2019 on FIRE

Happy New Year! I’m writing this on January 27th, well into 2019, and have given my New Year Goals and intentions a lot of thought. Last year was a good one, full of trips, adventures, work ups and downs….reflection has happened though, so onto what I want for this year.

Much of what I want to cultivate this year has been inspired by my Money Minded Maven FI group. Huh? Let’s start by chatting about this whole FIRE movement I’ve recently got involved in….

What is FIRE? Financial Independence Retire Early. It sounds like a crazy concept, right? We’ve been taught that you go to college, get a job, maybe move up the corporate ladder in your committed field, upgrade your house, car, gadgets with each wrung of the ladder climbed, and retire when you’re 65. Maybe a bit younger if you aggressively save, contribute to your 401K, have a pension. This concept is outrageous when you stop and do the math. And I have always had a cash-register mind (as in the dollars and cents of living rattle around up there).

There are a sub-set of people out there who don’t buy into this model. And I have been one of them, without really knowing it. Instead of spending all you take home, why not save most of it,  find inexpensive things to do with friends, be mindful of where your money goes (ie. spending it on experiences instead of designer clothes, new cars, more stuff), invest in tax deferred accounts, house hack (or whore out your house as Mike likes to say) and cook most meals in to keep eating costs down. Why do all of this? So you can retire from any traditional type of work and focus on work you love, your passions, travel, whatever you want.

There are a number of people in this movement who have crunched the numbers so hard they’re already there. And by there, I mean financially independent, not having to work the corporate gigs, unless they want, and putting their energy into what they love, living life on their terms, out of debt. And these people have become our teachers. Here are a few people & resources  I’ve been soaking up knowledge from: Mad Fientist, Optimal Living Daily , Paula Pant, The Minimalists, Mr. Money Mustache, Radical Personal Finance & Gretchen Rubin to name just a few.

So how did I come to identify myself with the FIRE crew? Beyond my always being unbelievably frugal, I have some extremely intelligent girlfriends who are like-minded in the sense that we want to empower ourselves and each other to learn more about investing, maxing out our financial gains, diversification, and tips on how to live a more fulfilling life with less. So we started a financial group that dives in to a different topic, podcast episode, book each month, focusing on financial goals and habits you can institute into your own life. We meet virtually to share what’s worked, what we’ve learned, our thoughts on savings, and hare resources. It’s phenomenal and so motivating!

With that context, I’ve thought about my goals for 2019 in these areas: Financial, Personal Goals & Habits

Financial Goals 

  1.  Get a handle on the money coming in & going out – essentially, how much does it really cost to live on a monthly/yearly basis? This took awhile to figure out, gathering tax information, digging into credit card bills, travel expenses, Airbnb income, mortgages, etc. If you’re trying to do the same, I’d recommend setting up a Personal Capital dashboard that lets you see where you’re spending, how your investments are pulling into your net worth and you can even link your homes’ value (which is awesome for Happy Homes!)
  2. Maximize my 401K, tax deferred investments, and savings – I’m all over this as well! I set up time to speak with a personal adviser at Vanguard to understand my investments, map out my retirement goals and work on a strategy to get me there. Having gone through the first exercise of what I actually need to pay my bills/live my life, I was able to see how much more I could be saving. This was by far the most intimidating, as investments have always scared me. Why? Because I didn’t understand them and didn’t take the time to find out. Until now! I have so much to learn here, but taking the first step was huge to get me on my way. And the Money Minded Maven group has fueled me! This stock series is on my list to dive into.
  3. Research things I don’t understand. It’s only confusing because it’s not familiar. With the resources available, there’s no excuse to not be up to speed on what’s happening with my finances.
  4. Get the grocery bills, alcohol, eating out bills under control. This isn’t as glamours, but having done an analysis of what I was spending at the grocery store, on alcohol and eating out, it really opened my eyes. I’m going to make an effort to meal-plan every week, cut back on the booze during the week, and eat out less.
  5. Sell Chase St. The past few months have been a journey in making the best out of a sticky situation (ie. pulling the listing, renting the house short-term to cover the costs & dealing with almost weekly renters). The goal is to sell it this spring – and if it doesn’t sell, we’ll get a long-term renter to ease the burden of flipping, cleaning, worrying if your sh*t head renters are going to trash the place.

Personal Goals & Habits

  1. Stop procrastinating. Be more consistent. This seems to be a common theme for me, often proclaimed at the beginning of the year. But, I’m a tactical person, often driven by outside forces and deadlines, so I’m trying to institute ways to stick to things.
  2. Re-instate the Happy Kitchen Dinner Series. This took flight last year, slowly sputtering out due to lack of commitment from good old’ me. I love cooking. I love spending time with my friends. I am constantly planning menus in my head. So why haven’t I done anything more with this!? See the first personal goal….
  3. Cut back on the alcohol. This could fit under all of the categories, as it will have an impact in each category. I like my craft beer and that comes with a price tag, so cutting back will help the wallet. Personally, I feel the best when I wake up without having had any booze the night before. And the kind of person I want to be happens when I’m alert and focused, not foggy and lazy. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy my good beer & wine and will continue to do so when it means I’m socializing with friends or celebrating a special occasion. I’m just taking a mindful look at when I drink and prioritizing the goals around it.
  4. Spend more time on activities that move me forward, towards my goals. The Money Minded Maven’s are focusing on habits this month, so I’ve thought a lot about what I’m committing energy to because those are the things that become a priority. What’s helped me here is outlining my priorities, then making sure my habits and actions line up accordingly. It’s one thing to say you’d like to do yoga everyday…..it’s another if you turn the tv on a night, having not done any.
  5. Watch less tv. The average American spends 4 hours a day watching tv. Insane! I have a bad habit of turning the tv on at night when I’m cooking, to decompress after an over-stimulated work day. But then it will remain on through dinner, post dinner and right up until we go to bed. No bueno, especially with the list of things I could be doing that would benefit me in some way.
  6. Get up and move. I’m a morning person and feel amazing when I incorporate movement first thing in the morning, so vow to make a consistent effort to get up and get moving. Whether that means morning yoga, or a sunrise walk or slow jog, I’ve done this inconsistently over the years, and really do feel amazing if I keep it up.
  7. Network more. With friends, with like-minded people, with opportunities. I want to make a point to say yes to things that open my mind, that put me out of my comfort zone, that lend value. I have so many amazing people in my network and want to make the effort to connect with them more often.

 

These are my goals for 2019 – a bit different than past years, more financially focused I’d say, but also aimed at living a more meaningful and mindful life. Hope you’re having a wonderful start to the year and I’d love to hear any goals or habits that you’re working on!

 

Cheers!

 

 

Basil Chickpea Balls

Fall seems to have officially arrived in Colorado – the air is crisp in the morning and remains cooler throughout the days. I love it! I’ve already pulled out my pumpkin decorations and bought my Jack O’ Lantern at Costco.

Fall calls for savory meals, so for lunch the other day, I made a cous-cous dish with the loads of garden tomatoes that are popping up, adding these simple, full of protein basil chickpea balls for some extra heartiness. I altered the recipe from thecrunchychronicles.com, using fresh basil and panko flakes.

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons Flax Seed Meal
6 Tablespoons of water
1/2 cup of Panko flakes
1 can of chickpeas (reserve about a tablespoon of the water they are in)
A handful of fresh, chopped basil
Pinch of Salt
Pepper
1/2 teaspoon of garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon of oregano
Red Pepper Flakes to taste

  1. Mix your flax seed egg – meal & water – and let sit for 10 minutes (in the fridge)
  2. Get a food processor out and mix your chickpeas & flax egg (once ready) to a smooth paste (some lumps are ok)
  3. Add remaining ingredients (I did this is a bigger bowl)
  4. Roll the balls into small rounds with your hands
  5. Bake at 450 for 20-25 minutes

I sauteed garden peppers, garlic, coconut oil and kale to top my cous cous & paired it all with these delicious treats, adding garden tomatoes as a topper. It was filling and full of plant goodness!

Enjoy!

One Year of Marriage: The Good, the Bad, & the Happy

It’s been 365 days since we got married, in our backyard in Colorado, where we have made an amazing life. It’s been quite the year indeed!

We’ve bought two investment properties, sold one and have the biggest project for our company Happy Homes ltd. to date in front of us.

We got Avalanche certified , skied and explored countless mountain towns together, in every season (Crestone, Jacksone hole, Steamboat, Crested Butte, Salida, Fort Collins to name a few!) and survived a backcountry ski accident together, where our patience and trust for each other was put to a test.

We’ve ridden mountain biking trails, hiked to Alpine lakes, skinned up hills and skied down sky chutes.

We’ve drank at countless breweries, enjoyed hundreds of home cooked, garden grown veggie meals, where both our strengths came together beautifully, him growing the food I’m cooking.

Our year has been productive, full of adventure, with times of frustration & sadness sprinkled in….but most of all, the year has been full of happy.

I married “late” in life, waiting until I knew myself a bit more, until there was no doubt in my mind that the person I was joining forces with was going to be a true partner. Now, I’m not naive; there are no guarantees in life and for things to work well, you have to work at them. So, in reflecting on this past year, here are a few lessons I’ve learned (and am still learning) about being married…

  1. The relationship you have with yourself is the most important, so make sure you know yourself and nurture your passions. Far too often I hear of women putting their needs aside for their family, their husband, sacrificing their own wants because they don’t want to appear selfish, they are busy taking care of everyone else’s needs to bother with their own. Well, I think that is horse shi#£. And I say this because I too am guilty of it. For turning down a dinner with a friend because I feel I need to cook dinner for Mike. For not going for an afternoon swim, because I have laundry or cleaning to do that Mike hasn’t offered to do. For not going to that Sunday morning yoga class cause maybe we’ll do something. It is ok to put my needs first sometimes and Mike is almost always fine with whatever I plan for myself, and often encourages it! Don’t make excuses for not pursuing your own stuff. I’m not saying you should give in to every whim you have, say ‘screw you’ to your family responsibilities, but when you make time for you, and those things you love, well, I know I’m a happier, more productive person and bring that to the marriage table.
  2. Know and appreciate each other’s strengths and recognize each other’s weaknesses (and don’t use them against each other!). I’m not a patient person. It’s a weakness for sure, one that I’m actively working on. I also have a major case of FOMO (fear of missing out) so often get so wrapped up in wanting to do more, make each day epic, that I can miss what’s in front of me. But, I’m organized, great at planning, and have a knack for cooking. Mike can get lost in the moment, a perfectionist with certain things, so can take longer to do tasks and can only handle one at a time. But he can fix and build anything, is a master gardener and loves to do yard work. We each bring our own set of goods & not so goods to the table, but where I may lack, Mike picks up & vice versa. He may never plan a trip, and definitely needs a lesson in housekeeping, but he packs the car after I’ve laid it all out, and brings me fresh grown kale for salads. I’ve learned not to throw his weaknesses at him (trial and error for sure!) because I know our individual strengths make us a better team & we need to flaunt them!
  3. Use your words. There have been times I’ve not said I was annoyed, but was, times I’ve not wanted to go down that run, but did anyway, times when I’ve gone silent because feelings are stupid. I’ve found out that if I’m annoyed, I need to say something, explain my side and why and let him talk through his. Mike is not a mind reader, nor should he be, and my feelings and perspective (expressed in a respectful way) should be considered. If I remain silent, then shame on me. Confrontation sucks and it can be unpleasant, but the times when we did talk through things have turned out much better than the times we didn’t.
  4. You can have different play books as long as you’re on the same team. We are individuals, handle things differently, approach situations with different perspective. As long as you’re on the same page about the objective, goal or end result (and communicate along the way) be open to, and patient about, how the other person is accomplishing their task at hand. Just because you wouldn’t do it that way (and your way is most definitely better) doesn’t mean the job won’t get done.
  5. Take care of, and responsibility for, your own sh$#. I can check the air pressure in my own mountain bike tires, can change a flat on the bike if needed, and can get it in and out of the truck myself. I used to just expect Mike to do it, so let him. Then I got a flat on a trail, without an extra tube, and something clicked. I need to take responsibility for the things I participate in….the good, bad and annoying. This goes for Mike as well. I’ve stopped folding his clothes (unless I have time to) have stopped packing for him, and don’t usually stock the house before I leave for a business trip. We are both adults and have the capability of taking care of ourselves. This is not to say we don’t do things for the greater good of the partnership. When I cook a meal, I don’t just serve myself. When I clean the house, I don’t dust around Mike’s things. And when Mike plants and nurtures our garden, he is proud to share the fruits of his labor. It is not about what you won’t deal with or do for the other person, I think it’s more about having mutual respect for each other and the things that you partake in.
  6. Be honest & patient with yourself and with each other. If I’m being truly honest, I am not that good of a mountain biker (yet) but I want to be at Mike’s level, so instead of picking the trails myself, I’ve let him pick. I’ve also not been putting in the time practicing or strengthening during the week, so halfway into our ride, I’m usually frustrated, feel like crap cause I can tell Mike is frustrated, and my confidence is shot. That’s no way to get better! This past weekend, on our anniversary trip (to Grand Junction, which I’ll write about!) I was honest and said I should probably stick to green trails, maybe head to some blues, and once I did that, we both had a better time. But, I did need to ask for Mike’s patience as I get better, as my ACL heals (although I do use that as an excuse) and know I need to put the work in. A similar patience needs to come from me for Mike. As an example, our current Happy Homes investment property is taking a lot longer due to the scope of the project and frustrations around lack of movement on his end, for not having a project to keep him busy, has been spewed towards him. We finally discussed it calmly (after the yelling of course) and I realized he had done as much as he could at the state the project was, and he already felt frustrated with himself about things, so my harping wasn’t helping. Patience, honesty and communication poured out from both sides was the best remedy.
  7. Be Happy. It’s just that easy, huh? Yes. I truly believe you have a choice in dealing with things, especially the hard things. If you have a sour attitude, think only of the bad, focus on the negative, you will only attract the bad, the negative, the sour. If you focus on the happy, the abundance, the good, those things will flock to you. You attract what you put out into the world and if you greet each day with a grateful, happy heart, well…happiness will find you. Life is precious and the love I have for our life, for my husband, makes me happy. Everyday with each other is a gift, so treat your partner with respect, love and happy.

It’s only been a year, and I’m really no expert on relationships, but with happiness and hard work on our side, I feel the next year of our marriage will be just as amazing!