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.

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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?

 

 

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Don’t be afraid to Dream Big

Somewhere along the way from the beginning of our school years to when we become adults and start working towards retirement, it seems like a lot of us forget how to really pursue our dreams.  We are doing something, but I’m not sure many of us are actually pursuing a specific dream or set of dreams.

I wouldn’t trade my first 20 years of marriage for anything, but I’d love to go back to 1995 or so, when we had been married a few years with the knowledge I have now about life, money, and the possibilities that exist for early retirement.  The whole idea of what I thought was the American Dream, to own a house, drive nice cars, and retire at age 65, has sent us down a much longer path than what we could have taken.

By 1995, I started focusing on retirement.  I wasn’t putting a ton of money in, but by 2000 I was in great shape, especially if I was thinking about retirement being another 35 years away.  My wife was focused on getting into the school systems, and the thought of a pension was a driving factor.  Investing for retirement wasn’t a priority for her.  A few of those years, we drove over 60,000 miles combined.  How much money did that really cost us?!?!

I’m not sure we would have found a better path to the incomes we’re earning now, but we have increased our lifestyle some as the income rose.  Mostly in housing, and somewhat in other areas like food, cars, and clothing.  We have a fine, typical lifestyle, but I wonder how much differently we could have done things if we knew what we know now?  We’re already more conservative and more “boring” than many of our friends, but what if from 1992-2012 we were pursuing the dream we’re pursuing now, the one of early retirement?  Could I have retired at 35 or 40 instead of maybe semi-retiring at age 50?

A few months ago, I came across a blog called Mr. Money Mustache, or MMM.  I don’t remember how I stumbled across it, but it was probably in preparation for the Legacy Journey class we were leading.  MMM sums up what it takes to retire super early in one post.    He would call my wife and me complainypants, because at this point we’re not selling our home and moving within walking or biking distance of where I work.  But deep down I sort of want to; the neighborhood beside where i now work was an area we dreaming of living in 1992.  Just a couple miles away is a great neighborhood we almost bought a house in back in 2009.  In between the two is an area we dreamed of in 2006.

Where we live is probably our biggest deterrent to early retirement. If we could make the move, we could probably either pay cash or pay off a house withing a year or two in one of those neighborhoods above.   I could stop driving my car much, and sell at least one car of the three we own.  Maybe two.  After that, giving up cable and reducing our spending on food would really be the last two things on our list.  We could probably be truly financially independent in 5 years instead of semi-retired.

I’m not complaining, things are pretty good.  Especially with the focus we’ve had the last four years about being intentional about dreaming and then pursuing those dreams.  But what if we’d been dreaming of retiring at age 40 since we got married?  What choices would we have made?  Why in the world didn’t someone tell us what was possible?   Why didn’t I get some sort of sage advice in high school from other than something like “you need to stop dreaming so much; most people just can’t be something they’re not.”  It was like since we are born into where we are, we can’t really change the course of our life.  What utter crap!

Many of us are made to fear failure.  To be afraid of what others will think if we don’t follow the herd. MMM is not the only place to learn about retiring really early.  jlcollinsnh, Afford Anything, 1500 Days, the Frugal Woods; all share recipes and recommendations for really pursing your dreams.  Don’t live someone else’s dream for you!  No matter how old you are, but especially if you’re young – take some time his month and really think about what you want from this life, then put a plan in place to go get it!