Today was a Good Day

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We’ve learned many lessons this year, among them how to actually appreciate and value the things we purchase. It has made us a stronger family unit, and it has helped to instill values in our children that will hopefully help them in life for many decades to come.

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At the beginning of 2019, my wife and I were in a really bad spot. We owed an insane amount of money on credit cards (6 figures), and we were making $3600 a month less than what we needed to pay our bills. We had no savings, we had very little in our 401k, and we were almost certainly going to lose the house we had bought just 6 months prior.

We committed to solving our debt crisis once and for all, and we knew that part of doing that meant we had to set some really large stretch goals to keep us honest and aggressive in our efforts.

I told my wife, “We need to set a big number in terms of the debt we want to pay off this year, and it needs to be large enough to frankly make us uncomfortable.”

We set our golden number for the year at $50,000.00. Fifty-thousand. A FIVE, AND THEN A BUNCH OF ZEROS. That was a stupid number, and there was probably no way we would come close, but damn if we weren’t going to try!

When I have set similar lofty goals in the past, it has rarely worked out well…

Dave at age 10:
Goal: “I bet I can jump this canal on my bicycle!”
Result: Broken bike, broken bones.

Dave at age 22:
Goal: “I bet I can beer bong this entire 5th of whiskey!”
Result: Waking up in that same canal, wondering what happened to my pants.

Dave at age 35:
Goal: “I bet I can put a flat screen TV in each room of my house!”
Result: See paragraph 1 of this post.

So needless to say, I was somewhat pessimistic about the financial goal I had set for us to achieve, and I had a lifetime of results (or lack thereof) to back that pessimism up.

And yet today, a month and a half early in fact, we hit our goal.Read More »

Today Was a Good Day on the Road to Financial Independence

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2019 has already proven to be the most stressful, gut-wrenching, slap-to-the-face wake up call that we could have ever received, but by the end of this year it also has the potential to be one of the most fulfilling and personally rewarding ones we ever lived through.

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If you’ve been following this blog for any period of time, you know my situation. If not, here is a very brief recap:

At the start of 2019, my wife and I came to full terms with our debt and the stinky butthole of a situation we had gotten ourselves into. We sat down and added everything together and found that we had $126,310.77 worth of combined credit card and student loan debt.

On top of this, we were paying out close to $3600 a month more in bills than we were bringing in from income. We had absolutely zero in savings, and we were very much at risk of losing our home that we had just purchased in June of 2018.

Since then we have been scrambling to stay afloat, at times barely even eating to save money. We have taken side jobs such as my wife’s now steady gig caring for dogs via Rover.com, and targeted our debt with every ounce of energy we have.

Today I wrote checks for $23,347.12, $1,660.84, and $2763.12 to pay off and close 3 more accounts.

It was a very good day.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the graphic on the right, here it is in it’s most updated form:

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The devil is in the details though, so keep reading to see exactly how the numbers break down…Read More »

Sickness, Sweden, Soccer and Saying So Long to Summer – A Digging Out Update

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Hi Eveyrone!

Good News: I’m not dead.
Bad News: I have not been updating the blog.

In late August I got hit with the flu, and it knocked me on my ear. I was seriously concerned, because I had a big business trip coming up in Sweden that I desperately wanted to attend. I was starting to freak out that I would be too sick to travel, but I managed to pull the nose up at the last possible minute and was cleared to go.

Sweden was great, but between the craziness of that trip and the plague that had ravaged my body, I was in no shape to write blog updates.

Upon my return, I was reminded that my kids soccer season kicked off (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?), and so we spent several days watching delirious kids boot balls about while the final rays of summer kissed us goodbye.

When I first started this blog, my intention was never to make it a 5 day a week affair, but it sort of morphed into that very quickly. Then I found myself scrambling to keep up with the cadence I had set for myself, and it quickly became something that wasn’t my most favorite thing in the world.

So moving forward, updates will be a bit more off-the-cuff and less regimented, but I promise they will still bring value!

Here are some things I did manage to accomplish over the last several weeks:

  1. I finally closed on the refinance of my home. Given that we have only been in the home for a year, this made total sense for us, and saved us several hundreds dollars on our monthly mortgage payment.
  2. I managed to pull the trigger on my “big plan” for the year of paying off a massive chunk of our debt. It will take until the 15th of September before I can officially explain here on the blog, but needless to say, the tracker on the right will see a BIG update at that time.
  3. I read some great books in my downtime! I finally read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” “The Millionaire Next Door,” and just started on “The Richest Man in Babylon.”
  4. I got bit by a tick while in Sweden while hunting for wild mushrooms that we cooked over an open fire with reindeer. True story.

So I wasn’t just lying in a pool of my own sweat and begging my children to “bring Daddy a fresh bucket.” I actual did what I could to make my life better as well!

Well… except the tick part.

My intention with this blog has always been to give people in a situation similar to mine a person that they can relate to. I want others to know that, whether they are deep in a financial hole, or simply wanting to reach some form of financial independence, there are others on a similar journey. With a five-day-per-week post cadence, I started to feel like I was losing some of that magic, and frankly just kind of repeating myself at times.

So stay tuned, because while the posts may not stick to any kind of schedule moving forward, my hope is that you will find them more substantial and meaty.

Keep digging!

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A 44 Year-Old Man and His Love for Disneyland

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The Thursday Think Tanks are semi-random thoughts that may not necessarily fall directly into the category of finances, but I still feel are worth sharing. Read at your own risk!

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Disclaimer: If you’ve been following anything about Disneyland of late, you know that there has been some controversy over worker salaries and benefits with a Disney family member even speaking up on behalf of the park employees. I 100% believe that the workers should be paid a fair wage, and even above. The job they do of making that park function in a spotless and seamless manner is world class.

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I know I’m not alone when I say that I have a fascination with Disneyland. It’s obviously a mildly popular destination for families and Disney fans alike.

I will also say that I don’t believe in magic, at least in the traditional sense, but Disneyland is the closest thing I’ve found on the planet to a truly magical experience. It’s pretty gutsy to put it in your tagline, “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” but damn if they haven’t done everything humanly possible to deliver on the promise.

My first trip to Disneyland as a child was also my last trip to Disneyland as a child. For parents I had the one-two punch of a mom who hated animated films almost as much as she hated airplanes, and a dad who hated vacationing anywhere that didn’t have slot machines, black jack tables, and relatively few people. So each year he and my mom would go on their retreat to Reno and then as a family we’d go to places within driving distance like the Oregon Coast or Yellowstone. Great places to vacation no doubt, but they weren’t Disneyland.

So when the time finally came (meaning us kids wouldn’t shut up about Disneyland and finally wore mom and dad down), we drove from my house in central Washington State some 1,100 miles to the front gates of Disneyland. It was a true Wallyworld experience to say the least, complete with breaking down on a massive stretch of freeway in Central California, and being forced to spend the night in a cockroach infested hotel while we waited for our Chevy Blazer to be repaired.

The trip is relatively blurry now some 30 years later, but aside from remembering that we spent time at Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Universal Studios, I also remember one fact crystal clear:

We never fought or bickered once while we were in Disneyland.Read More »

The Road to Financial Independence – The Thrill of $9 Dollar Jeans

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I was determined to get a deal though. The deal bug was now crawling up my leg, looking for a nice juicy piece of flesh to clamp down on.

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Up until about four weeks ago, I wasn’t even aware of the entire Financial Independence movement. I may have heard the term thrown around on a post here or there, but overall the overall concept was about as foreign to me as people who don’t eat peanut butter on their hamburger. (You should seriously try it.)

As I started to understand what FI meant, I’m going to be honest that I went through some growing pains in my understanding of the effort. My initial thought was, “These just sound like a bunch of uptight tightwads that replace toilet paper with their read newspapers to save a buck.”

Slowly I began to realize though that my perception was skewed via the Facebook groups I was reading. The collection of posts all cumulated into a belief that every person on the group was cutting every possible corner that they could to save a buck, and I frankly didn’t like the sounds of that at all.

What in fact was happening was that each person on the group was making the money saving changes that made sense for them. Some were switching to LED lightbulbs in their homes, some were buying used cars to reduce loan length and cost, others were probably using newspapers on their backsides.

So I started to settle into this mindset instead. What were the things that made sense for me? I was frankly already doing a lot of things out of shear necessity, given our financial situation, but very quickly I got bitten by “the bug.”

We all know “the bug” I’m referring to. The bug is that thing that you kind of hate doing at first, but then it becomes a challenge, then kind of fun, and then an activity or action you extract great satisfaction from.

I got bit by the gym bug many years ago. At first, I hated the gym. I f*cking DESPISED the gym. Yet I kept going, and slowly started to enjoy it. Eventually I flipped the script and got to the point where I get really bummed if I don’t make it to the gym on a scheduled day.

With FI and frankly just being more frugal with my dollar, I was not a fan. I hated the fact that I had to actually start looking at price tags on things, and comparing, and shopping for the best deals. IT WAS A LOT OF WORK! I just wanted to grab the brand that I knew because it was familiar and walk out with it, even if it meant paying more because it had a “Swoosh” or similar well-know symbol stuck all over it.

And yet this past week I think I had a breakthrough!Read More »