By now, most of you are familiar with the concept of FIRE and the various types: Lean FIRE, Barista FIRE, etc. (if you aren’t, you can read about it here). But I’ve decided that none of those definitions of FIRE really speak to me correctly. Therefore, I’m coining a new FIRE term: Bougie FIRE.

Bougie

Bougie is a term that comes from the French word bourgeois, which means upper middle class. According to Urban Dictionary, it means aspiring to be a higher class than you actually are. It’s also a lot of fun to say.

Bougie is typically used to mean that someone is too good for something, like “she refuses to shop at the thrift store, she’s so bougie”. I’m taking some liberties with that definition, but hey, it’s not like it’s from Webster’s Dictionary. It’s just slang.

Bougie Fire

Bougie Fire is being financially independent while having a nest egg big enough to enjoy bougie adventures. It means that you don’t have to work anymore, but you can live. You can spend that year learning to surf in Costa Rica. You can go on SCUBA adventures to the Red Sea. You can live your life to the fullest! But because you are just bougie and not rich, you have to sacrifice material things to get there.

Bougie Fire vs Fat Fire

I know lot of you financial independence pros are thinking “there’s already a term for this; it’s called Fat Fire”.  However, there are some key differences. First, it’s way more fun to say Bougie Fire than to say Fat Fire. But more importantly, Fat Fire is about being financially independent while living off 100K or more. It’s also about living well while pursuing financial independence. Generally, those who are reaching for Fat Fire have pretty high incomes and plan to maintain their standards of living. Physician on Fire wrote an awesome article on it if you are interested.

Viator 

Bougie Fire, on the other hand, isn’t about the amount of money you plan on spending yearly. Bougie Fire is all about the adventures.  If you spend a lot of time in a low cost of living country (like, Costa Rica for instance) you can do the Bougie Fire thing on the cheap. If your bougie adventures take you to Monaco or Switzerland, it’s going to be a lot more expensive. It’s also about sacrificing some of the finer things so that you can have the fancy adventures.  Some of the Fat Fire folks enjoy their expensive dinners out, nice cars, and large homes. There’s nothing wrong with that!  The Bougie Fire folks give up these things so that we can have adventures. It’s all about what you prioritize, and neither is better than the other.

How I came up with Bougie Fire

I first thought of the term Bougie Fire when writing my post about how crazy expensive it is to have adventures.  It was a tough pill for me to swallow, because I really want to be frugal. But my main reason for pursuing Fire is so that I can live life to its fullest, and part of that for me is to experience all the things. So I said screw it and went for it.

Then I realized how bougie I am when it comes to having adventures. I will eat tuna and ramen for a week so that I can afford my plane tickets to Europe. I haven’t had my hair cut in over a year, I don’t get my nails done, and I rarely buy makeup. But I’ll drop a grand on getting SCUBA certified like it’s nothing! So bougie.

What are your thoughts on my new Fire term? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Love this post? Share it!

My top life goal is to live my life to it’s fullest. I want to have adventures! I want to climb mountains, dive oceans, go parasailing over white sandy beaches, ride dune buggies through rolling deserts, trek through jungles…you get the gist!  The problem is that stuff is expensive. The cost of having adventures is outrageous!

My Latest Adventure

My most recent attempt at having an adventure was learning to SCUBA dive. The world is incredible and vast, but 70% of it is underwater. I want to explore that part too!

I’ve always wanted to SCUBA dive, so when my coworkers asked me to sign up to take classes with them, I eagerly agreed. But SCUBA lessons aren’t cheap! It was $300 to take the first portion of the class; which included the testing and pool training. It’s another $260 to take the final open water certification (which includes 4 dives). But wait, there’s more!  You also need equipment!  The class includes all the hardcore SCUBA stuff, but I needed to come prepared with fins, a mask, a snorkel, and booties. The beginner’s SCUBA package cost me an additional $160. That’s over $700 just to get certified!!!  Insane!!

Are you about to go on an Adventure? Book your flights on Skyscanner! 

SCUBA Adventures

After my initial investment, you know I’m going to want to use this skill!  So now I either have to buy real SCUBA gear (which can cost close two grand for starter stuff) or rent gear every time I want to dive (at about 80 bucks a day). Yeah, this is going to be an expensive hobby! I think I’m just going to rent gear at first, that way I get to see if I like it and determine how much I really will go out there for a smaller investment. Also, I’ll have the opportunity to test out different types of gears before buying, which is always a plus!

The Cost of Having Adventures

This isn’t just about SCUBA though. All the fun adventurous things I want to do cost boat loads of money!  I want to zipline in Costa Rica (starting at $110), ATV in Peru ($45), Trek to the Everest Base Camp ($1150), Deep Sea fish off the coast of California ($150), Paddleboard on Vancouver Island ($25/hr) and so much more! I want to do all the things!! Those prices may seem reasonable, but they don’t include travel or lodging.  My idea of living life to its fullest is expensive!  

Viator

Balancing having adventures with FIRE

Unfortunately, these costly adventures don’t jive well with trying to FIRE.  Sure, I could spend my life living on a small ranch, growing my own food, and getting enjoyment out of simple things like bike riding and reading, but that’s just not what I want for my life. I’m not knocking anyone who does want these things, those are perfectly valid life choices. But that’s not the lifestyle I envision for myself, and I’m not pursuing financial independence so I can have that.

Related: Check out My Path to Fire!

 I want to spend my life having those bougie expensive adventures. I’m working towards financial independence so I can have them. I know it will take me longer to achieve bougie adventure FIRE, but I’m ok with that. I’d rather work a few extra years to ensure that I will be able to build the life of my dreams than call it quits too early and not be able to do all the things I want to do.

So bring on all the bougie expensive adventures!  I want to hear about your adventures and how much they cost in the comments! Let’s find a way to make being adventurous more cost effective!

Love this post? Share it!
"Blog Growth"

Blog Growth Strategies for our Fifth Month

Readership

Wow our readership exploded in month five!  But only for a day really haha. We ended the month with a whopping three thousand users!  It’s a new record!

How did we get so many users?

Partners in in Fire was lucky enough to get featured on Rockstar Finance this month!  Our article The Worst Financial Mistake of My Life was featured in Rockstar Finance’s April 10th Features! I’m not really sure how it was chosen, heck I didn’t even realize it at first!  I thought something strange was going on when I kept getting legitimate comments on the article.  So, I did some online digging, and found my post on the Rock Star Finance main page! Super Exciting Stuff!

After an amazing day of lots of page views, we were also featured in The Financial Diet’s weekly round up!  What an amazing week for Partner’s in Fire!

Posting

I did an excellent job of sticking to my posting schedule this month. Unfortunately, I got sick during the last week and skipped posting on the last Thursday. I even had everything drafted up and ready to go, I just didn’t have the energy to do all the social media posting or to proof read, so I decided to wait and post it next week. Sometimes life happens, and that’s ok.

Social Media

Obviously, the majority of our users this month came from Rockstar Finance and The Financial Diet (Thanks again guys!). But we did pretty well with our social media platforms as well.

Our Pinterest referrals are really picking up steam. We had 174 referrals from Pinterest this month, almost 100 more than last month!  It outpaced Twitter for the first time ever! I think that Tailwindaccount really is starting to pay off. It hasn’t led to monetary conversion yet, but page views need to come first.

With 96 users, Twitter was our second biggest social media referrer this month. We didn’t do as well on Facebook this month as we did last month, but I think that is because I skipped sharing a few of my posts on Facebook. I didn’t want anyone to take offense at things that weren’t meant to be offensive, so I decided not to share.

Monetization

Affiliates

Though being featured on some major Personal Finance sites led to lots of page views, it did not lead to lots of affiliate clicks or sales. We did have a handful more clicks to Amazon than in previous months, but it did not generate any sales.

Our other affiliates, such as Flex Offers and Clicky Homes, still haven’t generated much interest. I think the reason for that is because I refuse to sell products I don’t believe in, so I’ve greatly limited the types of campaigns I will run from Flex Offers. Clicky Homes is a great program, but it is only useful to a small subset of the population (realtors). I’m ok with both of those things though, I know that if people visit my site and actually click through to an affiliate, it will be useful to them. That’s more important to me than making money.

Ads

You’d think that with over 3000 pageviews, my ad revenue via Adsense would have increased. That was not the case. I think I only have Adsense ads on a few of my pages, and those were not the pages that got the views. According to Adsense, I only had about 300 pageviews during the last month. This was not enough to make a dent in our earnings.

I don’t want to destroy any user experience I have, so I’m not going to change the way my ads are laid out. However, if you are interested in monetizing via google ads and notice a discrepancy between your Google Analytics pageviews and your Adsense pageviews, this may be something worth looking into.

What’s Next?

I totally destroyed my goal of getting 500 users for this period!  But I know I got super lucky with that amazing feature, so I don’t think 3000 views every month is sustainable. Partner’s in Fire did get a few extra subscribers from that though, and I’m getting better and better at Pinterest, so I think getting to 500 without any special features is totally doable this next month.

I am keeping my expectations low though, because I have a lot going on in my personal life this month, and I know I won’t be able to stick to my posting schedule. I have SCUBA lessons next week which are going to take a ton of time (but will so be worth it!) and I have a girl’s trip to Vancouver coming up, so I won’t be posting at all that week. Can I get to 500 while skipping three posts?? That’s the goal, so we shall see!

What strategies have you used to help grow your blog?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Love this post? Share it!
"lower middle class"

Sometimes people see a personal finance blogger striving for financial independence and think that we must have grown up with well-off or financially savvy parents. Well, that isn’t always the case. I’d classify my parents as lower middle class and let’s just say I didn’t learn any positive financial skills from them!

I know that a lot of people had things way worse than me. It’s also true that I got extremely lucky with a few of my choices; and a lot of people who make similar choices may not have the same luck. However, I think it’s fair to point out that you don’t have to come from rich parents who are good with money to get on a quest for financial independence (though I’m sure it helps!)

Growing Up Lower Middle Class

I honestly don’t know what my household income was when I was younger. My parents owned a home in the South suburbs of Chicago, we always had food to eat, we got nice Christmases, and we went on vacation (camping) a few times per year. Seems solidly middle class, right? However, we did live across the street from some pretty terrifying apartments that had cops patrolling more often than not.  I’m also pretty sure our neighbor across the alley got busted for dealing LSD. It wasn’t the best neighborhood, but it was far from the worst. We could play outside without fear as long as we stayed away from the apartments, which is a luxury a lot of kids didn’t have.

When I was very little, my father worked as an insurance agent. He sold insurance in Chicago’s terrifying ghettos (shameless plug, but he wrote a fictionalized account of his experiences, Check it out on Amazon!). This job didn’t make him well off, but he made enough money to support the family. 

 

Dad Loses his Job

Unfortunately, when I was still in grade school, my father lost his job with the insurance company. My parents turned to delivering papers to make a living. My siblings and I had to do paper routes three days a week after school to help them make ends meet. For the first few years, this was unpaid labor. At the time, I didn’t understand why I was being forced to work for free, but I get it now. They needed the free labor to keep up with the bills. We were working to support the family.

To my parent’s credit, they were able to take what they learned delivering papers for someone else and make a business out of it. They started hiring more neighborhood kids to deliver papers for them, and they started paying us for the work that we did.

No Savings

Unfortunately, even with running their own business, there wasn’t a lot left to save at the end of each month. Or maybe my parents prioritized vacations and nice Christmases over emergency funds and retirement accounts. Either way, they had no savings.  They spent most of the money they made each month and allowed us kids to do the same. If we wanted something super expensive, they would tell us that we needed to save up on our own for it (my brother was obsessed with getting Scottie Pippen shoes, so he was the best about that!) but that was really the extent of our lessons in savings.

A Divorce

My parents got divorced when I was in high school. My dad kept the business and was able to rent a home from his sister while my mom basically had nothing. After our family home was foreclosed on she had to go live up north near her parents. To be honest though, their divorce kind of worked out in my favor. It’s way easier to get loans for college if you are a child of divorced parents with low incomes.  I got enough financial aid money to pay for my entire college education (via loans and grants, mostly). I didn’t use all of it, because I decided to join the Reserve Officers Training Core (ROTC) when I got to college, which helped pay for a lot of my schooling (My first great financial decision!)

15 years later

Even now, neither of my parents is good with money. I don’t think either of them has a retirement plan or a solid emergency fund. They both work, and I think both of them plan to just continue working until they can’t anymore.

My siblings and I learned very different things from this upbringing. My brother learned that he can get by with working until he dies. He doesn’t worry about saving money and values spending everything he earns on making sure his kids are happy (Just like my parents did). My sister was the same for a very long time.  She valued appearances and expensive things, because she didn’t want to feel poor.  However, in the last few years, through my obsession with financial independence, I have helped her learn the value of saving money for the future. She wants to pursue FIRE too!

I went the opposite way. I saw that my parents were just barely keeping their heads above water and decided that wasn’t what I wanted for my future. Therefore, I took it upon myself to learn financial literacy. I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way; but I think I’m getting there.

Financial Literacy

The point of this story is that learning financial literacy is not easy, but it can be done. It isn’t really taught in school (at least it wasn’t in my school!), and if you don’t grow up in an environment where it is practiced every day, it’s hard to grasp. However, that doesn’t make it unattainable.  It would have been great if my parents could have given me a head start on this, but they couldn’t. What I learned instead was the value of hard work, and that I didn’t want to be destitute in the future. These were valid lessons too, and I’m glad I got them.

What did your parents teach you about money? Let us know in the comments!

Love this post? Share it!
"the honeymoon phase"

Honeymoon Phase

As most of you fabulous readers know, I started seeing someone new about a month after Jonathan and I broke up. Well good news! The relationship is fantastic so far! We are super compatible and have a great time together. I’m definitely enjoying the Honeymoon Phase of this new relationship and loving my life in general.

Problem

This is the problem. I am actually happy! And I want to spend all my time with my new guy. This really isn’t a problem for my life, but it is a problem for the blog. It makes it harder for me to find the time to write. I also am struggling to find time to promote and market the blog. I’m doing the best I can to juggle all of these priorities (I’ve even managed to mostly stick to my Thursday and Sunday posting schedule, woot!) but having a happy life has to come first.

Yes, we met on OKC!

 

Why wasn’t this a problem before?

I was able to throw all of my free time into blogging before because I wasn’t happy. The blog was all I had. My relationship sucked, but I felt stuck. He was cool with the blog, so I could get away with focusing most of my time on it. It made things at home easier too, because I was able to do something and not have to deal with him. Blogging was an escape. It’s way harder to focus on the blog when I’m enjoying the company around me so much. First world problems.

Related: The Worst Financial Mistake of My Life

Why not drop the blog?

I still love it! And I believe in it. I love the concept of Partners in Fire, and I love all the friends I have made in the blogging world. I love the Personal Finance Community on Twitter, and I also love the blogging community. I don’t want to give any of that up!  Also, I’m a realist. I know that this is the honeymoon phase, and that honeymoon phases don’t last forever (it would be kind of nice if they did though, wouldn’t it?).

Who remembers being in a new relationship?  Its so much fun and so exciting that you want to spend every waking moment just hanging out and getting to know each other. But then, after three to six months, as you get more comfortable with one another and start sliding into each other’s lives; things kind of settle down. You fit into each other’s lives and it just becomes right to have them around and also do your own thing. Maybe I’m the only one this happens to, but it seems completely normal to me!

What’s Next?

Moving forward, I’m going to be happy. I’m going to focus on blogging, because it makes me happy; but I’m also going to focus on my life and my relationship because they make me happy too. I have a lot of balls in the air right now to juggle, but I think with a little effort and a little less tv I can learn to prioritize them all and regain a sense of balance in my life. Either way, I’m going to enjoy myself while I do it!

Who out in the blogger sphere has advice about juggling new relationships, blogging, life, and a full-time job? I could use your tips!

Love this post? Share it!
"the worst financial mistake"

It’s hard to be transparent, even with strangers on the internet. So it’s hard to discuss the worst financial mistake of my life. Its not something you would typically hear…I didn’t buy a house in the bubble or charge hundreds of thousands of dollars to my credit cards or lose big in a casino. I lost big in love, and it cost me.

What was the worst financial MISTAKE of my life?

The worst financial mistake of my life was getting involved with an alcoholic. And then staying with that alcoholic for over five years. I kind of consider it one big never-ending mistake, since it was the mistake that kept on giving. I was stupid, I didn’t know how serious of a thing alcoholism was, and I thought that I could help a friend.

I didn’t move Jonathan in with me with the intent of having a relationship with him. He was an old friend who was going through a tough time, and I thought I could help him get back on his feet by giving him a place to stay far away from his hometown. I didn’t know the extent of his alcoholism (I also didn’t know about his bipolar disorder).

Eventually, our living together turned into a relationship. I really did care about him, so much.   Maybe that is why I turned a blind eye to the alcoholism at first. Maybe that’s why I let him treat me so poorly for the first few years. I had built up this amazing image of him in my head, and when that didn’t coincide with reality, I made excuses.

My first mistake

So here’s where the financial disaster comes in. Jonathan didn’t work for the first few years we were together. I paid for all of the bills, all of our living expenses, and I even supported his beer habit. But he always had an excuse. It was a bad economy. The area we lived in wasn’t conducive to him getting a job. He wanted to start his own business. He couldn’t compete in the job market. And I, being stupid and naïve, believed him. I let him get away with it, again and again.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the extent of my stupidity.  I gave him money for the business he was trying to grow out of the garage. He collected video games, he’d buy them at garage sales and off of craigslist for low prices and resell them (but not on Ebay, that was too much work, so he sold them to another dude who sold them on ebay). I would help him make a deal occasionally (more often than I’d care to admit) and he’d always promise to pay me back with the profit (sometimes he did, more often he didn’t). Usually he had enough money to keep his small business going and to keep himself in alcohol and cigarettes. He never paid a dime towards living expenses.

Related: See how Partners in Fire is moving forward from this break up

Having a job

J eventually found a decent paying job with our neighbor’s company doing office work. He actually had to get up and go to work every day!  He worked from 6 am to 2 pm, and he was usually drunk by the time I got home. Sometimes, he wasn’t home when I got home, and I’d find him at the local bar, blowing his paycheck on shots (usually he stayed home to drink). Even with this job I didn’t see any money, but I was just glad to not be paying for his habit anymore.

Enough

I finally had enough in January of 2016, when he decided that he’d rather drink than go to work. It wasn’t good before this point by any means, but I was holding things together.

Him deciding not to work was the first last straw for me. We broke up. He promised to try and do better. He would stay sober for a week, then a few days, then another week. But every time he would go back to drinking. It seemed like he would do just enough to get me to stay with him.

By June of 2016, I had enough again. I ended it again and told him the only way I’d stay with him is if he went to rehab. He found himself a rehab facility that would take him (I paid for him to get on a health plan through the affordable care act – another huge waste of money) and off he went.

He stayed in rehab for about 60 days. I was so proud of him! He quickly became a team leader and helped other people stay in rehab too. He was ready to rejoin the real world and give up alcohol!  Woot!

After rehab

Unfortunately, his new-found sobriety only lasted for four days after he got out of rehab. He made up some story about why drinking was ok because he was holding himself accountable (they always have an excuse).

For the next six months, we were very on and off. I’d break up, he’d claim to try, I’d give him another chance, and then we’d be right back at square one. Then he confided that he knew he could quit drinking, he just had to face and overcome his biggest fear – a DUI he had gotten back when he was 20. He was terrified that he would have to go to jail over it.

Another mistake

I helped him (yet again). I lent him two thousand dollars so that he could get a top DUI lawyer. He promised he would pay me back a month later when he received his tax refund check. By this point, he had already siphoned about 10 grand away from me, so I didn’t want to give him the money. I didn’t trust him to pay it back. But, he really needed the lawyer to overcome this one last thing, and if he waited he might not be able to get him. So I lent him the money on the strict condition that he’d pay it back as soon as he got his check.

Well, he got the check and he gave the money to a friend of his who was “in a bad situation” instead of paying me back. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. This was the point where I lost any trust that I ever had in him. Looking back, this was the point where our relationship truly ended. This is what I still can’t forgive him for or recover from.

He did actually get the lawyer though, and he was able to avoid jail with community service (which he completed!). But that didn’t stop the drinking. 

 

Still trying to make it work

I still stupidly tried to make the relationship work. I thought he could get better, even after all that, and even after I knew I could never trust him again. When I got the transfer to Savannah, I told him that this could be our chance to start over. We would be in a new city, where he had opportunities!  He could make some friends and move forward with his life!

Unfortunately that didn’t happen. The first few months in Savannah were a nightmare. But of course, I was to blame for it, because he didn’t have any friends. He couldn’t get a good job close enough to the house. He had nothing and no one in Savannah, so his only option was to drink.

I ended things with him again in October. I set up a Tinder profile and started dating other guys. J realized he was on the verge of losing me and started actually trying. He got a bus pass so he could get around town and signed up for a temp agency and found a decent job. I didn’t give in right away though.  I continued going on dates with other guys; and I told him that I wouldn’t even consider getting back with him unless he was sober for over 30 days. I also told him that if he drank ever again, it would be over. However, I was driving him to and from work at this time; because it was far away from the bus routes and he really needed the job.

One last try

He actually made it the 30 days. He kept his job, started paying for some house stuff, and offered to do some hard tasks around the house as a way to start paying me back. Was he turning over a new leaf?  Was almost losing me for good the catalyst he needed to turn his life around??

I hoped so. I stopped dating other guys and decided to give him one more chance. But I wasn’t done making terrible decisions!  I knew that there was one major thing limiting him, and that was his ability to get around. He was relying on either me or a less than reliable bus system. If he was really going to make it, this was unsustainable.

And One More Mistake

So, I told him that for Christmas, I would help him get a car. I meant that I would put 500-1000 towards a down payment or a beater. However, his credit was terrible. There was no way he could get something financed in his name alone. He fell in love with this used Kia, and although I felt uncomfortable co-signing; I let him pressure me into it. He absolutely promised that he would pay and he would work and that he would change and he wouldn’t screw me over. I didn’t exactly believe him, but I realized he didn’t stand a chance without reliable transportation, so I tried to believe him.

From December until our final breakup in January things were shaky. He didn’t keep his word about not drinking, but I was terrified that he’d just leave with the car and screw me over so I didn’t break up with him. Actually, I did breakup with him and he threatened to do just that. He used the financial disaster of the car as a way to keep me with him.  

It’s really over

But a person can only take so much. I finally decided that I’d rather ruin my credit than let him hold me hostage over the car. I broke up with him and promised myself that I wouldn’t let him manipulate, threaten, or guilt me back into a relationship. In addition,  I started seeing a therapist who helped me identify his manipulative behavior. And, amazingly enough, I ended up meeting an amazing man who makes me feel like I’m the only woman on the planet.

Although looking back, I’m deeply ashamed that I let myself be used for so long; I’ve been so happy since he moved out. I feel free. I feel like I can be myself again and that I can relax in my own home! This past month of freedom has been indescribably amazing! 

And for anyone in a similar situation – Get out. Get out now. They won’t change. They will say whatever they think you want to hear so that they can continue doing what they want. Take care of yourself first. You deserve better.

Love this post? Share it!
"breaking up"

As I mentioned all over Twitter and in my third month update, J and I are no longer together. We broke up for good in January, and he finally moved out towards the end of February.

Breaking Up

Breaking up was hard for both of us, but it was a long time in the making. I couldn’t forgive him for all of the things he did to me while he was drunk or having an episode. There were a lot of things that I wanted from a relationship that he just wasn’t able to give me. I stopped caring, and I stopped trying, even when I promised him I would try.

There wasn’t really a final straw. I just got to the point where I was over it. I told him I wanted to start fresh, but he kept pressuring me into acting like we were in a good six-year relationship. He didn’t understand the concept of starting over. I’m glad he didn’t though, because with him being gone, I feel freer than I have in a long time. I’m actually happy. I feel comfortable being at home. I’m excited for the future. These are feelings that were missing when I was in the relationship.

Partners in Fire

Lots of Partners in Fire articles mention our relationship, and usually in a positive light. (seriously, read the article about our New Year’s Goals!) I’m not going to edit those. But I will say that much of that was written to keep the peace in the household rather than because it was true. J wanted to be a part of Partners in Fire, even though he had absolutely nothing to do with the household finances. He would get upset if I wrote in the first person. He insisted that we were a team, even though I felt alone the majority of the time. So I acquiesced, and made the website more about us than about me.

Moving Forward

Moving forward, I’m going to be doing the writing for Partners in Fire. At first, J said he still believes in the website and the idea, and he wanted to be involved in the future. He wanted the website to track both of us and follow our individual paths to fire. He thought it would be cool; because our routes are totally different. I agree that would be pretty cool, but I didn’t know if I want to work with him in that capacity, especially in the beginning. But we recently got into an argument over Instagram, and he decided that he didn’t want anything to do with me or the website again. Maybe time will heal some of these wounds, and maybe they won’t.

Social Media

J also insisted on keeping the Instagram account. He started it, he built it, and he got it to where it is, so that is only fair. It’s the one thing he actually worked hard on for this blog. He also said he wants to do it because he feels like he owes me for all of the bullshit that he put me through over the years (and money he cost me).

Unfortunately, he tried to use it as a way to keep in contact with me and keep my attention on him even though I’ve asked him to leave me alone and give me space on numerous occasions. Because of this, I took the Instagram account back (this is what we got into the argument about…he was not happy!) I will continue running all of the other social media accounts as well.

The Real Mission

Partners in Fire is moving forward from breaking up, but the mission remains the same. Partners in Fire is about all of us partnering together to achieve our dreams, whether that be early retirement, financial independence, or some other financial win. We are all in this together, and my goal with this blog has always been to help others see that they can achieve their goals and live life on their own terms. Let’s do it together!

Love this post? Share it!
"Stressed out!"

I had a terrible day at work today. A miserable, terrible, epically awful day. I’m totally stressed out about it, and it wasn’t even that bad!

What happened?

I got yelled at by my boss for something stupid. I didn’t really do anything wrong, but he was mad that things weren’t the way he needed them to be, so he took it out on me. Has anyone else experienced something like this? Its pretty awful getting yelled at for anything, and when your livelihood depends upon it, it’s even worse. I wouldn’t get fired over a stupid thing, but for some reason the stress trigger in my body doesn’t know that. It’s a bit dysfunctional.

Logically, I know that what happened today wasn’t a huge deal. I know that the absolute worst thing that can possible happen is a write up, and the chances of that happening are super slim. So why am I so anxious?  Why am I so upset that I made a tiny mistake in my boss’s eyes?

Stressed out – signs of stress

Seriously, I had a hard time functioning all day after I got yelled at (and it wasn’t even an ass chewing, I could just tell he was mad and disappointed…like I said, it wasn’t even that bad). My stomach hurt, my nerves were on fire, I was super jumpy, scared that someone would come in and mention my epic failure. It was awful. And I’m sure I’ll feel the same way tomorrow, and the rest of the week as well. Trust me, being stressed out is not fun!

 

Why am I so super anxious about a minor problem at work?

Because I need this job. I do. I’m not at the point yet where I can say “fuck you!”. Seriously, some “fuck you” money would be super awesome right about now. But I don’t have it so I still need this job.  I need it for a minimum of three more years to solidify my pension. I need this job for these next three years to ensure that I’m able to live the FIRE lifestyle I want for the rest of my life afterwards. Also, I need this job to pay my current bills!! 

Related: Our Path to FIRE

I know that one minor issue isn’t going to cost me my job. I know that, and you know that. But being stressed out all day really solidified my desire for financial freedom. This isn’t healthy. Its not healthy to be so worried about a little thing that you did wrong at work that you can’t enjoy the rest of your day. It’s not healthy to have to take abuse from bosses because you need the paycheck (Not that my boss is abusive…he’s usually really awesome, but he was super stressed out today too!).

When I’m Financially Free, I won’t have to worry about any of this anymore. I can be my own boss, or I can walk out of work if my boss gives me a hard time about anything. I won’t have to be stressed out anymore. Not Needing a job will give me power that I don’t currently have. And that’s one of the reasons I’m walking this FIRE path.

Love this post? Share it!
"alcoholism a disease or an excuse"

How it all begins 

Alcoholism is the most underrated and untreated disease in the world. Tons of people die from this disease daily and it shouldn’t be that way. Treatment isn’t always necessary; a life of balance and hard work is. When I first learned that I was an alcoholic treatment wasn’t even an option. It is impossible to just shove an alcoholic into a program if they don’t want to change, and I wasn’t ready to change. We have to fully accept everything and agree a change needs to be made, and if we don’t it’s a hopeless battle.

Most alcoholics figure out they have a problem way before they ever get to treatment, but they don’t want to admit and accept it. It’s a disease of the mind that moves its course depending on how much you allow it to take control of your life. What I’m trying to explain is that if you don’t allow it to gain a foothold you can actually stop. Alcoholism has messed with me my entire life and has caused me to lose many a friend and relationships. The battles it has caused in my life are a testament to how deadly of a disease it can be.

Being an Alcoholic

The uncontrollable urge to drink consumes your life. You can think about nothing else, no matter what it may cost (job, friends or even family). Alcohol is everything to you, nothing comes before it. I was between 24 and 25 years old when I let alcohol take over my life, and that’s what threw me into the hell that I have been living through for the past 9 years.

 Alcoholism isn’t about partying too much and having fun. The majority of alcoholics drink alone and don’t hang out with people. When you start down the path to alcoholism you become ashamed of yourself and no longer enjoy being around anyone. It is one of the things that makes this disease so deadly, you turn your back on everyone. I lack a better way of saying it, but you become a hermit, alone, miserable, and drowning in your own sorrow.

Related: Overcoming Mental Illness to Find Financial Peace

 As an alcoholic I can relate to all of this, M tried so many times to get me to hang out with people, only to have me say I would rather stay home. The majority of people can’t understand this about alcoholics, we fear people and anything that can save our lives. We live off misery and depression, its what motivates us in life. Depression is the only thing we can cling to and control. I know it sounds crazy, but we are only searching for some point of stability. We end up finding that in misery, and that is what makes it so easy to become lost forever.

Having someone that believes in you

I cannot stress to you how important this is and how hard it will be for the person that is trying to help you. M lived by the idea of “I am going to love you until you love yourself” and I fought her tooth and nail on it. Finding someone that is willing to expend this amount of effort is extremely rare and requires someone that has a huge heart and will love you no matter what you do. Today I am able to write about this and share my story because of what she did for me. Having someone that believes in you makes the process bearable. Things will move slowly if you’re doing it correctly, take solace in the fact that if it is going slowly you are actually repairing your life.

Now

 I have spent years beating the crap out of myself and saying I was a worthless person. Now I spend each day finding the ways that I was a positive influence on people. Everyone has parts of them that are positive and I have made it my goal to find them for myself. My strengths are that I work extremely hard at anything I devote my attention to, and I care about people to a point that it’s almost uncanny. Focusing on these things instead of obsessing about my hatred of myself has allowed me to find peace.

 Alcoholism is a devil of a disease, but it doesn’t require treatment. Hard work and looking at your inner self helps. Finding out what makes you may be the one thing you need. Depression will always feed off of despair, don’t allow that in your life and you’re on the right track. Any day I wake up and find that life is going to be difficult, I smile and say bring it on!

Get it on Amazon: Loving Someone in Recovery: The Answers You Need When Your Partner Is Recovering from Addiction (The New Harbinger Loving Someone Series)

 Here’s to all the other alcoholics out there and the people that are trying to help them. Stay strong and believe in yourself (or them). It’s a long process, but it’s not un-achievable. This is just my path and my story of how I overcame it. Do you have your own story that you want to share? I’m all ears. All any alcoholic/addict has every wanted is for someone to listen to there story. Well, I am here and will always will be around to listen. In future posts I will elaborate on specific situations and what it did to my life.  I am posting this so people can start to understand the disease and how horrible it is. I feel it’s important for people to understand that before I share my experiences.

Sincerely,

J

 

*Links with this next to it are affiliate links. That means I’ll receive a small commission if you decide to click on it and buy something. Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra!

Love this post? Share it!
Lifestyle blog for financial freedom and financial independence

Are you thinking of buying a home?  Do you know what things you should look for when buying a new house?  I’ve bought two houses in the last 10 years, so although I’m not an expert, I have learned a few things about what to look for when making a decision. Check out these tips for home buyers so you can make the perfect decision for you and your family!

Tips for Home Buyers

Find the Right Realtor

Trust

The first thing to look for when buying a new home is a realtor that you trust. You absolutely do not have to buy a home from the first realtor you tour houses with. If they make you uncomfortable in any way, drop them and find someone new. I had to do this when I bought my first home. I went house hunting with a highly rated realtor team, but they seemed very pushy. Every home was the most amazing home ever and any concern I had wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t buy from these people and I didn’t go out house hunting with them again. Trust your instincts. If you don’t feel comfortable with your realtor, find a new one (it won’t be hard, they are everywhere!).

Are you a realtor who wants to provide the best experience for your clients? Check out ClickyHomes!*

Respect

You also need to find a realtor who will listen to you and respect your needs. My second home buying experience was a lot harder than my first, because I was doing it from 2000 miles away. (Check out the one thing I wish my realtor had when I was house shopping!). I contacted a realtor with awesome reviews, and the fist thing I did was discuss my budget. I was savvy at this point, and obsessed with the idea of financial freedom, so I knew I didn’t want to spend more than 200K.

 What did this realtor do?  She sent me a bunch of listings for homes priced between 220-240. She sent me 0 listings under 200k. The other realtor I contacted sent me tons of listings between 150 and 200. He sent me a few listings over 200K, and explained that he could probably get them down to 200 if I really loved those. Guess who I went with?  Definitely realtor number 2! He obviously respected my wishes way more than the first one!

Find the right neighborhood

Choosing the right neighborhood is almost as important as choosing the right house. There are so many considerations in choosing a neighborhood that this probably could have been its own blog post. However, these are all super important things to look for, so I didn’t want to leave any of them out. A whole lot goes into scouting out the neighborhood! First and foremost, you should actually like the neighborhood. But you should also take a few more things into consideration.

Safety

 You can check the crime (and other demographic) data of any neighborhood that you are interested in at NeighborhoodScout.com. Sometimes there’s a reason why that house is so cheap! In Savannah, there are some beautiful reasonably priced homes in some super sketchy neighborhoods. I’m not going to sacrifice my safety and piece of mind for a bigger home. I’d much rather live in a smaller, more expensive home in a neighborhood that is relatively safe.

WALK-ABILITY and Transportation

I really really wanted to buy a home in a walkable neighborhood. Unfortunately, most of the walkable neighborhoods in Savannah are either too close to a bad neighborhood for comfort or priced above 200K. But walkability may be a must have for you. If you want to be car free or bike to work, you need to buy a home in a neighborhood that allows you that option.

When we moved to Savannah, Jonathan didn’t have a job or a car. Unfortunately (for him) the home I chose was in the way back of the neighborhood. That meant he had to walk almost a mile just to get to the bus stop!  Even worse, the bus routes through our neighbor were very sparse, so he’d spend hours riding the bus just to go a few miles!  Talk about a waste of time! Luckily, he has a car now and doesn’t have to worry about these things, but if you don’t have a car you definitely want to make sure the neighborhood you chose has ample transportation.

tips for home buyers

Schools

Ok, I don’t have kids, so this isn’t super important to me. But most people do have kids, and if you do it’s important to check out the schools in any neighborhood that you are considering moving to.  You want the best for your children, so it may be better to buy a smaller, more expensive home in a neighborhood with good schools than a bigger, cheaper home in a neighborhood with poorly rated schools. This is an extremely personal decision, but its something to keep in mind. I went to mediocre public schools and I turned out just fine!

Amenities

Does your neighborhood have an HOA? If so, what types of amenities do they offer?  Which are important to you?  Some HOA’s offer clubhouses, pools, fitness centers, and parks. Some don’t offer anything. If any of these items are important to you, you can probably find an HOA that has them.

In my opinion, amenities also include local shopping. Is there a grocery store close to your potential new home?  How far are you willing to travel to pick up a gallon of milk?  Do carry-out restaurants deliver to your neighborhood?  These are things that may be important to you. It would suck to buy a house only to realize that your favorite pizza company refuses to deliver. Whether that’s a deal breaker or not is up to you, but you should know before you buy.

Related: Getting Lucky with Real Estate

Know the HOA rules

I mentioned HOAs when I was talking about neighborhoods, but they do far more than just provide some cool things for the neighborhood. They can also provide some really ridiculous rules. Did you know that most HOAs in Savannah don’t allow you to have an RV in your driveway or on the street?  Seriously?  Some HOAs are really strict about stupid things, like the length of your grass or whether there is a spot on the side of your house. Others won’t let you make any improvements on your home without their approval.

There are some benefits to living in a community with an HOA though. An HOA generally helps keep the property values up. Most of the stupid rules are to the benefit of the community as a whole…the entire point is to ensure that values don’t drop. Read through the HOA manual of your new community before committing to a purchase. Make sure you can live with the rules.

Don’t skip (or skimp on!) the Inspection

The inspection process is where we failed epically in buying our second home. I like to say it wasn’t our fault though, its hard to find time to take a trip across the country for a home inspection when you are trying to sell a house and move. But it’s definitely not a step that I would ever skip again!

We didn’t technically skip the inspection. We just trusted a representative from our real estate company to be there and catch any problems. The issue with that is the realtor isn’t us. They don’t know what we’d call a problem. And they are probably more concerned with ensuring that the sale doesn’t fall through than they are with identifying major problems!

There were a few huge easy to identify issues with the house that were not caught during the inspection. The sprinkler system had a major leak. The garage door didn’t work. Water seeped into the garage whenever it rained (maybe not easily identifiable until it rains, but whatever). If we were present during the inspection, we would have easily caught the fact that the garage door didn’t work, and could have had the previous owners fix it before we moved in.

Both Go!

If you are in a committed relationship, and both of you are planning on living in the new home, you should both probably go house hunting. I know, this seems pretty standard. But if you are moving to another state, sometimes it’s hard for both of you to find the time to travel and see the new digs. Trust me, it’s important!  I went while Jonathan stayed home. He’s way better at repair work than I am, and he would have probably identified issues that I’m clueless on. He also is stuck with the neighborhood that I chose, which, as it turns out, isn’t very walkable.

Stick to your budget

If you remember any of my tips for home buyers, make it this one! One of the biggest mistakes that first time home buyers (and second time, and third time!) make is not sticking to their budget. Sometimes this is because they didn’t take the hidden costs of homebuying into consideration. Other times though, it’s because we let our realtor smooth talk us into looking at this fabulous house that’s just a little over budget. We fall in love with the house and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

 Don’t let your brain fool you!  You’d be just as happy living in the 190K house as you would be living in the 210K house, as long as both meet your basic requirements. You don’t need a luxury jet hot tub. It would be nice, yeah, but you could always install it in the cheaper house for less than 20K. Be realistic and don’t get swept up in the “I have to have it” mentality. That’s how they get you!

Know what you need

I had some absolute requirements for my new home. I’m sure you do to, and that’s ok! We are going to live in these things for hopefully a very long time, so we should get something that we are happy with. But they key is to know exactly what you want before you start house hunting. Know what you absolutely have to have, and know what your “nice to have’s” are.

My absolutes were two bathrooms, a yard, and a master bedroom big enough for a king bed (You’d be surprised at how many master bedrooms were the size of utility closets). My “nice to have’s” were an open kitchen, a 2-car garage, and covered patio. I ended up buying a home with a semi-open kitchen and no patio, but you had better believe it has two bathrooms! Knowing what you need verses what you want will help keep you out of the “I have to have this!” mentality that realtors hope to suck you into.  Make a list and stick to it.

Look for Easy Fixes

It’s amazing how many people will pass on a home because the paint is ugly or the carpet is dirty. These are relatively cheap and easy things to fix, so why are you passing on a great house because of it?

The house I bought in Savannah had the ugliest master bedroom you had ever seen in your life. The room was painted poop brown, and had a tan/brown mix half shag carpet. The lighting was so dim that you could barely see a thing! However, the size of the room was perfect, and the rest of house was pretty great too (except one random wall in the living room that was also poop brown for some reason). 

These were super simple fixes!  I paid about $800 total to create my perfect master bedroom, and I couldn’t be happier with the house. Don’t let minor, fixable, details deter you from buying your perfect home!  Know what you can DIY, and know what would be huge problems. And, you could even use the fact that you need to fix some things as a negotiating tool! 

Find The Home that Works Best For you

Buying a home is a super exciting and super stressful experience. There are tons of things to take into consideration during the homebuying process, and the most important things will be different for everyone. Make a list of must have verse nice to haves and stick with it. Set a realistic budget for the purchase price and any renovations. You may not find a perfect house, but it will be a perfect home for you.

Do you have any additional tips for home buyers?  Add them in the comments, we’d love to hear your opinions!

 

*Links with this next to it are affiliate links. That means I’ll receive a small commission if you decide to click on it and buy something. Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra!

Love this post? Share it!