Mr. ThreeYear, apart from increasing the height and attractiveness genes of my children (thanks, honey!), is one-half of the brains behind our location independence plan. He also has an incredible story of growing up in difficult circumstances and working very hard to make a better life for himself.
Since normally, I write the blog and Mr. ThreeYear just reads it, I thought I’d turn the reins over to him and allow him to share his thoughts on location independence, overcoming obstacles, and reaching financial independence.
Can you tell everyone a little about your background?
I was born in Santiago, Chile, in the mid-seventies. I grew up under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Our family was not really political; however, it was clear to see that it was not a smart idea to publicly oppose the government because of the consequences it would bring to your family.
I was the youngest of four siblings. I have two much older sisters who married and left the house early. My brother was also older, by eleven years. We lived right next to my grandmother. The country was very economically depressed. It was hard to get jobs. Unfortunately, my dad was unemployed for a long time, which made my mom the main breadwinner, working three jobs at a time (she was a special education teacher). We never starved, but it was clear to me that we were at the lower end of the financial spectrum. Continue reading “Interview with Mr. ThreeYear”
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.
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”
I started this blog almost a year ago to document our family’s journey toward location independence over three years. We picked a three-year time frame because it coincided with several significant events in our family’s life: our oldest son finishing sixth grade, my husband turning forty-five, and me turning forty.
We love to travel, and we also have family who live in two different continents, so becoming location independent would allow us to spend a few years, before our boys start high school, living in an international location, or traveling between our respective families for a few years.
In order to make our plan work, we decided we would need to double our net worth and find jobs that would support us during our travel time. While doubling our net worth could allow us to live on 4% of our investments at a certain spending level, we know that with our current spending plus the need to fund two college accounts, we would prefer to have employment during our travel years, preferably employment that provides health benefits.
While we’ve talked about other aspects of our plan, we haven’t delved into how, exactly, we plan to double our net worth. So I thought I’d walk through our plan in this post.
Year 1 (roughly 33% increase):
We have almost completed Year 1 of our Three Year Experiment. This year’s focus was on paying off the last of our debts and funding some major home repair projects, all while saving and investing to grow our investments and decrease our debts.
I don’t know if we’ll increase our net worth by the full 33.33% this year, but we’ll likely be close. Here is where the majority of the gain has come/will come from. Continue reading “How We Plan to Double Our Net Worth in 3 Years”
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).
In his book Happier, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar talks about creating rituals. He takes an idea from The Power of Full Engagement and recommends that “instead of focusing on self-discipline as a key to change,” we should instead develop rituals. Developing rituals involves “defining very precise behaviors and performing them at very specific times, motivated by deeply held values.” For example, brushing your teeth is a ritual and doesn’t take any special self-discipline to complete. Hygiene is a deeply held value for many of us, so brushing our teeth is something we do each day. Making an activity part of your daily life and making it value based, rather than discipline based, is an excellent way to create a lifelong habit. Continue reading “A Year of Good Habits: Quarter Three 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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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?”
Hello! Welcome to “Location Independent, International Jobs,” the Wednesday series where I showcase stories from people who have become location independent, work internationally, and/or continuously travel. I’ve interviewed all kinds of people who all have slightly different takes on location independence or living internationally. Recent posts include Joney Talks, Ruby from a Journey We Love, Pete of Do You Even Blog?, and Heather.
Guest posters will be sharing how they became location independent or how they got jobs abroad, but most importantly, they’ll share how their lifestyle has positively or negatively affected their finances and how they got to the life they’re living now.
The reason for this series is to showcase people who have already achieved what the ThreeYear family is working towards: location independence and/or securing international jobs. Today I’d like to introduce Jalpan, a mechanical engineer by day and personal finance/investing blogger by night.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
How did you make the decision to move internationally?
For college, Singapore seemed to be the best option for me since their universities are recognized internationally and place well in international rankings.
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.
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”
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.
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!