Closet-to-Bathroom Conversion

Part of our family’s plan for becoming location independent in the next three years is to sell our house and convert the equity into equities (excuse my bad finance joke there). We bought a short sale in 2012 and have lived in the house for five years. By the time we’re ready to move, we will have lived here for seven and a half years. Which is exactly half the length of our 15-year mortgage. (If only that meant half of the house would be paid off…. But I digress…).

Since we were fortunate enough to buy an undervalued property, we’re hoping to sell the house for quite a bit more than we paid for it, but to do so will mean some strategic investments. When we moved in, for example, there were no appliances in the house. The previous owners, hoping to get as much equity out of the house as they could before they left, even took a downstairs stove (critical for heating the house), so we had to replace that.

One of the biggest investments we’ve made is adding a downstairs guest bathroom to the house. When we moved in, there was only one bathroom on the first floor—the master. If you’ve seen our Semi-Minimalist home pictures, you’ll see that while our bathroom is a spa-like oasis (not my decision, but a very nice feature), our guests felt a little bit uncomfortable using our bathroom when they came for dinner. And we had to make sure our bathroom was always guest-ready before they came. That could be a big hassle.

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Why Location Independence is Important for Us

Our family is on a journey to become location independent in the next three years. Currently, our plan is for either Mr. ThreeYear or me to take a job, since we won’t quite be ready to retire. If I take a job with an international American school, I will see if I can negotiate my boys attending as part of my compensation package.

What Does Location Independence Mean, Anyway?

Location independent means different things to different people. Some families, like Tsh from Art of Simple, take a year to travel around the world, spending days or weeks at each location. They’re free to travel because they can work remotely from anywhere.

Travel bloggers like Goats on the Road are permanent travelers, and spend months traveling around different continents, or house sit for a few months at a time between trips. They finance their trips through the income from blogging.

I know Our Next Life was strongly influenced by Robert and Robin Charlton, authors of How to Retire Early. In their book and blog, they spell out how they take frequent long trips throughout the year and return to their home base, a condo in Boulder, Colorado. They saved up a nest egg and retired early and now live off the proceeds.

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February 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. (Wow, that is scary to type all those goals out in one place). In January, we made some solid progress toward those goals, and got 7% of the way to doubling our net worth.

Ah, February. Month of heavy snowfall and rampant sickness in the ThreeYear household. During the four weeks of February I took on a new side gig, we went skiing a few times, I took some more toys out of my kids’ rooms, and we reminisced about all the financial mistakes and gaffs we’ve made along our financial independence journey. Continue reading “February Net Worth Update”

A Year of Good Habits: Tomorrow’s Top Three

I’m going to spend each month of this year focused on building one new good habit to help our family achieve our goal of location independence, doubling our net worth, and moving abroad in three short years. This month, I’ll be focused on setting tomorrow’s top three goals.

Habits are the building blocks of our daily life, and I believe that focusing on replacing any bad or even “meh” financial and daily habits with good ones will put our goals into hyper-drive. Continue reading “A Year of Good Habits: Tomorrow’s Top Three”

How to Ski on the Cheap

Our family lives in Northern New England, so we have lots of ski slopes very close by our house. Unfortunately, skiing is very expensive and can work against our ability to save, so if we want to ski, we have to be smart about it.

Admittedly, skiing on the cheap is very difficult. Skiing is an expensive hobby, with expensive equipment, clothing, and lift tickets. And since our family is on a three-year journey to save as much money as possible so we can become location independent, we have to be careful about what we spend on entertainment costs. But our family gets around a lot of those expenses by utilizing some of the following “tricks”: Continue reading “How to Ski on the Cheap”

Semi-Minimalist Kids

Somehow, having kids seems to bring, at least in Western households, so many toys, books, clothes, and activities. Our family is working towards location independence at the end of three years and so, in preparation, have begun helping our kids adopt minimalist principles in our home to lessen their dependence on stuff.

Our society has definitely bought into the philosophy that more is better. Ironically, though, especially for our kids, more stuff turns out to be worse.

The Best Parenting Book

Simplicity Parenting, written by Kim John Payne, and what I consider the best book on parenting that I’ve read, has a unique insight into what our modern culture is doing to our kids. Payne writes, “If, as a society, we are embracing speed, it is partially because we are swimming in anxiety. Fed this concern and that worry, we’re running as fast as we can to avoid problems and sidestep danger.” Continue reading “Semi-Minimalist Kids”

Let’s Move to: Singapore

My family is on a journey to become location independent in three years. We plan to leave New England and give our family the opportunity to travel together. I can teach English while we’re there, which would give us health insurance and free schooling for the kids, or we might find remote jobs. So today, let’s contemplate moving to Singapore!

The City-State

When my friend moved to Singapore a few years ago, I admit to not even knowing where it was, or that it was both a city and a country.

I had to do some quick Wiki research to figure out that Singapore is a young country (only just over 50 years old) and is on the tip of the Malay peninsula, just below Thailand and Malaysia.

Lee Kuan Yew became the country’s powerful prime minister, implementing strict rules to unite the country’s three distinct ethnic groups—Chinese, Malasians, and Indians from the Tamil region. It’s infamous for one of its rules—no chewing gum in public. According to our friends, these rules were necessary because Yew had inherited a country of people with little education and had to institutionalize polite behavior, so that he could successfully modernize the country. And he did. Singapore went from a third-world to a first-world country in a single generation.

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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.

Part I of this post details the beginning of Mr. ThreeYear’s and my financial story.

Basically, it was the story of how we made a ton of financial mistakes, had several big setbacks, and still managed to make fine progress on the road toward financial independence. It detailed all the mistakes we made like buying a house at the top of the market and selling at the bottom, not saving for retirement early and blowing all our money on eating out and new Apple products, and buying cars we didn’t need on credit.

In Part II, I’ll explain how we dug ourselves out of what seemed like a hopeless hole, got out of debt, and totally transformed our financial situation.

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

How Do I Get Ahead If I’m Not a Mega Saver or Super Frugal? The Story of How Two Average Joes Got Out of Debt and Got on the Road to Financial Independence: Part I

Ever wonder how you can build financial independence if you’re not a super saver, maybe spend a little too much going out to eat, or like to go on vacation?

This is the story of how two Average Joes (or, one average Joe and one average Jane) have created financial security without being big savers, super frugal, or mega income earners (and still go out to eat and take vacations). Continue reading “How Do I Get Ahead If I’m Not a Mega Saver or Super Frugal? The Story of How Two Average Joes Got Out of Debt and Got on the Road to Financial Independence: Part I”

This Year’s Goals

Since it’s February 15th, I thought it was a good time to start reflecting on this year’s goals. (Just kidding, I’m just a little slow in posting these).  So, what are my goals for 2017? This is Year One of the Three Year Experiment, so I feel compelled to get them right.

My Goal Sheet

I filled out my goal sheet several weeks before the New Year. I’m somewhat of a goal nut, because I find I get so much more accomplished if I give myself a framework (it helps me focus because I’m very easily distracted. Especially by my new-to-me-got-it-on-eBay iPhone 6). Continue reading “This Year’s Goals”