There are hundreds of new apps that purport to make our lives better, but sometimes it’s hard to wade through and figure out which are really worth incorporating.
That’s why I wanted to share a couple of apps and browser extensions that I’ve been using lately that are awesome.
Unroll Me is a free service that cleans up your inbox. I get a lot of subscription emails from LinkedIn, my local hardware store, the National Council of English Teachers, etc. These are emails that I don’t want to unsubscribe from, because the information they contain might be useful. But it mostly clutters up my inbox (there should be an “appropriate amount of emails to send weekly” course for these stores!). This brilliant service allows you to either unsubscribe from or “roll up” the emails you don’t want to hit your inbox. Continue reading “My Favorite Online Tools to Save Time and Money”
When Mr. ThreeYear and I decided to turn our financial lives around in 2008, we had a lot to learn. When we first started to budget, we wasted tons of money on what we now consider unnecessary expenses (things like alarm systems, cable, and yard service).
We were living in Atlanta at the time, and the dominant culture in that city can be a bit… showy. Since public transportation is limited there, as it’s one of the most spread-out metropolitan areas in the country, cars are a must. And one of the most popular Atlanta pastimes seems to be car one-upmanship. There was even a Lexus Lot at Turner Field, so that Lexus owners could park their cars in an exclusive lot much closer to the field. We were driving a BMW and an Acura at the time (although they were both very used), even though we had debt.
Then we moved to New England and we were exposed to a completely different culture. In the rural New England hamlet where we live, people like to say that they’re of hardy stock. After all, you have to be tough to brave seven months of snow, mud season, and the fierce weather that characterizes the very northeastern-most region of the country. Natives of this region are often seen in January in nothing more than plaid shirts, jeans, and boots, with temperatures in the teens (that’s roughly -10 for you users of Celsius).Continue reading “Planing Our Way to Frugality”
On our journey to financial independence, most of us know by now that we need to spend less than we earn and invest the difference. There is no magic formula for building wealth, other than focus, restraint, and patience.
Or is there?
It’s been said that personal finance is 90% behavioral. For our family, that was definitely true. We understood the how of personal finance pretty quickly, and in fact, the more we simplified, the better results we had. Pay off debt, max out retirement accounts, invest in low-fee index funds. The why of personal finance was much more difficult. It’s been much harder to curb our desire to spend in the here and now for such a distant goal. Continue reading “Our Secret Weapon Towards Financial Independence”
It’s May! At last, in New Hampshire, flowers are starting to bloom. The trees are changing colors–light greens and yellows, deep reds, are starting to emerge in the vast forests along the interstate. It’s the time of year to be out in nature, to rejoice in the sunshine and the promise of warmth. It’s also a time when it’s easy to get distracted from your financial goals, to let the warmth and ease of summer melt away the self-discipline and resolve needed to make it through winter. (Figurative winter, we’re talking about. Spring is a time, apparently, when I wax poetic).
In this great big world of ours, we have many options. We could live virtually anywhere. So why don’t we? Why is it that we get trapped in a city we don’t really care for, doing a job that’s not our favorite, fulfilling the expectations that society has for us, but that aren’t our own?
I have a friend who’s lived all over the world. She has lived on four continents in the fifteen years that I’ve known her. And yet even she and her family are debating where to live next, now that she’s tied to a job in Europe when their home was in Asia. Should they stay in Asia? Should they move to Europe? What would be best for her husband’s business? What would be best for their daughter?
During our three year experiment, one of our goals is to get our house ready for sale. To that end, we asked a realtor to visit last month and give her opinion of what needs to be done to make the house ready. It turns out, a lot. But the good news is, we have time to tackle all of these projects slowly, so we’ll be able to do a lot of the work ourselves.
We have officially completed the first quarter of the year! We’re calling this year, which is Year One of our family’s plan to reach location independence, the Year of Good Habits. Each month, I focus on improving or developing one new habit. Sometimes the habits are directly related to personal finance and sometimes they’re related to general self-improvement. At the end of each month, I have been continuing the last month’s habit (or trying to) and adding a new habit in. (But, just for totally transparency, I would not recommend starting so many new habits in one year for the average person. This is more an experiment for the blog. In real life, I try to add in one or two new habits a year).
“It’s simple. You just take something, and then you do something to it. Then you do something else to it. And then something else. Keep this up and pretty soon you’ve got something.”
-Jasper Johns, Twentieth century American artist (who, incidentally, grew up near my hometown)
Continuous improvement is an idea that comes from the business world. After World War II, Japanese manufacturers invited W. Edwards Deming, an American engineer, professor, and management consultant, to their country to help them improve their manufacturing and production processes. Before the war, Japan was synonymous with cheap goods and shoddy craftsmanship. Deming taught leaders that improving the quality of their products would reduce expenses while increasing productivity and market share.
In 1982, Deming published a book, Out of the Crisis, outlining his philosophy. “Long-term commitment to new learning and new philosophy is required of any management that seeks transformation. The timid and the fainthearted, and the people that expect quick results, are doomed to disappointment.” Continue reading “On Continuous Improvement”
About three years ago, I was talking to a friend about training for a half marathon. “I would really love to finally run a sub-two (13.1 miles in under 2 hours),” I told him, “like [our other running friends.] But I’m just so slow!” “You have to run your own race,” he told me.
I’m going to spend each month of this year focused on building one new good habit to help our familyachieve our goal of location independence, doubling our net worth, and moving abroad in three short years. This month, I’ll be focused on setting tomorrow’s top three goals.