Awry…

I had big plans today – start with a solid block of lounging and  Below Deck reruns followed by a 2 minute drive to my new office to crank out a few posts (my bike sprung a flat yesterday).  Of course, being easily swayed, all that changed when I was distracted by a phone call from mom with the enticing offer of a sushi lunch with The Fab 6.

Not at all similar to the Fab 4, my moms group is comprised of my Aunts, Grandma, and Great Aunt.  They have a nice little system going – the ladies get together once a month at a restaurant of one of their choosing.  They go in rotation and whoever’s month it is chooses the restaurant  and picks up the entire tab.  This month, my Grandma choose sushi and I got the last minute invite to attend.  YES!!  My favorite  Asian cuisine and its gratis??  Sign me up!!  Uh huh…Life had other plans…

Continue reading “FI Just Got a Few Days Further Away…”

Motivating Despite Distractions

It’s a brand new day for me.  Today I established a game plan.  A bonafide, distraction free, high productivity game plan.

You see, I’m a sucker for slacking.  In an effort to counteract that character flaw, I have made sure to rid my home of the most common time suck triggers – cable, junk food, and Facebook.  I didn’t, however, account for the amount of time spent at my boyfriends place where unlimited cable (for real – all channels of insanity included) and junk food go to party.  Seriously!  His fridge/freezer has more convenience foods than a 7-11.  Lucky for me I don’t eat meat so half of those culinary delights are out of the realm of possibility.  But the other half?  The other half calls to me like Sirens trying to shipwreck my diet and energy levels in turn making me a true couch potato as the cable has anticipated.  I’m pretty sure the cable box and fridge are in cahoots.

Well, not today, my evil friends.  Today I pulled the escape hatch and biked my way to the nearest safety zone.  The Switzerland to the productive life I want and the lazy life that wants to consume me.

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My New *Free* Office – Villa Park Library 🙂

The library.  My new home away from his home.  I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to come to this aha moment but I am sure glad I did.  I needed to get out.  I needed a space of my own to  write.  I needed a distraction free zone to unleash my brains potential.  Making this single move to my new location has opened up my mind to what is really going on here – why the distractions are overwhelming my better self.

Clearing out the Cobwebs…

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Be Where You Are…

I apologize for my absence in the past week or so.  I have been on a whirlwind tour of Washington DC (more on that soon!) and then on to a weekend wedding out of state.  Though my intentions were to build up posts ahead of time I sadly fell short of reaching that goal.  Not to worry – I am back and ready to share what has been on my mind…

 

Whether physically or mentally, many people have a problem living in the moment.  We are always looking ahead to what is to come or sometimes behind to what once was.   Is yesterday so much better than today?  Will tomorrow be more exciting than today?  Why is it so difficult to Be Where You Are??


I developed this live in the moment mantra many year ago.  It first started as a way to keep the boys I nannied for interested in the projects in front of them.  The focus helped them finish their chores more quickly so they could play sooner.  Since then, my mantra has evolved to the more modern times of schooling my mother on her FB addiction.  She is constantly on her damn phone in spirit while her body is in front of me in person.  Hello, Mother??  She is missing precious time with her kids, grand kids, and parents in an effort to update the 300 people who aren’t in front of her on what she is half doing in the present…when did the script flip??  And this weekend I was reminded of it shortly after watching a newly married couple walk down the aisle – the question I heard asked was, “When are you two having kids?”  WTF?!  Let them have a honeymoon first!!

Though I was 99% sure I made the mantra up on my own – google has corrected me in saying it was Buddha who first spoke those luminous words of enlightenment…huh…well, he probably got it from me.  😉  Either way, today I am reminded of the importance of that mantra and what it means not to my physical self but to my mental state…

With my goal of financial independence in the next 6 years (2022 Woot!!), every day I feel the pressure of contributing to that goal.  As if the things I do today will catapult me through space and time to 6 years from now…but they won’t.  Time and making good choices will get me there but waiting is the part of the equation that I can not change.  Until then, I need to be happy with where I am today.  So indulge me for a minute…

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Today I am one step closer than yesterday.  Today I am giant leaps closer than I was 3 years ago.  Looking back on those times makes me very grateful for where I stand in my road to recovery from my financial breakdown and to the road ahead paved with gold platinum.  🙂  I am very proud of where I am now.  I have learned to trust in my ability to overcome financial barriers and successfully work past them.  I have been at the bottom before and I have always climbed to the top.  Today I know that tomorrow I will be one step closer and 3 years from now I will be 3 years closer.  I don’t have to worry about the downfalls that may arise.  I am a seasoned veteran to ups and downs.  I will take it in stride and continue my slow (but sure) path to financial independence.  I don’t need to worry that tomorrow will unfold…it will.  I can take solace in that.  I can free my thoughts to focus on today and today only.

Wow – that felt good.  Stand in the moment – stand in your truth.  Looking back should be a mere glance in the rear view mirror – not a stare.  Don’t crush your dreams today for your mistakes from yesterday.  Learn from them and move on.  On the other hand, don’t be so focused on the road ahead that you forget to turn for the curves. Life isn’t meant to go in a straight line.  There will be ups downs, lefts and rights, and many detours along the way.  Those are the best parts if you are in the right frame of mind!

** So, where are you right now?  Are you mentally in the same place you are physically standing?  Are you taking time to enjoy the little victories on your financial path or smell the flowers on the physical path?  What is your mantra for staying in the moment? **

Until next time…

 

 

Exposing Your Financial Self to Morph and Spread Your Wings

I did it!!  Not only did I continue my 10K steps a day streak EVERYDAY in June, but I pushed on to July and bumped it up to 12k a day and so far I am still on track!!  I have NEVER been able to keep up with a set fitness regimen (I realize walking is the bare minimum form of exercise but it’s a start! Baby steps, people!) no matter how big or small it was so why did I succeed in keeping the streak (or chain as the lame people say) going this time?  What key ingredient did I add to the recipe of success that was lacking before? 

Make your challenge public.

For many this is a difficult concept – being raw and naked to the outside world is something we rarely do…unless you’re these people…

Very brave…and a bit awkward…

But for the rest of us, we tend to cocoon ourselves in our miseries in favor of being exposed to the unfiltered world of criticism.  There are so many ways I see this apparent in the world around me.  Whether you are hiding from your finances, health issues, job troubles, or relationship woes – they are all cocoons we have settled into so we don’t have to solve the underlying issues.  But a cocoon is a very sad place to be – it is dark, lonely, and let’s face it, probably doesn’t smell very good.

So, let’s focus on our financial selves.  I did a HUGE thing a few weeks back and posted my net worth for the world to see.  Oh my god was that a tough post to write…let alone publish!!  Then, to add insult to injury, I joined the Million Dollar Club at Budgets are Sexy which parlayed J. Money to add me to his Net Worth of Personal Finance Bloggers (#105 Woot!) list at his awesome site, Rockstar Finance, therefor exposing me to an exponential amount of criticism – more than my little blog could ever muster on it’s own…and do you know what happened?  Nothing.  Not a thing.  Well, that’s not true actually, nothing negative happened.  Instead, I was pleased to find the support of other bloggers, non bloggers, and even J. Money himself, all doing there part to help a fellow part of their community succeed.  And that is the key…

Find your community.

If you are suffering financially – reach out to others who have been in your position and came out ahead.  Go to the library and pick up a few books on personal finance.  Start reading finance blogs such as this one (or check the side bar to the right for some of my favorites. 😉 ).  Go to the comments sections and see what others have written.  Follow up with people who have commented and ask them for advice.  Even if you are alone in your home realize that you are never alone with the internet.  Start networking…but, remember…

UP YOUR AVERAGE!!  It is OK for you to be at the bottom of those 5 people – it will help to motivate you, but, for the love of god, if you find yourself at the top it’s time to move on and find a new group.  Do not commiserate with people who are going to bring you down.  You want a reason to emerge from what you are going through – not be thwarted into staying.  Remember – misery LOVES company…find people who love happiness instead.

All of the above applies to those other aspects of our lives such as job, health, and relationship issues.  Take a few small steps to make your life better.

 Break free, dear friends!  It may take baby steps, but even caterpillars emerge from their cocoons as beautiful butterflies!

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