5 Money Moves We’re Making Before the End of the Year

While we’re still over a month-and-a-half from the end of the year, we know that soon, December 31st will be upon us, so the ThreeYears are currently working on end-of-the-year money moves to make sure our finances are in good shape.

5 Money Moves We're Making Before the End of the Year--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Here’s what we’re doing to close this year out:

1. Contribute as much as possible to my i401k

Since I’m self-employed, I have an i401k (if you’re interested in the particulars of opening one, read this post). I am playing catch-up with my contributions since we had so many cash goals that we funded with my income this year. So, in the final quarter of the year, and in the first quarter of next year (or at least until we file our taxes), I’ll be contributing a lot to my 401K. Even though the market is high now, I don’t want to miss the tax contributions of these contributions. I estimate we’ll save several thousand dollars on our taxes if I reach my contribution goal for the year.

2. Fulfill our outstanding financial obligations

We’ve got a few outstanding financial obligations, including completing our yearly pledge with our church. We usually wait and pay the majority of our pledge in the fourth quarter of the year, when our cash flow’s better (as a teacher, I don’t get paid in the summer and it takes a month or so after school starts to begin getting paid, so our income rises in October, November, and December).

I also have to pay my fourth quarter taxes for income earned from September through December. I have until January 16th, 2018, to file the taxes, but I’ll probably go ahead and pay what I estimate I’ll owe before the end of the year. I set aside 20% of my income as it comes in, in my business account, so that money is ready to send in anytime I decide to pay the bill. Continue reading “5 Money Moves We’re Making Before the End of the Year”

Effort, Achievement, and FI

As educators, wrote an article I recently read, we must teach our students the relationship between effort and achievement. That is to say, there is a direct correlation between the effort we expend on a particular endeavor and the likelihood that we’ll have success in said endeavor.

Effort, Achievement, and FI--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

This may sound like a basic concept, but, like so many basic concepts, once you take a minute to unpack it, it has profound implications.

The more effort I put into something, the more likely I am to have good results. 

Many times, I water that advice down in my head. I pretend there’s not a direct correlation between my level of effort and my achievements: “I’ll just run three times this week instead of four. I’ll skip the mid-range run.” Every time I skip a mid-range 6-mile run, my longer 10-12 mile run is super painful and I’m slower. Over an entire training period, that means I’ll run (even) slower on race day.

“I’m tired, so I’ll wake up at 6am instead of 5am. I can still write a blog post.” That’s when I publish 2 posts per week, not three. Over time, I notice my page views slipping and readership going down.

“I’ll just wing it in class, instead of preparing a lesson plan for the week. I can prep before class each day.” My classes are not as good, I’m scrambling for activities to fill the time, and over time, my students don’t make as much progress learning English.

The truth is, consistent, daily effort pays off. It pays off in life, and it pays off (literally) when you’re working towards financial independence.

Making More Money

In the past two and a half years, I have expended a great deal of effort towards my new career–ESOL Teacher. When I started teaching in September of 2015, I knew very little about teaching English. I worked very hard to network with other teachers, observe their lessons, ask questions, and take copious notes. I started a Master’s Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, and many nights and weekends were spent reading, on our online classroom, or in class, an hour and a half away. Continue reading “Effort, Achievement, and FI”

Goal Setting, Rat Racers, and Happiness: What’s the Magic Balance?

Goals are great, right? They help us focus, give us purpose, and give us something to work for. But, there can be a dark underbelly of too much goal setting.

When you set a goal in your life, especially a goal for financial independence, it’s easy to let it take over your life. Sometimes, we get so caught up in what’s next that we forget about what’s now. We’re so focused on our future happiness (because why else are we setting the goal, after all?) that we forget about our present happiness. So what’s the magic balance?

Goal Setting, Rat Racers, and Happiness: What's the Magic Balance?--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

I read a book this weekend that brought the idea of getting too caught up in the future into clear focus.

The author, Tal Ben-Shahar, who wrote the book Happier, has come up with a quadrant of four archetypes for how people approach happiness.

Hedonists

Some people enjoy the present, to their future detriment. They live for the moment, indulging in rich food and drink that will later cause weight gain and fatigue. They engage in behaviors that bring them pleasure now, like watching TV, with little regard to future costs, like not having their work done. These people he calls Hedonists. 

Rat Racers

The second archetype subordinates the present for the future. She goes through life thinking, “I’ll work hard and get good grades now, so I can go to a good college.” Then in college, she does the same thing, in order to get a good job. She secures a job she doesn’t like, just to make a lot of money and buy fancy cars and houses. She subjugates her present happiness, year after year, for some mythical future happiness that never arrives. This type of person he calls a Rat Racer.  Continue reading “Goal Setting, Rat Racers, and Happiness: What’s the Magic Balance?”

August Net Worth Update

If you’re just joining, our family of four is on a three-year journey to double our net worth and become location independent so we can move. Each month(ish), I’ll keep you apprised of our progress. This year, we’ve got some major goals, including paying off our outstanding debt (car and apartment in Chile), replacing our roof, AND saving around $70,000. As of July, we were roughly 20% of the way to doubling our net worth.

We are now in September. School has started, my work has started, and we have weathered the transition pretty well, for being a week and a half in. I’ve focused on making our morning routine for school better, and so far it’s been great. Both our boys have focus medication they take, so I’ve started giving it to them right as they wake up. Then, it has time to kick in and they can actually get their clothes on, come down to eat breakfast, and get their teeth brushed without a zillion reminders, getting distracted with Legos, or staring off into space for half an hour. Better yet, I’m not yelling at them all morning.

August Net Worth Update--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

That may sound like crazy talk to people who don’t have kids with attention problems, but it’s our reality. I was talking to a teacher this morning, and she (who also has ADHD) said she noticed the kids in her class whose parents yelled in the morning. “Anytime I raise my voice in the slightest,” she said, “they’ll reflectively wince, like they’re hyper-attuned to yelling.” I gulped. I’ve seen my kids do that in the past. Hurts my heart that I was yelling that much. But I’m so grateful that we’ve changed things up, and they’re taking their medicine earlier. They’re able to get dressed, get their breakfast, brush their teeth, and pack their bags, with minimal reminders. And they’re so proud of themselves. With zero yells and lots of “great job this morning!” It feels so awesome. So my fingers are crossed that our mornings keep going so well.

Summer flew by. August was a relaxed month. Each kid had one week of camp, and we spent our days outside, enjoying the summer, inside, putzing around the house, and visiting friends and family. I never wanted the summer to end, but it did, and everyone has reluctantly returned to a steady routine.

Each time summer ends, I’m reminded why location independence is so appealing. While we love routines, and I think we’d enjoy a routine in a new place, having the freedom to explore, visit with family, and plan our days in the moment is a beautiful way to live. Routine weighs us down. Summer lightens us up, gives us travel wings.

Water wings--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Summer gives you water wings… um, I mean, travel wings.

Speaking of wings, we booked our flights to Santiago this weekend. So we’re officially booked for South America during Christmas and New Year’s. We’re debating whether to AirBnB our house while we’re gone, as a way to earn some extra spending money for the trip.

August brought us a small up-tick in our net worth. Our Personal Capital Net Worth is actually showing higher than our own Excel spreadsheet, since Zillow has decided to increase the value of our house significantly in the last few weeks. I don’t know if it’s the new roof we put on or an increase in the local market (I suspect it’s the latter) but they’ve upped the Zestimate of our house by about 5%. I’m ignoring it, though, as I only update our house and car estimates at the beginning of each year.

Continue reading “August Net Worth Update”

July Net Worth Update

If you’re just joining, our family of four is on a three-year journey to double our net worth and become location independent so we can move. Each month(ish), I’ll keep you apprised of our progress. This year, we’ve got some major goals, including paying off our outstanding debt (car and apartment in Chile), replacing our roof, AND saving around $70,000. As of June, we were roughly 18% of the way to doubling our net worth.

August has arrived. The ThreeYear family has been reunited, after the boys and I were away for the month of July in North and South Carolina. New England has a decidedly cool, rainy bent this month and, to my utter frustration (repeated every year at this time), tops of the trees are starting to change colors, and little red leaves are falling down all over my driveway. “I’m not ready for fall!” I always think, but it is coming, nevertheless.

The month of July was fantastic, in terms of deepening family relationships and making lifetime memories. It was not fantastic in terms of spending less and saving more, as I’d hoped. Our income always drops in the summers, since I’m not teaching, and while we were away, we spent a lot more than normal on eating out. Plus, we had the other half of our new roof to pay for. Still, thanks to the bull market that just won’t quit, our net worth continued northwards.

July Net Worth Update--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

 

Continue reading “July Net Worth Update”

June Net Worth Update

If you’re just joining, our family of four is on a three-year journey to double our net worth and become location independent so we can move abroad. Each month, I’ll keep you apprised of our progress. This year, we’ve got some major goals, including paying off our outstanding debt (car and apartment in Chile), replacing our roof, AND saving around $70,000. As of April, we were roughly 16.5% of the way to doubling our net worth.

It’s now mid-summer (sigh! can summer go a bit more slowly, please?). The junior ThreeYears and I are currently on a month-long road trip in the Southeastern US, visiting family, and Mr. ThreeYear just flew back to New Hampshire, having joined us at the beach for a lovely, sun-burned week.

June Net Worth--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Part of Mr. ThreeYear’s plans upon return will be overseeing the replacement of our roof. Unfortunately, our thirteen-year-old roof had defective shingles, and so must be replaced. For most of April and May, we priced out having new roofs put on, having previously exhausted our options of using the warranty (it was invalid since we were the second owners of the home) and seeing what the builders of our home would do (nothing). All over our little town, homeowner after homeowner is having to replace his or her roof earlier than expected because of this particular brand of defective shingles. Our freeze/thaw climate is very hard on shingles, and this brand did not pass muster.

That “little” purchase, which we’ve been saving for all year, and will cost, all told, $14,000, was big enough that our net worth was negatively affected. While we didn’t count the money we’d saved toward the roof in our net worth calculations, we did have to take some money out of savings, which meant our number dipped down, very slightly, from the month before.

Continue reading “June Net Worth Update”

Mid-year Goals Update

July is here, which means we’ve officially finished six months of 2017. (Happy Fourth of July week to all you US readers out there!).

How’s your year going so far? Our family is currently on an extended road trip/family visit in the Southeastern United States, so I’m logging in “from the road.”

Mid-Year Goals Update--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Earlier this year, I shared our 2017 goals for this year. We’re on a three year journey to double our net worth and become location independent, so we have some pretty specific goals for this year to make that happen. Continue reading “Mid-year Goals Update”

How Other People Can Help You Reach Your Goals

We all need a little help in life. When it comes to staying on track with our goals, friends and partners can make a huge difference in your success rate.

Other People Help Reach Goals--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Running Partners

For example, I’m currently training for a half marathon. It’s a beautiful half marathon that takes you through picturesque New England towns and by gurgling brooks and horse farms, one of the most popular half marathons in the area.  This will be the fifth time I’ve run it and the race is happening weekend after next. I’m a little behind on my training, though.

Yesterday, I needed to run ten miles. The only time I had to do it was before work, which meant I needed to get up at 4:30am and start running at 5am. The night before, Tuesday night, a friend had a get-together. If I had to run those ten miles by myself, with no one to support me or keep me on track, I’m sure I would have stayed way too late at the get-together and would have found a reason not to get up the next morning. Continue reading “How Other People Can Help You Reach Your Goals”

April Net Worth Update

If you’re just joining, our family of four is on a three-year journey to double our net worth and become location independent so we can move abroad. Each month, I’ll keep you apprised of our progress. This year, we’ve got some major goals, including paying off our outstanding debt (car and apartment in Chile), replacing our roof, AND saving around $70,000. As of February, we were 9% of the way to doubling our net worth.

I waited until the end of April to post our net worth update, because, frankly, our March update wasn’t very exciting. Thanks to Mr. ThreeYear’s annual stock “gift,” however, April’s update actually moves our net worth dial. Mr. ThreeYear works for a 100% employee-owned company, and each year, in April, he receives a share of company stock (which is privately owned) equivalent to at least 8% of his base salary. The company is audited each December to set the stock’s yearly price.

Although this is an incredible “gift,” we consider it part of his total compensation, because that is what it effectively is, albeit tax-deductible (for all the ins and outs of how such a plan, called an ESOP, works, head here).   If he were to leave the company, he would need to take equal distributions over 5 years and roll the shares into a retirement account.

Kuchen--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Spending lots of time baking (and eating!) in snowy, cold March.

March and April were rough months for the ThreeYears, ain’t gonna lie. It’s always one of the toughest times of the year for me, living in New England as a transplanted Southern Belle (or, just…Southerner…). March and April are hard-wired into my psyche as a time when the birds are supposed to be chirping, flowers are supposed to be blooming, and snow is definitely NOT supposed to be still falling. Continue reading “April Net Worth Update”

In Praise of Restraint

This week, the ThreeYear Family has had the incredible privilege of spending the week at a swanky island resort. We’ve swum at the lovely resort pools, eaten in delicious restaurants next to a marina filled with forty-foot yachts, and marveled at a collection of world-class cars from around the US–Teslas, Rolls Royces, Land Cruisers, and many German-engineered automobiles.

Seabrook Marina--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

We were able to vacation in such a luxurious setting mostly due to dumb luck (having to do with winning the genetic lottery). Continue reading “In Praise of Restraint”