Month: August 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Process is part of the product

The Process is PART of the Product

There is a constant battle between the process and the product in early retirement talk. Mr. T and I lean toward a calmer, more comfortable process leading to a delayed product of early retirement. Others choose to give up a lot more than we do in the process for a sooner product.

Balance is important. If you ruin your health, happiness, or relationships along the way, you’ll find yourself retired early and alone and sick. But you are the only one that can determine what that balance looks like for you.

It’s important to take another factor into consideration as well: Pride – The good kind. The kind where you roll up your sleeves, grab a cup of lemonade and just sit and stare thinking nothing but “I did that!” It’s a great feeling, right?

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frugality sucks frugal

Being Frugal is Overrated

When I started this blog, I thought “yes! We aren’t big spenders! We can jump in and discuss how frugal we really are.” Ironically, after over a year of blogging, I’ve realized that being frugal isn’t the answer. 

Frugality is all about cutting costs, but sometimes that’s not the best financial action plan. We still maintain some level of frugality, but it has shifted from counting costs to living mindfully.

FRUGALITY FAILS:

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Northern Expressions

Northern Expressions: Don’t be an Ironing Board

Ironing board gave up dreams

Full Disclosure: I ripped this off Facebook. If you created this image, please let me know and I will give you credit!

Today’s inspirational quote comes from… RANDOM GUY ON FACEBOOK. That’s right. I stole it from Facebook.* But it really resonated. I mean, look at it! That poor surf board all tied down. It’s so practical now. We’re on a path toward impracticality, but the best path toward being a surf board for longer is being an ironing board first. Boring jobs get you to the ocean, so they’re not all bad! We are equating what we are doing more to extreme ironing. Iron like it’s hot. Iron like you’re skydiving. And when you’re done with the ironing, turn it into a surfboard.**

This week, take a look at what your surfboard life would look like. Where’s your ocean? And start making calculations to see how soon you can leave your ironing board lifestyle behind! Some days, I calculate and am all: “We can actually retire in 2022 for reals” (which means more than our goal of $500,000) and other days I’m all “we’ll be lucky to hit $500,000 by then!” This week, I’m feeling good about our prospects. From the experiences of others, people always seem to gain momentum quickly in the process and hit their goals on or before their deadlines.

The future is uncertain, but looking at the ironing board, we see it’s potential! Be the surfboard, friends!

Love, Maggie


*Also, Mr. T is out of town with Lui for his Grandmother’s funeral, so I’m on my own on images this week. 🙂

**Unplug the iron first, or you’ll die of electrocution on your first day!

non-financial goals

An Update on 2016 Goals

Usually people catch up with a mid-year review in June or July… you know, mid-year!? But here we are, mid-August, and I think it’s time for a check-in. School started Monday for the kiddos, so it feels like a good time to re-evaluate and figure out what needs to happen in the next 4 months.

As I’ve mentioned in the past two plan updates, the financial goals may come up a bit shy. I talk extensively about that monthly, so today’s focus is on the non-financial goals I set in January:

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Don't make dumb money mistakes

Don’t Make Dumb Money Mistakes!

When I was little, I remember being at my cousins’ house and we were having some sort of pinching fight(?) and laughing and crying and screaming. My aunt came in and yelled: “Don’t do dumb things!” and we all laughed and laughed. But the message stuck and I hear that in my mind so much that I’ve yelled it to my own children a number of times!

So what got me riled this time? The Ryan Lochte situation. I won’t go into it as I’m sick of hearing about it (though I do have to say my favorite headline has been the “Lochte Mess Monster” and his apology for his “immature tantics” made me laugh). The lesson for kids: Even if you’re hanging out with the dumb people, you’re still doing dumb things and may find yourself with your passport confiscated or with a fine for $11,000. Don’t do dumb things.

This statement applies to so many situations!

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Self employment

Reverse Roth IRA Challenge: The Self Employed Movement

Today, I get to feature Marc from The Self Employed Movement. As aspiring (more like wannabe) entrepreneurs, Marc’s blog attracted me pretty early on. Since Marc began the blog, he’s had a very dramatic journey. When I approached him about writing a spin on the Roth IRA Challenge, he hesitated about writing it because he didn’t fit the “criteria” (for the record, there really isn’t a criteria. It’s more of a prompt, so let me know if you want to participate!). I told him to tell his story about GIVING UP money and why that was the better choice. Here’s Marc with his story:

This isn’t your traditional “IRA Challenge” post, which are all awesome in their own regards. Rather, it’s a cautionary tale of what could happen when you put money in front of your health.

I was a couple of years into my career in the Finance industry. It was nothing that I was ever passionate about; I kind of just fell into it. It was at a point in my life where I didn’t know what I wanted. I just knew that I wanted to not smell like tacos when I came home every night. (I worked at a Mexican restaurant at the time.)

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How to cut cable and not miss anything

How to Cut Cable and Not Miss Anything

So you’ve decided to cut cable? Good for you! But you have some hesitations. I understand that. But let me tell you how we do it here in the Banks household and see if you are convinced.

  1. Get a Computer Without a Monitor – We have a small Dell that has no monitor. Instead, we hook it up to our TV as a monitor. Under our TV is our DVD player, the computer, and the computer keyboard.
  2. Get a Wireless Mouse – This will now be your remote. And just like all technology, these just keep dropping in price. And you can even buy one that looks like it emerged from a futuristic planet (easily amused).
  3. Set up a mini Antenna or Bunny Ears – I have no idea how to point you toward which one, but we got a midrange antenna at Radio Shack way back when we first set up ours (it was about $30). Which one you need will depend a lot on the geography of your area and your proximity to the broadcasting towers. This also gives you sub-channels that aren’t available through cable or satellite. We have France 24 news in our area!
  4. Stream, baby, Stream! – When you’re watching Hulu on a computer, the service is free (though there are limits to when shows are available and for how long). Netflix has raised its prices to $9.99 a month, but you can always buy discounted Target gift cards on Raise.com and then use those to purchase Netflix gift cards at Target! Also, sharing Netflix accounts is totally okay. Also, remember that you have a full computer with full internet access, so anything on network websites or YouTube is also fair game.
  5. Set up a DVR – For events like the Olympics, this is totally awesome. You can purchase a USB TV tuner with video capture. Your recording limit is based entirely on your computer’s hard drive! Mr. T and I have been recording all 8-10 hours of daily Olympic coverage on basic NBC (which is free through the antenna) and then watching it all in about 4 hours in the evening! This set-up is also great for awards shows (so many commercials!) or anything you think to record ahead of time so you can watch it commercial-free!
  6. Worried about Sports Events? – I admit, Mr. T and I only care about the Olympics when it comes to sports, but if you don’t want to miss a game, check out these resources on how to cut the cord and not miss a game here and here.
  7. Want to Watch Foreign TV? (I’m obsessed with British TV and need Doctor Who as soon as it airs) – Use a VPN! This reroutes your internet traffic through another country so it thinks you are watching locally. I’ve found that free VPNs are available, but they are entirely hit and miss. But there are several options of paid ones and they aren’t that expensive either.

Now that I’ve told you our system, I’ve got all of yesterday’s Olympic coverage to catch up on…

Status quo coin flip

Status Quo Bias and the Coin Flip

I have had the same haircut forever (a simple, A-line bob if you really wanted to know). When I go to cut my hair, I think: “I’m going to do something different!” but then I go do the exact same thing. This is an example of status quo bias. We like things to be the same and any deviation from that point is considered a loss. What if I hate my hair? What if the guy who is running against the incumbent is going to be worse than that guy? What if I quit my job and regret it? It’s easier to stay the same. 

Flashback 12 years ago: I’m on a study abroad in London and the Vidal Sassoon Salon is offering free haircuts if you’re willing to get anything. YES! This is my chance to be crazy! I walk in. Every single person has crazy hair. My own guy has a tight Afro with ringlets hanging off of it like a disco ball. It was amazing. I wonder what I’ll get!

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Northern Expressions

Northern Expressions: Set Impossible Goals

Set Impossible Goals

Today’s Northern Expression comes from amazing Olympian swimmer, Katie Ledecky who said in an interview: “Set goals that, when you set them, you think they’re impossible. But then every day you can work towards them, and anything is possible so keep working hard and follow your dreams.”

When I was young, in every birthday card ever, I would write: “May all your dreams come true!” I’ve advocated here on the blog to dream big and pick a path and make it yours. Katie Ledecky is the ultimate example of doing that. Her only competition is herself. When she gets in the water and starts chasing the World Record line, she’s chasing her own record! This is what each of our journeys is all about. We’re not in a race anywhere. We’re only competing against ourselves. And we can do better. We can always dream bigger and achieve more.

Go, friends! And make all your dreams come true.

Love, Maggie


P.S. You can wait to achieve greatness until the Olympics are over. I can tell you I’m doing nothing productive for the next 10 days!

What are you proud of?

What Are You Proud Of?

Last week, I was singing along with Katy Perry’s Roarand with the Olympics coming up, I started really thinking about what gets me going. I’m all for singing “Dancing through the fire. ‘Cause I am the champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!” at the top of my lungs. Now I’m watching the Olympics (obsessively) and it’s clear that to be an Olympian, that is your life. You eat, breathe, train, strategize, and compete. You break your leg? Get back out there! Your team needs you! You give yourself a concussion? Shake it off! You can still win yourself a medal! These people are passionate. They found their thing and now they’re doing it.

What about the rest of us?

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