LIVING THE FI KINDA LIFE

Meditation, gardening, minimalism, fitness, and everything else that keeps us healthy, happy, and on our road to Financial Independence!  Here you will find stories about our lives. You will also see some of the cool things that you will be able to do if you stick a FI lifestyle!  Lots of people think that they would have to give up so much in their daily lives to achieve financial independence, but that’s not true!  We have loads of fun on the road to freedom!  The trick is balance!  So let go a little, have some fun, and see how you can have both!

The latest Lifestyle tips:

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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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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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 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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