Tag: gratitude

Living More in the Present: A Success Story

Living More in the Present: A Success Story

As I stepped away from the blog this summer, my focus was on enjoying the moment more. Sometimes being so involved in this community of awesome optimizers and hustlers becomes a whirlwind of motion. It’s good and it triggers important change, but sometimes it’s hard to really focus on the progress we’ve already made and enjoy what we have now.

Living More in the Present this Summer

This summer, I stepped back from pumping out posts on optimizing your finances or seeking entrepreneurship. I only calculated my expenses at the end of each month for the monthly plan updates and only checked my accounts a few other times each month. I stopped actively following all my favorite blogs (though would often binge because I can’t stay away for too long!). In short, I stepped back from the current hustle and started living more in the present. The break was tremendous and I learned a great deal. Here are a few things I learned:

  1. We’re on the Moving Sidewalk – I’m (Rockstar Finance) famous for saying the path to Financial Independence is like a sprint followed by a rest on a moving sidewalk. When I originally penned that post, I assumed I was still a few years away from enjoying that moving sidewalk. In reality, we’ve done our version of sprinting for the past 2 years since starting this blog. We’ve hustled, cut costs, set up savings, and attacked our mortgage. We got tired. In reality, because we’ve done all that, we’re already enjoying that moving sidewalk when we take a break from actively caring. Our mortgage keeps going down and our investments keep going up. It’s brilliant!
  2. We’re Incredibly Lucky – Our situation is already fantastic. We really have a great set-up. I get to be home with the kids all day every day. I don’t have to force myself to sit up at a desk job when my chronic health issues kick in (a full post on this coming later). Mr. T has incredible flexibility and lots of vacation time. We are incredibly privileged.
  3. We’ve Already Learned So Much – We still love the idea of being self-employed and having total autonomy over our own schedules and we haven’t made much significant headway there, but we have learned a whole lot already. We’ve learned all sorts of random skills along the way and learned what we enjoy and what we don’t enjoy. I feel like this whole thing has been like going to college in entrepreneurship and we’re getting closer and closer to graduation.
  4. I Need to Spend More Money Now – We’re not that close to financial independence, but we’re on that moving sidewalk. My kids, however, get older every single day. I have so much I still want to do with them. Now is the time. If you’re on the email list, you already know we’re venturing to Europe with the kids next summer. We’re going to take them on a 3-week trip through the UK, Norway, and Iceland. I’m SO EXCITED. We spent this summer letting the kids pick castles in Wales they want to explore, museums they want to check out in Oslo, and reading histories and guidebooks together. Most people have to wait until financial independence to do this kind of thing, but we can do it now. Mr. T has the flexibility and vacation time. I’m a freelancer so can choose to take a month off whenever I choose. These are the kinds of experiences I plan to focus on in the next 9 years before Penny graduates.
  5. Maybe We Have Happiness All Wrong – We always think our lives would be so much better elsewhere or doing something else. We get frustrated and immediately declare something drastic: “We’re retiring early.” Now, if you’re as far away from that possibility as we are, long-term planning for it isn’t a bad idea (at this rate, we’ll retire long before 65 just plugging along as we currently are), but focusing all efforts towards it misses the point. Maybe changing just one thing in your life can make all the difference. What would being 20% happier do for you?
  6. I’m Not Going Away – For now, I have enough passion and stuff to say that I am resuming my previous Monday/Wednesday posting (with an occasional Friday image by Mr. T or guest post). I love this space. I love all of you. I truly, truly do. I have a plan for another website based on my survey, but I decided I don’t want to do that one alone, so it may not get up and running for awhile. So, I’ll start sharing some info from that awesome survey here as well.
  7. I’m Always Prepared to Mix Things Up – When I get in a funk, I reserve the right to mix up everything. A step away this summer was exactly what I needed. Sometimes we need to get out of the water to see how truly beautiful the lake is.

Have you learned lessons in living more in the present lately? I’d love to hear yours!

Grateful Money Amounts

Grateful Money Amounts

I enjoyed the Halloween tweet-storm so much, I decided to do a Thanksgiving version. I asked people to give me one amount of money they are grateful for in 2016:

I thought about this a lot myself before tweeting it out and have an answer that fits in a variety of categories. For each category, I add my own answer and the Twitter responses I got that fit in that category as well.


My $276 amount to see the second ever showing of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child would fit in this category. It was an amazing, historic experience.

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A Grateful Year in Review

A Grateful Year-in-Review

In preparation for Thanksgiving this year, we’re going to do a practical gratitude exercise. This is Thanksgiving week. (YAY!) Think about where you were last year at this time: how old were your kids? who was with you Thanksgiving week? where were you? what were you working on? what things were you wishing you were doing better?

Do not focus on the negative. Life happens. Maybe this year had a lot of bad things happen. Now is not the time to talk about those.

Focus on the growth. Pick (at least) 2 things that are better this year than last year.

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Northern Expressions

Northern Expressions: On Democracy

Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

“Democracy is the worst form of government… except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” – Winston Churchill

He’s right, you know. Democracy is horrible, unpredictable and wonderful. At the end of it all, we celebrate our right to vote. We celebrate the freedom the people have to choose a leader.

Also, on Veteran’s Day, we celebrate those people that have made that freedom possible. It’s worth the fight and I thank you. Sincerely.

Lessons for my Children

Along with that democracy comes the expectation to listen. We vote for people to represent us. We like to throw around the phrase “Every Vote Counts” and then ignore people outside of ballot numbers. A few things I hope to teach my children emerging from this election:

  • If someone expresses that they feel unsafe or scared, our first response should NEVER be “get over it” or “you’re making a big deal about nothing.” Our first response should be “how can I help?” or “You’re safe with me.” Maybe we’ve never felt threatened. That doesn’t make their threat any less real. (I will be wearing a safety pin to represent this. Maybe it will mean nothing. Maybe it will comfort one person feeling alone. I’m going to take that chance.)
  • Stories need to be told. If I only listen to the group of people with a very similar background or ideology, I learn nothing new. You wouldn’t come up to Alaska and just know how to mush dogs or dipnet. You would learn from a local. Everyone has knowledge and talents that we don’t. We can learn from them. More voices = more knowledge.
  • Humans relate best based on human need. We spend too much of our interactions arguing about things like politics where we struggle to find common ground. Can we hug? Everyone needs that. Can we share a meal? Everyone needs that. Can we play a game with a kid? Every kid needs that. Can we be kind? Every heart speaks kindness.
  • My son needs to be a champion for women in this world and know what toxic language exists and how to change it. And my daughters need to know that they are strong and capable and fierce and that’s not only okay, it’s wonderful. They can stand up for themselves and be a voice in this world. They may need to shout a bit louder, but they shouldn’t stop trying to shout.

On Wednesday, I sent my kids to school with a charge to be extra nice. I give that same charge to you grown-ups. It’s okay to hurt. I’m here. No one should apologize for how they feel. We should just try to be aware. Before you speak, listen. Before you judge, hug.

You people are the best people. I know it. I’ve read your comments of encouragement and love. The world needs that now (no matter what your political views). The world needs your goodness.

Go, friends. Be the light.

Love, Maggie


early retirement

The Blessings of Freedom (Repost)

Today’s post is a repost from last year when the blog was brand new and had a handful of readers (hi Mr. T!). We’ve returned from overseas and are now in Oregon at the same family reunion we were at last year. I’m reposting this because I think it’s an important topic and I feel like it’s worth repeating to new readers. We’re lucky and we know it. Happy Independence Day, friends. Our June plan update will be coming at you on Wednesday! Stay tuned!

Every 4th of July my large extended family meets at the Oregon Coast for a big family reunion. The kids perform, the adults chat, and everybody eats. A lot. The dessert table is spread as full as the food table (Mmmm… Peanut Butter Balls!). It’s a glorious occasion that has been happening for about seventy years. The event begins with a parade through the room of the kids with tiny American flags while we sing patriotic songs. Because of this tradition, the 4th of July has always been an important holiday to me. It is a celebration of family, freedom, and the country in which we enjoy those things.

This year, I thought about this early retirement journey we just embarked upon, and how these blessings in our lives allow us to do that. The reality is that early retirement is not attainable for a lot of people.

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Gratitude: An Antidote for Temporal Discounting?


Everybody is impatient to some degree. When it comes to money, we want money now. We want to spend money now. This economic impatience is called temporal discounting. In short, temporal discounting means that we value $50 today over $50 tomorrow and it’s one of the main reasons most people don’t have enough money to retire. The ability to overcome temporal discounting would be considered an economic super power! You would be the world’s greatest saver! Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to overcome temporal discounting entirely, but there are ways to lessen its impacts.

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Research Says: Be Grateful!

English writer G. K. Chesterton penned: “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” 

If you are capable of thankful thoughts, you are elevating your thinking to its highest possible form. And “happiness doubled by wonder” sounds like a pretty great state to achieve. There are no downsides to being grateful. It helps you keep perspective of what you have already and stop wanting more. Gratitude fills the void of want.

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