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. Not only we’re getting tips for scheduling a roofing maintenance check, but also 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.
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”
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.
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”
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).
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”
Einstein said there are five ascending levels of intellect:
So many times, we think that complicated strategies are inherently better. But have you seen Einstein’s theory of general relativity? The one where he challenges all conventional notions of matter moving in space and time? That puppy is simple. Continue reading “Our Simple Financial Management Plan”
It’s May! At last, in New Hampshire, flowers are starting to bloom. The trees are changing colors–light greens and yellows, deep reds, are starting to emerge in the vast forests along the interstate. It’s the time of year to be out in nature, to rejoice in the sunshine and the promise of warmth. It’s also a time when it’s easy to get distracted from your financial goals, to let the warmth and ease of summer melt away the self-discipline and resolve needed to make it through winter. (Figurative winter, we’re talking about. Spring is a time, apparently, when I wax poetic).
In this great big world of ours, we have many options. We could live virtually anywhere. So why don’t we? Why is it that we get trapped in a city we don’t really care for, doing a job that’s not our favorite, fulfilling the expectations that society has for us, but that aren’t our own?
I have a friend who’s lived all over the world. She has lived on four continents in the fifteen years that I’ve known her. And yet even she and her family are debating where to live next, now that she’s tied to a job in Europe when their home was in Asia. Should they stay in Asia? Should they move to Europe? What would be best for her husband’s business? What would be best for their daughter?
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 February, we were 9% of the way to doubling our net worth.
I waited until the end of April to post our net worth update, because, frankly, our March update wasn’t very exciting. Thanks to Mr. ThreeYear’s annual stock “gift,” however, April’s update actually moves our net worth dial. Mr. ThreeYear works for a 100% employee-owned company, and each year, in April, he receives a share of company stock (which is privately owned) equivalent to at least 8% of his base salary. The company is audited each December to set the stock’s yearly price.
Although this is an incredible “gift,” we consider it part of his total compensation, because that is what it effectively is, albeit tax-deductible (for all the ins and outs of how such a plan, called an ESOP, works, head here). If he were to leave the company, he would need to take equal distributions over 5 years and roll the shares into a retirement account.
March and April were rough months for the ThreeYears, ain’t gonna lie. It’s always one of the toughest times of the year for me, living in New England as a transplanted Southern Belle (or, just…Southerner…). March and April are hard-wired into my psyche as a time when the birds are supposed to be chirping, flowers are supposed to be blooming, and snow is definitely NOT supposed to be still falling. Continue reading “April Net Worth Update”
In today’s world, thanks to globalization, fast modems, and cheap airfare, it’s increasingly possible to live anywhere. So why don’t we? Mr. ThreeYear and I live in New Hampshire because of his job. We live in the US because it’s an English-speaking country where I was born and raised.
It’s been a dream for some time, though, to become location independent, not to be tied down by employment to one particular city or town, so that we can move abroad, or even split our year between Chile, where his family lives, or the Carolinas, where my family is.
This week, the ThreeYear Family has had the incredible privilege of spending the week at a swanky island resort. We’ve swum at the lovely resort pools, eaten in delicious restaurants next to a marina filled with forty-foot yachts, and marveled at a collection of world-class cars from around the US–Teslas, Rolls Royces, Land Cruisers, and many German-engineered automobiles.
One of the ways we keep our spending low around here is to eat the vast majority of our meals at home. We do occasionally eat out, but it’s rare–in part because we’d rather spend on travel and in part because we live in the “country” as we say in the South. That means in the middle of nowhere. The nearest grocery store is 20 minutes away, for reference.
Therefore, I’ve become adept at making a lot of food. Since Mr. ThreeYear is Chilean, I occasionally make Chilean food. And my absolute favorite Chilean recipe is the meat empanada.
The Little Meat Pocket That Could
We make empanadas for everything–for dinner guests, to give as gifts, as dinner when we’re in a rush. Whip up a couple of sides and you’ve got a meal. Freeze them, then pull them out and cook at the last minute (they last up to a year in the freezer). They make fabulous gifts. Continue reading “Make It This Weekend: Empanadas!”