I Go Crazy During the Holidays

Let me let you in on a little secret–I love the holidays. For me, the time from Thanksgiving through Christmas all the way to the New Year are a time of family, food, and excess.

I Go Crazy During the Holidays--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

That’s right, excess. For Thanksgiving, we eat a ton of food. My fridge is packed for weeks afterwards. We don’t just have one pie. We have three or four. We often have two turkeys–one baked and the other fried. Have you never had a friend turkey? They’re beyond delicious. Crispy skin on the outside, juicy on the inside…

I go a little crazy for Christmas. I love to give gifts and I like to give people nice things. I spend tons of money at Christmas and throw frugality out the window during gift-giving. We way surpass the average American’s holiday spending of $800.

In New Hampshire, we have snowy, white Christmases almost every year, and Thanksgivings are chilly and fallish–just as Thanksgiving is supposed to feel. On Thanksgiving weekend, we put up our Christmas tree, pull out our favorite ornaments, and decorate the whole house. Then, at Christmas break, we wear cozy sweaters and overeat for several days. We spend lazy days with family members, playing in the snow, playing board games, opening presents, and listening to too much Johnny Mathis Christmas music (just kidding! There is NO SUCH THING as too much Johnny Mathis Christmas music!).

Christmas hug--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
This picture of my two boys gets me every time. We took it a few years ago, but it captures what I love the most about Christmas–the time we have together and the love we get to share.

Yes, it’s true. It’s my dirty little secret. I go crazy with my spending during the holidays. But you know what? I love it. I love to spend money on nice things for other people. And believe it or not, I have changed my gift-giving over the years to better match my values–to use money (a little more) wisely, buy higher-quality items you can use every day, and focus less on material goods. 

For example, in 2008, when we started our get-out-of-debt journey, we realized how much money we were wasting by buying excessive toys for our son–that he didn’t even want. He was overwhelmed on Christmas Day, and afterwards, we ended up donating or throwing out many of the things we bought. So, we adopted our “Santa Gives Three” rule to focus on less higher-quality gifts. Continue reading “I Go Crazy During the Holidays”

September 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. 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 August, we were roughly 21% of the way to doubling our net worth.

After an unusually warm spell, we’re finally getting the insanely gorgeous leaves New England is known for. As I drive to and from work, I’m privy to the most amazing shows of reds on the trees.

September Net Worth Update---www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

We’re well into the school year. The Junior ThreeYears are adapting to their new classes and homework. I keep adding more students that I need to work with to my schedule, so I’m less and less part-time. I’ve literally used up all my hours in the school day and will now be eating lunch while working with a student. At least I’m paid hourly!

One of the highlights of the month was my first solo girls’ trip in something like ten years. I met my best college friend at my sister’s house in Charlotte and we spent the weekend perusing a local farmers’ market, checking out local dining and brunch options, and catching up. I had such a great time that I vowed to take more of these trips. The best part was, Mr. ThreeYear and the boys had a wonderful time together at home. They went to the movies, went out to lunch at their favorite Mexican restaurant, and had a great time bonding while I was away.

Girls' weekend--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
My friend and I spent the weekend hanging out in Charlotte and surrounding areas. Here we are in Davidson, enjoying the Saturday Farmer’s Market.

We spent gobs of money in September. Our biggest purchase was our tickets to Chile. Our plan was to buy them with airline miles, but in the end, we decided against that. Mr. ThreeYear wanted to go during Christmas and New Year’s, so it would have taken an insane number of miles for each ticket (something like 120,000 each). We didn’t have enough for four tickets and we thought it made sense to save them. Our second biggest purchase was my master’s course. I have three more to go after this. And I had to pay quarterly taxes as well, although those numbers don’t show up in our spending report. Since I’m working so much this year, I’m setting aside 20% of my paychecks for taxes. I may start setting aside 25%, just to be safe. It’s hard to know exactly what I’ll owe since the amount of money I make varies so much, so it’s better to play it safe.

The stock market is still bullish, and we’ve seen our net worth rise again, despite our massive spend this month. It is nice to be earning a paycheck again, so we can reach our end-of-the-year-goals faster. I’m also so ready to be done paying off our apartment in Chile and our car that I’m wishing December was already here. Wait, didn’t I just write a post about staying in the present?

Continue reading “September Net Worth Update”

The Best Way to Avoid Lifestyle Creep

Recently, I was listening to an interview by The Mad Fientist of financial planner Michael Kitces, who is the person responsible for a lot of the research done on the 4% withdrawal rule. Kitces has worked with many clients working towards financial independence and/or early retirement.

The Best Way to Avoid Lifestyle Creep--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

At the end of the interview, the Mad Fientist asked him for one piece of advice for speeding up one’s journey to FI, and Kitces replied, “avoid lifestyle creep.”

Lifestyle creep, or lifestyle inflation, is the tendency we have to inflate our standard of living as our incomes increase. When we first graduate college and get a “real job,” we’re content to live in an apartment with a roommate, use Goodwill furniture, and drive a beater car. But as we bring in more money, we tend to upgrade our houses, furniture, and cars, and once we trade up for a nicer model, it’s really difficult to downgrade again.  Continue reading “The Best Way to Avoid Lifestyle Creep”

Our Debt Payoff Story: Guest Post on High Five Dad

I’ve written about our debt payoff before, but today I typed up all the gory particulars for a guest post on High Five Dad.

High Five Dad is a blogger who shares lots of debt payoff stories from people of all walks of life, to show you how different people achieve a similar goal.

Our Debt Payoff Story--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Debt is pernicious, but when I first married Mr. ThreeYear, I thought it was normal. We thought we were on the right financial track because we were saving for retirement and investing, even though we had a $10,000 credit card balance and car loans.

Mr. ThreeYear and I started out our lives together debt free, thanks to our generous parents and our savings skills while we lived in Chile (Mr. ThreeYear even bought his first two cars outright with cash). Unfortunately, once we moved to the spendy, show-offy land of Atlanta, we changed our ways for the worse and racked up a lot of debt.

Find out what made us decide to get rid of our debt for good and how we paid if off in 18 months over at High Five Dad. Thanks so much for including our story, High Five Dad!!

If you can leave a comment here or there, letting us know what you think or how your payoff story compares, I would really appreciate it! 

And stay tuned for another regularly-scheduled blog post on Friday!

 

 

 

Why I Spent $64 on a Journal

Our family is on a three year journey to double our net worth and become location independent. So why did I spend so much on a journal?!

Why I Spent $64 on a Journal--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Doubling our net worth is a stretch goal, a BHAG, and it means we’ll need to spend the next two and a half years saving as much of our incomes as we can, plus working to earn as much as we can.

That means we need to plan our purchases carefully. This month, inspired by Mr. Tako’s family, we’re not eating out, and I’d like to keep that going.

We also spend very little on clothing, especially for the kids because we get great hand-me-downs. Our cars are used and gas efficient, and our furniture comes mostly from Craigslist (but I promise our house doesn’t look like a college student’s).

Living room--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Our living room, complete with new-to-us furniture (everything but the rug was bought Craigslist or yard sale).

In the past year, though, I’ve made a very conscious effort to spend MORE money on certain things. There are minimalist bloggers who talk about embracing fewer things of quality. If you buy fewer, but better, goods, they write, you will care for them better and they will last longer. Continue reading “Why I Spent $64 on a Journal”