How are finances and fad diets related?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lets be honest: anyone can do anything for a short enough time period.

  • sprint for five seconds
  • don’t eat sugar for one hour
  • don’t spend any money for one day

No problem. These are easy to do because it is such a short period of time. Start tacking on minutes, hours, days and it becomes more and more challenging.

When I was part of a popular weight management program, they used to tell me that to make something a habit you have to do it for 21 days. Sure, if you do something for 21 days, it becomes easier, but I question if it is actually a habit. Its definitely not a lifestyle change after 21 days which is ultimately what you need to succeed at both diets and the frugal lifestyle.

**Wow – I don’t like that phrase at all: frugal lifestyle. It sounds like living a life a deprivation. I’m going to change it to: financially independent lifestyle.ย  A little wordy but much better.**

Back to my original analogy. Buy nothing months are a great way to kickstart your financially independent lifestyle just like starting a new fad diet is a great way to lose a few pounds; however, neither of these options are great for making a lifestyle change.

Why do I bring this up now? Because, hard as you may find it to believe, even we Eivy’s struggle with maintaining a financially independent lifestyle. We paid off our mortgage (yea!) and then started slipping. One little meal out here, an amazon purchase there and pretty soon you have a recipe for working in an office for the rest of your life.

However, it is also important to figure out a balance that is sustainable forย  your lifestyle. The hardest thing for me about being frugal is eating out. I LOVE to eat out. Its convenient, its fun, its connecting and it is oh so delicious. Am I going to do it everyday? No! But I’m not going to worry too much about it I do eat out a couple times a week. Especially, if I can find a place to do it relatively on the cheap.

**Side note: I found the most amazing burger place next to my skating rink where, we discovered last night, we could all eat for under $20 total. Pretty good.**

Some people can live quite happily never eating out, but for my lifestyle and my sanity, it really is a must. I could deny this and continue to cook every meal at home every night, but that is not sustainable and sustainable is the name of the game! To really make a LIFESTYLE change you have to figure out what is sustainable for your family.

Don’t get me wrong, compared to most people we are still quite frugal. My clothing budge is about $10 a month, and aside from Derby dues we don’t pay anything for entertainment (bonus- Derby doubles as our gym so that’s covered as well). We don’t have cable – just Netflix. We don’t buy new things for our house – just used and only if we absolutely need it. And you know what? I feel so rich. Seriously. I want for nothing. I pinch myself because I can’t believe how lucky I feel.

This is what is sustainable for us. I’m curious what is sustainable for you?

 

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One Step Closer!

california-34We did it! I just sent in my very last mortgage payment ever! What a rush. I can’t even tell you how amazing this feels.

When we set a goal of paying off our mortgage in one year, I thought we were nuts. I looked at the enormous number of dollars we had left to pay and silently wept. I thought it was impossible. I thought I would be paying a mortgage for the rest of my life. I thought it was a pipe dream. But no more! We are free!!!!!

This really feels like a tipping point. Not only do we not have to pay a mortgage any longer, but we can put the money that we would have spent on the mortgage into our investments which will help us get to our magical FI number all the sooner.

Is this the smartest use of our money? Should we have invested that money in the market instead of our mortgage? Who knows. Only time will tell, but what I do know is that in the crazy housing market of Seattle, I don’t have to worry about a landlord raising my rent by hundreds of dollars a month. I don’t have to worry about buying a home with multiple offers. I get to simply enjoy the peace of living rent and mortgage free in a home I love.

So, I encourage everyone to set crazy high goals – to strive for what is impossible and celebrate your success! I know I will ๐Ÿ™‚

Ack! Is it September already?

africa-3So, its September…not quite sure how that happened.

I left for Africa on August 21st in the middle of the summer and when I got back September 1st it was solidly fall – with crisp air and turning leaves. I am not one of those people who lives for fall. Don’t get me wrong. I like it – pumpkins, apple cider and cooler air. What’s not to like? But its no summer. Fall is like the consolation prize you get when you have to say good bye to summer.

Ah well – I digress (or rather, I didn’t mean to start talking about the changing seasons when what i really want to talk about is…): our financial update!

August was, without a doubt, the busiest month financially for us. We sold two of our rental houses (woo hoo!!!!) and used that money to pay off the mortgage on our current house (again, I say, woo hoo!!!). As of tomorrow, we will officially be debt free…unless you are counting our vacation rental property…which I don’t count because it is like its own self contained business. I leave that property alone – let the vacation rental managers take care of everything – and collect a check every month. Easy peasy. Eventually, we will pay off the mortgage on that account too and then the checks we collect each month will be bigger ๐Ÿ™‚

We changed our spending habits a bit in August as well. Rather than keep ourselves on a strict “no eating out” plan, we ate out four of five times and surprisingly, our food spending actually went down! I think the reason was that when I know we are not eating out, I plan these elaborate meals every night and we end up spending quite a bit on groceries. When we kinda play it by ear, we end up eating a lot of leftovers mixed with a few meals out. It works for us.

I also signed up for one of those meal delivery in a box things again. While definitely NOT a frugal option, it keeps us in the habit of eating at home which ultimately does save us money – especially if I bulk up the recipes so we have leftovers. Plus, it removes the worst part of my day: 4pm when I am trying to wrangle my child and I suddenly realize that I have no idea what is for dinner and all we have in the house is peanut butter crackers. Come one, we’ve all been there…right?…right?….

In other news, I went to Africa. NBD. Africa! I stepped up my photography skills, learned a ton, cried a lot (don’t feel sorry for me – I cry at everything), made some amazing friends and changed my life. Like I said, NBD.

August Financial Recap:

(Everything got very messy because we were putting money into selling the houses and then getting money back from selling the houses so I’ve only got one number for you):

Percentage of the way towards our goal of financial independence: 46%

I’m going to try to update this blog more regularly for you three people who actually read my ramblings (hi mom!). You’re welcome.