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”

August 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. 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 July, we were roughly 20% of the way to doubling our net worth.

We are now in September. School has started, my work has started, and we have weathered the transition pretty well, for being a week and a half in. I’ve focused on making our morning routine for school better, and so far it’s been great. Both our boys have focus medication they take, so I’ve started giving it to them right as they wake up. Then, it has time to kick in and they can actually get their clothes on, come down to eat breakfast, and get their teeth brushed without a zillion reminders, getting distracted with Legos, or staring off into space for half an hour. Better yet, I’m not yelling at them all morning.

August Net Worth Update--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

That may sound like crazy talk to people who don’t have kids with attention problems, but it’s our reality. I was talking to a teacher this morning, and she (who also has ADHD) said she noticed the kids in her class whose parents yelled in the morning. “Anytime I raise my voice in the slightest,” she said, “they’ll reflectively wince, like they’re hyper-attuned to yelling.” I gulped. I’ve seen my kids do that in the past. Hurts my heart that I was yelling that much. But I’m so grateful that we’ve changed things up, and they’re taking their medicine earlier. They’re able to get dressed, get their breakfast, brush their teeth, and pack their bags, with minimal reminders. And they’re so proud of themselves. With zero yells and lots of “great job this morning!” It feels so awesome. So my fingers are crossed that our mornings keep going so well.

Summer flew by. August was a relaxed month. Each kid had one week of camp, and we spent our days outside, enjoying the summer, inside, putzing around the house, and visiting friends and family. I never wanted the summer to end, but it did, and everyone has reluctantly returned to a steady routine.

Each time summer ends, I’m reminded why location independence is so appealing. While we love routines, and I think we’d enjoy a routine in a new place, having the freedom to explore, visit with family, and plan our days in the moment is a beautiful way to live. Routine weighs us down. Summer lightens us up, gives us travel wings.

Water wings--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Summer gives you water wings… um, I mean, travel wings.

Speaking of wings, we booked our flights to Santiago this weekend. So we’re officially booked for South America during Christmas and New Year’s. We’re debating whether to AirBnB our house while we’re gone, as a way to earn some extra spending money for the trip.

August brought us a small up-tick in our net worth. Our Personal Capital Net Worth is actually showing higher than our own Excel spreadsheet, since Zillow has decided to increase the value of our house significantly in the last few weeks. I don’t know if it’s the new roof we put on or an increase in the local market (I suspect it’s the latter) but they’ve upped the Zestimate of our house by about 5%. I’m ignoring it, though, as I only update our house and car estimates at the beginning of each year.

Continue reading “August Net Worth Update”

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”

Book Review: The Truth About Your Future

I read a lot, but I generally pick up books from the library or from our Overdrive service–the online library my local library provides. This fits in well with our minimalist and frugal philosophies, both.

Our library is small. We live in a town of about 3,500 people, so the library doesn’t always carry the latest releases and it carries few personal finance tomes. Sometimes, though, I’m surprised by the books I find.

Two weeks ago, I happened upon The Truth About Your Future: The Money Guide You Need Now, Later, and Much Later, by Ric Edelman.

Truth About Your Future--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

I’d never heard of Ric Edelman before, but he “has been ranked the nation’s #1 Independent Financial Advisor by Barron’s three times, named among the country’s Top 10 Wealth Advisors by Forbes and one of the “10 most influential figures” in the advisory field by RIABiz.” He also has a radio program that has been around for 25 years.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of his book, then. Well, truthfully, I expected more of the same financial information every other personal finance books has ever regenerated. But this book was different. Way different. Continue reading “Book Review: The Truth About Your Future”

Are You Camp Earning or Camp Saving?

I have subscribed to Ramit Sethi’s emails for years, ever since he was a fledgling blogger at I Will Teach You To Be Rich. His websites are now slickly professional and he runs a multimillion dollar empire, selling courses on how to increase your earnings. I’ve never bought a course, but his emails are full of advice about negotiating and growing your business, and he writes compelling headlines (if you don’t believe me, sign up and see what I mean). He’s helped thousands of people earn more money in their businesses.

Are You Camp Earning or Camp Saving--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Three days ago, he sent out the email, “What Successful People Don’t Tell You.” It linked to an article by the same name. The premise of the article is that people who truly love their jobs will never stop working, no matter how much money they make, because “you would enjoy being on the beach for about 3 weeks…then you would get bored and want to get back to work.” Apparently everyone that this guy has ever met who’s made big money feels this way. Okay. Let’s accept that premise for a sec.

Ramit goes on to slam the FIRE community, for delaying gratification and staying at a job they potentially hate, eating rice and beans, and leading colorless, boring lives (including WALKING as a hobby for God’s sake), only to retire early and then have no purpose for the rest of their lives.

Apparently, there’s a subreddit detailing the dark underbelly of FIRE, which is that once people have sacrificially saved for 14 years, they then have no purpose beyond amassing their $600,000 so they can live off the $24,000 a year in perpetuity.

The article ends by asking you to pick a camp: Continue reading “Are You Camp Earning or Camp Saving?”

July 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. 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 June, we were roughly 18% of the way to doubling our net worth.

August has arrived. The ThreeYear family has been reunited, after the boys and I were away for the month of July in North and South Carolina. New England has a decidedly cool, rainy bent this month and, to my utter frustration (repeated every year at this time), tops of the trees are starting to change colors, and little red leaves are falling down all over my driveway. “I’m not ready for fall!” I always think, but it is coming, nevertheless.

The month of July was fantastic, in terms of deepening family relationships and making lifetime memories. It was not fantastic in terms of spending less and saving more, as I’d hoped. Our income always drops in the summers, since I’m not teaching, and while we were away, we spent a lot more than normal on eating out. Plus, we had the other half of our new roof to pay for. Still, thanks to the bull market that just won’t quit, our net worth continued northwards.

July Net Worth Update--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

 

Continue reading “July Net Worth Update”

Tools of the Frugal Trade

There are certain tools that I believe are essential for saving money and getting longer life out of your possessions, especially in your home.  The following is a list of my tools of the frugal trade, simple tools or ingredients that I use time and again for saving money.

Frugal Tools--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

The truth is, in our modern world, we’ve lost sight of part of the old adage,

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

It’s the “make it do” part that is an anathema to us. In our age of planned obsolescence and products engineered to fail, we’ve lost the repair skills that seemed like second nature to our parents and grandparents. It’s only natural that we buy new instead of repair, because:

  • We often have no idea how to repair things, and
  • It’s cheaper to buy a new version of something rather than replace it.

That’s true of a lot of things. For example, when I broke our blender a couple of months ago (long story), I didn’t destroy the motor, just the jar (the top part where you put your liquids). But to replace that part cost about $50! Mr. ThreeYear opted to get a brand new, on sale Ninja blender with two single serve cups for just $70. While it was $20 more expensive, it’s a way more powerful blender. We plan to sell the motor on eBay and recoup some of that cost, as well. Continue reading “Tools of the Frugal Trade”

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”

My Favorite Online Tools to Save Time and Money

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.

Online Tools--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Unroll Me

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”

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”