End of year update on the Sailing Dream

Step by step, we’re getting closer to realizing our dream.  We just made our last mortgage payment of 2016.  Since refinancing late this spring, we’ve made enough progress to be at the three year mark of our amortization schedule.  So that’s 3 years of a 15 year mortgage paid in 6 months.  In respect to our 5 year plan to get it paid off, we’re already 6 months ahead of schedule.  If we maintain this pace, the house is paid off in December 2018 – two years from today!

And as if that’s not motivation enough, I stumbled across a Craigslist posting for a CAL35 sailboat.

Picture from the Craigslist post for a 1983 CAL35 sailboat

The CAL35 was on the shortlist of potential affordable sailboats for us to live on as part of the dream when it was first defined.  We’re in good enough financial shape that we could buy this one right now if we wanted.  I mentioned I saw it to Mrs. Outspoken, and she seemed a little excited too, then responded that she’d rather get the house paid off first. I agree.  Plus, we can’t use a boat this size around Pittsburgh due to the mast height not clearing many of the bridges in the city.  It’s more of a coastal/Great Lakes/Carribbean cruiser.

We have decided to take the vinyl/book selling and try to ramp it up next year, focusing more on the vinyl.  I’m making about 3x the profit on records, although it requires a little more work to clean and grade them.  As long as it stays relatively fun, the work won’t be so bad.  Hopefully we can make a little extra as insurance to getting the house paid off by the end of 2018.

Then what?  We’ll we’ve started down a path of gradually transforming our lifestyle.  We decided that buying a canoe is a good first step to start creating more of a focus on spending time on or around water when we can in 2017.  We’ve saved up some money from our Christmas budget and gifts to fund the purchase.

The next step would probably be those sailing lessons in 2018.  After the house is paid off, we probably would need to take some extended charters in a couple locations we’re dreaming of visiting via sailboat.

We’re not entirely ready from a financial perspective to retire.  Getting the house paid off would relieve much (almost all?) of our financial pressure, and then we’d have to decide where to invest over the coming years to reach financial independence to support a potential sailing lifestyle.   My retirement calculator at work says I’m good to go at age 50, but it will come down to what else is happening in our lives at that time.

I’m also going to really take a look at my spending on alcohol.  I enjoy decent wine and whisky, as well as craft beer, but some months I spend way too much.  Also, the only two times I’ve been sick in the last year (both this month) were after a night of drinking a bit too much.   So for my personal health as well as our financial health, I need to cut back, and cutting the spending by 50-75% should make that happen.

As i discussed in an earlier post, we could cut back a little more.  But I think we’ve done a pretty good job of changing our future outlook.  Sure we could get there (wherever there is) a little faster by doing some extreme things, but I can’t say it would be worth it.  But I do wish I’d started this sooner, which is why I gave a copy of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover to my niece last year at Christmas, and to her brother this year.  I’m also probably going to send them a few tweets in the coming weeks about Mr. Money Mustache.  If I can get one or both of them to see a different possibility for their future, that would be more satisfying than me getting to my destination of Financial Independence a few months earlier.

Whatever it is you want to do, it’s very likely you can do it if you put a clear plan in place.  Start with the “Why”, as in “why do we want to do this, to make these sacrifices or changes?” Then create a vivid visualization of what it would look and feel like to achieve that “Why”.   Next identify what needs to happen to get there, then lay out the simple, often very small steps to make it happen.  For example, why would we buy a canoe if our dream is to sail the Caribbean, Great Lakes, and maybe even the European coastlines?  Because it’s the next small step.

As 2016 comes to a close, take the next step.  Whatever it is, just commit to the next step on your path to achieving your dream.  Every great journey starts with taking the first step.  Where will that first step take you?




Update on the Sailing Dream

Harbor at Naples, Italy – February 2015

Since we’re at mid-May, it seems to be a decent time to provide an update on some goals, specifically on the sailing goal.  We went to the Miami Boat Show as planned in February.  While there we attended a Couples Cruising seminar, as well as checking out probably 50 boats.  Most of these were new sailboats, and a handful were powerboats.  The Beneteau Oceanis 35 (actually the entire Oceanis line), the Salonas S44, and the Catalina 445 were probably our favorite sailboats.  We found the Catamarans very appealing, in fact the FP Helia 44 was very enticing; the amount of space is amazing, and the stability was noticeable.   But really, we found all the boats we liked to be more stable than the docks themselves.  We also liked a few of the Mainship trawlers, and even a Carver powerboat was pretty nice inside, if a little challenged on the external aesthetics.

So then it was off to our initial “Learn to Sail” course in March, which also went well.  But we ran into a problem:  our desire to have a boat and live that lifestyle got the best of us.  We started doing some financial calculations and asked “how much could we save up in  year?  How about in 2-3 years?”   We started to realize this whole dream is entirely possible, but we could probably even keep the house if we play it right.  Meaning no boat loans and  delaying any boat purchase.

So we got into high gear.  We paid of both cars, and are knocking on the door of being debt-free except the house by paying off our last student loan.  Then we’ll focus on getting the house paid for.  I don’t think this realistically changes our timeline for long-term cruising, and in many ways will probably extend the length of time we can be on a sailboat.  One of the primary drivers of a departure timeline has been aging family, as we’ll be in our current area to support them for several years.

So we’re now following Dave Ramsey’s guidelines on building wealth, and hopefully that leads to the same early retirement I have dreamed of, just with more assets and financial resources.   We’re not quite on the “beans and rice, rice and beans” plan, but we are cutting back a good bit.  Hopefully in 4-5 years we’re be in the position to have the flexibility to do what we choose, including going sailing/boating for extended periods of time – even if it’s just on the Three Rivers in Pennsylvania and West Virginia most of the time.

Of course, any time I put my mind to doing something good or better, temptations or challenges seem to be thrown my way.  So what have they be building right outside my office window the past several weeks? A marina.  Seriously, they’re building a new marina right outside my window on the other side of the river!  How lovely!  We could have the boat a five minute walk across the river from my office if we stuck with the original plan to buy a boat this year.  Oh, temptation!

I feel strongly that we’ll be in much better shape long-term if we pursue the ‘and’ solution instead of the ‘or’ solution.   Meaning answering the question “How can we have a (sail)boat  AND the house and still retire early?” instead of   “Do we sell the house to take a break from working and go sailing OR do we put it off until retirement like most people?”

All that means is there will probably be limited sailing updates this year, and my goals of taking sailing lessons and skippering in races are torpedoed for now.  But my wife shares the dream, and we’ll get out there hopefully sooner than originally planned.