Denali Northern Expenditure

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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.

Scheduled Unproductivity

Scheduled Unproductivity

I’ve often heard the sentiment: “How do you do it all? You have three kids, a blog, and you work part-time from home.” My initial response is: “If I give off the impression that I’ve totally got it all figured out, I must be really good at lying!” Next, I say, “my secret to success is television!”

No, wait! Come back! I’ll explain better…

Everyone wants to be more productive (including me!). I’ve read all sorts of things that can help productivity, and some of them work for me:

Europe on $10 a day

Europe for $10/Day (in 1977): Part 2

You guys, isn’t my mom the coolest? If you missed Part One of her adventures, check those out. The story continues today right where we left off on Monday:


It can be expensive attending concerts and visiting museums and art galleries, but isn’t that what Europe and England are all about? I had a long list of classical essentials, but our first cultural experience was a foray into The Sound of Music. The first day in the gorgeous city of Salzburg, we walked down to the old part of the city and looked for a tram to take us to the majestic castle on the hill. We kept walking up – up this path and finally figured we were walking up to the castle without paying to ride the tram. The castle gave us a beautiful view of Salzburg
so we walked around the courtyard.

Europe on $10 a day

Europe for $10/Day (in 1977): Part 1

I’m super excited today to introduce my very own mother! As Mr. T and I were planning our travels, my mom found her journal from her backpacking trip through Europe in 1977 and starting telling me crazy stories. I told her she just had to write some up! So today, while Mr. T and I are off doing our own (less crazy) traveling and while my mother is busy chasing my three children around the Oregon Coast, enjoy reading her perspective about what inexpensive travel was like without the variety of travel resources we have today! 

I grew up in a tiny town on the coast – nice enough, but rainy and windy in the winter and drizzly and windy in the summer. For some reason, no one ever seemed to want to leave this place; not in my family anyway. I wanted to go to Europe. That meant two things to me: The Eiffel Tower in Paris of which I owned a poster. It was the first thing I put on the wall in my Freshman dorm room at the state college. The other thing it meant was Dickens and AustenThackeray and Eliot. I was crazy about 19th century English literature and I wanted to be in those bucolic places described in those novels. Of course, in Dickens case, it was squalid more than bucolic, but that meant London and as I became a teenager, I was very keen to be in
London. Who wasn’t in the 1970’s?

Travel Hacking to London and Paris

Travel Hacking from Anchorage Alaska to London & Paris

On Monday, we shared our quick guide to conservative travel hacking. Since we’re all about sharing our numbers here on the blog, I want to break down how much we spent on airfare and lodging for our current trip to the UK and Paris.


Total Cost: $1007.36

Conservative Travel Hacking

Conservative Travel Hacking

Late tonight, Mr. T and I fly to the UK to celebrate our tenth anniversary! We’ll spend 2.5 weeks driving around the UK, fly to Paris for the last three days, and then fly back to pick up our children. We have awesome posts lined up while we are away, so don’t be a stranger. If we’re slow on reading/responding to comments, I promise we will catch up upon our return. The comments are one of our favorite parts of blogging, so please share your thoughts even though the response may be quite delayed! And be sure to follow us on Twitter if you want to know what we’re up to!

While we’re off and away, I think it’s time we shared how we travel hack conservatively. I’ve been interested in travel hacking for years, but I only found sources churning 4-12 credit cards every three months and doing something called manufactured spend. Then I found the ultimate travel hacker resource for every level of travel hacker: Brad and Alexi and their FREE Travel Miles 101 Course (not an affiliate link, but I highly recommend signing up if you are interested at all in travel hacking). Alexi is a heavy credit card churner while Brad churns only a few cards a year and they teach you everything (earning money on the credit card sign-ups through their affiliate links).

Commencement speech

My Graduation Commencement Address

This week is high school graduation week up here in Anchorage, so I decided to take Steve’s (Think Save Retire) challenge to write a commencement address to college graduates. And now, we will hear from Maggie Banks (round of applause):

Hello Students! Take a minute to look around. There are a lot of you. You’ll notice you’re all sitting together and you’re all wearing the same thing and at the end of this speech, you’ll each get the very same piece of paper. Despite this moment of convergence, each of your paths to this precise moment have been completely different. Some of you barely made it to this moment. You took out loans. You worked. You studied. You pulled those grades up. You retook that class. And you did it. You’re here! For others, the path was easier. The cost of college wasn’t a huge burden and you’re graduating without debt. Finances aside, maybe you breezed through classes and this day came only at the end of a series of accomplishments.

Choose Your Own Airplane Adventure

I travel several times a year with my family, but very rarely do I travel on an airplane alone. When I go with the family, I usually spend the majority of the time paranoid about making sure my kids are the best-behaved on the plane so we don’t get dirty looks.* I traveled by myself for work last week. As I was packing my bag, I tried to decide which book to throw in. This was a big decision. The book you pick is the equivalent of a Choose Your Own Airplane Adventure. The book starts the path. I thought about the choices and my response to the question I would inevitably get: “What are you reading? Anything good?”

The Financial Independence Anthem

We’re big fans of They Might Be Giants. They make catchy, intelligent children’s music. My kids were listening to one of their favorite CDs by They Might be Giants, Here Come the 1,2,3sThe Seven Days of the Week song came on and we all started singing loudly. I realized this is it. This is the Financial Independence Anthem. It’s about never going to work and living a dream. Maybe your dream is to play the trumpet. When you reach Financial Independence, you can practice all day every day so Sunday you play best! “Oh no, no I never go to work…”

Fight Back by Changing the Rules

“Think back to your days on the playground. There was always a big bully and countless victims, but there was also that one small kid who fought like hell, thrashing and swinging for the fences. He or she might not have won, but after one or two exhausting exchanges, the bully chose not to bother him or her. It was easier to find someone else. Be that kid.” – Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek

I love this sentiment. Being a fighter is a great way to survive, but so is getting out of the situation entirely. I changed the rules. 

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