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 love animals. I have a bunch of furry critters living with me, four cats and two dogs (Yeah, I know it’s a bit insane). But unfortunately, after adopting all my darlings, I realized that pets hold you back in a number of ways.  Still totally worth having the little creatons though!

How Pets Hold You Back

The Basics

First, let’s talk about the cost of having a pet. I have two big dogs, and they eat a lot! I spend about thirty dollars a month on dog food just to keep them fed. Cat food and kitty litter for four cats gets expensive too, I spend about seventy dollars a month just on that! That’s one hundred dollars of my monthly grocery budget gone, just on the pet food and litter. That’s a lot of money!

I also get topical flea medication for all my little ones. One four pack of advantage is just over forty bucks! It breaks down to about ten dollars per treatment, and with six sweeties in the house, that’s sixty more dollars a month.

So just the basics of pet ownership put me back $160 per month. But that’s not the only way pets hold you back (and I’m sure most people don’t have quite as many pets as I do!).

Vet Care

Yes, veterinary care is a basic. But I don’t consider it a basic basic like food and shelter. Either way, my angels are on wellness plans that includes all of their shots, dental cleaning, and unlimited office visits. The plans cost about $55 a month though, and with six babies that really adds up – to $330 per month to be exact.

So now I’m spending almost $500 a month just take care of my flock. That’s about $80 per pet, it you just have one. But they are kind of like potato chips, who can have just one?

Other Ways Pets Hold You Back

Pets hold you back in tons of ways that don’t include your wallet though. Even having just one can have a drastic affect on your lifestyle.

Housing

The main way that pets hold most people back is with housing. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find a rental that accepts one baby – much less six? It’s nearly impossible! The whole reason I bought a house in Savannah rather than renting is that I couldn’t find any place on such short notice that would allow my sweeties to live with me.

But even if you get lucky enough to find a place that does accept pets, you’re going to have to pay a pet fee. This usually comes in the form of a non-refundable deposit and an extra “pet fee” every month with your rent. With so many people in the U.S. owning pets, I don’t understand why it’s so difficult to find housing that allows them.

Travel

Traveling with pets is a huge hassle, whether you take them with you or leave them at home. Cats don’t travel well in the first place, so I definitely don’t recommend bringing them with you. But if you are going to be gone for more than a few days, someone will need to take care of them. Dogs travel better, but also need more attention. They can’t be left alone for a few days. You have to find someone to watch them even for a short weekend trip. It can really be a hassle.

My Fire Goals

Do you guys remember that post I wrote a while back about my Fire goals? If you don’t you can read it here, but if you do, you’ll remember that one of my goals is to buy an RV and travel cross country. How fun would that be! But can you imagine living in an RV with four cats and two dogs? That sounds pretty terrible to be honest, even to this crazy cat lady! They are definitely going to hold me back from accomplishing that one.

Worth It!

My pets may hold me back, but I love the little guys with all my heart. And, they do a whole lot to improve my life too! My next post is going to outline all the ways that having my sweeties has enriched my life, so stay tuned!

Do you have pet? How has having them held you back?

 

how pets hold you back
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We seriously need to change the conversation about family values. For far too many people (on both sides!), the term “family values” has become synonymous with the pro-life movement, and that’s stupid!  

We need to change the conversation! We need to redefine what family values really are, because it’s not a single issue. Lots of families value lots of different things; but I guarantee most of them value their financial security (Or would, if they had any).

What are family values?

I’d argue that the term “family values” should refer to things that family’s actually value.  What an outrageous concept, right? Money (or lack thereof!) is really the thing that will make or break a household, isn’t it? So I’d have to guess that most families value things that help them thrive financially. These things that help families thrive are the things that really should be considered family values.

Policies that help families Thrive

Family values – Family Planning

One thing that families really do value is the ability to decide when to have children and how many to have. Having a child at the wrong time can wreak havoc on a family’s finances- kids are freaking expensive! Family planning helps families thrive.

Unfortunately, most of the discourse on family planning is centered on the abortion issue. While that is a tool that helps prevent families from having children that they aren’t ready for, it’s not the only tool and it’s far from the most important. The most important tool (and the one that’s been proven again and again to reduce abortion rates) is access to contraception. Curiously enough though, many supporters of “family values” don’t support easy access to contraception. How does that make any kind of sense? No one likes the idea of abortion, but instead of banning it why not support policies that make it extremely rare?

Family values – Taking care of young children

Another major thing that most families value is actually being able to take care of their children – in a literal sense. This could include things like paid parental leave policies, affordable child care options, and access to paid sick days. More people would surely have families if childcare was accessible and affordable!

Paid parental leave

Paid parental leave policies give parents the ability to stay home with their children during the crucial first few months of their lives. Unfortunately, the United States is leagues behind the rest of the world when it comes to parental leave. There’s the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) which gives employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for major medical events, such as the birth of a child, but that’s all we’ve got. And remember its UNPAID! How are people who need that paycheck supposed so survive for 12 whole weeks without it? The answer is they’re not. Mothers are returning to work weeks after giving birth or going without. How is that family values? Hint: it’s not.

Child Care

Affordable childcare options would also help families thrive. Many families need to rely on extended family or un-registered facilities to care for their children while they work, as childcare costs continue to soar. How are people supposed to have children if they can’t afford to pay for their care? Parents are working extra jobs and extra hours just  to make ends meet. Some are dropping out of the workforce altogether because their salaries wouldn’t even cover the cost of childcare (and lets not even get started on how this will affect the non-working parent’s lifetime earnings and retirement!)

Paid Time Off

Did you know that the US is one of the only countries that doesn’t require access to paid sick days?  What if your kid is sick? In many low wage industries, that’s just too bad. Either come to work or don’t get paid. It’s unfortunate that those who are least able to afford it are the ones who are hit the hardest. I think most families would really value access to paid sick days, I mean adults get sick too! And I don’t want a cook coming to work when he’s sick!  He’s going to infect everyone  at the restaurant! Paid sick days make logical sense for everyone. 

what are family values

Family Values – Healthcare

You know what else families value? Affordable access to healthcare. People want to be able to take their children to the doctor when they are sick. Unfortunately, healthcare costs in the United States are ridiculous. The Affordable Care Act was supposed to mitigate this, but instead of ensuring that people had access to healthcare, all it did was ensure that people had access to health insurance. Some people have to pay such high deductibles on their insurance plans that they can’t even afford basic care. It’s a sham.

Outrageous medical bills are still the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States. Way too many families are just one medical emergency from total ruin. That’s insane! How can any family thrive with that hanging over their heads?

Family Values – Education

Everyone wants their kids to be successful, and the number one path to success for lots of people is still a college education. Unfortunately, tuition rates have been soaring for the past few decades, and most people can’t afford it without the help of student loans. So now, families have a terrible choice to make: do you take out thousands of dollars for that chance, or do you skip college and head straight into the workforce, lowering your lifetime earning potential but saving yourself from mountains of debt? That’s not an easy choice.

While its true that trade schools are a wonderful alternative for many students, they aren’t a one size fits all solution. We need kids to go to university so that we can have future doctors, engineers, teachers, biologists, and hundreds of other professionals that require advanced education. I don’t want us to turn into a country where only the rich can afford the training and education necessary for professional careers.

Family Values – Home Ownership

What parent doesn’t want to raise their kids in a nice house with a little yard to play in? That’s the American Dream anyway, isn’t it? Unfortunately though, the housing market continues to soar and homes are unaffordable for many young families. That’s not even the worst news though! Even renting is becoming unaffordable for low wage families! In the largest metro areas in the country, families would have to make a minimum of $22 per hour just to afford a two-bedroom apartment!  How are families supposed to thrive if they can’t even afford a place to live??

Family Values – Jobs and Balance

How are families supposed to afford any of these things? Most people don’t want a handout, they want to work to earn their keep. Unfortunately, middle- and lower-class wages have been stagnant for the past few years, while the cost of everything else on this list continues to skyrocket. All people really want are jobs that will give them the ability to support their families.

However, there is a caveat to that. Jobs with living wages are great and all (and necessary!), but they don’t really help families if they suck all the parents’ time away. There needs to be balance. Parents need to be able to disconnect when they are home so they can focus on their kids. They need to be able to help with homework, take the kids to the park, and go to the school plays. Families value family time! Who would’ve guessed?

Family Values – The Environment

Do you want your children and grandchildren to inherit a wasteland? No? Then your family values the environment! We all want to protect our resources, to ensure that the world is still here and working correctly for years to come. Families want to protect our National Parks so they have places to go camping. Families want to protect the climate so that the planet isn’t destroyed. Protecting the environment is immensely important. It may not be as immediate as the other things on the list, but if we don’t take steps now to protect our planet, it won’t be here for our children.

Supporting Family Values

This list is obviously not all inclusive. I’m sure tons of families value tons of different things, and it’s impossible to list them all. But when I think of family values, I think of things that families need to thrive, and those are the things on this list. What do you think? What does your family value?

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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 guys -confession time! I’m not the biggest fan of online shopping. Blasphemy, right? Do I need to turn in my millennial card? I’m not a fan of shopping in general though, and as a personal finance blogger, I have to say that you shouldn’t buy anything that you don’t need or that doesn’t fit in with your money goals. With all that being said, there are a few things that I do buy online. Even I, the technologically challenged millennial, have accepted that some things are better to buy online. Read on to find out what those things are!

The Best things to Buy Online

Single Use Coffee (K-Cups)

My absolute favorite thing to buy online are single use cups for my morning coffee. I know, I know, those are literally the worst things for the environment. But that’s why I only buy them online! Did you know that you can get compostable single use cups on Amazon?? San Francisco Bay sells a huge variety of flavors, and the cups are compostable! And they are a tiny bit cheaper than the normal cups you get in the store. A win for the environment, a win for my wallet, and super convenient. You can’t beat that. My favorite flavors are espresso and fog chaser, but try the variety pack to find yours! I’ve also tried the Faro brand, which is just as tasty.


Gifts for Kids

My niece and nephew live in Chicago, and I live far far away from there. I still want to send them gifts for their birthdays and Christmas, but I absolutely don’t want to deal with the post office. Being able to buy their gifts online has been a godsend! I just ask my brother what they want, find it online, and have it shipped directly to his house. So easy! I can even get it gift wrapped! Which is really just a fancy box, but hey, I’ll take it.

Books

Books are a great thing to buy online because they tend to ship well and you know exactly what you are getting. Also, there’s no way I could write a post about shopping online without talking about books; the megalith Amazon got started with books! They are obviously a hot online item. That being said, there is something about browsing a bookstore, so I hope you don’t do all of your book shopping online. Buy a few at Barnes & Nobles too so we can keep them in business!

Camisoles

I generally hate buying clothing online. It never fits correctly and then you have to deal with sending it back, which is such a huge hassle. I’ll pass. But there is one clothing item that I love to buy online, and that’s camisoles. I wear them every day, under pretty much everything. So of course, I need to find the best deal. I can usually find them for ten bucks each at target, but the online deals are way better! I can get 4 camis online for only $23, that’s less than 6 bucks a piece, and they come right to my door. The best part is that most camis are sized correctly. A small is a small pretty much everywhere, so I don’t have to worry about returning them because they didn’t fit.


Specialty Items

Do you have a weird hobby that no one else has? Or a hobby that you can’t find supplies for at the normal stores? I do too! I have a microscope and I love making slides of things to look at under it. Unfortunately, most stores don’t carry microscope slides (or dissecting kits, or dyes). I’m so glad I can buy this stuff online. The best thing about online shopping is that you can find pretty much anything! What’s your odd hobby that you can’t find supplies for in the store? I’d love to hear about it!

Do you enjoy shopping online? What is your favorite thing to buy and why?

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Dang, the new mega millions jackpot is 1.6 billion dollars. That’s insane! Ok, lets be real. I know that I shouldn’t play the lottery. I know it’s basically a poor tax, and I know that my odds of winning are minuscule. And by minuscule, I mean it’s nearly impossible. But still, 1.6 billion…

Why I’ll play the lottery

I’m not going to lie. I’m going to play the lottery. In fact, I played on Friday when the jackpot was a mere 990 million. So, if I know that my chances of winning are slim to none, why do I still play?

Well that’s easy! I’m not spending two bucks on a ticket because I know I’m going to win – I’m fairly certain I’m not. I’m spending two bucks for hours of entertainment. The fun in playing the lottery isn’t winning because we all know that’s not going to happen (though wouldn’t it be awesome?). The fun in playing is imagining what you would do if you did win! It’s cheaper than a movie ticket, and I get way more entertainment out of it!

Should you play the lottery?

Not everyone should play the lottery. If you are playing because you really think you’re going to win, you probably shouldn’t be playing. If you spend more than two bucks per person on tickets to “increase your odds of winning”, you probably shouldn’t be playing. And if that two bucks per person is money you need for something else, guess what? You probably shouldn’t be playing.

 I’d also say that you probably shouldn’t be spending two bucks twice a week every week on lottery tickets. That’s $192 per year, which doesn’t sound like much, but if you invest that money instead you would have about $18000 after thirty years (assuming 7% return).

The bottom line is that if winning the lottery is your retirement plan, or playing the lottery is breaking the budget, you probably shouldn’t be playing. However, it is fun to play the lottery every now and again, just for enjoyment of imagining what you’d do if you won.

If I won the lottery

We’ve all thought about it, right? The first thing I’d do if I won is pay off all of my debt, even the stuff that I’m just cosigned on. It would feel great to be free of all that nonsense! Next, I would write a list of the people I’d like to help, and gift them all something (obviously taking the tax obligations into consideration!). I don’t want to be mean, but I would not help anyone who isn’t on my list. Most lottery winners lose all of their winnings within five years, and a big portion of that is because distant relatives and old “friends” come out of the woodwork asking for loans. Sorry, but if you aren’t on my list, you aren’t getting squat!

Next, I would fully fund all my bank accounts. There is nothing wrong with having cash on hand! Then I would treat myself to a trip. I’d take an extravagant (for me, I don’t need any gold-plated toilets or private planes!) trip to Egypt to see the pyramids and the Valley of the Kings. But after that, I’d put the rest of the money in various investment vehicles. Id set up a trust for my future kids, niece, and nephew, and have a super diversified portfolio. I don’t even think I’d quit my job right away (even though I love to talk about it haha).

What would you do?

Are you playing this week’s huge mega millions lottery?  If so, what would you do if you won? Sharing our ideas is part of the fun, isn’t it?

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