Denali Northern Expenditure

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Save Money on a Legal Will

Save Money on Your Legal Will

Mr. T and I finished the whole estate-planning process just before leaving on our grand adventure (follow us on Twitter for trip updates!). On Monday, we outlined considerations for making a will. Today we’re going to talk about how to save money on making one. This is expensive stuff we’re talking about! And today we’re going to cover how to save money on a legal will. I’m not an attorney, so obviously don’t take this as legal advice. This is just my observations based on my experiences and research on the matter. Mr. T and I used a lawyer to draft up our legal wills, powers of attorney, and advanced health directives (a total of 6 documents). The legal fees? $1,895! Yikes! That’s more than it cost for all of our plane tickets for the trip we’re on! Here are 5 ways to do it for less:

Drafting a Will

Decisions to Make Before Drafting a Will

Our three-week trip away from our children forced Mr. T and I to finally kick into gear and make a legal will (you know, because planes falling out of the sky are actually a thing these days!). We always knew we needed one, but it seemed so daunting! Well, guys, we did it. It is done. And now I’m here to help you through doing the same thing. Obviously, I’m no lawyer or financial advisor, so don’t go around thinking this is legal or financial advice. I’m just here to help you with the first step: thinking through most of the things you’ll need to consider before drafting your own will.

Two months ago, Mr. T and I said: “We leave in a month. We need a basic will, an advanced health directive, and a legal power of attorney. Where do we start?” This, my friends, is the list of where you should start. Today, we will take you through the large list of decisions that need to be made before you’re even ready to start the documents! Ready? Here we go:

Relativity - Minneapolis Cherry Spoonbridge

Financial Relativity (Your Experience is Not Mine)

What is Relativity?

In physics, the basic definition of relativity is that physical phenomena are highly dependent upon the position (motion, etc) of the observer.

I was in Minneapolis recently for work. It was a super windy day with 40-50 mph gusts. It was the worst airplane landing I had ever experienced with the plane violently rocking back and forth and up and down right up until touchdown. The wind made the trunk lid slam into my head as I was putting my luggage in the trunk. I headed to Trader Joe’s to buy my imports. As I was checking out, the lady said: “Isn’t it a lovely day? Every day is a lovely day when you don’t live in Duluth!” Hilarious, right? Except I sort of didn’t get it because I’ve never been to Duluth. I’m assuming this is similar to us (in Anchorage) saying in the middle of winter: “At least it’s not Fairbanks!” (which is probably lost on YOU, dear reader!).

Kaleidoscope

Designing Our Kaleidoscope

Last month, Harmony over at Creating My Kaleidoscope, offered a challenge to design your own Kaleidoscope. In short, the challenge is to discuss what you see when you look at your future through your kaleidoscope and how you’ll get there. Since I’m a planner and a schemer, I love this idea, but I also love the imagery she’s created. There is a big difference between a telescope and a kaleidoscope. The telescope allows us to see things that are far away close up. Through the telescope, we can see details as if we were right there. Through the kaleidoscope, you see something that isn’t really there. Most kaleidoscopes show just color and shape and when you turn it, those colors and shapes dance and change and create something that wasn’t there before. In some kaleidoscopes, you can actually see what is on the other end of it, but through a distorted, fragmented lens. You might be able to see a face. Sometimes 30 images of the same face. And sometimes, when you turn it, the face disappears completely.

Little feet

The 4-Year Potential

Two weeks ago, we did some recalculations and came up with three potential plans. The two plans that would allow us both money AND freedom would take significantly longer than four years. The really lofty goal date on our blog is 2022, which is 6 years away. So what’s the big deal with 4 years? As the school year wraps up, the temporary state of Penny’s childhood is weighing heavy on my mind. In 4 years, Penny will be done with elementary school. Based strictly on our calculations, by the end of May 2020, we expect to find ourselves with a paid-off house and $321,000 in investments. Those numbers won’t get us close to financial independence. And freedom in that plan would mean continuing on our current path for the next four years and then just quitting to be irresponsible for a bit! But looking back on our historical 4-year accomplishments, in all likelihood, stagnation isn’t an option.

When Money and Love Don’t Mix

I read a lot about healthcare for my job and one thing that keeps coming up is that we’re terrible at making rational decisions about our loved ones. It’s easy to have a discussion about end-of-life care and how trying everything, no matter how expensive, is ridiculous for someone in her eighties. I don’t want to live or die like that. But when it’s your own mother, the story changes. If you’re the one that has to make the choice about pulling the plug on the breathing tube, everything changes. Understandably!

Lessons from Decluttering Everything

We did it! We have successfully touched every single thing in our house. I have taken 6 loads to the thrift store. Everything left in our home has a place to go. We spent this weekend double checking all the rooms, dusting, vacuuming, changing sheets, and mopping. I can tell you that my house is really and truly cleaned and organized for the first time ever and it feels amazing. I’ve written updates on organizing clothes, books, and the bathrooms and kitchen. Tackling decluttering for real was life-changing. Here are a few things I learned along the way:

Pay Your Kids and Put them to Work!

Let me preface this post by saying I don’t have this parenting thing figured out. I yell at my kids sometimes and I can’t get them to clean their rooms. But I do know one thing: Kids want to earn money.

Think about it. When you were a kid, do you remember how much that random check was from your aunt and uncle for Christmas? I don’t. (Checks were weird!) Do you remember that hard-earned $10. Absolutely.

What Does: “I Can’t Afford it” Actually Mean?

Stop Saying “I Can’t Afford It”!

I am often uneasy with the phrase “I can’t afford it,” especially with my children. This phrase is used to mean so many different things. In some scenarios, it means “We literally couldn’t scrape enough money to buy that even with credit cards, payday loans, or selling plasma.” For us, we use this when the kids say something ridiculous like “I wish we lived in that mansion on the beach in Hawaii.” With our incomes, there is no possible way to make that happen. No bank would give us that loan and we do not have enough assets and investments to sell everything to make it happen. Thinking you can afford something when you can’t is also dangerous.

Other times, “We can’t afford it” means someone that has a cash-only mindset. It disregards putting the purchase on credit cards or taking out any loans (payday or otherwise). This example would be a new couch or car for someone that doesn’t have enough cash saved up to pay cash for the purchase. Then there’s the “we can’t afford it” because that money is allocated elsewhere. This is the one we’re most cautious about. By all previous definitions, we can afford it. We have enough cash to make it happen, (and can track it all with our free Personal Capital account) but we choose not to buy another car because we (already have two and three would be ridiculous) would rather save that money to retire early. For my young children, it is often unclear which definition people are using. I’ve realized that most of the time, the kids hear the very first definition: we literally don’t have enough money to make that happen no matter what we do.

Northern Expenditure Retirement Soundbite

Happy Monday everyone! I hope your weekend was pie-filled and celebratory in meaningful ways. This Monday we’re doing something a bit different. Steve over at Think Save Retire issued a challenge to record a one-minute retirement sound bite. He posted an example (so fun to hear voices!). I started recording mine and suddenly it became a full afternoon of recording all the kids being crazy. Laughter ensued. While I cut most of that out to stay close to one minute, the family is all present. Enjoy our voices and we’ll be back to normal on Wednesday with our November plan update!

(music from Bensound.com)

Retirement Soundbite

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