Living Life Comfortably When Things Get Expensive

Taking a breather from writing is not always easy for me. I guilt myself, perhaps a bit too much, over my unpaid hobby when I neglect it. Some days, it is hard to step away guilt free because there is a lot of joy I find in writing, but the realist in me also understands I don’t make money off the activity the way full time bloggers and influencers do from their social media presence. Quite often, I do need to step away from my blog to have more time for my family and my responsibilities as a person who works outside the home. My personality and lack of tech savvy skills are also not a good match for the world of full time blogging and the uncertainty that comes from an irregular income contingent on bringing in sponsors, having ads, and what not. I guess from here on out I want to be honest that my writing will be more sporadic. I enjoy writing as a craft and if it’s going to continue as an unpaid hobby, I need to guilt trip myself less about it.

That all being said, the last few months have been a great time to reflect on where my life is at and the goals I have down the line. Watching our world unfold in a terrible way due to things like the ongoing war in Ukraine and the school shooting in Uvalde have only made me want to retreat a little bit more, using my goals as a way to stay grounded. I must also remember terrible things going on this world does not mean I cannot find joy in the many positive things also going on at the same time. So finding joy in a time of uncertainty is something I continue to strive to find in my daily life. A big part of finding joy in uncertainty is having a financial cushion.

My Path to FI

I make the statement “My Path to FI” but it really represents an intent to bring my entire family to financial independence. I choose to say “my” rather than “ours” because I am the sole author of this blog. I do speak of our financial situation as a package deal though because we are a two-income household and we will continue on that path. Being disciplined along the way though requires finding inspiration and I thought I’d shared today some of the spaces where I am finding inspiration to stay motivated as the pandemic has made grocery shopping, dining out, and home improvement materials more expensive.

I started to follow @kayelle.daily on Instagram somewhat recently to see her progress as a six-figure single income household during her mortgage payoff and while she describes herself as “work optional” based on her husband’s job, I understand that type of journey is not right for me. I can jump onboard with the idea of paying down the mortgage, but I don’t want to stay at home full time as a mother. When I first found this account on Instagram, I will admit I was a bit overwhelmed. Her page was beautiful, but I was looking for an explanation of how she got to where she is today.

After scouting further back into her past posts, I found the explanation I was looking for to understand how her mortgage pay off journey became a realistic goal. Once I saw where her journey actually began, I felt better about keeping her on my list of inspiration sources. I’ve been that person making $32,500 to roughly $43,000 in the past and being underemployed was cramping my ability to get closer to larger financial goals. When my family also stopped paying for childcare, we also grew the space between our income and expenses, too. (It still bothers me though that it is more expensive in my State to pay for infant childcare compared to sending a young adult to a four year public university.)

Now, I’ll be upfront, I won’t embrace the gazelle intensity quite as much. Having found both How to Money and ChooseFI some time ago, I feel comfortable moving away from Dave Ramsey’s teachings and towards a path that feels sustainable. A big part of wanting to blend a combination of competing financial goals (i.e. paying towards retirement while at the same time throwing extra money towards the mortgage and saving for vacations) is that I see more and more how uncertain our lifespans are. If I were to be a person who doesn’t get to reach her goal of living to be 100, I don’t want to be remembered as a miser for the years I worked towards financial freedom. Approaching financial goals from a mindset of financial scarcity has been stressful at times, and I don’t want to be in that boat again. My family would have missed out on making better memories for the sake of paying down some bills. I would not trade the time we spent at Disneyland and San Francisco last year for other financial goals. The pandemic really wore us all down and the ability to go out and explore the world a little more helped ease the stress we’ve experienced since March 2020.

On other hand, because I want to live a happy life when I’m in my 80’s, 90’s, and hopefully live to see 100, I cannot live now like money can always be earned. I have no idea how many working years I’ll get, so it is prudent to get the mortgage paid off before retirement. A mortgage is a pretty stable payment to make in many ways and as the rent continues to grow in our area, I don’t want to become a renter again. My favorite neighborhood in Gilbert, Agritopia, has easily become one of these least affordable neighborhoods and I could not imagine as I age, living on more of a fixed income, having less choice regarding where I can live. When I’m older, I may need more freedom to make modifications to my living situation so I can age in place and the freedom of being mortgage-free will make it possible to put in upgrades of my liking. I think if we could build our home with some universal design upgrades in mind, our home will be both aesthetically pleasing while better serving everyone who lives or visits our home for the years we call it ours.

Knowing that Arizona also does not offer all the things that speak to my soul, I am glad we are both on board with making travel a priority which is the last thing I want to touch on today. We already have an out-of-state trip planned for the spring (something to share in more detail post trip). Saving up for the adventure is important since flights, hotel rooms, and a rental car will eat up most of the travel budget. Our plan to visit with friends there requires some extra pre-planning to ensure our adventures factor in weather issues (unlike the mistakes we made on our San Francisco trip!) as most places have less consistent weather in the spring compared to our slice of Arizona. I am also hunting around for restaurants with a greater balance of dairy-free entrees and desserts for me and options my family will enjoy that won’t require them to sacrifice on my behalf.

More to follow as always. I hope to catch up again in late August or September.