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

Why We Stopped Bringing Gifts to Kid Birthday Parties (and what we do instead)

Is it just me, or have kids birthday parties gotten totally out of control? I read an informal survey that found parents spend $500 – on average – per kid per birthday party. And that doesn’t even count all the gifts. Add two or three kids to the mix over 18 years and that is a huge expense — especially for consumable items like cheap gifts, party favor bags, decorations, disposable plates, etc. – that all end in the trash. Continue reading

Figuring Out Where to Buy Groceries

Nerd alert. I love talking about grocery budgets. Why? It’s one of the easiest budgets to trim, and yet it’s also one of the easiest budgets to blow if you’re not on top of it.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve tried a lot of different strategies for reducing our budget (more on that here), and one of the most efficient ways to trim the budget is to know where to buy your groceries.

So, which grocery store has the best deals?  Continue reading

How (and Why) We Became a One-Car Family

Last year, we decided to give back our leased car and become a one-car family. We often get questions about how we “get by” with only one car, especially as a busy family of four. Here’s why we decided to go this route, and how we do it. Continue reading

Ditching Paper Towels for Good

A few months ago, I was shopping at Costco for our large monthly grocery haul. Paper towels were on the list, and as I stared at the mega box our family would blow through, I thought, “Do I really want to spend $20 on paper towels?” The answer was no. Instead,  I bought a dozen white dish towels for $10. Without giving it much preemptive thought, operation ditch paper towels had begun. Continue reading

Creating A Meaningful Christmas on a Budget

Growing up, my most vivid memories involve the magic of Christmas. Visiting Santa, shopping and wrapping gifts, performing in the Christmas pageant, enjoying a special family dinner, and eagerly waking up on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought. Continue reading