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How Entrepreneurship is Like Dipnetting

How Entrepreneurship is Like Dipnetting

On Monday, I shared our dipnetting experience this year. Collectively, we caught 21. My contribution: 1. That’s right. I caught 1 salmon and spent nearly the same amount of time in the water as Mr. T. Since I had a lot of time to think about stuff as I was carrying my net and not catching fish, I realized our entrepreneurship journey is actually a lot like dipnetting (you all missed my analogies this summer. Admit it!). Here’s how:

Nets Out of Water Don’t Catch Fish

I really wanted to catch fish. And I did take breaks when I got tired. But I also knew that if I stayed out of the water, I literally had no chance of catching a single fish. If you never try your project, you’ll never succeed. If you don’t apply for the job, you’ll never get it. You actually have to put your net in the water and see what happens. Is there a chance you’ll catch nothing? Yes. Is there a chance your net will break and you’ll be out some money? If you paid for your net, yes. Is it also possible you’ll be the one person in the water that catches 20 fish? Yes! And you won’t know until you try.

Try 3 More Times When You Want to Quit

I recently read Think and Grow Rich. I didn’t love it, personally, because it read like a giant infomercial, but the entire point of the book is that the people who succeed are the people who try just a bit longer. When other people quit, they try just a few more times before giving up and then find crazy success. Will this always be the case? No. But when I was fishing and not catching anything, I got tired. It’s tiring not succeeding (and watching other people succeed). When I wanted to quit, I told myself: “I’ll do 3 more passes and then I’m done.” On the second pass, I caught my 1 fish!

Success Compounds

Sure, I only caught 1 fish, but you know what? After I caught that 1 fish, everyone on the beach cheered. Literally. (This is why I love dipnetting. Everyone knew I hadn’t caught yet.) And even though I only had 1 more pass in the 3 passes I promised myself, I lasted another hour after I caught a fish! The reward of success helps make the hard work worth it. It’s hard to slog through the cold water with a heavy net when you don’t see results.

Keep Reasonable Expectations

Mr. T and I dabble in entrepreneurial efforts, but we honestly don’t seek to create a million dollar company. That sounds like way more stress than our lives currently have and that’s not the point. When it came to fishing, we knew the fish counts were low. If we still expected to catch a ton of fish, we would have been really disappointed with our 21. As it was, we did really, really well and we were super happy with our 21. It’s good to set big goals, but it’s also good to celebrate the wins along the way and make sure your expectations are reasonable. Online, we mostly only hear about people that are huge, wealthy successes in entrepreneurship. My guess is that for every 1 of them, there are 100 others that are doing pretty well and changing their lives through entrepreneurship. They’re paying their mortgages with profits and plugging along.

Why Entrepreneurship?

Honestly, dipnetting is a great example of why we want a life of entrepreneurship. We want to be able to cover our bills, work together, work while the kids are in school, and be able to take off to dipnet or travel whenever we want without too much work getting in the way. Again, we aren’t looking to be the next internet stars of entrepreneurship. We just want to make our lives simpler while the kids are at home, pay off our mortgage, and pay for travel.

Are any of you paying your bills with your own business? If not, do you seek to do so?

Dipnetting 2017: The Year With Less Fish

Dipnetting 2017: The Year With Less Fish

Our annual dipnetting trip this year was out of the ordinary. First off, the fish weren’t there. Usually the fish come in droves around July 15-17. We went down on July 17-18 and the fish still weren’t there. Here’s a graph comparing this year’s sockeye salmon run numbers throughout July and August (the red line) and last year’s numbers (the black line). See that big spike in the black line where it dips in the red? Yeah. That’s  when we went fishing. It got so weird that they even talked about shutting down dipnetting for awhile to let more salmon get up the river, and the counts finally rose a week later only when they shut down the commercial fishery for a few days.

Fish Counts

Despite the lack of fish in the river, we actually did quite well. We caught 21 salmon and they were pretty big this year. (I only caught 1 and Mr. T caught 20… but his net is significantly longer, so he was the only one in our group that actually managed to catch any fish.)

As we camped on the beach, the rain came in full swing and Lui woke up around 3AM crying: “It’s raining on me.” Then we realized our tent was soaking wet and absolutely raining all over from the ceiling (what the heck… seriously!?). So when we got home, our house was covered in all of our stuff drying out (camping chairs, pads, sleeping bags, pillows, tents, etc.). But we lived to tell the tale and had a pretty great time anyway!

Dipnetting: The Numbers

The Costs:

  • $10 – Dropoff fee. You have to pay to unload your car right by the beach. It’s still cheaper than the $55 fee to overnight park. We unload, park a mile away for free and then ride an old bike back.
  • $25 – Camping fee for 1 night.
  • $58 – 2 fishing licenses for Mr. T and I.
  • $41.98 – FoodSaver bags for freezing the fillets.
  • $19.74 – Ice to keep the fish cool.
  • $59.40 – The charge to professionally smoke 10.8 lbs of salmon (nearly 8 lbs left over from last year’s catch from the freezer).
  • $40 – Gas for the trip there and back.

TOTAL: $254.12

Our 21 salmon totaled 1,058 oz or 66 lbs 2 oz. – That means our total price per pound this year was $3.84/lb. We’ve certainly done better (compare dipnetting 2015 and dipnetting 2016), but again, we did pretty good for the circumstances and we’re definitely happy with our haul.

Our smallest fillet was 12 oz and our largest was a whopping 42 oz!

Despite the circumstances, dipnetting is still my absolutely favorite. It’s such a great communal experience. One guy caught a gigantic King salmon in his net (like the size of Lui) and the whole beach erupted in cheering when he pulled it out. When I hadn’t caught anything for like an hour and finally caught my one fish, many strangers cheered as well because they noticed I hadn’t caught. It’s so great.

Every year when I’m dipnetting, I think: “I’m never leaving Alaska. This is the greatest place ever” and I get to remember that feeling weekly when we eat a salmon fillet for dinner.

How does $3.84/lb compare to what you pay for salmon?

Dipnetting for Alaskan Salmon

Dipnetting: Subsistence Salmon Fishing

Hey friends! We’ve updated our newsletter to be a weekly email that goes out on Saturday mornings complete with blog post links, random spattering of other interesting links from the interwebs, and some friendly updates on the Banks. Sign up on the sidebar. Try it out. If you hate it, unsubscribe after the first email! I won’t be offended. I have heard several express interest in knowing more about the kind of things I read outside of the blog. I’ve changed our newsletter to share those interesting things that just don’t seem to fit here (and there are loads!)

You may have noticed last week I posted our UK post without pictures. It’s now updated, so check that out. The reason? The reds were running! If that phrase makes no sense to you, I’ll translate: “Over 50,000 Sockeye salmon are running up the Kenai river every single day and everything must stop so we can go catch them!”

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Dipnetting: How do you get your salmon?

Another fabulous benefit of being an Alaska state resident is the opportunity to dipnet for personal-use salmon. Between July 10-31, Alaska residents can use a gigantic net on a really long pole to catch salmon. The household limit is 25 for the head of household and 10 for each household member thereafter. If you haven’t already done the math in your head, our household limit is 65 salmon. Now that’s a ridiculous amount of salmon. We don’t bring home nearly that amount and we still eat it weekly in our home. It helps significantly with the food budget plus the added health benefits. And kids love salmon. Florin and Lui ate tons of it as babies and loved it. They still do.

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July 2017 Alaska Plan Update

July 2017 Plan Update

Another July has come and gone. Isn’t summer glorious?

We caught 21 salmon despite there being very few fish in the water and we got rained on (inside our tent!). Full dipnetting adventure story coming in the fall. (I know, you can’t wait!).

Guess where we are right now! DisneyLand! I know. Living the magic. Seriously.

Also this month, my parents received a mission call to Leeds, England. They’ll be leaving in November for a year and a half, so we’re taking the kids to Europe next summer! I can’t explain how excited about this I am. Dream come true. For reals. I’ll be talking lots about our preparations come fall/winter.

The weekly email updates keep coming all summer long, so sign up to find out all the happenings!


The Numbers:

Want to know how easy it is for us to write these every month? I literally just log into my Personal Capital and revel in all the numbers being in one place. Do you like checking numbers? Do you like graphics? Do you like playing with calculators like retirement calculators and how much your fees are costing you? Then, you should obviously use my affiliate link to Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! (Also feel free to read my more in-depth review of Personal Capital.)

Our mortgage is currently at $41,800. I’d love to see this below $40,000 next month. I’m more chill about the mortgage this month… the benefit of taking a step back for a bit (also the benefit of being able to go to EUROPE next year with all 5 of us… that’ll take some dough).

Investments are back on the upswing. To be clear, we just haven’t prioritized the Roth IRAs this year. I’m not making excuses. I’d rather kill the mortgage and I can’t do it all. So… that’s gone by the wayside. This is why personal finance is personal. I realize contributing would be really awesome of us. But I just don’t feel it right now. And that’s the best answer I’ve got. Despite that, our total investments sit at $163,400 right now. It feels pretty good to see these climb by default (automatic savings from Mr. T’s paycheck).

For our savings percentage, we track the percentage of our pre-tax (or gross) income and the extra payments put toward the mortgage are included in the amount saved. Savings percentage for July – 38%. For not really paying much attention to saving and buying some plane tickets, I think this is pretty decent.

2017 Financial Goal Update:

  • Earn $25,000 – ($17,902/$25,000) –  This was a pretty big month for me. I did quite a bit of freelancing and got the paycheck for my work trip in June for my regular job, so I’m looking pretty lucrative these days. 🙂
  • Mortgage Balance below $30,000 – (Currently at $41,800 – $11,800 to go!)
  • Max out Mr. T’s 401k – This is set up already and if nothing changes, he should automatically max it out this year for the first time! Yay for automatic payments!
  • Put $5500 into My Roth IRA – $0 progress so far.
  • $2500 in other investments – $0 progress so far.
  • $200,000 Investment Balance by the end of the year – This is looking possible. I’m not super committed to this goal because it’s market-based, but with these bonkers markets, maybe we’ll successfully get $37k-ish by the end of the year!

Notable Expenses This Month: The Story Our Money Tells:

These are expenses that tell an interesting story. A peek into our lives through our pocketbook:

  • $28 – Cash price for award tickets from New York to London. I’ll piece together the other legs of next year’s trip later.
  • $204.30 – Travel backpacks for the girls. They’re going to be in charge of their own stuff. It’s going to be awesome.
  • $254.12 – All dipnetting costs (again, breakdown coming in September!)
  • $11.99 – A slingshot Mr. T purchased for a slingshot paintball game with some friends but we’ve all had a great time with in our own yard!
  • $21.99 – Melatonin – We usually go through about 2 bottles a summer. With the sun up all night, the kids need a little help shutting the brains off. #AlaskaLife
  • $49.98 – We bought a Kindle and a kid proof case for Lui on Prime Day in preparation of next year’s really really long flights. The girls already have their own.
  • $149 – A new phone. Because I broke mine a few months ago. Then I shattered the screen on my mother-in-law’s old phone I was using. Mr. T put packaging tape on it so the little shards wouldn’t get in my ear when I’m talking on the phone. I can’t have nice things.
  • $778.45 – Airplane tickets for FINCON! Everyone excited?! I’m so pumped!

EXTRA INCOME (anything that doesn’t come from our jobs/my freelance work):

Financial Phrases:

These are things said by actual people that were either talking to me or near me enough that I could hear them:

  • “My brother keeps saying, ‘ just start a blog and people will click on your links and you’ll make plenty of money,’ but he is thinking like an already-wealthy doctor. We need health insurance.”
  • “The problem with entrepreneurs is they don’t share all the little steps it took to get to where they made it. Sometimes they probably don’t even know which steps those were.”
  • “They have secretary day and office manager day. But they never have computer programmer day! And we always have to chip in for those parties or birthday parties and they don’t throw a party for everyone and then it causes all sorts of drama.”
June 2017 Plan Update

June 2017 Plan Update

June was awesome and a great leap into summer. It kicked off with our first vacation. We headed to Portland for a few days and dropped the kids off with my parents while Tom and I headed to Utah for a business trip. Though we both spent most of the trip working, we were able to see some sites and enjoy ourselves. As soon as we returned, I helped run a 4-day camp-out for 16 teenage girls from church. We camped by the bay, saw whales, fished all night, hiked to old World War II sites, cooked delicious food in dutch ovens, ate a million S’mores, found some awesome shells, avoided bears, and had absolutely perfect weather. Overall successful.

The second half of the month, we just enjoyed summer. I delivered lunch to the kiddos outside nearly every day it wasn’t raining. Mr. T finished planting a few more things in the garden (zucchini and pumpkins) and started replacing the countertop and backsplash in the master bathroom. Lui is working on figuring out his new balance bike (a free hand-me-down from a friend). It’s been a tremendous month.

The blog break has been good and while I’m super excited to return twice a week, I’m forcing myself to continue the break as promised through August, but will be back full-force in September. I’m using the time to catch up on some other projects including my totally awesome survey. If you haven’t taken it yet, go do it now! We have over 600 responses now. (Also, I would LOVE to get another 500+ responses from a non-PF-geek population. If you have any great ideas on how to do that, PLEASE SHARE! – and thanks to those of you that shared it on your personal Facebook pages!).

You may miss me weekly here on the blog, but my Saturday e-mails are heating up. I still send those out weekly and LOVE to interact off-blog.



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The Numbers:

Want to know how easy it is for us to write these every month? I literally just log into my Personal Capital and revel in all the numbers being in one place. Do you like checking numbers? Do you like graphics? Do you like playing with calculators like retirement calculators and how much your fees are costing you? Then, you should obviously use my affiliate link to Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! (Also feel free to read my more in-depth review of Personal Capital.)

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Your Spring Will Come

Your Spring Will Come

Sometimes in the thick of winter, it is hard to remember spring will come. I did not truly understand the redemption spring symbolized until moving to Alaska. In this state, winter means darkness and hibernation. The plants feel winter approaching and shed their leaves and turn brown. All signs of plant life recede and the ground looks dead. As the sunlight returns and the snow melts, the earth looks hopeless. The ground is flooded, littered, and barren. How can life possibly emerge from this? Then, it does. From the barren ground, the sprouts emerge. Over just a few weeks, the world that looked so brown and dead is brought to life. The plants that looked hopeless burst into life all at once.

Your Spring Will Come

The symbolism of spring is a poignant reminder that life is not made of just winters. It is also made of springs, summers, and autumns. Maybe you’re in the midst of a winter. Health, family, or financial setbacks take their toll. They dim the sun and plunge us into a season of winter. Some winters are darker than others. Sometimes, in the midst of the darkness, we feel like spring couldn’t possibly be the next season. Life can’t emerge from such darkness, we think.

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A 2017 Earth Day Checkup

A 2017 Earth Day Checkup

Earth Day was this weekend. To celebrate, Florin’s school passed out garbage bags to kick off next week’s city-wide clean up (my favorite time of year… all the trash that was hiding in all that snow gets picked up!). Each year, I perform a personal Earth Day Checkup. We could all be doing better protecting the environment, but every year, I like to celebrate the things I am doing, note my own improvements, and come up with something I can improve upon.

Earth Day Checkup: The Good

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Is it Time to Quit Your Job?

Is it Time to Quit Your Job?

In the book Born for This by Chris Guillebeau, he recommends setting a date to resign from your job each year. On that date, you commit to resigning if your job is not the best fit. This exercise forces you to re-evaluate every year with an ultimatum. Are you miserable? This is quitting day! Things going great? Reset the calendar reminder for next year and carry on.

What if?

Many advocate that if you prepare for the absolute worst case scenario, you’ll get over your fear. So, what if you lost your job tomorrow? What is the worst that could happen? Your family goes hungry. You lose your house. Jobs are scarce. Keep the thought experiment going. What would you actually do?

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Seward's Folly: Happy Alaska Day

Seward’s Folly (Happy Alaska Day)

Let me tell you a little story about taking chances that people think are stupid.

There once was a guy who bet $7.2 MILLION DOLLARS on real estate. I mean, Crazy right? And this was WAY back in 1867, so those dollars were worth WAY more back then!

His name was William Henry Seward and his purchase? ALASKA! He bought the state for the equivalent of 2.5 cents per acre!

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