Why You Should Spend Money on Travel

One thing I’ve learned about the journey of personal finance is that it’s personal. We all have different priorities for our money.

But today, I’m going to argue that everybody who can finagle it should spend money on travel. Whatever you call them–get aways, mini breaks, vacations, holidays–no matter how close or far from home you go, I believe there are major benefits to regular travel.

Spend Money on Travel--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Our family has been a fan of traveling for a long time. Because, what better way is there to prepare for a life where you can travel anywhere than to travel, well, somewhere? If you’re interested in becoming location independent, I recommend making it a priority to take at least one trip or mini-trip per year.

Yes, there is always debt to pay off, emergency funds to fill, and possessions to pare, but the benefits of travel are many. Taking a small percentage of your take-home pay and reserving it for a trip each year, even a brief, close-to-home one, is worth delaying those other goals by a few months.

Mr. ThreeYear and I took a weekend trip to Montreal several years ago, and it was nectar to our traveling souls. We’re only three hours away by car from Montreal, so we booked a hotel using our credit card rewards (thank you SPG card), drove up, and spent a fabulous weekend exploring the Museum of Fine Arts, the eponymous city park Mont Royal with the fabulous view of the city (boy were my legs tired after that climb!), and the heart of Old Montreal. We ate delicious ethnic food (including Korean BBQ and Szechuan) and drank lots of cappuccinos. Our trip lasted three days, and cost us about $350, but it reminded us why we love to travel so much and why we’re working so hard to become location independent.

Quebec--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
A long weekend in Quebec was a balm to our parenting-weary souls.

Michelle from Making Sense of Cents recently highlighted a blogger, Penny from Penny and Rich, who spends $53,000 a year on her family of six, with $22,000 of that going to pay back student loans. Even though the family earns so little income that they qualify for federal food assistance, her family makes travel a priority. They set aside a little less than $2500 last year for vacations for their families. Some snarky commenters gave Penny a hard time for spending money on vacation while qualifying for food stamps, but I believe she has her priorities in order. Here’s why you should spend money on travel: Continue reading “Why You Should Spend Money on Travel”

A Year of Good Habits: Quarter Two Update

We have officially completed (slightly more than) half 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’ve focused 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. (May I suggest, however, that you not try to adopt more than one or two per year? Twelve is a lot. This is more an experiment in extremes for our doubling-our-net-worth-in-three-years goal).

Quarter 2--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Habits–whether intentional or not–have been proven to be incredibly important. They are routines that are so ingrained into our days that many of them we follow without realizing we do so. Continue reading “A Year of Good Habits: Quarter Two 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”

Location Independent, International Jobs: Steve of Think, Save, Retire

Hi folks! Welcome to the second post in my Wednesday series. These are real stories from people who have become location independent, work internationally, and/or continuously travel. They’ll 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. Since we’re not sure which route we’ll take, we thought we’d hear from people who’ve already achieved the life, so we can learn more.  

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Steve, from the blog Think, Save, Retire.  Steve very kindly agreed to share his story when I reached out to bloggers on the Rockstar Finance Forums (check them out! Tons of financial nerd types like myself discussing all aspects of financial independence!).  

Steve retired at age 35 and he and his wife Courtney currently travel the United States in their Airstream (a.k.a. my dad’s dream mode of transportation). Steve has given up traditional employment and now blogs about how he and his wife created a life that freed them up to do more of what they really value the most–namely, travel. 

Without further ado, take it away, Steve!!

Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Where you’re from, how long married, degrees, pets, etc.

I’m 35 and recently retired from full-time work. I worked in the information technology industry for my entire career doing things from computer programming and database administration to being the Director of Information Technology at a not-for-profit organization. I was born on the East Coast, but I’m definitely more of a West Coast kind of person, so I moved out here in 2007 after starting my first real job in Virginia. I’ve been married for almost three years, and my wife and I live in our 30′ Airstream Classic with our two rescued dogs, Patti and Penny.

Steve of Think, Save, Retire--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Steve and Courtney enjoying the good life!

I don’t consider myself to be a “smart cookie.” No prestigious degree (I have a degree in Information Technology from a no-name school in Colorado). I’m not published in journals. My ideas haven’t been studied by industry experts. I’m a normal person just like anyone else. The main difference is I chose a very different life for myself. Continue reading “Location Independent, International Jobs: Steve of Think, Save, Retire”

How to Create Beautiful, Frugal Flower Gardens

Do you love to garden? Is Spring your favorite time of year, when the flowers start blooming and there’s color bursting out of every bed?

I absolutely love to create flower gardens. I also know I could spend a small fortune buying plants and shrubs to create the perfect landscape around our house.

Flowers--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Since our family is on a three year journey to double our net worth and become location independent, it’s not a priority to spend a lot of money on landscaping when we’ll be selling our home soon. But I love to constantly improve our gardens and so, have learned to save lots of money but still create beautiful flower beds.

Continue reading “How to Create Beautiful, Frugal Flower Gardens”

DIY Mayhem in May

This month, the shower arm in our bathroom has broken, it has taken four different light fixture tries to replace the kitchen light above the sink, and our kitchen faucet has sprung a major leak. We’re getting quotes from roofers in the area to replace our roof. Because there’s a dearth of roofers in the area and the cost of labor and materials is so high, our best quote is $14,000. Yes, that is correct. The cost of a used car. One year of private school education. More than a years’ worth of groceries.

On May 14th, Mother’s Day, it snowed. It rained for fourteen days straight before that. Last week, we got two medical bills for a total of $2,000. We’ve been negotiating a new diagnosis with doctors and the school for our youngest child.

We’ve also had some awesome things happen this month. Mr. ThreeYear became an American citizen on Friday and my dad came up for a surprise visit. After the rain and snow, we got a week full of 80 degree weather and the flowers are blooming. Everything is green and alive. The school year is winding down–as of Wednesday, we’ll have just four more weeks.

American Citizen--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
We are officially a better nation now that Mr. ThreeYear’s a citizen!

We’re healthy, have a stable and happy home life, reliable jobs, and money in the bank to cover our expenses. In the grand scheme of things, the problems that have besieged us this month are minor annoyances. Continue reading “DIY Mayhem in May”

Planing Our Way to Frugality

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).

Planing Our Way to Frugality--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

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”

The Story of How Two Average Joes Got Out of Debt and Got on the Road to Financial Independence: Part II

Does getting out of debt, saving more, or building net worth seem hopeless? Fear not. You can make lots of mistakes, start late, and still create financial independence.

boy swimming never give up--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Never give up!

Part I of this post details the beginning of Mr. ThreeYear’s and my financial story. Continue reading “The Story of How Two Average Joes Got Out of Debt and Got on the Road to Financial Independence: Part II”