Update

Hello all. It’s now the end of October, and I’ve been teaching for ten weeks.

As with any major change in life, my teaching job has brought a new schedule, and many new habits, both good and bad. I’ve tried to keep in mind that each decision I make around how I spend my (now precious) free time is really a vote for a habit I will ultimately develop.

One of my biggest priorities has been exercise. I convinced my neighbor, who’s a fitness instructor at our gym, to offer classes three times a week in the mornings. So on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Mr. ThreeYear and I dutifully head over to the gym at 6:30 and work out for thirty minutes (yes, I drag him there, too).

This was the earliest time the gym offers, and the latest that would work for my schedule. I get home at 7:00 and have just a sliver of time to get myself and the kids ready for school. Little ThreeYear and I both leave at 7:30. He heads over to our neighbor’s house to walk with them to the bus stop, and I drive to school.

I have not yet settled into a running schedule I’m happy with. I run one long run on Sunday mornings and eke out one more run per week if I’m lucky. I’m still working on a more robust running schedule.

Continue reading “Update”

Working 9 to 5

Well, I have some news. I got a job. Yes, that’s right, my days of practicing retirement are over (or almost over, since I have the summer ahead of me) and I am joining the masses for my first true full time job since Junior ThreeYear was born.

I am going to be a Spanish teacher for middle and high school students at a local private school just eight minutes from my house (that detail was an important factor in my decision).

I’ll actually be working 7:45 to 4:00, but in deference to Dolly Parton (and my fifth grade talent show tune-yes, there were strategically placed balloons), I took some creative liberty with the post’s title.

How did I decide to go from no job to a full time job?

When we moved from New Hampshire to North Carolina, I knew I wanted to take a year off from teaching. Both Junior and Little ThreeYear have had a rough go of it in school with their ADHD and other assorted issues, and I wanted to make sure they were settled and at the right school before diving in to a new job.

Luckily, after a few months it became apparent that they were both thriving in their new schools.

I toyed with the idea of building a business and becoming my own boss instead of returning to teaching, but I realized that I’m not interested in being alone all day in front of the computer. I’m such a social person that instead of taking on more freelancing gigs, I joined the tennis team and started running with friends. Needless to say, my income flow has not been very strong this year.

Continue reading “Working 9 to 5”

Practicing Retirement

Happy Memorial Day. Many thanks to those who died serving their country, and to the families they left behind, we are grateful.

It’s been almost a year since my family achieved our goal of location independence and moved to North Carolina from New Hampshire.

Which means it’s been almost a year since I stopped teaching.

When we moved, I took a year off teaching in order to make sure that we got the boys into the right schools, we could get them well-settled, make appointments with doctors, dentists, counselors, and get their lives set up.

In many ways, this past school year, soon coming to an end, has been a practice retirement for me. Sure, I’ve had small jobs: I’ve tutored a middle schooler in Spanish once a week, written several freelance articles for various websites, and blogged three times a week. But by and large, I’ve had large chunks of free time to fill up and enjoy.

For one thing, both boys adjusted to their new schools really well. They had great teachers and counselors in place who made sure they were getting the assistance they needed. So I could take a giant step back from setting up counseling appointments, getting them into charter schools, and the like. They just didn’t need those things.

For another, we had hardly any activities programmed this year. Junior ThreeYear went to a climbing club once a week and Little ThreeYear had tennis lessons for half an hour on Sunday afternoons and did Lego club for a few weeks in the winter. Other than that, they didn’t do any organized activities.

Continue reading “Practicing Retirement”

Why I Gave Up a Career in Marketing to Become a Teacher: Guest Post on Full Time Finance

On Wednesday, Full Time Finance featured my story of how and why I went from a Marketing Director to an ESL Teacher.

Full Time Finance is a personal finance site dedicated to those who have full time jobs and are concurrently pursuing financial independence.

Here are some of my favorite posts:

While I don’t work full time, my employment situation definitely plays in heavily to our financial independence story. Here’s how I made the switch.

Continue reading “Why I Gave Up a Career in Marketing to Become a Teacher: Guest Post on Full Time Finance”

Teacher on FIRE: Guest Post on Principal FI

Today, I’m excited to share a guest post I wrote on the new financial independence site for educators, Principal FI.

Principal FI is an educator as is his wife, and he writes for the education community about pursuing financial independence as a teacher or administrator.

Most of us see education as a profession with low pay, but Thomas Stanley found that this profession was one of the best (along with engineers) at converting their incomes into wealth. In fact, he found that educators were much better than so-called high-profile jobs like doctors and lawyers at converting their income into net worth. One of his hypotheses was that educators didn’t spend money on high-status items like cars, clothing, and housing, because no one expected them to be rich so they didn’t have to impress anyone.

I found this to be true at my old schools. The teachers I worked with tended to have frugal habits like bringing their lunches to school each day, driving older cars, and wearing everyday clothing.

So when I saw Principal FI’s Educators on FI/RE Series, I asked to tell my story. The blog features educators who are pursuing the Financial Independence, Retire Early movement, and I thought I’d add my (somewhat atypical) educator story to the blog.

Here’s the post:

Tell us about you. 

Hi! I’m Laurie, a 39-year old personal finance blogger, ESL teacher, and mom of 2. My family and I decided, almost three years ago, that we wanted to move from New Hampshire to be closer to family and have more freedom to travel. So we’ve been working on doubling our net worth and transitioned to remote jobs so we could move to North Carolina and travel extensively during our summers. I blog about our imperfect journey at The Three Year Experiment.

Continue reading “Teacher on FIRE: Guest Post on Principal FI”

5 Lessons I Learned from Changing Careers in My 30s

Several years ago, when I was 36, I was offered a job at my local elementary school. It was perfect for a lot of reasons: it was part-time, it was teaching kids English (which I had majored in in college), it was at my kids’ school, and it paid well.

The only problem with the job was that I wasn’t a teacher.

When I first left college and moved to Santiago, Chile, I taught English as a Second Language to adults for about a year and a half. But I’d never officially taught children in any capacity. So I would be completely changing careers, learning a new job from the ground up.

The Learning Curve is Painful

I don’t particularly like to be bad at stuff. I don’t think anybody does. In school, I was a good student who never really struggled with studying. I never learned the lesson that you have to be bad at something before you’re good at it. But when I started teaching, I had very little idea what I was doing.

I was thrown into teaching two students with no guidance and very little mentorship, so I didn’t know what I should be teaching them. Grammar? Vocabulary? Reading? Writing?

I reached out to other local ESL teachers and sat in on their classes to try and figure out what to do. One teacher recommended several books that I should buy for the classroom. I remember that she said to me, “if you could go through this book with your student before next year, that would lay a great foundation for him.”

The problem was, the book was a very basic vocabulary book. Surely there was something better I could be doing with my time than teaching him basic vocabulary?

I didn’t spend a ton of time teaching my student vocabulary from that book my first year, preferring instead to try and teach him how to write essays.

Continue reading “5 Lessons I Learned from Changing Careers in My 30s”

Your Three Year Experiment: A Purple Life

Hi there! I know it’s been a while, but I have another Wednesday installment of our Your Three Year Experiment guest series, featuring people who are sharing their own three year experiments–their plan to engineer the life of their dreams over the next three years.

Today we’re featuring the story of someone who has some quite amazing self-discipline in the spending front, spending less than $18,000 per year while earning a six-figure salary! In this interview, you’ll learn:

  • How A Purple Life increased her salary to six figures by age 27
  • What her annual spending has been for the last four years
  • How and where she decided to move for the lowest COL/highest salary combo

Tell Us About Yourself

Hi! I’m A Purple Life. I’m a 29 year old who lives in Seattle and works in marketing. I’m in my 5th year of my financial independence journey and I’m aiming to retire next year at age 30.

What’s your background? Early years, education, married, kids, jobs?

I was born and raised in Georgia and after graduating college I moved to Manhattan with my partner and started working in ad agencies. My partner and I are coming up on 10 years together and we are a bit unique (or so my friends tell me). We are not getting married, never having kids and do not combine our finances in any way. I’m reaching for early retirement with just my own money based on my spending alone. We’re very independent people.

How did you come to the realization that something needed to change in your life?

I’m embarrassed to say that it actually took me YEARS to come around to the idea of financial independence. My partner introduced me to the idea and on a bus from Manhattan showed me the math behind it (I suspect he chose that moment because I couldn’t run away). At the time I was barely saving any money because of how little I was making combined with Manhattan’s insane rent. I didn’t think it was possible.

Continue reading “Your Three Year Experiment: A Purple Life”

Our Money Catastrophe: Guest Post on Money with a Purpose

Hi there! Today I’ve written a guest post over at the excellent site, Money with a Purpose. Money with a Purpose is a personal finance blog run by Fred Leamnson, a financial advisor who writes about money, but also shares the hard stuff, like the emotional and financial implications of addiction in your adult children. He talks honestly and compassionately about such a difficult topic, and it’s one that he’s lived (and is living) through.

Fred has a new series called Overcoming Adversity about people who live through money catastrophes, so I volunteered to share ours. I’ve never shared it on the blog before, so you should check it out!

Here’s the first part:

Tell Us About Yourself.

I’m Laurie, a 39-year-old teacher, mom, and personal finance blogger. I write about location independence for families on my blog, The Three Year Experiment. I have one husband (I don’t think I could handle more) and two boys aged 11 and 8, who go by Junior and Little ThreeYear on the blog. Continue reading “Our Money Catastrophe: Guest Post on Money with a Purpose”

Two Years of Blogging

“Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto

Me ha dado la risa y me ha dado el llanto

Así yo distingo dicha de quebranto,

Los dos materiales que forman mi canto,

Y el canto de ustedes que es mi mismo canto,

Y el canto de todos que es mi propio canto.”

Violeta Parra

Yesterday was my blog’s two-year anniversary. Last year my anniversary slipped by, unnoticed, but this year, as I’m just back from FinCon, the financial bloggers’ conference, I’ve been more introspective.

When I started my blog, at first, I posted about once a month. I was scared, frankly. I didn’t know what I was doing and sent the poor guys at Squidix, my web host, emails about every other day because the back end stuff was over my head.

And honestly, I wasn’t sure that my plan, the one I’d announced so grandiosely but still felt so tentative about, would really work.

I mean, location independence? What did that even mean?

I puttered on with my monthly posts for a while, and then, in January 2017, I had the profound good fortune to meet up with Liz of the Frugalwoods blog. She is, in person, just like she is on the blog. Frugal, of course (we met up in a local library after Littlewoods had a playgroup and ate our brown bag lunches together), but also down-to-earth, approachable, and nice. She’s also really good at blogging. Not in the “make a bunch of affiliate income” way, but in the “setting goals and creating an engaged audience” kind of way. Continue reading “Two Years of Blogging”

Location Independent, International Jobs: Sarah

Today I have the pleasure to introduce Sarah. Sarah is a long-time reader of the blog, and first contacted me almost a year ago to share her desire to become location independent. She recently accepted a full-time remote job and is now proud to call her family LI! Sarah graciously agreed to answer some interview questions and will now join the ranks of Steve, Jaime, Moose, and more in the “Location Independent, International Jobs” series. Without further ado, here’s Sarah! 

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

I’m Sarah and I live with my family near Sacramento, California.

I live with my husband of nearly 10 years, our two kids (ages 5 & 8), and two cats.  I have a master’s in library science and he has a PhD in the biological sciences.  We’ve lived in the Sacramento area for 2 years, having spent time in the Bay Area before that and over a decade in the Chicago suburbs before that.

hiking with family
Favorite frugal pastime: hiking in the beautiful California sunshine with my family

My family is from the Pacific Northwest, and my in-laws are in Chicago & San Francisco.  The majority of our family is on the west coast, so we’re able to see them a lot more than we did when we lived in Chicago.

How did you make the decision to work remotely?

Working remotely was actually suggested by my previous employer in late 2013 (after they’d denied the request in 2009), as we transferred from their Chicago office to San Francisco.  I absolutely jumped at the opportunity, since commuting was a huge factor keeping me from my kids.  I started looking for new remote work in early 2018 and accepted a new position in July.  I’m the librarian for a digital library at a relatively small company based in the Bay Area.

What’s the impetus for wanting to become location independent?

I was treated for depression and anxiety after our oldest was born; it was then that I came up hard against the realization that what I was “supposed to do”–work full time and see my baby for a few hours and be totally ok with that–was not actually working for me.
And so I cut down to part-time and began to radically change our spending, habits, and lifestyle, and really started to question everything.  I read blogs like The Minimalist Mom, Frugalwoods, Zen Habits and others, and we kept at it as our son grew and our daughter was born.   Then my husband lost his job and we moved to CA in the hopes that there would be work (there was!).
Between the 2-3 hours a day we spent commuting in Chicago, to this stressful time moving across the country for work and cramming into 900 sq ft so we could be closer to work in the Bay Area, my husband and I were unhappy with being tied to a workplace.
Enter our move to Sacramento and my finding The Three Year Experiment, and we started thinking about where we really wanted to be (still under discussion!).  I guess we chafe at the ideas of things we have to do, like work in the city, live in the suburbs, have a commute, buy a house, live paycheck-to-paycheck, and so this idea that we could set the terms around where we live and what we do was incredibly appealing.  For me, I’d been reading about Financial Independence for some time, but it was a bit nebulous without a really firm vision (we’re still working on that). Continue reading “Location Independent, International Jobs: Sarah”