How to Have a Debt Free Christmas – The 4-Gift Christmas Challenge

Christmas Gifts on Credit….the Gift that Keeps on Giving…

How much will you spend on the holidays this year?  If it’s close to $1,000.00  then you are pretty much average.  How much of your monthly budget is that $1,000.00?  It goes without saying that the holidays and holiday spending can be a budget buster.  And it’s not just the gifts that are purchased, there is extra money that goes into the food budget, into holiday decorating (do you have a Clark Griswold in your family?), traveling, getting the carpets cleaned and other purchases that are made to make the day(s) picture perfect.  And that’s what we all want, right? Is to create a feeling that will last.  There is nothing wrong with that!!!! You heard me right.  There is nothing wrong with that.

Our household loves Christmas and we love to decorate.  One of my greatest desires is to make sure that my children will have fond memories of the holidays. That they will look back and have snapshots of great moments that make them feel good.  So I completely understand that the expense that goes into the holidays is not always about “stuff” – it’s about the feelings that we have and the expectations we have about what these moments mean to us.

THE DECEMBER DILEMMA 

What is not good and not all right is to borrow to make all this magic happen.  We do not want the “high” of the holidays to be followed by the January “blues” when the mail carrier delivers the credit card statement and what we thought was just a few bucks here and a few bucks there has multiplied into a bill that cannot be paid off immediately.  Did you know that a credit card balance of $1,800.00 with 11.99% interest being paid at $100.00 a month will take 20 months to pay off? Do you really want to be paying for last year’s Christmas next Christmas?

The other danger is that holiday gifts are purchased at the expense of your current budget.  How does this happen?  If you have not budgeted for your holiday purchases and you don’t have any sources of extra income to pay them, then it logically follows that the money for those purchases is going to be at the expense of something else in your budget.  The cost of this?  Late fees, NSF fees, playing catch up for a few months into the New Year is not how you want to start the New Year.

4 Gift Christmas Challenge

 

THE CHALLENGE

So what to do?  PLAN!!! You know what they say, “those who fail to plan, plan to fail!”  I know…the holidays seem to sneak up on us every year – but it’s really more about poor planning on our part, isn’t it?  The holidays are not one of those sneaky holidays that change every year.  Each year they are in December – EVERY DECEMBER.

One way our family has opted to keep our Christmas budget under control, especially since adopting all the boys, is to do the 4-Gift Christmas Challenge.  The Challenge is simple…for each child, we purchase something they Want, something they Need, something to Wear and something to Read.  It has been such a cost saver for us and each child gets a mix of presents we can feel good about giving.

THE BUDGET

The easiest way to be ready for the holidays is to simply budget for it and put money in an account or some other stash where you can keep it and keep adding to it throughout the year.  Other ideas:

  • Get a seasonal job to pay for the extra holiday expenses
  • Budget gifts into your monthly budget and purchase gifts throughout the year
  • While you are attacking your mountain of debt –
    • have a year or two (or three) of hand-made gift giving.
    • agree on one family gift.  We know a family that did this and the parents surprised the kids with a new family dog on Christmas morning.
    • tell other family members that you are not giving gifts this year while you are getting out of debt.
    • Get creative!!! There are lots of ways to make your holidays inexpensive.

We have opted to budget for our Christmas for the past several years and limit the amount we spend on gifts.  What is interesting is that as we get further along in our debt repayment the desire to spend on gift giving has decreased.  We would much rather see our debt reduced than a bunch of boxes under the tree.

THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that one of the greatest ways to put the holidays, and what is really important about them, into perspective is by sharing it with others and by finding a way to serve someone, anyone, during this season.  You want to create memories for your kids?  You want to teach them about what is most important in this life? You want to teach them responsibility and to appreciate all that they have?  This is how it’s done.  Serve with them – shoulder to shoulder.  Serve in a shelter, deliver food to the homeless, adopt a needy family and deliver presents to them, visit a hospital, there are so many possibilities and opportunities to serve.

What’s up with that?  A message about serving in the middle of talking about holiday debt?  Here’s what I am getting at.  It’s a paradigm shift.  It’s getting off the crazy train of debt.  It’s realizing that what you have IS enough and you don’t need more “stuff” and even if there is some “stuff” you really, REALLY, want…you have to want to be debt free more.  You have to reach a point where you are satisfied and a really powerful way to create contentment in your own heart is to pour into other people.  It’s really difficult to  have everything be about YOU when you are staring into the face of someone else who needs help – it becomes crystal clear that it is not about you – but THEM.  When this shifts for you, something happens and your spending will decrease, which means more funds available to attack your debt and get off the crazy train of debt for good.

A happy DEBT FREE holiday to you all!

Love and Prosperity, 

Your GirlFIday. 

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How We Saved $4000.00 on Our First International Vacation

In October, my husband and I took our very first international trip to Greece.  It was the trip of a lifetime – and that is really an understatement – but as you can imagine, it was also expensive.  I am happy to report, though expensive, it did not break our bank account. In fact, we saved a ton.  How did we do that? 1. We saved for it and paid it all in cash.  Unlike many Americans, we did not return from our trip with debt. 2. We used our super-saving-ninja skills to get our expenses down as much as possible. That’s what we are going to talk about today.

The bulk of our savings came from a handful of choices we made.  First, we flew out of Tijuana, rather than the San Diego Airport.  We did not pay for the bulk of our meals.  Lastly, just about everything else we did was free.

The purpose of the trip was to attend a Chautauqua.  If you were like me one year ago, you had no clue what that means. Is it like a Chewbacca?  No, not even close – though that would have been a cool gathering too, I am sure.  I’ve explained our Chautauqua experience in an upcoming post, if you are interested to know what the heck one is.  (Urban Dictionary, a bit salty sarcastic, is of no assistance on this one.)

$2000.00

The first area we saved was on our plane tickets.  Having never travelled internationally before I had NO IDEA how expensive plane tickets were.  When I first started watching them, I could not believe my eyes.  They ranged anywhere between $2000.00 and $5000.00 a piece and that was for economy.  At that point, I had already bought our tickets for the Chautauqua so I was already past the point of no return. The only flexibility we had was our departure city.

I knew of a friend that flew out of Tijuana all the time, with her children, so I had to assume she felt it was safe. So, out of curiosity, I looked….I was SHOCKED at the difference.  The difference was big enough that it really was not an option.  We were already embarking on an international adventure, so why not add one more adventure to the mix. By flying out of Tijuana, we saved about $2000.00 on our tickets.  Not a bad way to start an adventure. I will be writing on that experience as well in case you’re wondering what that was like.

It’s also important to note, flight prices vary based on a number of factors besides destination.  For instance, if I you were to look up the prices to fly to Thessaloniki in March of next year they would be less than $1000 and it would have been cheaper to fly out of San Diego as opposed to Tijuana.

TIP #1 – Research your flights before deciding your destination as well as date of travel.  You can save hundreds, thousands, by having a bit of flexibility and adventuresome spirit.

SUPER SAVER TIP #2 – If you don’t want to pay anything for your flights, then there are several resources available on how to do that with travel rewards via credit card hacking.  The guys over at Travel Miles 101 have that covered.

Meals $1000 

Meals while traveling can be a budget buster.  In the past, one of the ways we have minimized our meal expense was to book at a hotel with at least a refrigerator, but preferable a kitchen. When we travel with the kids, this is almost non-negotiable.

This trip we packed non-perishable snacks; lots of nuts, cheese crisps, granola bars, and dried fruit. It kept us satisfied in between our flights and other periods we were in between meals.

Finally, as part of our package, meals were included.  This was huge.  We received 3 delicious meals at our five-star resort every day.  These varied between buffet style and plated meals.  We were able to both indulge in traditional Greek food, as well as dishes prepared by a master chef. They were divine.

Look for experience packages that include meals in your travels.  This one thing will save you additional hundreds of dollars, maybe more, depending on how many people you are traveling with.

TIP #3 – Get a package that includes meals (though be careful and analyze whether that makes sense.  Sometimes it doesn’t)

TIP #4 – Pack your own food and snacks.

TIP #5 – Get a room that has a kitchen and/or a refrigerator.

EXCURSIONS and MISCELLANEOUS SPENDING $1000.00

Another benefit of purchasing an experience package is that a couple of our excursions as well as transportation were paid for.  We were able to enjoy a walking tour of Thessaloniki as well as a tour of the museums at the foot of Mount Olympus and a bus tour up the mountain.  This also allowed us precious time to spend with our fellow travelers and get to know them better while seeing thousands of years of history.

Others in our trip hiked and went in to town to explore.  Also free.

Curtis and I opted to simply enjoy the resort on the days there were no excursions.  We were on vacation to relax and enjoy ourselves.  Reading a book, overlooking an infinity pool that expands over the Aegean Sea is how I would describe paradise.  It was enough for me.  And Free.

Don’t forget to look for coupons or other discounts for excursions.  There are so many ways to save, if you are intentional about it.

TIP #6 – Prepay for Excursions.

TIP #7 – USE COUPONS!

Curtis and I left for Greece with a spending budget.  Because of the intentionality of our spending, we came home with two-thirds of that budget unspent.  A much better position to be in than coming home with debt. Pre-FIRE movement, we would have come home from a trip having to rearrange our budget to account for our over-spending as well as work for months to pay off our credit cards.  To not have the stress of coming home to that?  It’s priceless.

How have you been able to save on your travel expenses?  We’d love to hear it.

Love and Prosperity

Your GirlFIday

 

**Photo by Alex Antoniadis on Unsplash

 

Kids and Thorns – The Impossible Task of Perfect Parenting

 

This post is not the normal type of post.  This one has nothing to do with finances.  But being a parent is at the heart of our financial journey, so I thought I would share some of what life looks like in our house….

In case anyone is misled by pictures of smiling children in the most adorable Halloween costumes – but seriously, those are the cutest, right?  I have to let you all in on something – our life is not all roses.  Whoever (or is it whomever? I never get that right) thought up that phrase forgot, roses have thorns.  Today was a particularly thorny day.  And, I am not talking a little prick on the finger thorny.  I am talking those big huge vines of thorns that sprung up in Sleeping Beauty. Massive – huge – black – ugly – thorns.

 

I would hate for anyone to look at our life and think that we have our shit together.  (Whoops – I should’ve warned you, I am not in the mood today to keep my potty words to myself.)  Some days in the Mays house, it mirrors the apocalypse.  Children turn into little demon-babies and Momma gives Linda Blaire a run for her money.  Today was not my proudest moment.  Not by a long shot.

 

You see, when you sign up for this parenting gig, no one tells you that one day one of your precious angels, that really should worship the womb that birthed them – or the heart that grew them, will scream in your face how much they hate you and call you out on your poor parenting.  In their eyes, you ARE supposed to be perfect.  They have NO idea – that it really is the most impossible task. Impossible from the start.

 

Impossible when you let the baby cry in the crib a little longer than you probably should, because you just need ONE second so you don’t crumble into a sobbing mush ball too.

 

Impossible when your four-year-old, trying to be a big boy, isn’t quite tall enough to reach the cereal and tips the box spilling cereal dust all over your freshly swept floors. And then, out of sheer frustration, because that was the first time you had swept the floors in three weeks, you chastise him for not asking for help. Yeah…so clearly NOT perfect.

 

Impossible when your special needs boy, who has had such a hard time at school because it is JUST TOO MUCH for him, misses out on a treat like his brothers. Guilt hits you in the pit of your stomach.  The look on his face. You ARE an awful parent.

 

Or when your adult child points out all the ways you have screwed up, like you aren’t aware, pouring salt into every insecurity you already have about your parenting. Ah, how do they know? There is no fooling anyone around here.

 

Sometimes it is just a perfect storm for these types of days.  Then, I stop and wonder, do other parents have these same types of days?  Maybe we ARE doing it all wrong.  Maybe it’s not the perfect storm, maybe WE are the storm?  I think I have seen that meme somewhere. I don’t think this is what they meant though.

 

What if WE are creating the chaos.  I don’t know what to do with that.  If that is the case, how on earth do we fix that?  Parenting is permanent.  You don’t get to say, “whoops, my bad – I am defective – here’s the kids back.”  Nope, this gig is for life and that’s a really looooong time.

 

I am not quite sure how to repair the destruction caused when these storms have let loose in our house.  I suppose it starts by taking a look around and first assessing the damage. Then starting with the stuff we can tackle ourselves and, maybe – if necessary – we call in the National Guard. Do they have a hotline?

 

As I write, it is 3:30 in the morning and my house is quiet except for my faithful boy Odin.  Thank goodness for the loyalty of our furbabies.  Now that’s the real deal unconditional adoration right there.  My brain is still reeling from just how god-awful a day it was yesterday.  From reports of really sucky behavior at school by half of the Littles to the horrible fight with my daughter. The worst?  My sweet little four-year-old was a witness to all of it.  UGH.  You see?  Bad parenting.

 

As I think about how events unfolded, I cannot forget the divine intervention that also took place.  You see, sometimes God just knows when and where to place people in your life – just to let you know he IS STILL THERE.

 

Even in the middle of the chaos, there is still soccer practices to get to, groceries to pick up and webinars to attend.  Thank goodness for technology, Wi-Fi and mobile hotspots. This is how post-millennial moms get all the stuff done. While setting up my laptop to listen to a scheduled webinar at the park, so I can be “present” at soccer practice but also keep any eye on my other boys, I happened to see a friend’s old neighbor and fellow foster-adoptive Momma there on a Thursday.  Not her normal day or time to be there, but you see – God.  That’s kinda how he rolls.

 

As we were catching up, the conversation naturally flowed to the common struggles we both share of having babies born with disadvantages.  That’s a really nice way of saying our babies were born to moms who abused their bodies with drugs and a whole host of other things while carrying our children.  In utero-trauma is a thing – and it has lasting consequences.  You think when you adopt a baby you can love them to healthy.  And for the most part, that is true.  But health is a spectrum.  There are varying degrees. My boys ARE healthy.  They are sweet. Active. Thriving.  But they also suffered in utero trauma and that means that sometimes their brains do not react the way we want them to. They have difficulty with relationships, boundaries, self-regulation. Handling noise – any stimulus – emotions. ALL.THE.EMOTIONS.

 

As we sat and talked and I watched her struggle with her youngest, who was having a really hard time and openly defiant and refusing to let her mommy have more than a 30 second attempt at conversation at a time – I was grateful.  Grateful because in that moment I realized we all have our struggles.  We all have our challenges.  Moments of chaos happen to all of us. And we are all just doing the best we can.  She described some of the difficulties they were having and I could see tears welling up.  I hear you Momma.  I share your frustration.  Your exhaustion. Sometimes it is all too much.

 

In the middle of our fragmented conversation, her phone rang, it was her 13-year-old calling to tell her she made dinner and it was ready and waiting for them. After getting off the phone, she began packing up and shared with me how awful a mom she is because her first instinct was not to be grateful her daughter had made dinner, but to be irritated that she now had to pack everyone up and leave practice a bit early to get to the dinner waiting on them.

 

I get it. I totally get it. How many times has my first instinct been not of kindness, appreciation or gratitude. To not see the effort of my children and their intention behind an action. Yeah, I get it. We are selfish beings by nature.  To some extent we cannot help it.  It takes intention. It takes awareness.  And sometime we are so exhausted by life that we are just too tired to be intentional or aware and our human-ness is revealed.

 

So, when my daughter yells at me and tells me I am selfish, and I want to scream with all my might that I am not – I need to acknowledge she is right.  She is right about a lot.  I am selfish and I am not as good of a parent as I want to be – in fact, I miss that mark by a lot. But I also need to give myself a little grace and also realize that we are all flawed.  Most of us moms and dads are just trying to do the best we can with these precious treasures we have been given. The roses are beautiful – but the thorns serve their purpose too. They protect the roses from being eaten – allowing them to grow.  Maybe that’s the purpose of these really awful days too.

 

Love and Prosperity, 

Your GirlFIDay

 

 

 

 

3rd Quarter Update – Our Net Worth Decreased and Why That’s OK!

2550 Days to FIRE……450 days into our FIRE journey.

3rd quarterupdatePINTEREST

 

I really cannot believe we are over a year into this journey.  It feels like we just started.  We still have the same excitement, the same passion for our vision for our future.  Our “why” is big and requires some big moves.  These quarterly updates fuel that fire.  Speaking of big moves…

I did it! I retired my law practice.  I never would have imagined that this is where I would be if you had asked me, even just five or six years ago.  Then, the goal was to build a successful practice – a business – and I was on my way to doing so.  I have always been a working mom, working outside the home, that is (All moms are working all the time). But adopting the boys – doubling the size of our family – it changed everything.  Anyone who has heard our adoption story would understand that.

From the time we increased our family, I felt the pull to leave my practice and to work from home.  And it was a gradual progress.  First, switching my focus from trial work to appellate work so that I could work mostly remotely.  Next, it was closing out as many of my cases as possible to decrease my case load to only a handful at a time.  Even then, it was just too much. These were serious cases with serious issues. I was long past full burnout by this time and approaching critical mass.  I was not serving my clients in the way that they needed or being the best version of ME for my kids.

So, the final stage was to start closing out each case and not replacing them with new ones to let my practice just naturally phase out.  The thing about appellate work, though, is that if the Court of Appeal wants to have argument on an issue – it’s not like you can say no.  I felt like I was in the mafia – I kept getting sucked back in every time I thought I was close to being finished.

After getting another email that one of my cases was going to be set for argument and having a complete mental meltdown at the thought of the preparation it would take and the several trips back to Phoenix that would be required – I knew I just had to pull the trigger.  I had to just make a clean break or it was not going to happen.  I called the county and turned in my contract.  Next, I filed Motions to Withdraw to formally be removed from my remaining active cases.   That was it – it was that simple.  I was really done.  An enormous weight was lifted and I no longer had this undercurrent of tension – just waiting for another case to be set for argument. …and so, I am now retired.

Retired from LAW is more precise.  But I am not truly retired.  My attention is now focused on my other businesses, my real estate business and our podcast, House of FI.  The passion and excitement I used to have as a baby lawyer has returned, and it feels so great to be enjoying what I am doing.  I highly recommend if you are unhappy in your job – find a way out.  If you can’t find a way – make a way.  Life is so short.

Financially speaking, it was not the best decision, however.  And because of that, it’s one that brings my husband quite a bit of angst. You see, for the majority of our marriage I have been the bread-winner.  And now the roles are reversed.  This is new for him and I completely understand his fear.  I am the risk-taker, the dreamer.  He is my yang.  He is the level-headed one; being a W-2 employee brings him comfort and stability.  And that is totally OK.  In fact, with my income not being predictable at the moment it is a good thing, for all of us.

What does all of this have to do with our Quarterly Net Worth Update?  Well, it leads to the reason why I am not freaking out about or net worth taking a dip. GASP! Yes, we are on the path to FIRE and we decreased our net worth. That’s not how this is supposed to go.

Well, there is a good reason and the decisions were not made lightly, nor were they made without bouncing several different scenarios around with trusted input from others.  You see, quitting meant a significant reduction in our household income.  In order to prepare for this, we had to make some additional extreme cuts to our budget, with no real means to do that, except one.  Our house.

We made the decision to take a small amount of equity from our home to pay off a few of the monthly expenses that were impacting our monthly budget the most. Overall this will result in a decrease in our monthly budget of about $1,500.00.  And that’s huge.

The other VERY temporary step we took was to put all retirement contributions on hold.  These will resume as soon as I can increase my income and do so consistently.  My expectation is that should be no more than six months.

It’s a scary thing, quitting a lucrative job, for one where the income is uncertain.  But reducing our month expenses in addition to increasing my husband’s net payroll deposits will smooth out this transition period (and will let my Hubbs exhale a little bit.) In the short term the decision gives us a bit of anxiety – but in the long term this is what makes sense for our family.  We have four little boys, some with special needs, that need us to be available – physically and emotionally.  These changes are an investment in them – and that is worth more than an amount of money.

Now for the numbers:

In our 2nd Quarter update, we had cut $4500.00 of expenses from our budget since beginning this journey.  Since then we have made the following additional cuts:

  • Completely cutting cable down to just internet, $60
  • Credit Cards: $300
  • Taxes: $1086
  • Cell Phones: $54

Total: $1500.00

Now to our net worth.  The decrease in net worth was only about $1700.00 overall since March of 2018.  One of the ways we were able to lessen some of the impact was by selling our trailer in July.

I think having decreased our monthly expenses by $6000.00, quitting a job that was draining my spirit and to only have taken a hit of $1700.00 to our net worth is still pretty spectacular.  Since beginning this journey 450 days ago we have increased our Net Worth (decreased our negative Net Worth) by $84,588.00!  Nothing to be upset about there.

I am looking forward to being able to see some positive gains by the 4th Quarter.

Love and Prosperity, 

Your GirFIday

2nd Quarter Update – How We Cut $4500.00 a Month From Our Budget in One Year

2 quarter update 2018 PINTEREST

“It’s Only Crazy Until You Do It” – Nike

As mentioned in my last post….I’ve been a bit busy launching our podcast; so, our second quarter update is a bit late… But it is well worth the wait, I promise.

One of the most important bits of advice I can give to anyone else who is trying to build wealth – pay off debt, save more…spend less…any of these things or all three… TRACK WHAT YOU ARE DOING!  Why?  Because it is a loooooong road sometimes.  There will be times when you are certain you are doing horribly and that you haven’t made any progress.  Overspending, under-saving.  But if you track and periodically come back to the numbers, you can see your progress and, I promise you, it’s not as bad as you think.

It’s the daily, small incremental changes that add up and compound and lead to big results.  But you are not always going to see them.  You are not always going to FEEL them.  To see them, to know you are making progress, you have to know where you started and review your steps along the way.

And let’s be honest, sometimes, we are not doing the things we need to do.  The road to financial independence is not easy.  It’s hard to be on level ten all the time.  If you have a record of your progress, you can not only go back and use your previous wins as motivation, you can assess what you need to fix or where you have let a bit of lifestyle creep work its way into your life.

One of the major commitments Curt and I made when we began to journal our progress with this blog was to be transparent.  We have flubbed things up, more than once.  We have let our budget get a bit loosey-goosey sometimes.  We made purchases we probably shouldn’t have.  We let our chaotic lives get the best of us and settled for convenience over financial responsibility.  And I bet you have too.  And if you haven’t, man!  That’s great! You should be extremely proud of your commitment. That’s not sarcasm, that’s the real deal, hands in the air, admiration.

The reality is –  life happens.  And that’s ok.  Just shake it up, learn, and move on.

So, my second piece of advice is…remember this is YOUR journey.  Your journey is not measured by anyone else’s.  You are in competition with no one.  This is about where YOU begin and where you are going.  As long as you are focused on your future – that dream you have for yourself and your family – that will be your ultimate destination.  And when you arrive?  It’s going to be glorious.  But if you keep looking at the progress of others and worrying that you are not keeping up, you are going to waver and drive yourself off a cliff.  You will never get to where you want to be.  So, stay in your lane!

Got it? Good….now we can move on to the good stuff. (wink). But one final thing, we share this information for one reason only. And that is for your encouragement.  We started in a place that, even now, can feel unsurmountable.  The purpose of our sharing our journey is to show others that it IS possible.  Even when you are standing at the bottom of the mountain, looking up, and the road to the top seems an impossible task.  It’s not.  Trust us, it’s not.  You can do this. Just make a move.  Put your financial plan together and get to work, one foot in front of the other. Just begin.

Without further adieu, here is the stuff ya’all came for.

In our previous post, A Year in Review, we reported some of our overall gains at the beginning of this year.  Here are the highlights:

  • Reduced grocery budget by half (We were spending over $2500.00 a month before **cough** cough*)
  • Paid off and/or reduced debt and expenses for a total monthly savings of: $3186.00
  • Through a combination of debt pay off and increased savings we increased our overall net worth by $46,689.00. (A negative net worth, so a significantly LESS negative worth!)
  • Opened additional retirement accounts for both Wendy and Curtis and began funding them.

Now for the update. Below are the additional areas of progress made since January of 2018:

  • Paid off credit cards
  • Sold trailer
  • Sold my precious Lola Beetle (sobs)
  • Paid off small student loan
  • Consolidated/Reduced Wendy and Curt’s student Loans
  • Paid off a couple of cell phones

These additional changes resulted in another $1321.00 in monthly savings.   Overall, for the year and one month we have been on this journey, we have reduced our fixed monthly expenses by over $4500.00 a month.  That figure does not include the cuts we have also made in our discretionary spending (i.e. food, fuel, fun money, clothing etc..).

$4500.00 a month!  That’s pretty phenomenal! So, what have we done with that money?  The decreases in our spending have allowed us to pay off some of the debt, but also increase our saving rate.  At the time of this writing our saving rate is at about 38%.  Which, considering we started at about 5-7%, that’s spectacular.   The other thing it has allowed is for me to transition careers. As a lawyer, I have been a high income-earner for many years.  Going in to Real Estate, which allows be to be at home with my sons, has also meant that income is no longer coming in predictably – at least not yet.  So, part of this over-all reduction has allowed me to make this shift.

When we no longer have the burden of debt hanging over our heads, when we have savings, we provide ourselves with options. And, for me, more than anything else, being able to be more “present” in my son’s lives has been the greatest benefit of this Financial Independence Journey.

I hope you have found this information valuable – but also, that you can apply some of what we have done in your own lives so that you too can build the future you want for you and your family.

Stay tuned next week when we discuss the gains we have made in our net worth.

Love and Prosperity,

Your Girl.FI.day

 

 

 

 

 

You Guys! We Have Launched!

New-House-logo

If you haven’t noticed, I have been a bit remiss in posting on this blog.  Who knew that creating, interviewing, editing,  and launching a podcast would take so much time!  Well, certainly not this gal.  I figured, meh, 4-10 hours a week no probs!….um, no…let’s say at least double that and some days it was triple and that was while still trying to not let my household devolve into utter pandemonium, or commit malpractice.  Throw in back to school, my real estate business, as well as a murder trial and, well, yeah…I bit off a tad bit more than I could chew.

But I am back!! Woo Hoo!  And guess what guys?  We have a podcast!  Timika and I have been working really hard to put this together.  We have interviewed dozens of amazing people and are interviewing more every week.  We have released several episodes and will release new ones weekly on Wednesdays.  You can check them out on iTunes or you can visit our site, at Houseoffi.com  and listen there.

What would really make us both SUPER DUPER happy, is if you liked the show, that you share it with the people you care about.  What would makes us EXTRA SUPER DUPER happy is if you could also take just a few minutes and leave us an iTunes review.  Reviews are one of the ways that we get to help more people.  The more reviews we have, the more the Interweb gods put us in front of more people that need to hear our message.

We’ll even give you a chance to win Amy Koit’s, very helpful and important book, Kids Money Habits.  We all want our kids to have a better life than us, especially when it comes to their financial stability.  Raising financially literate kids is something we all benefit from.  If you would like to try to win Amy’s book, just leave us an iTunes review and then email or message us that you did so, with your screen name, so we know who you are and how to reach you.

Our email address is info@houseoffi.com

Now that we have some systems in place and we are getting some of the production and editing down to a routine, I should be able to come here more frequently.  I miss ya’all – I hope you feel the same! (Wink)

Love and Prosperity, 

Your GirlFIday

Leaving My Six-Figure Career…and How You Can Too!

Leaving a six figure career PINTEREST

At the time of this writing I am weeks away from walking away from a six-figure career. The last few years have been my most successful ever.  I am good at what I do.  And I am miserable doing it.  The weight of the responsibility of doing good work – the gravity of the consequences when, even the best work, results in a horrible outcome for your client…. it’s just too much.  Some spend their lives bearing this burden.  But the good criminal defense attorneys, the GREAT ones…it comes at a cost.

For over ten years, I have built my solo law practice and have grown my profitability every single year.  I don’t say this to toot my own horn – but simply to explain why leaving my practice is of significance and perhaps, also, be a source of encouragement for others who feel trapped in their current careers.

To continue my law practice, to continue serving my clients, would almost guarantee our family would reach our financial goals within about half the time that we have projected, and far in advance of the retirement age of most of the country – before we turn 50. We would be debt free.  We could retire comfortably.  We could do other work without regard for how much income it brought to our household – volunteer – complete passion projects.  How amazing would that be?

It WOULD certainly be an accomplishment.  But the cost…. it’s just not an expense I am willing to justify anymore.    I am sure there are some who would look at this decision and think that I am crazy…irresponsible even.  And maybe it’s true. In fact, it’s quite likely.

But the decision has not been made without serious contemplation.  A weighing of consequences and risks.  Introspection.  An inventory of the needs of our family – both financially and emotionally.  Input from our children, the Bigs and the Littles.  But primarily – I reflected on my own mental health.  Taking an honest, brutally honest, look at who I have become and who I wanted to be, not only for myself, but for the people I love.

We have been given this amazing opportunity to raise, not only our oldest children, but now – we are mom and dad to the most precious gifts, our Littles.  They were never part of our plan.  They were not a consideration when I became a lawyer fifteen years ago.  Life is funny like that, right?   You think you know your life…

In a matter of two years everything we thought we knew about our future was turned on its head.  It was an amazing turn of events and it was the beginning of the realization that our wants and our needs as a family were now different.  Not just the needs of our family as a unit – but my own.  Who I was as mom.  Who I was as a professional. Who I WANTED to be.

I wanted to be a better mother in my forties than I was in my twenties and thirties.  But not only a mother – a better friend.  A better business owner.  If I wanted to be all of these things, it meant I needed to make some changes.  I did not know exactly what that meant at the time, so I went about the business of figuring it out.  The entire process took several years.  If my story is resonating with you, don’t be discouraged – this process will hopefully not take as long for you as it did me.  My wish – is that memorializing this process will help you in your journey to discovering where you want to be, who you want to be and crafting a plan to get there.

I am in the beginning stages of career transition as a Realtor.  I also Blog and am launching a podcast, House of FI, in the very near future.  My income is uncertain.  I have no real safety-net.  But I AM certain – deep within my bones and throughout my spirit, that I will not fail.  I will succeed.

Have I always felt this much conviction?  No.  Fear has, at moments, been debilitating.  It has been a process.  A process I am now sharing with you.

In the next several weeks, we will be walking through the steps of making a career change.  The first step I recommend for any change is MINDSET.

If you are not willing to engage in a positive change in mindset – chances are very high that you will fail.  Your mind is your most powerful asset.  And we become who we believe we are. Thoughts are things.

But how do we change them…

Put your phone down.  It should not be the first thing you see in the morning.  Looking at your phone makes your thought processes reactionary.  You respond to the images and words you see.

Don’t look at your email for the same reasons.  It can all wait.

Read.  Read EVERY day.  A minimum of 15 minutes.  At the beginning of the day.  How you begin your day matters. If you are not sure what to read – I have started a list of my favorite books.  Each has impacted my life in a significant way. You can find them here.

If you simply can’t find 10-15 minutes to read in a quiet spot, then get an audio book.  Listen during your morning commute.  As you work-out.  While taking a bath.  But do it.  It’s Non-negotiable.

Make daily affirmations and/or motivational videos/audio’s part of your morning routine as well.

I used to think affirmations were silly.  But then I changed my mindset.  I began exploring affirmation APP’s and recordings on YouTube.  I ended up finding a book written by Florence Scovil Shinn, written in the early 1900’s.  It’s full of timeless affirmations and real-life experiences.  It finally clicked for me.  I wrote down several affirmations that spoke to me, I recorded them on my iPhone and saved them to my notes.  They are just a few minutes long, but I listen to them every day.  Some are merely affirmations of gratitude.  Saying thank you for life, health…family. Expressing gratitude is one of the best ways to build positive thoughts.

I have come to realize and believe, wholeheartedly, the affirmations I speak into my life every day have contributed to my success and over-all well-being. When I speak positive words out of my mouth, they travel to my ears, then continue to my brain.  My whole body.  I FEEL BETTER.  I FEEL empowered.  I am more determined.  The negative feelings and fear leave me.  I walk taller.  I speak more confidently.

So, give it a try.  (I find it works best when I put my headphones on and listen while I walk or work out.)

To Recap, your first step…. work on your mindset.

Flood your body and mind with positive and encouraging words every day in the form of books, motivational recordings and/or positive affirmations. Make it a habit.

Now that we have gotten your mind in the right place, we can move forward to discovering your “WHY”.

Love and Prosperity

Your girl.FI.day

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash