Our Budget & Savings Rate for a Family of Four

We’re not your typical young, super-high earning professionals working toward financial independence. We’re Xennials pushing 40, we have one primary income, we have two growing boys, we live in a higher-cost-of-living area — and we’re on target to reach financial independence in less than ten years after setting down the path.

It’s not sexy, nor is it perfect, but I’m sharing our monthly budget to show how a fairly “normal” family can budget, save, and invest enough to work toward financial independence without winning the lottery.

Here is our monthly budget (and savings rate) for our family of four.  Continue reading

A Million Little Choices

This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, I may make a commission. 

Every day we make choices. What we do. What we say. What we buy. How we respond. How we interact. Who we spend time with. How we treat our bodies. How we nourish our minds.

I’ve been reading a yoga-inspired book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success and one big takeaway is how so much of our success and happiness boils down to choices – even choices we might not realize we’re making.

“You and I are essentially infinite choice-makers. In every moment of our existence, we are in that field of all possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices. Some of these choices are made consciously, while others are made unconsciously.” – Deepak Chopra, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success 

Which makes me wonder, how can we be more conscious of our choices to positively impact our financial and personal goals?

Here’s how I see this mindset impacting money and why the framework is also helpful for raising kids.

Continue reading

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

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