"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.

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"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!

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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!

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"Mental Illness"

 

Mental Illness

Mental illness effects tons of people across the world in a variety of ways. I have suffered from a series of mental illnesses including alcoholism, bipolar and severe depression for most of my life. I would estimate that I didn’t even know I had issues for about 90% of it.  As sad as it sounds, I always just assumed that there was something wrong with me. Now that I know about these mental health issues I can look back and understand exactly how they have affected me. I’m also able to see how they fed off of each other making my mental state worse and worse as each one fought for dominance in my head. I used alcohol to combat my bipolar so things would seem normal, but that fed the depression and led to some incredibly erratic moments.

 

The Early Years

One of the earliest things that I remember is constantly spending money on superficial items. I used this as a way to boost my self-esteem. Another thing was my inability to focus in school, which affected my grades so much that I didn’t go to college. The lack of a college education resulted in missing out on a lot of job opportunities in life.  Nevertheless I was still ambitious about my opportunities.  I didn’t give up; I kept trying to live by the idea of “you can accomplish anything in life if you try hard enough”. Unfortunately, this isn’t always true. I ended up failing miserably at a lot of my life goals, which gave the depression a chance to gain a solid foothold. This opened the floodgates for all of my illnesses to band together and create a never-ending train wreck of epic proportions.

Train Wreck

This period of my life was a blur of wild drunken binges, manic phases that usually involved blowing large amounts of money, and severe bouts of depression that made my obsession with hating myself worse. Throughout these years I could barely hold down a job, and when I did there was this inevitable feeling that I would find a way to lose it. I finally got to the point in my life where it was just easier to do nothing rather than having to worry about something. My philosophy was “if you don’t do anything you can’t fail at anything”.

Meeting M

It wasn’t until I moved in with M that I started on my path of recovery. However, there were still a lot of hurdles to overcome and the process was slow. Finding yourself as a person isn’t easy, and having a mental illness makes it all the more difficult. Over the years she worked with me, and I began to overcome some of these issues. However, my mental illness fought back. I struggled to manage them and this was a trying period for both of us.

 Do you struggle with Bipolar II? Check out this workbook on Amazon that teaches you how to manage your symptoms*

Life on its terms

Currently there are still parts of my life that haven’t been fully corrected.  I have been slowly addressing all of the mental illnesses and seeing a therapist. I’m working on managing a budget and learning to live life on its own terms, whereas in the past I tried to fit everything into my own narrative. I have a job that I like, and I’ve started putting money into my 401K and buying company stock. It’s not much yet, but this is my start to FI/RE and my path to financial peace.

 

Mental Illness

My Path to FI/RE

I know my path to financial peace isn’t going to be quick or easy. It’s a long-haul journey,  and I’ve accepted that steady will win the race. I have a great start with a good job that offers a 401K. I’ve started putting away money (starting small, I know I can’t afford to give up 20% of my paycheck yet, and that’s ok!). You would be amazed at how far a small win like starting a 401K goes towards boosting my energy and making me actually want to do more with life. I’ve learned that having a mental illness doesn’t have to keep me from FI/RE or anything else in life. It can be tough, but it’s not impossible.

I want to stress that if you or someone you know struggles with mental illness it’s not impossible to get on the right path. The key is to start slow. Get the little things in life figured out first – find a good job and manage your medication correctly (Can’t stress how important this is!). It’s also incredibly important to see a therapist once or twice a month. Sometimes just being able to vent every once and awhile can make all the difference in the world. I’m not going to sugar coat things, it’s a long process that won’t be figured out overnight (One of the biggest mistakes I made was attempting to fix everything overnight). But nothing worth doing is easy, right?  It’s definitely achievable, and having partners on your path will make it that much easier.

I’ve just started my path to financial freedom, but I am loving the journey so far. Here’s to the coming years and all it has to offer.

– 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!

 

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Hey folks! Transparency Disclosure- Some of the links in this article 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!

 

Ok, the disclaimer is a bit mis-leading in this one. This post is mostly one big affiliate advertisement for the one thing that I wish my realtor had when I was trying to buy a house: Clicky-Homes*.

Wait, stay with me! This isn’t an advertisement for most people. Only realtors can sign up for Clicky-Homes. For those of you who aren’t realtors, this is just a fun post about my experience trying to buy a home from 2000 miles away (and there may be a cat picture in it for you if you stick around!). Seriously, its not an easy thing to do! But maybe if you are ever in the market for a home, you will remember this post and look for a realtor who uses Clicky Homes.  It won’t cost you anything.

Why Buy?

Now, why do I wish my realtor had clicky homes?  If you read any of my previous posts or know anything about me at all, you’d know that I recently moved from Los Angeles to Savannah (and if you don’t, you can read my first blog post about Lucking Out in Real Estate here!). I had to house shop from 2000 miles away!!

A lot of people tell me that I didn’t have to buy a house. Well, they are wrong. You see, what I don’t always advertise here on the blog (or on social media) is that I’m a cray cat lady. I have four of the little demons plus two pretty good-sized dogs. I actually looked all over the place for a rental in Savannah. Apparently, nobody in Savannah wants to rent to a crazy cat lady. Well, nobody who advertises nationwide at any rate (I can’t for the life of me understand why, even as I stop one of them from scratching at the couch for the hundredth time today).  Anyway, I had to buy.

 

How do you buy a house from 2000 miles away?

Zillow was my best friend for many weeks while I was still living in LA. I was scouring listing after listing from the other side of the country!  I made spreadsheets of my favorites with little notes about the pros and cons of each, and talked with my realtor pretty much every day about new listings. Next, I booked myself a weekend trip to Savannah to see all these great places in person and make a final decision.

I’m sure most of you have looked at homes on Zillow and Realtor, am I right?  Aren’t they so perfect in the pictures?  Don’t all the homes just look absolutely amazing?  Well, the photos lie. At the very least, they are super misleading.  That beautiful 3-bed 2 bath ranch home actually has a master bedroom the size of a storage unit. One of those tiny ones! That “walk-in” closet is more like a shelf in real life. Pretty much every home that looked super amazing in the photos had serious design flaws that were left out.

Related: Are you into PF and real estate Blogging? Want to be an affiliate for Clicky-Homes? Check it out here! I don’t even think I get paid for referring you!

Why I wish my realtor had Clicky Homes

And this is exactly why I wish my realtor had Clicky Homes. Clicky Homes is the first and best visual media platform for real estate. They have live streaming events, virtual tours, and even use Youtube! It’s the best way to see a home without actually being there.

Obviously in person home shopping is the best idea, but we don’t always have that option. I’d rather have a realtor who could live stream a walk through to me than only have pictures. If my realtor had clicky homes, I would have been able to knock off 70% of my list of homes before ever stepping foot in Georgia. I wouldn’t have had to waste hour after hour looking at homes that pretended to meet my requirements but didn’t in real life. I could have focused more on the 30% of homes that really did meet my needs. Do you know how much easier my life would have been if I only needed to look at 10 homes instead of the 50 homes that I crammed into that one weekend?? Clicky Homes would have been a lifesaver!!

clicky homes

It might help you too

I’m sure I’m not the only person ever to need to buy a home from a distance. Having a realtor with access to Clicky Homes would be a huge boon to someone who is in that position. But I’m sure it would be super helpful to those buying a home in a city they live in as well. Touring homes is fun at first, but after the 15th or 20th one, it just gets exhausting. Having an easier way to narrow down the houses that aren’t a good fit right off the bat is an advantage to anyone.

So if you are buying a home, ask your realtor if they use clicky homes. It might save you a lot of stress.

And if you happen to be a realtor, look into Clicky Homes*. Help your clients have an easy, stress free home shopping experience.

 

*Links with this next to it are the affiliate links that we talked about above. We appreciate your readership!

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Hey folks! Transparency Disclosure- Some of the links in this article 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!

Most people I talk to have told me that they wish they could be on a FIRE path.  Some wish they made enough money to consider it, while others wish they had high enough paying jobs to squirrel extra cash away. Still others wish that they could find ways to cut their budgets. People wish a lot of things, but the bottom line is that those wishes sound a lot like excuses to me. I think most of them can do all those things, and I think you can too. Angela Duckworth helps explain how in her engaging New York Times Bestseller Grit.

Grit Review

Grit isn’t actually about financial freedom. It’s not even about finance. It is, however, about something that many of my peers on the FIRE path have expressed again and again. It’s about the power of hard work and perseverance. It’s about the power that having passion for something gives us to succeed.

In this book, Angela Duckworth explains that people intrinsically tend to value talent over hard work. We think that successful people are just naturally talented, because it’s easier to think that someone has natural talent than it is to think that they tried harder than we did. Grit proves that this way of thinking is flawed. With interviews from some of the planet’s most successful people to include Olympic swimmers, Super Bowl Champions, Military Leaders, and CEOs, Duckworth takes us behind the scenes of success and shows us exactly how much hard work is involved.

 

                                                                          

 

What is Grit?

 As it turns out, it really is hard work and passion that lead us to success, not talent. Talent without hard work is wasted but hard work without talent can actually lead to success. Passion gives us the drive to work hard.  Passion plus hard work is what Angela Duckworth refers to as Grit.

Grit will allow us to gain Financial Freedom without any inherent talent or special skill. If you are gritty enough, it doesn’t even take a hefty paycheck!  Some of the grittiest FIRE enthusiasts carve out a path to FIRE on forty thousand dollar per year salaries. They find ways to live on that (or less!) for the duration of their retirements (affectionately known as Lean FIRE).

Related: Want to see how Gritty we are? Check out our 2018 goals!

Can I get Grit?

But what if you lack the passion to work hard at something?  Don’t worry!  Duckworth also outlines ways in which you can build Grit in yourself and in others. She has also developed “the Grit test”, a series of questions that will help you determine just how gritty you are. 

You won’t get to FIRE on a wish and a dream. You will get to FIRE if you put in hard work, and if you are passionate about it. Grit can help you get there.

“Each was chasing something of unparalleled interest and importance, and it was the chase – as much as the capture- that was gratifying” – Angela Duckworth, Grit

Be Gritty. Chase Financial Freedom. Capture it. Let Grit show you how.

Interested in reading Grit for yourself?  Check it out on Amazon*!

*Links with this next to it are the affiliate links that we talked about above. We appreciate your readership!

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Hey folks! Transparency Disclosure- Some of the links in this article 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!

Weight Loss Competition

I did my weigh in at work today for the weight loss competition I mentioned in my New Year’s Goals post. I weighed in at just over 150 lbs. Ouch!!  That’s more than I’ve weighed in my entire life!  I’m going to destroy my coworkers during this competition though!

You might be wondering why I’m writing a post about weight loss in a personal finance blog. Well for starters, don’t forget that it’s also a lifestyle blog!  Obviously, I’m going to write about finance, but I’m also going to write about real life. Hopefully it will be a nice mix!

But more importantly, being healthy is a huge part of my journey to financial independence. It’s also a very important to maintaining financial independence once I get there. One major health crisis can completely derail the best laid plans for freedom. I don’t want a major health crisis to jeopardize my plans, so I’m going to do everything I can to stay healthy.

What does Staying Healthy Mean?

Staying healthy means exercising, eating right, and maintaining a healthy body weight. Sometimes its hard to do these things on your own, so this weight loss competition is amazing motivation!  I’m totally going to win!!

I need to lose about 20 pounds to be at my ideal healthy body weight. That’s about 13% of my current body weight that needs to go! Luckily, we are doing the competition by body weight percentage rather than by total pounds. It’s fairer that way because it probably wouldn’t be healthy for me to lose more than 20 pounds, and some of the guys I’m competing against could safely lose up to 40.

How am I gonna do it?

So, how am I planning on losing 20 pounds during our two-month weight loss competition?  I’m not entirely sure. I’ve never attempted such a drastic weight loss challenge before!  But I have some pretty good ideas

First, I’m going to work out 3-5 times per week. I know, that’s ambitious for someone who has worked between 0 and 0 times per week for the past three months, but I was in the army, I can do it! I have faith in myself!

Ok, I squirreled. Back to the plan!

Cardio

I am planning on taking Coyote out running three days per week. This will be my main source of Cardio. Coyote has so much energy that I get tired just from watching him, so the extra bonus of burning some of that off is really going to add to my motivation. A tired dog is less likely to dig holes and eat remotes! I have to start slowly here, I haven’t run in so long. But I know from past experience that it only takes about 2 weeks to get into a good running habit. I just have to suck it up for those two weeks.

Some of my new friends in Savannah are also members of running clubs. Once I actually can run again, I’m going to ask them to join and go out for a group run at least once per week. Maybe if I can have fun and meet cool people while running I’ll be able to keep it up after the competition ends!  That’s the hope anyway. The competition is a great starting point, but I want to maintain a healthy weight as well.

Weight Loss Competition

Weight training

I love weight training, so I have a pretty awesome weight training plan to go along with my hardcore cardio plan. I’m going to do weight training three days a week as well (sometimes on my cardio days, sometimes on alternate days so I can rest). When I was in Iraq, I had an amazing fitness plan where I rotated between arm day, leg day, shoulder day, and core day (chest and back). I have an amazing hand weight set that I’m going to use to tone all my major muscle groups (except legs, I always just use body weight resistance for legs, and trust me, it hurts!).

Related: Check out this dumbbell set on Amazon*!

Healthy eating

This is the big one for me. I’ve been filling up on cookies and cakes and sweets and chocolates and all sorts of yummy delicious goodies for the past two months. I need to cut it out!  I actually don’t think it will be too difficult though. I’ve been feeling so gross lately. I can actually feel how the lack of healthy foods has been affecting me. I feel so bloated and gross all the time, and I know its mostly due to how terribly I’ve been eating. I’ve actually been looking forward to this weigh in so I can start eating healthy again, as ridiculous as that sounds!

Yeah, I could’ve started earlier, but I have some steep competition! I didn’t want to lose two or three pounds before the competition even starts!  Also, I figured gorging myself for an extra week would make junk food incredibly unappealing for at least a few months. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Weight Loss Competition

It Starts!

So today is day one of my challenge. I’ll try to post monthly updates of my progress and any tips I’ve discovered. Wish me the best!!

Are you enjoying Partners in Fire?  Help Support us by Shopping on Amazon!

                                                                           
 

 

*Links with this next to it are the affiliate links that we talked about above. We appreciate your readership!

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Hey folks! Transparency Disclosure- Some of the links in this article 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!

New Years GoalsEveryone needs goals!  And what better time to set new goals than the new year?  M and J both have loads of goals for 2018, some of them are ambitious, and some should be pretty easy. But we need accountability! And not just from each other (its waaayy to easy for me to convince him to have pizza for dinner!).

That’s why we are writing this post. We need all of you, our partners in fire, to help hold us accountable for going after these goals. And hopefully this will motivate you to set your own goals!  We will help motivate you as well – That’s what partners are for!

J and I have some joint relationship goals (#relationshipgoals), but we have some individual goals as well. We are going to put all of them right here for everyone to see!

Relationship Goals!

Goal 1: Work on Us

Every relationship has its ups and downs, and ours is no different. Our number one goal has to be to work on us, even though we are doing well. We can’t take each other for granted, and we can’t let any of these other goals come before the relationship. Communication is going to be key. We are both dedicated to this relationship and focused on making it the best it can be. That might mean taking a weekend get-a-way instead of updating the blog. And that’s ok, because if our relationship isn’t strong nothing else really matters.

Goal 2: Increase net worth by 60k

Yeah, that’s ambitious. We increased our net worth by about 100K in 2017, but the main driver of that was real estate. We were able to cash out big on real estate in 2017!

Related: Getting Lucky with Real Estate

Investing

This year, we want to increase our net worth by 50K without the benefit of cashing out on property in Southern California. Luckily, I have a job with amazing benefits, so step one will be to continue contributing to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP, the government’s 401K). I make around 90K per year, and I’m investing 7% in my TSP. Yeah, I know, all my FIRE friends will say that’s way too low. However,  I’m investing more than enough to get the match (about 5%) and a good portion of my income has an investment home elsewhere. So with that 7% and 5%, I should be able to increase our net worth by 10800 just by contributing to my TSP. Yay, 1/6 of the way there!

Jonathan just got a new job with great benefits as well. He’s going to be contributing to his company’s 401K, and he gets a 6% match. Yay for free money!  Unfortunately, he can’t start contributing until he’s been on the job for 90 days, so his gains this year won’t be as significant as mine, but hey, it’s a start!  We should be able to increase our net worth by 15K just with contributing to our respective retirement accounts. That’s a pretty significant chunk.

We have other investments that I’m hoping will pay off big in 2018 as well – Vanguards Total Market mutual fund, individual stock holdings, lending club, and a small Roth IRA. A healthy stock market and dollar/cost averaging should help us make some pretty solid gains this coming year.

Hard Work

But its not all about investing. We are also going to work harder at the blogs (more on my blog goals below!), find more ways to save, and look for additional streams of income. 50K is an ambitious goal, but I think we can get there.

We ended the year with a net worth of $209000. So next year we need to end with 260K!  Wish us luck on that!

Goal 3: Blog Goals

We have so many new year’s goals when it comes to blogging. Most of them right now are social media based, because we realize how important marketing is to running a successful blog. We do, however, have a few blog specific goals. The main blog goal is to write at least two posts per month. Yes, that’s way less than recommended to gain and keep a following, but with our full-time jobs, my other blog, and actual life we don’t want to spread ourselves too thin.

One of the blog goals is more specific to me than to Jonathan. That goal is to re-do many of my articles on Travels Near and far (TNF). I started that blog a few years ago, and I think I’ve learned how to be less robotic in my writing since then (here’s to hoping anyway!). Maybe I’ll convince him to help me with those. 

Monetizing the blogs is our other big blog goal. We are going to sign up for some affiliate programs and add relevant links to some of the posts. Don’t worry though! We aren’t going to be overly spammy about it. Everyone hates that. The goal with monetization is to make enough money off our blogs in 2018 to pay one month’s mortgage payment. So we’ll need to make roughly $1200 off the blogs for the year. Difficult? Yes, I think it will be. Impossible? Never!

Goal 4: Social Media

We are also going to focus heavily on our social media presence for both blogs (Yes, I’m totally going to rope Jonathan into helping me with Social Media for TNF!). Here are our social media goals for each blog:

               Twitter: – 5k on Partners in Fire (PiF), 10K on TNF

               Instagram – 1000 on TNF and 1000 on PiF

               Facebook – 100 on PiF, 250 on TNF (Facebook is hard!)

               Pinterest – 5000 (I’m sure you all know by now, I only use the one Pinterest account)

I know some of our social media goals are super ambitious (5K on Pinterest, is that even possible??) but some should be pretty easy (we can probably get to 100 on FB just by inviting our friends!).  Balance is always good though! Sometimes it’s easier achieve a harder goal after you’ve achieved an easier goal (can we call that the snowball method of goal setting?).

Melanie’s New Year’s goals

Goal 1: Health

Being healthy is a huge part of my financial independence journey. Healthy people live longer, fuller, more productive lives.  A great thing about this is that a lot of times, our health is in our own hands.

Sub goal 1: Fitness

My fitness goal for 2018 is to lose the 10-15 pounds I’ve packed on since moving. I’m joining this “biggest loser” style competition at work that I think that will really motivate me to work out. I have a few free hand weights at home that I’m going to use, and I also have this really cool stand up punching bag (it also helps a lot with stress relief!).

In addition, I’m going to do some jogging in my neighborhood, and I’m planning on taking my super energetic pup Coyote out with me. Maybe I can burn off some of his extra energy while I’m losing weight!  I also talked to my neighbor about biking, so that’s something I’m going to get back into as well. Having someone to do it with will really help keep me motivated. The bottom line here is that I know I have a bunch of tools at my disposal to help me with this weight loss journey. I just need to find motivation (and I think the “bragging rights” at work will be all the motivation I need!).

Jonathan also has a fitness goal…he wants to lose 5lbs. But he has a super high metabolism and can lose 5 lbs just by looking at food. I hate him.

Related: Check out this dumbbell set I found on Amazon*!

Sub goal 2: Mental Health

Another huge component of a healthy lifestyle is taking care of your mental health. In that vein, I’m going to make meditation a priority. I have dabbled in meditation for the past few years, taking it seriously for a week or so then forgetting about it. But I want to take it seriously for the entire year. I know I felt better after that week of meditation, I would just get busy or tired and forget to do it.  My goal is to do better this year.  As they say, self-care is the most important thing.

Sub goal 3: Healthy eating

The last stool of my healthful 2018 pyramid is healthy eating. I’m going to eat less junk and I’m going to cook healthier meals.  The only bad thing about this is that I’m a terrible cook. I guess I’m going to learn!  And I’ll be sure to share my most delicious healthy recipes (and biggest disasters, because everyone likes a good laugh, right?). Eating healthy is going to involve creative meal planning and using fresher ingredients, which will be way easier than it ever has in the past because of my next big goal.

new year's goals

Goal 2: Gardening

One of the reasons I wanted to move was so that I could have a garden. I bought a house with a very nice backyard, and come spring I plan on growing my own food!  This has a double benefit…first I’ll save money at the grocery store (basic financial independence stuff, right?) and second it will help me eat healthier!  Yay for two birds! Jonathan is going to help me grow tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, potatoes, herbs, onions, and I think I’m going to plant a fruit tree or two. I’m so excited to see what will happen! I already started this fall with a composter; so I’m working on making delicious nutrient rich soil for my veggies. And, since I live in Georgia, the composter works year-round! Though not as well in the cooler winter as in the sweltering summer.

Related: I got my composter on Amazon*! 

Goal 3: Get back into my side hustles

I haven’t sold anything on Ebay since before I moved. Long long before I moved!  And the sad thing is that when I was taking it seriously, I actually made some money with it. I’ve made between $200 and $300 per month!  My goal is to get back into. That means going to garage sales, finding cool products to sell, and taking the time to post things on Ebay. The best part about having this as a goal is that I love the hunt!  I love scouring garage sales for that one amazing item. It’s so much fun!  Unfortunately both of us hate the posting to Ebay part, but making money isn’t always fun. Sometimes you gotta suck stuff up.

The final part of my side hustle goal is to get back into creating and selling art. I love painting, and I even have a Facebook page for my artwork!  Amazingly enough, I’ve even sold a few pieces over the years. So why haven’t I been hustling at it?  Unfortunately I let other stuff get in the way. But I love it, so my goal for this year is to create a few new pieces and sell one piece. Anyone here like abstract?

Jonathan’s New Year’s goals

Goal 1: Maximize Space Usage

Jonathan and I moved from a 1200 square foot condo into an 1800 square foot single family home (and it was half the price!). But one thing we realized is that we have loads of extra space. We discussed getting a roommate, but I don’t want to move someone into our home that I don’t know and trust. So Jonathan decided one of his goals for this year will be to maximize our usage of space.

He wants to turn the two spare bedrooms into usable rooms for us. One of the bedrooms is currently the cat’s room (yes, my babies have their own bedroom) but he’s going to utilize the extra space in there to make a small gym. This will help me with my work out goals too!

He’s going to turn the other bedroom into a studio/Ebay office. We will be able to utilize the room for creating art and for storing all of our amazing garage sale finds. It will be like a mini-warehouse!  I love how his goals help support my goals.

Goal 2: DIY around the house

Moving into an older home is challenging. There is always something to fix. We’ve had a few minor problems since moving in (plumbing, drywall, electrical) and neither of us is really knowledgeable about home improvement.

Jonathan’s goal for this year is to change all that. He wants to learn how to be a master DIYer so that he can fix things around the house instead of us having to pay someone to fix it. His first big project is going to be the sprinkler system that the old owners installed for landscaping. There is a leak somewhere in it (cost us a nice $600 for our first water bill). Jonathan is going to hunt that leak down and fix it! 

He is also going to work a lot on the back yard. The previous owner decided to build a deck and a gazebo without pressure treating the wood, so everything is rotting. Seriously, I’m not even a DIYer (I totally suck at all that stuff) but even I know that if you want an outdoor wooden deck in someplace like Georgia where it’s all wet and humid and buggy, you need to treat the wood! But he didn’t, so we are stuck with a rotting deck. Jonathan has big plans to DIY our backyard into a southern paradise this spring.

Goal 2: Become assistant manager

One of Jonathan’s big goals as far as work is concerned is to rise up in the ranks at his company and become an assistant manager. He found an amazing manager to be his mentor, and they both think that with Jonathan’s work ethic and ambition, that goal is definitely achievable. It will probably take a lot of hard work and some long hours, but it’s definitely something that Jonathan is motivated to work for and capable of achieving. And if he makes it, it will make our joint goal of increasing our networth that much easier!

Goal 3: Quit Smoking

This is probably the hardest New Year’ goal either of us has.  Jonathan has been a smoker for over 10 years. He smokes about a pack a day. I hate it (its stinky and a huge waste of money!). Jonathan hates it too. He’s struggled to quit in the past, but he’s never been super dedicated (and it’s hard!).

Jonathan’s company offers healthcare and smoking cessation incentives. He’s going to take full advantage of those things to develop a plan for quitting. His first step is transitioning from regular cigarettes to a vape, and from there he plans to slowly decrease his nicotine levels.

Lets all root for Jonathan to overcome his addiction to the nicotine monster!  If anyone here has been successful in quitting smoking, please let us know and share your best tips

Jonathan is going to try these first…maybe he will write a blog post with all his results!

  
                                                                                   

Final thoughts

So folks, there you have it. Our new year’s goals for 2018. We will keep you posted with updates on how we are doing, best practices for weight loss, gardening, and quitting smoking, and all the fun we have on the road to financial freedom.  What are your goals for 2018?  Are you working towards similar things? Is there a big category that we may not have thought about but should be thinking about? Let us know in the comments, and help keep us on track!

 

Speaking of Monetizing….if you are loving Partners in Fire support us by shopping on Amazon!

 
                                                                             
                                            

*Links with this next to it are the affiliate links that we talked about above. We appreciate your readership!

Love this post? Share it!

Hey folks! Transparency Disclosure- Some of the links in this article 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!

First month bloggingWell ladies and gentleman, Partners in Fire has been an active blog for one full month!  We made it!  We actually kept up with it for the first month!  I think that’s a feat in and of itself!  Though the true test will be to see where we are 6 months down the line…don’t most people quit before the 6-month mark?  I kinda did that with my travel blog. I didn’t exactly quit, but I didn’t make it a priority either. A travel blog is a bit harder to update and maintain in my opinion though. It’s hard to get to all those places while working a full-time job! Its way easier to find things to write about for a lifestyle and personal finance blog.

So how did we do during our first month blogging?

 

Posting

We also did a great job with posting regularly this first month. We’ve published 4 posts, including this one!  We are both working full time and I’m still trying to work on Travels Near and Far in my spare time; so we really hustled to get all these posts up. I’m proud of that.

Related: Check out our First Blog Post – Getting Lucky with Real Estate

Social Media

I think our greatest achievement during the first month blogging by far was our social media presence. Social media is incredibly important when blogging. It’s the best and easiest way to market a blog! I think we killed it on social media.

We have 700 Twitter followers (though I started on Twitter three weeks before we published the blog, so I’m kinda cheating), 350  Instagram followers , and almost 30 likes on Facebook. But its not all about numbers. I feel like we’ve build some amazing communities and partnerships with our social media presence. I’ve meet some amazing members of the personal finance and blogging communities via Twitter, and I’ve learned so much from them already. I love how supportive everyone on Twitter is! My goal is to build the Twitter account but maintain the sense of community that I’ve cherished so much. I’m hoping to build that kind of community through the Facebook account as well, and Jonathan is building it through Instagram. The community is so much more important than the number.

Readership

Well, as is to be expected, our readership isn’t stellar. According to google analytics, we’ve had about 89 users in our first month (most of that was due to my awesome work in getting 500 Twitter followers…a lot of you were super interested in that!). Jetpack on WordPress gives me far different stats; according to them we’ve had over 346 users! I think I’ll go with Jetpack when I make my media kit! Though I think Jetpack counts each time I look at it as a unique view. I’m guessing that’s a big portion of the discrepancy. Oh well.

I do, however, think that 89 users for the first month is fantastic!  I’m super happy with that number. When I first started my travel blog, it took over 6 months to reach 80 users. I feel like we are way ahead of the game with this one, and we can only get better from here!

first month blogging

Education

Another huge achievement is how much I’ve learned during this first month!  I learned how to use Canva to make pretty images for Pinterest. I’m learning how to increase my Pinterest presence, and how to leverage that to drive traffic to the site. I’m learning how to take better pictures, and how to use the free pictures available online. These are things I never even considered with the travel blog, and I’m very grateful that I’ve found the resources to learn them now. Blogging seriously increases your skill sets in so many different areas!  It’s amazing.

Related: Are you interested in starting a blog but don’t know where to begin? Check out the Blogging For Dummies series on Amazon. This series can always be counted on for relevant, useful advice*

 

                                                                

 

What’s Next?

The next step is to monetize the blog. During the final days of this month, I signed up for a variety of affiliate programs. Our goal is to chose partners and products that add value to you, our readers. We are also trying to avoid being spammy about it. We hope to increase our readership, even if just by a little. Maybe we can get to 100 for the month! I think that would be awesome.

We will see what the new year and the new month brings us!  Wish us luck! Thanks for being with us on this journey!

 

*Links with this next to it are the affiliate links that we talked about above. We appreciate your readership!

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The Military and Financial Independence

The military isn’t for everyone (hell, it was barely for me!). But the military does offer a lot of benefits, and if you do decide to join, these benefits can be a great boon to your quest for financial independence.

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, joining the military was a huge step towards financial independence. There is absolutely no way I would be in the financial situation that I’m in if not for the benefits that I received from joining the military.

The best thing about this is that almost anyone can join the military and gain these benefits. I promise, I am not an Army recruiter!  But it is true that many people feel like they will never be able to achieve financial independence because they don’t have a STEM degree, or aren’t good at math, or college is affordable. There is a path, if you are physically able and meet the age requirements, and that path is the military.

Full disclosure: I hated being in the military. It was fun during ROTC, but it got old once I got into the National Guard. There were too many rules and I’m too much of a free spirit. Also, as I got older, I realized that a lot of what we were doing probably wasn’t right. I don’t blame the Soldiers for that though, I blame the politicians who put the Soldiers into that position. But I digress.

Even though I didn’t necessarily enjoy my time in the military and I don’t necessarily agree with how the military is being used, I still think it’s a great opportunity for people without a lot of options to start working towards financial independence. If you join the guard, you make an extra few bucks every month (it’s the ultimate side hustle!).

 

 

how did the military help me?

Paying for College

 

First, the military paid for my college education. I went the ROTC route, so the military paid for my tuition. Unfortunately, I still had to take out student loans for housing, but I graduated with only 20K in student loan debt, while most of my peers had over 40K. That’s a huge difference. The year I graduated, they changed the rules so that the ROTC scholarship could cover either h

ousing or tuition, so if you can find a grant to cover tuition, you will be set!  But the military also amazing educational opportunities if you decide to go the enlisted route. Check out the GI Bill for more information.

 

VA Loans

The second huge helping hand my military service gave me was a VA loan. VA loans are amazing. They are backed by the Veterans Administration, and make it super super easy for Veterans to buy a house. There are two huge advantages to using a VA loan. The first is that you don’t need a down payment. There is no possible way I could have afforded a down payment on a home in Southern California, even at the bottom of the market.  Condos and town-homes were selling for above 200K, so to afford a traditional loan I’d have to come up with 40 thousand dollars!  That’s a tough thing to do for a twenty-something year old from a lower middle-class family.

Related: Getting Lucky with Real Estate!

The 2.5-5% down payment needed for a FHA loan is more reasonable, but even that’s between five and ten thousand dollars, and when you add in closing costs, that gets un-affordable as well. Also, after the crash of 2008, borrowers have to pay Primary Mortgage Insurance if they can’t come up with a down payment, which sometimes makes the mortgage itself un-affordable. Another big plus of the VA loan is that you don’t have to pay PMI, even if you don’t have a down payment! There is a funding fee which depends upon the value of the loan, but they can roll that into the mortgage so you don’t have to pay it up front.  The VA helped my buy my first home with only 10 grand up-front for closing costs. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.

 

 

 

Healthcare

   

 

 

 

 

 

Military service also offers an additional bonus that may help you gain financial freedom: healthcare. Obviously the VA doesn’t have the best healthcare, but its definitely better than having nothing. I don’t currently use the VA for healthcare and I actually don’t plan on using it anytime soon, but its nice to know that I have that option to fall back on.

Other benefits

These are the financial perks of military service that I have been able to capitalize on, but there are others as well, such as sign-on bonuses, retention bonuses, free job training, and Basic Allowance for Housing to name a few.

 

The military is also a great equalizer. It doesn’t care how smart you are, where you came from, how much money your family has. The military treats everyone the same, and offers everyone the same benefits. It just cares that you are physically capable of doing the job.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lifestyle

Although I hated my time in the military, I’m glad I did it. It gave me a hand up out of the lower middle-class. It also benefited me in other, immeasurable ways. I wouldn’t be the confident leader that I am today without the experience that I gained in the military. 

I understand that the military isn’t for everyone. It is definitely a lifestyle adjustment, especially active duty and deployment. There are many physical, emotional, and political things to consider before deciding to join. But its a great option for people without any other options. It’s a great path out of poverty, and a great way to start on the road to financial freedom. 

 




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