It’s about time for a proper introduction, don’t you think? I’m three months in and my blog has already had its first existential crisis. Trying to be a mixture of random musings, financial planning content, and a platform for a future online business (?). It’s not doing any of these particularly well.
The more I thought about it*, I came to the obvious conclusion that it’s bloggers relatability that draws me in. From Chief Mom Officer to Four Pillar Freedom to (of course I have to) Mr. Money Mustache. Each one of these bloggers has something to offer me personally. I can identify with Chief Mom Officer because she’s the main breadwinner of a family. I’ve followed Four Pillar Freedom since his net worth was $12k because I find it incredibly inspiring how he pulls together money, work ethic, philosophy, and psychology to inspire all sorts of growth in his life. Finally, as a fellow engineer, Mr. Money Mustache took money and efficiency and combined them into simple equations and concepts that highlight how ridiculously wasteful most of us are with money. I read The True Cost of Commuting post in November of 2011** and literally jumped out of my chair at work to celebrate a logical discussion of ridiculous commutes. (I also drop badassity casually in conversations, and no one bats an eye anymore).
Back to my introduction… I was helping a friend with their resume a few weeks back when they said “I want to highlight my skills without promoting myself too much, you know?”.
Yes, I do know! And it occurred to me that I was washing out the colour from my opinions and my writing because I don’t want to offend anyone. I also don’t want to humble brag either, since it’s the reason I stay away from Facebook for the most part. And this is not a business website, so I’d rather not put energy into maintaining any sort of professional facade.
But I do think I have something to offer. I’ve always looked at the world at a slightly different angle. I’m here to share that angle with you, to provide some relatable experiences. So Random Internet Stranger, come meet Mrs. Funemployed for the first time…
If I had to pick a turning point in my life, it would be January 2009. Mr Funemployed and I were camping on the North Island of New Zealand, about to hike the circuit around Tongariro mountain (otherwise known as Mt. Doom to the nerds out there). It was month 9 of our extended honeymoon and we were talking to a couple camping next to us. After initial greetings, the topic of conversation moved to how long we were travelling. I mentioned our year long honeymoon, and they nodded and smiled pleasantly. I asked about them, and they said “Oh, about 3 years.”. This piqued my interest, so I dived into it a bit more. Turns out, they were both engineers, 38 years old, and completely retired. So naturally, I asked them “How?”.
The woman stopped, she smiled at me, and she said “Most people don’t ask that question.”. I shrugged off that comment since I was intent on pulling as much information from them as possible. But it’s that comment about the How? that I keep on coming back to years later.
I don’t remember their names, but I remember their specifics. They were both Canadian, both engineers, they found a small business to purchase in their early thirties, built it up, and sold it for a few million dollars. The money was invested and they lived off of $40-60k a year slow travelling. We talked about lifestyle, and about how their high income siblings thought they were insane. I thought they were brilliant. They were the first Early Retirees that I met in person, and they were living intentionally.
10 years later, I realize how rare How? is. No one asks. This is the insanity.
Since then, we’ve tried to be as intentional with our money as possible. We don’t want to mirror anyone’s life, we want to create our own. So what have we done with the last 10 years?
What we’ve done with 10 years
I have worked full time for 10 years. About every 3 years, I’ve been able to take a year off, each for a different purpose. The first year was to travel for a year long honeymoon, the next two were to take maternity leave for each of my two children, and now I’ve been off for another year after quitting my job. The purpose of this break? Slow down, spend more time with my kids, and figure out what I want to do next with my life.
Other than the first few years of dating, my husband has been a full time stay at home parent. He has made our house a home and allowed for a state of calm to exist in all of our lives that we couldn’t have had otherwise.
In addition, we have a paid off house, a fully funded retirement waiting for us at 65, and will be able to pay for one University degree for each of our kids.
I want this to soak in. Because all of this was accomplished on 10 years of a single income.
Yes, it was 10 years of a professional income. Yes, I am blessed with a stable upbringing, a supportive family, and a healthy body and mind. But at no point did I win the lottery or inherit a large sum of money.
I see so many middle class acquaintances struggle with establishing enough financial security to make these types of choices in their lives. I get told that it must have been a big sacrifice, or that it took a lot of courage to arrange my life just so. Bullshit. I’m just as scared and insecure as the rest of you. But I can establish a clear vision, set goals that get me there, and acknowledge my emotions without entangling my identity with them.
We’ve lived our life in clear sight of everyone around us, and less than 1% of people wanted to know how we did it. This blog will be all about the How. Sometimes the How will be about perspective, sometimes about mindset, and sometimes about basic financial math. I will share some of our personal financial details so it’s real and so you can work through your own numbers alongside.
So thank you Random Internet Stranger for joining me. Please sit back with a cup of coffee so we can have an intelligent conversation about why and how to use money to arrange our lives purposely. Comments are encouraged and I would love to hear about your stories, your struggles, and your personal situation. Until next time.
*By “I thought about it” – I really mean that a friend emailed me an audience analysis template after subtly indicating that my writing might have a bit of a schizophrenic edge to it. This is truly what friends are for :).
**Yes. I did just say that I read Mr. Money Mustache before MMM was cool. Well, before he was really cool. This will likely be the only time in my life where I was accidentally an early adopter of anything.