Gratitude Turns What We Have Into Enough

On my walk yesterday, I listened to a Mad Fientist podcast.  Brandon (The Mad Fientist) interviewed Ali and Joe who went from $0 net worth to retirement in five years–on teacher’s salaries.

It was an interesting chat about how they bought single family rental homes in Las Vegas–dollar cost averaging in as the real estate market tanked.  Then they diversified their portfolio by buying rental properties in other locations and now they are rounding out their portfolio with stock index funds.  They quit their jobs, sold everything and their passive income stream supports their life of international travel.

But here’s what really struck me.  They were so grateful for what they had that it didn’t seem right to wish for more.  So grateful to be living on about 30% of their earnings–remember, teacher’s salaries so not much. Continue reading “Gratitude Turns What We Have Into Enough”

The Perfect Gift Policy

Until a few years ago, I would stress out as Christmas approached.  I would make my list and spend the last few months of the year trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on my list.

We live about 3 hours away from our family so we would organize gifts by family or friend, load up the back of our car and off we would go.  When we got to house #1, we’d empty most of the car so gifts wouldn’t freeze or be stolen.  We’d then have a celebration with that family member or friend and stay the night.  The next morning, we’d load the car back up, go to house #2, repeat, go to house #3, repeat. . . .

We would come home exhausted with the back of the car filled to the brim with gifts we received.

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How can something so simple be so damn hard?

Succeeding at money boils down to this:  Spend Less Than You Earn.

That’s it, simple right?

If you do this one thing well, you are on your way to your fantastic future.

If you want to improve that future, you can either:

Earn More or

Spend Less

Or you can do both

In the blogosphere, there is an earn more crowd (hello my entrepreneurial, side hustle friends!) and there’s a save more crowd (hello my frugal friends!).

Whichever approach feels right to you, the important thing is to grow the gap between what you earn and what you spend.  This not only allows you to save or pay down debt now but it also decreases the amount of savings needed to fund your future dreams. Continue reading “How can something so simple be so damn hard?”

On Lifting Ourselves Up

We had an amazing sunrise this morning.  As I was doing my morning stretching, the sky kept changing and I had to keep running outside to take another picture.  The first trip outside brought a bonus–I had startled a deer that was in my yard.

It was a beautiful reminder that each day is new.  Each day we are given a brand new opportunity to get it right.  Whatever we are working on, we get a clean slate each day.  If we made choices that did not serve us well yesterday, today is a chance to make better ones.

We need to stop beating ourselves up for yesterday’s mistakes and start lifting ourselves up to prepare for today.

Today I am going to be intentional about how I spend my money.
Today I am going to fuel my body with healthful food.
Today I am going to enjoy moving my body.
Today I am going to be completely present and engaged with my friends.
Today I am going to be grateful for the life I have.

What else would you add?

 

For Investing, You Must Know Yourself

Over a quarter of my net worth is from investment growth and at least 15% is from real estate growth.  So 40% of the wealth that allowed me to retire didn’t come from working and saving, it just came from taking some risk and letting my money work for me.

I already admitted I’m not an investing genius and I was my own worst enemy when I thought I was.

The most important thing with investing is to know yourself.  What level of risk are you comfortable with?  When will you need this money?  How will you behave in a market downturn?  There are lots of risk tolerance tools out there, this one from Vanguard is a good one.  When you complete this questionnaire, be sure to think about how you will behave, not how you should behave.

Continue reading “For Investing, You Must Know Yourself”

Three Things My Lexus Taught Me

I made a mistake in my early 30’s and bought a Lexus.

I LOVED that car, it was like driving a couch it was so comfortable.  I admit it, I also loved what that car said about me–I was successful, I had arrived.

We paid cash for that car–but I say we because Mr. Ms. Liz loaned me the money for it, interest free (we keep our money separate).

The Lexus taught me that my things should enable me to live the life I want.

Sometimes fancy things get in the way of life.

Continue reading “Three Things My Lexus Taught Me”

Make Room for Your Dreams

Sunrise.JPGOur most precious resource is our time.  We don’t know how many healthy, active years we have been given so every hour, every minute and every second is precious.

When we work, we trade our most precious resource, time, for money.

If your work provides other benefits to you like personal growth, fellowship and satisfaction, that enhances the trade.

If your work comes with negatives like long commutes, crappy people, lack of balance with personal needs, and excess stress, that weakens the trade.

Many of us trade our time for money and keep none of that money for ourselves.  So we’ve traded our most precious resource for . . . nothing.

Continue reading “Make Room for Your Dreams”

Money, Time or Food?

I’ve rarely met someone who is terrible at managing their money, their time and their food.  Typically, we’re pretty good at managing at least one of these.

So if you are talented at managing one of these, how do you do it and can this knowledge be applied to one you struggle with?

I’m really good at managing my money.  But it doesn’t come effortlessly.  I make a plan for my money (budget), I record how I spend my money (track) and I compare how I spent my money to my original plan (variance).  I also calculate my net worth each month and compare that to my planned net worth from my budget.  Each time I make a decision about spending money, I think “is this worth it?”  “Is this worth it” means, do I have it in my budget, is it a necessity or will it make me so happy I’ll remember it next week, next month or next year.

Continue reading “Money, Time or Food?”

Planning to Work in Retirement?

Seven of ten Americans plan to work in retirement.  This is according to a recent Washington Post article based on a bankrate.com survey.

That sounds fantastic – Americans are envisioning an active, vibrant retirement!

But, when you read further, six in 10 plan to work because they need the money. What is even scarier, most retirees who plan to work cannot either due to their own failing health, the failing health of a loved one, or their inability to find work. OUCH.

Save as if you won’t work in retirement.  If you decide to work that’s great but make sure it is by choice, not by necessity.

Continue reading “Planning to Work in Retirement?”

Retirement, the First Four Months, A Report Card

Before I retired, I compiled a list of things to get done.  I ran across that list today so I’m ready to issue a report card on my first four months of retirement.

The list included boring things like cleaning out the kitchen cupboards, fridge, closets and car, pesky office tasks like comparing the rewards on my credit cards, switching my outlook to gmail, researching the best HSA account administrator and getting our printer/scanner to work.

It also included restorative things like daily exercise, eating clean, reading and meditation or stretching.

So, how am I doing?

Continue reading “Retirement, the First Four Months, A Report Card”