Let’s Move to: Bangkok!

Yesterday my husband sent me a link to this school. Last February, almost a year ago, we went on an incredible, two-week anniversary vacation trip to Asia. I’ll highlight how we did that in a future post. We started our stay in Bangkok and my husband loved it. I mean, really loved it.

First of all, Bangkok is an incredibly cosmopolitan city. The food, which is abundantly piled on practically every square inch of sidewalk space, is delicious. Everything is shockingly cheap. We stayed in an AirBnB at the edge of Sukhumvit, a really nice part of the city, for about $23 a night. We ate meals on the street for around $2, for both of us. We splurged on an English-speaking guide, who took us anywhere we wanted to go all day long, for about $80.

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YNAB Review

**This year is A Year of Good Habits. Each month, I’ll focus on developing or strengthening one financial habit to better automate that behavior so we can double our net worth in three years and become location independent. In January, I’m focusing on setting and sticking to a budget as the goal. To do that, I started using a new budgeting software called You Need a Budget. Below is my take on how that’s working out for us.** (By the way, if you click the link above, you’ll get a free month and I’ll get a free month. Thanks for supporting this blog!). 

Here We Go

Why did I pick budgeting as a habit? Is it a habit, exactly? If we look at a habit as a behavior or set of behaviors that have become automated, then the way we channel the money that comes into our house is a habit. In the past, I’ve used the 50/50 budget method and Mvelopes software to channel our family’s finances. Some people use an anti-budget which works, too. But for me, a reformed spendthrift, I need the parameters of a budget to help me spend less. I say “I” because my husband does not have this problem to the same extent. He doesn’t spend much (I am also the family purchaser, for the most part. I buy groceries, pay insurance, etc.).

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A Year of Good Habits: Let’s Get Started

One of the books that has had the biggest impact on how I think is Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business. Using emerging findings from the field of neuroscience, Duhigg explains how habits, good and bad, are formed.

He explains a concept that has been revolutionary for me.  Brains are the body’s biggest energy sucker and use around 20% of the body’s available energy, so they need to work as efficiently as possible. Automatizing behavior is a way to cut down on energy use. Think about the first time you tried to tie your shoe. It took an incredible amount of focus and energy to make your hands form the loops and tie the shoes. Now, you do it without thinking about it. It’s become automated and you don’t have to use as much conscious brain-power to do it.

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January Net Worth Update

Our family’s dream is to move internationally in three years. In order to do that, we’ve set a goal of doubling our net worth by December 2019. While that amount of money won’t replace our yearly expenses using the 4% rule (yet!—we’re slowly bringing down our spending),  it will give us enough financial security to leave our “safe” jobs to travel.

For us “semi-adventurous” folk, having that nest egg in the bank is important. Everyone has different levels of tolerance for financial security.

My husband grew up very, very poor, in Santiago, Chile. While his family always had enough food to eat, he spent time after school collecting wood scraps in order to heat their house. His mom worked three jobs after his dad died, when he was 13, in order to keep their family afloat. As you can probably imagine, financial security is important to him.

Mr. ThreeYear as a boy

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Semi-Minimalist Home

love minimalism. I discovered Becoming Minimalist and The Minimalists about three years ago. I started my minimalist journey with Courtney Carver, of Project 333, and used thirty-three items of clothes per quarter, for about a year. At the same time, I started cleaning out our house, getting rid of things we no longer needed.

During one January break, when we were snowed in, I tackled about twenty boxes of books that had been stored in various basements since my college days. I curated my collection, keeping maybe thirty tomes, and giving the rest to charity. I read Marie Kondo last year, and Konmaried the rest of my house.

While The Minimalists recommend a more radical approach of boxing up everything you own, and then only pulling out the things you need as you need them, my own more measured approach worked better for me and our family.

I think it would have been very hard for my boys to suddenly have nothing in their rooms and have to go dig out the toys they wanted. This way, I’ve slowly boxed up things they don’t play with anymore, and I store those in a big Tupperware bin in our storage closet. If the boys don’t ask for any of the toys inside for six months (and they rarely do), then I donate them to charity.

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The 50/50 Budget

I have a friend who is amazing in so many ways. She is giving, has co-funded charities that help refugees, and is so excited about life she never stops participating in cool events in our area. She has family who lives internationally so she and her family travel a lot. But she is terrified of budgeting. She and I have made dates to sit down and look at her budget but she keeps cancelling—she can’t bring herself to do it. She is afraid that if she puts the numbers to paper that she will be forced to stop doing something she likes—travel, supporting charities, enjoying local entertainment.

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How to Manage International Real Estate

Have you ever considered buying a rental property? How about a rental property in another country? Read on to hear the story of how we bought and rented out an apartment in another continent.

Our family stumbled into owning real estate in another country. It’s certainly not part of our plan for becoming location independent, but here’s how we ended buying an apartment in another country.

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The Almost Miraculous Benefits of Making Space for Thinking

Sara Blakely of Spanx© fame once said in an interview that she spends about 45 minutes each morning driving around the streets of Buckhead, the upscale area in Atlanta where Spanx headquarters are located.

Even though she lives really close to her building, she builds in a “fake commute” so that she has time to think (without schedule or stricture), imagine, and allow her mind to wander. Steve Jobs was well known for his daily walks, where he would ponder problems and situations that he was wrestling with at Apple. Continue reading “The Almost Miraculous Benefits of Making Space for Thinking”

I Changed This One Habit to Save Over $11,000 This Year!

Could you really implement one, just one habit into your life to save massive amounts of money in a year? 

You can, and it’s not too hard. I did it, and I saved over $11,000 in one year, without really trying to.

What in the world is this magic trick and how can you implement it? 

Read on.

The Excel Spreadsheet

It’s almost December, and I’ve just about completed the second year of tracking my spending on my good ole’ Excel Spreadsheet.

Wait, what? That’s the big secret? Tracking?

Yep. Sorry if you were expecting something more flashy.

But it really is as simple as that.

I started the habit last January (2015), when I wanted more control of my spending trends than my budgeting software was giving me.

Our family has made (and gone over) budgets since 2008, so I’d been keeping a close eye on our spending for many years.

I kept hearing advice that tracking your spending was important to financial independence, so…

I decided to manually track everything in my Super-Duper-Over-the-Top-Six-Sheet Excel Networth Spreadsheet.

And it turns out that manually tracking your spending is enough to change your spending behavior in major ways. 

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The Three Year Experiment

In July, I turned 37. That felt older than 36. A lot, lot older.  For some reason, probably related to the fact that human beings have an innate sense, even as newborns, of the number 3, this made 40 feel really close. 40 feels old. I remember when my parents had their 40th birthdays like it was yesterday, and friends brought black balloons and tubes of BenGay over as gifts. I mean, look at the birthday gifts you get at 40! (I’m joking. I’m sure 40 will be very nice. I’m just particularly relishing the three years before I have to put a “4” on front of my age). Continue reading “The Three Year Experiment”