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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Stay Focused

That's my handsome husband and being with him is my main focus.

Whenever we are transitioning, or just living, it's important to check-in from time-to-time and ask two questions:

  1. What is important to me? 
  2. Am I living to create the life I really want?
These questions are closely related. To live on purpose, #1 informs #2.

"The unexamined life is not worth living." ~ Socrates

After the first month of neither of us having a job, it became vital to reflect on these two questions every single day. 

What's important to you?
By brainstorming, paying attention, journaling, and plenty of time in the woods, I arrived at a conclusion. 

While I wanted financial freedom, fantastic health, friends, a nice house, a reliable car, to eat at restaurants, and to take vacations, these were not at the very top of my list. They impacted decisions and some of these wants are already shifting and changing--like what I'd call a "nice house"--but these values didn't set our course 100%.

More important than anything else, as my husband and I agreed, was to get through this financial situation together, as a team. The rest was gravy.

Set your course.
A sailor mans the wheel to stay on course regardless of the winds and waves life tosses at him. We too man the wheel with frequent talks about where we are and where we're going, always remembering the prime directive: to remain a strong team.

Without a focus, 
the changing winds will drive you off course.

As we navigate these challenging waters, knowing we have an agreed upon focus--not just a destination, but something we enjoy every day--keeps up moving in a direction that aligns with our desires and values. 

It would do us no good to fight over job ideas, paying bills, or where and if to move. If our prime directive is to remain a strong team, then we need to tackle any and all ideas with that in mind. And what  world of difference that makes!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Paradigm Shift

Financial Change

Do you ever have one of those Holy Shit moments? You know the one where you wish you were sitting down before the news hits you.

Well, that happened to us just over a month ago. Mike called from the office. I skidded across the hardwood floors to snatch the phone up and breathlessly said hello followed by some lovey-dovey goofiness that keeps our relationship young.

But something was wrong. He didn't sound right. Even his breathing was all off.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

He was driving home and was no longer employed.

When we moved here two years ago, we had agreed Asheville was a huge job risk. If this one didn't work out, we'd have to move again . . . at least that's what we agreed to two years ago before falling a bit in love with the area and a lot in love with the people here.

Two years later, we've bought a house, spent 4 months and thousands of dollars to fix it up, almost got divorced, dealt with adult depression the first time ever, built a chicken house for almost $1000, and now neither of us have a paying job. Scary. Not as scary as cancer or some other major illness, but scary none-the-less.

Initially we began a job hunt for Mike, because he has a higher earning potential than I do. Then I began looking at ways to keep more money in our home without changing our lifestyle.

When I googled how to save more money, the first article I came across suggested getting rid of electricity as its #1 idea. No thanks! I like my refrigerator and internet far too much to even entertain such an idea. The key was save money without majorly changing our lifestyle.

Next came lots of ideas on ways to spend less: don't buy the fanciest newest gadgets or make your own shampoo. This didn't help at all: my cell phone is so old it has no idea what a "data plan" even is, we don't text, and I haven't bought shampoo in over 5 years.

Then at dinner with our dearest friends, Mr. Money Mustache came up in conversation. I'd read some of his blog posts but hadn't checked him out in the past few years.

Returning to Mr. Money Mustache and reading dozens of posts and comments from readers led me to other sites and other ideas of thinking outside the box. To hell with the box? Why have a box at all?

Paradigm Shift

Thanks to MMM I'm experiencing a paradigm shift. Instead of just asking where can we find another similar job, we're asking if can we retire, can we spend less, would living in another country be an option, could a variety of small jobs provide the same income as the traditional one had?

While changing the question, we change our approach, which has led to several minor shifts:

We are planning on moving our nest egg into Index Funds instead of Target Retirement Funds.

We lowered all of our insurance bills by increasing deductibles and only using insurance for major catastrophes.

I drive slower and coast when I can. Surprisingly, showing up two minutes later has not altered my life.

We changed from US Cellular to Republic Wireless for our phones. This is cutting our monthly cell bill by almost 75%!

Most of all we've told everyone, I mean everyone, what kind of skills we have. This has resulted in all kinds of ideas, from cleaning bed pans to making decent money working remotely on CAD drafting work. While we're passing on the bed pans, the CAD work came in pretty handy.


Never underestimate the power of friends. Not only do they help us emotionally to pull through Holy Shit moments, they have some damn good ideas.

Think outside the box, or just forget the box completely and connect with those who also believe in taking the path less traveled. It might be scary. Then again it might just be what you're looking for.