How We Paid Off $61,700 in Debt and Plan to Retire by 2021

I often hear the question, “how much debt were you in and what is your net worth now?” It took some serious Debt CSI to uncover our debt, assets, and net worth since 2006, but the results were quite revealing. In 2009/2010 we had a high of $61,700 in consumer debt and a net worth of -$74,000. In a few short years, we dug out of this pile of debt and currently have a net worth of over $500,000. Here’s our numbers story. Continue reading

Childcare costs and financial independence

Childcare Costs – Balancing Finances & Family When Working Toward Financial Independence

As parents, it’s easy to meet single professionals in their late 20’s who are well on their way to an early retirement (or already living the dream) and think two things: “Darn, I wish we would have started earlier” and, “But they don’t have kids!” FIRE envy aside, one big question working families with kids must tackle is how to deal with childcare expenses.

If we both work full-time, how can we minimize childcare expenses? Should one of us cut back to part-time or fully stay at home? What other sources of income can we create to offset these costs? What is best for our kids and our family right now?

These are all questions we’ve asked and over the years, we’ve tried quite a few different arrangements with work and childcare to find the right balance between finances and what is best for our family.

Here’s our experience and tips for managing costs. Continue reading

What I Learned After Two Years of Biking to Work

“Why don’t we sell the house and move closer to your work?”

Those words came out of my wife’s mouth so easily I thought she was joking.  Or was she?

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“Well, why are we here? We don’t need to live in Seattle. You work in Everett and I work from home, and there is nothing here we can’t have there. In fact, we can have more house for less money, and probably pay less in utilities, daycare and groceries,” she said. And you know, she was right.

I was commuting daily (20 miles one way) up to my job in Everett, and the only reason we were still living in our house was because I was emotionally attached to it. Turns out, that emotional attachment was costing us a lot of money.

It was this conversation three years ago about commuting and whether or not to move that lead us to completely upend our life by going down the rabbit hole of financial independence and early retirement. Once we ran the numbers and saw how much money we would save by moving, we jumped in with both feet.

Two years ago we moved 4.6 miles from my work and I committed to year-round bike commuting and to being a one-car family. In doing so, we cut our expenses significantly. Continue reading

March Spending Freeze – Did We Pass or Fail?

Last month, we went on a spending freeze to reset our spending and increase our savings.

As we wrote about here, our goal for March was to eliminate all unnecessary spending — to go on a spending freeze or “buy nothing” month. Did we pass or fail?

Here’s how we did and what we learned. Continue reading

Earning Interest on a Kid’s Savings Account

If your child’s piggy bank is overflowing or you want them to start earning interest on their savings, here’s a simple thing to do: open an interest bearing savings account with them.

Our local credit union, BECU, offers a youth savings account (“Early Savers Account“) with premium rate on their first $500 in deposits, and the standard posted rate thereafter. This means our eight year old is earning 6.17% on his savings (up to $500, then 0.17% after $500).

In addition to helping him save, the bank (and not just the bank of mom and dad) is paying him interest and it helps teach important money lessons. Continue reading

Getting On the Same Page About Money

My husband and I often disagree about who is more frugal. He says I am, I say he is. The truth is, we both have our financial strengths and we both have different spending triggers.

The important thing is we’ve created financial goals together, we have extremely open conversations about finances, we have roles and responsibilities (mostly) carved out, and we’re supportive of each other. We’re on the same page.

But it wasn’t always this smooth. And, it takes effort to stay this way.

One of the questions I often hear in talking to other families working toward financial independence is, “Was your spouse/partner on board with all of this?” And, “Who’s idea was it and how did you convince your spouse/partner to follow suit?”

All great questions (and often humorous stories that follow). To help those who may be having these questions or interactions with their partner, here’s how we got on the same page about money and some tips we’ve learned along with the way.  Continue reading

Permission to Let Go of Things That No Longer Serve You

For the past year, I’ve been practicing hot yoga on a (nearly) daily basis. It’s where I find my dose of quiet, focus, energy, and strength. It’s my oasis away from the needs of everyone else. It’s where I find one hour to focus on only me.

One of my favorite mantras offered during practice is to let go of things that no longer serve you.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot in reference to my yoga practice, but also in my daily life. It offers a framework to think about what we let into our life, what we keep in our life, and what we can let go of.

It aligns quite nicely with a minimalist and FIRE mindset. How? Why? Continue reading