March 2018 Expenses- How Much Does a Sprinter Van Cost?

March 2018 Expenditures

Copy of saved more than earned (1)

Written by Alli

March 2018 Expenditures- buying a van, PRK (Lasik) eye surgery, and other really expensive things.

This month Alli is coming at you with our March expenditures! And let’s just say…we had a REALLY expensive month. We bought Clifford the big red van, I (Alli) had PRK (Lasik) eye surgery, and we bought Matt a laptop! Clifford is a business expense, due to the fact that we will be blogging and sharing financial wisdom from the road. PRK (Lasik) is a healthcare expense and the laptop is also a business expense. For these reasons, we are not including them in our $40k per year challenge. You might think we are changing the rules because we spent a lot this month and that’s cool if you think we’re weaksauce! Feel free to read more hardcore blogs elsewhere. To us, the $40k per year challenge is about reducing personal expenses, so that’s why we are sticking to the personal categories. So let’s dive into the details.

Housing- $618.49: this is the net expense out of our pocket after we collect rental income from our tenants who rent out 3 rooms in our house. This is fairly normal, the cleaning is a tad high (it’s only $200 per month) but I’m guessing that’s because they didn’t cash a check. Our gardener is notoriously forgetful and only asks us for checks every couple months, so that’s why it’s zero this month.

march2018

Groceries- $535.32: This is high for us this month for a couple reasons. We had some friends in town (a family of 5) for a week and instead of going out to eat, we opted for cooking lots of meals at home for them. We also had my mom and aunt come to town one weekend to help us with curtains for Clifford, and we cooked them a meal in the Instant pot (carnitas tacos..yumm).

Student Loans- $500: Matt pays this every month to his mom. It’s 0% interest so we don’t see the point of paying it off.

Gasoline- $192.18: Matt drives a 2006 Prius and Alli drives a 2009 Accord, which are both for sale right now. Email us if you’re interested! Lol.

Travel- $150: I spent this reserving a campsite in September for my 8 college roommates and myself to visit Arches National Park in Utah! $134 of this will be reimbursed by the girls when that time comes. We don’t record reimbursements until they come in, so for that reason, this will hit our expenses this month.

Insurance- $145.50: For both of the cars. We also have an umbrella policy through Liberty Mutual. We keep liability only insurance on both of our cars because they aren’t worth more than $7k each.

Pharmacy/Doctor- $135.39: I had to get a prescription eye drops for my eye surgery and Matt got some blood work done. Typical routine work. We tried to get a bunch of routine work done in March since we will be changing insurance and hitting the road soon. We will have a whole video posted on which insurance we went with now that we are self-employed.

Supplements- $134.39: Various supplements including CBD oil! If you’re interested in hearing what supplements we take and why, leave us a comment below!

Eating out- $122.87: Took my mom out to dinner one night, everything else was fairly small meals eaten out!

Cars Registration- $55: ya know, gotta stay legal. This was for my Honda Accord.

Entertainment- $63.99: One of our roommates was in a local volunteer theatre program and we went to support her. All the proceeds went to charity! It was a fun night and Dinah is a star! We also went to CALM, a local museum that celebrates California’s native plant and animal species.

One of the little friend's we made at CALM
One of the little friend's we made at CALM

 

Late Fee- $25: Matt’s credit card number changed and it turned off AutoPay. Sad day. We got this fixed though so we won’t miss a payment again! We use credit cards for all of our purchases because travel points!

Shopping- $13.93: Some skincare things from Amazon because I turned 28 and ya know, I need an eye cream now.

Trade Commissions- $13.77: Wealthfront and 401k Fees

Itunes- $11.97: We pay for Dropbox through Itunes. $10 per month. We also pay $.99 per month for ICloud, but we are in the process of moving all that over to DB.

Gym- $5: We pay for an online yoga membership, which we will be cancelling this month because now I am a registered Yoga Teacher! Woot woot!

Total: $2,722.8

So here’s how we’re doing on our $40k challenge for 2018…We’re 25% of the way through the year, and we’ve only spent 19% of our budget…so I’d say that’s pretty damn good!

march2018piechart

Now onto some of the “other stuff” i.e., income and business expenses:

Income:

401K Contributions- $11,026.20: All of my (Alli) paycheck went to my 401k because we were trying to minimize our tax burden for the year. Matt’s company wouldn’t let him put his whole paycheck, but he did they max they would allow.

Paychecks- $7593.03: Little lower than normal because of me putting all of my money into my 401k

Selling stuff- $1955.29: Hell yah! I’ve been working my buns off selling all our furniture and things on Craigslist and OfferUp. I imagine April’s will be much larger.

HSA Contribution- $376.92: Matt’s company automatically puts this into an HSA account, which is awesome. We strategically didn’t use the HSA funds for my eye surgery right now though because there’s this rule that you can pull out the money anytime as long as you have the receipt. So we kept the eye surgery receipt and should we need it at a later date we can pull it out then.

Dividends- $721.73: We invest most of our money in VSTAX.

Total income: $21,673.17

Business + Health Expenses:

Clifford- $8800: What a STEAL! You might be thinking. Well, Clifford has 440,000 miles on him BUT thankfully he just had a new engine put in him, and the new engine has about 60k miles. He does have a few issues and is actually in the shop right now down in LA getting a full check up before we take off. The issues seem to be small, but Matt can update further on what’s going on.

Clifford’s conversion- $1538.38: We have budgeted around $10k to get him totally functional, and it looks like we are going to come under our budget. You’ll see lots of charges for this in April's expenses.

Insulation foam from Home Depot!
Insulation foam from Home Depot!

Lasik (PRK) eye surgery- $4000: I had horrible eyes! So thankfully now I can see. This will be especially useful for van life! This will be a one time cost and will eliminate my need for glasses and contacts. It doesn't exactly pay-out economically, but contacts have never been comfortable to me, so for the convenience of not having glasses...I will pay!

Business Items- $852.87: Matt bought a laptop because we can’t have a desktop in Clifford. This also has our recurring subscriptions like ActiveCampaign and Libsyn.

Primal Noms- $60.04: We had some business meetings up in SF so this is just gas and food for our day trip.

Total business expenses: $15,251.29

April is also shaping up to be an expensive month, but we will be selling the rest of our belongings and both of our cars, so we will be making money from those. We also only worked half of April, but we both got paid out a bit of vacation, so our April income shouldn't be too shot. May on the other hand, lol!

Thanks for reading, was this insightful to you? Please let us know in the comments if you have any questions or would like further explanations!

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Handling Fear when Following an Unconventional Life

Handling Fear when Following an Unconventional Life

Handling Fear when Living

Written by Matt

I felt compelled to write this to just vocalize the current state of the feelings around the Owen household. As we near in to the last day of regular employment, we have had a ton of varying emotional experiences. We oscillate between excitement and fear. These emotions have shown up in a lot of different ways in our communication with each other and our interactions with the rest of the world. It hasn’t all been pretty, but it has been our experience and I’d like to share it.

We worked hard, made a plan, and are executing on that plan… what could be wrong? Well the FUD always has a way of creeping in (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) did we make the right decision? Will the van survive our travels? Will something I install murder us in a crash? All things that have floated through my mind in the last few weeks. Some more morbid than others.

Is this What Freedom Feels Like?
Is this What Freedom Feels Like?

I think both myself and Allison underestimated the emotions that would come up when we decided to make this choice. To leave work, leave our house, leave our friends, and strike out on our own. A decision that we both ultimately know is right for us but none the less is generating a whole range of emotional responses. We are so excited for all of the places we will see. The new people we will meet and create friendships with, the opportunity before us with our businesses and the people we can help and support. Seems all gravy, after all we had a plan right?

While we are excited by these things we still have Fear. Are we doing something crazy? Will we enjoy this new life? Will we have enough money? Will the businesses work? I can find myself catastrophizing and ultimately finding my way down the rabbit hole until it ends up with death. Basically, you follow any negative internal thought far enough and I end up at death. After all, our minds are programmed for survival, and fear is just False Evidence Appearing Real – We think we are going to die…. But we aren’t.

MALLI FOREVER
MALLI FOREVER

Really it comes down to how we manage and embrace the fear of change and uncertainty. Tony Robbins talks about 6 core needs of all human beings and ironically both Certainty and Uncertainty are on that list. Why both? Because we all need certain things that are fixed and stable in our life but we don’t want too much certainty or things get stale and boring. We are extraordinarily complex and this duality between certainty and uncertainty is different for everyone. We are seeing some effects of pushing this balance pretty far to the uncertainty side, however, prior to our choice to pull the trigger we definitely saw some effects of being reasonably far into the certainty side.

Notice I just said Effects, both good and bad are present at both ends. Right now we are generating a lot of stress which has been a real eye-opening experience to learn more about mine and Allison’s relationship and how we communicate, what we need from each other, and how to relate to myself and my inner critic.  It has shown some cracks that during our previous meandering lives of 9-5 routine went unnoticed and unrepaired. So, I am doing my best to practice mindfulness and stay present during this experience and use it as an opportunity to grow personally and as a couple. There are opportunities and silver linings in every life experience.

Guide to Surviving Fear

  1. Stay Grateful

    Gratitude keeps you grounded. However you like to practice it, through a gratitude meditation, or taking a moment before small things like meals, or hot showers, to reflect on the fact that every single person’s problems are relative. That there are many who live a wonderful and fulfilled lives on far less than us. Less financial resources, less community, less health, and that no matter how your new situation turns out… your brain is wrong, and it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to end in death.

 

  1. Stay Present

    This goes hand and hand with gratitude above. When we are so wrapped up in change and thinking about what we need to do or what we wish we should have done to prepare, we are living in the past or the future. Too much Past can make you depressed. Your inner critic takes over and really hounds you about the chances and choices you had, that you made incorrectly. They really are the worst Monday morning quarterbacks and remind you that you should have had 20/20 foresight like they have 20/20 hindsight.

    Too much Future can create overwhelm. We spend so much time projecting and planning this perfect (or not so perfect) path from A to B even though if we step back, we know that we can’t tell the future. We are planning and worrying, investing mental energy, and if we think about previous times we’ve done this. It never went down just like we imagined it would. So why spend the energy creating this false trajectory just to have to adjust course and make adjustments in the Present anyway…

    Presence is not easy but I’ve been practicing taking miniature moments of meditation. I’ll be working on the van and step out to see a beautiful sunset forming… I take a moment to appreciate the small things and try to just enjoy being. To enjoy the work I’m actively engaged in as opposed to constantly thinking of the future.

 

  1. Have Faith

    You need to bank on yourself! You’ve made it this far. Look at your life in the past and likely you’ve come up against tougher odds and come out the other side. Sometimes we pick up some scrapes and scars which turn to lessons and bad ass stories for later. But in general… we look back on it years later and realize that wasn’t so bad. We are capable of more than we give ourselves credit for and in times of stress and turmoil just remember that things have a way of working themselves out. They have in the past, and they will in the future.

Do you have any other tips and words of wisdom for us? Any things that helped you through your own stressful transition?

We'd love to hear them! Drop us a line in the comments below and

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©2017. All Rights Reserved. Please note we are not financial professionals and this is only our personal experience.

Buying and Converting a Camper-Van

Converting a Dodge Sprinter into a Camper Van

Camper Van Conversion

Written by Matt

This weekend we bought a VAN!! Not just any van, but our new home on wheels for the next 6mo or more, who we have adoringly named Clifford. He is a 2006 Dodge Sprinter high top van with an extended bed. We opted for the biggest version we could find for a few reasons. 1). I’m 6’4” and while I still… won’t be able to stand up straight in the back of Cliff, there is a big difference between a 2-3” slouch and a 8-10” humpback position. We’ll see how my posture fairs through the next 6 mo or so. We wanted the extra length just so it’s nice and roomy inside. It gets about the same mileage as a shorter sprinter and provides us a lot more flexibility.

So Why a van?

Me and Allison are quitting our jobs in a month. If you want to read more about that decision check out our other post. We are traveling the US for at least 6mo to try and find our forever home when we decide to settle down and have kids. We figured the best way to do that is to bring our house with us.

We had been scouring the internet looking at RVs and already built camper vans…. Nothing seemed to quite fit our personality and our desires for what we wanted in a tiny home on wheels. Sure, I would love to roll down the freeway in a 35ft class A motorhome with more than enough space to bring an additional small family on board. But we felt that while this arrangement would probably be a bit more comfortable, it didn’t really fit with our idea of what we wanted out of our new minimalistic lifestyle. Not to mention the inherent damage to our bank account and the environment as we bounce down the road at an anticipated 6-8mpg!

We decided we wanted something smaller and nimbler that we could easily drive and park. That we wouldn’t have any restrictions on what parks we could go to or where we could drive (some state parks limit you to less than 30ft). We wanted something that had all the features we wanted and nothing extra that we thought we didn’t. We wanted something that got good mileage so we could drive to our heart's content and never feel stuck because we didn’t want to spend the money to move. We wanted to only have a single vehicle without an additional tow car.

So we started our search for a small Class B or Class C camper. We arrived at a ton of these:

ford V10

V10 fords that somehow… while being 10+ ft shorter than our Class A example, still only managed to squeak out 10mpg headed downhill with a tailwind.  I then found the Diesel sprinter RVs. This was my first introduction to the Mercedes sprinter and I loved them. Unfortunately the cheapest one I could find was 10+ years old and was still $60,000. I also found a brand new Diesel Ford Transit that was pretty appealing for $55,000. At least if I’m going to spend the money I’ll get something new right?

maxresdefault

This was our plan, It really was, up until about a week ago. We ventured into the #VanLife section of YouTube and got hooked. Alli was enthralled by the idea of having this simplistic, minimalist lifestyle all housed inside of a van we could easily drive and park anywhere. We could stealth camp in the city if we wanted to and it all just seemed like such a nice little package.

I immediately started the research and watched 20+videos of other people’s van tours and van builds. There is a wealth of great information out there and vanlifers are super passionate about their lifestyle witch pulled me and Alli in even more.

So in a week’s time we went from just waiting until we quit, to put the money down on a $55,000 RV, to saying F@*K that we are doing it ourselves… We are DIYers already and I think it fits with our personalities and our future lifestyle even more to construct our own van conversion.  I will detail the whole experience here and you’ll see the whole cost breakdown of how we did our conversion, the plans, the equipment, the things that I break, or mess up and have to do twice. You’ll see it all.

Let us know what you think about Cliff and our Van life plans! Leave us a comment below!

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February Expense Report – The $40k Challenge

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February Expense Report - $40K Challenge Update

Copy of Saving money during the holidays

Written by Matt

February Budget - $4,865 of $40,000 challenge

Starting off 2018 we decided to take a challenge to spend $40,000 this year. We are two months into the challenge and we are on track! I honestly expected some overages with the beginning of the year travel but Feb is always a good month. Its shorter than all the other months by half a week and I get my company bonus!

Spending wheel

Our February Experience!

We kept it pretty calm and collected this February. We had on trip down to San Diego to visit with one of Allison’s friends from college, Liz, and to record a podcast with Rachel Maddox. Check out Alli’s two podcast episodes here: LINK TO PODCAST

We stayed at Liz’s house so we didn’t have any hotel but we did spend a little bit more than normal on eating out and we went out the bar which always racks up some bills and an Uber home. It was a great little trip and I got to take some cool beach photos while Allison was in her podcast which is always a good time.

I could get use to that San Diego life! Weather is a wonderful 70F in Feb.
I could get use to that San Diego life! Weather is a wonderful 70F in Feb.

February Expenses

Mortgage: $2,090.74 – Same as last month. Should be the same for the rest of the year. We will likely stop paying our extra $300 toward the principle in May or June. We are planning to leave the state in the second week of May and will be having another couple move into our master bedroom and act as onsite property managers. I’m sure we will have a post on that and maybe on how we selected this property in general as a real estate investment.

Roommate Income: $1,950 – We will have one roommate that is leaving in April. Hopefully, we can fill it rather quickly and avoid any vacancy. I think we may have another one moving out in May so we will have a bit of turnover at the house! Looks like that might coincide with when we take off on our trip so we’ll do our best to get it lined up and filled ahead of time.

Vacancy is really one of the worst things for rental property income. Just one month missed rent with one empty room is $600 extra that month. If both our rooms were empty for a month that would be $1,200 or almost half of our whole month's spending!

Rent

Net housing cots: $719.67 (plus we built some equity in there!)

Bills were pretty normal other than the Gardener! We hadn’t paid him since we left on vacation in December so we had 3 months of regular bills ($60/mo plus we had trees trimmed and we reseeded the front yard). We had one bill for the maids (they come every 2 weeks so next month we might have 3) internet is always the same and unfortunately, it’s the lowest we could find for the area, water is usually pretty cheap and usually 30-40 a month. We spent a little less on gas since it’s a bit warmer than last month. That should drop of even more in March as we have solar, so the electricity side of things is practically free.

 

Other Bills:

Student Loan Payment: $500 – I was fortunate enough that my parents could help me pay for college. I’m paying my mom back for ~$60k in student loans. We set up a $500 payment each month for 10 years which I’m about 5 years into. (0% interest!)

Travel: Zero travel expenses. I could have put some of our San Diego expenses in under travel but they were already categorized in our regular spending and it was relatively short and inexpensive trip.

Groceries: $386.16 – Few stops at Vons and Trader Joes. I keep hearing how great Aldi is on the choose FI forums so we might check that out. We just let our Costco membership expire as we won’t be needing Costco sized things when we are living in a Van/RV

Electronics: $370 – We bought Allison a Google Pixel. When we leave our jobs, we are going to have to get on our own plan and bring our own phones. We will be going to Project FI through google and decided we’d rather buy an older version phone instead of doing a brand new one or financing it. Project FI uses 3 different wireless providers and only costs $130/mo for an unlimited plan. If you use less data you pay less so the base price is ~$50 a month for the two of us and caps at $130. The data also works internationally which is an amazing feature for when we go international next year!

Gasoline: $187.65 – I worked from town a few extra days this month so a little less driving out the field but we also drove down to SD although we took my Prius so it wasn’t a huge hit on the gas bill.

Insurance: $145.50 - $60 for Alli, $72 for me, and $13 for an umbrella policy since we have renters in our house and because we are working on our businesses. As those become more mature we will likely have separate insurance and LLCs for each of those.

Eating out: $131.23 – Breakfast, lunch and dinner for two days basically while in San Diego. This also includes our bar tab when we were out on the town. All in all, it was pretty cheap. Nothing over $20. Thanks “California Burrito” for feeding me twice and being soooo delicious.

Pharmacy: $68.75 – Our health is super important to us. We didn’t buy any supplements this time around but we did have to hit the pharmacy to get a few things. Allison got her nose pierced and we needed some stuff to take care of that. I do think we still bought some vitamins though. Can’t get out of rite aid without some vitamins.

Registration: $55 – registration for Alli’s car was due. Thankfully we drive old beaters so its pretty cheap!

Shopping: $24.02 – While we were in SD we went to the mall. We used mostly Gift Cards we had from Christmas but had to make up a little bit of the difference. New swimsuits and some makeup.

Gym: $5 – we have a web subscription to “yoga works” which is awesome. There are a ton of great classes on there we can do from the house and its really cheap. I could save the $5 and just look some up on YouTube I’m sure but having a good range to pick from with good quality video is worth the price for us.

Feb Expenses

February Income

Bonus!!!: $19,837.99 - My company pays an annual bonus which is a big portion of my compensation. The company performed well this year and due to that, we got a pretty nice chunk of change. We had definitely planned for this and it will make up a good chunk of the money that will go into the honeypot to fund our travels for the next year or more.

401k Contributions: $10,284.59 -  Since we were planning to leave our jobs we elected to kick up our Pre-tax 401k contributions as much as we could. My company allowed me to put in 25% of my income but Alli could do 100%! So, we elected to do that as we can live off my income for the next two months and still get all of the money into our 401Ks for the year. I won’t be able to top mine off but Alli will have hit the $18,000 limit by the end of this month.

Paychecks: $5,430.55 – This dropped due to the change in Alli’s paycheck going 100% into our 401k. We will save a little bit less cash prior to quitting but we will avoid a bit more California Taxes which I think will be worth it.

HSA Contribution: $376.92 – This will keep it up for the next two months. I had not contacted Fidelity to front load the HSA the same way we are doing in the 401K but I easily could. Maybe something I’ll look into this week.

Dividends: $224.91 – I have one dividend stock in my 401k that pumps out consistent dividends. Its also acting as the bond allocation for my diversification.

Net Worth

Starting net worth was $574,459 and our ending net worth was $590.675 for a total increase of $17,216. We had a little stock market correction. The worst it got was -6.3% for our portfolio but we are back up to -3.2% at the end of the month. The stock market is pretty heated up so I’m hoping we see it carry on up after this correction, but I think everyone expects a turn sometime soon. We aren’t trying to pick when that will be, We will just hold and ride it out.

Net Worth

Overall it was a good month. Even with the market dip we survived and increased the net worth. No doubt due to that company bonus. Wish those came all the time!

For those that don't know we will be traveling this summer in a Rv or conversion van. I'm starting to do some research into converting our own! If anyone has some good resources let me know!

Leave us some comments below and let us know how you are doing on your financial goals for this year and if we can support you on your journey in any way! Thanks for reading!

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January Expense Report and The $40k Challenge!

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January Expenses and The $40k Challenge

January Expense Report

Written by Matt

Starting off 2018 we decided to take a challenge to spend $40,000 this year. We talked about it a lot last year and it will mark a pretty significant reduction in our total spending (we spent about $65k last year).

We have a lot in store for 2018 (which we will be sharing soon!) so it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. We decided we would post here for all of you to help keep us honest and accountable! It's really amazing what diving deep into your finances can do for your spending. Especially when the idea of buying that thing is rolling around in your head but you know you'll have to post about it later for all to see... It's some serious spending inoculation.

Our January Experience!

We haven’t put up our travel post quite yet, but we spent our Christmas and New Year in Iceland! We travel with my mother and sister during the holiday season and we alternate going to a warm and cold place (this was our cold year!) We traipsed around a frosted Iceland admiring many glaciers, ice caves, waterfalls, and some northern lights to boot! It was an awesome trip with some amazing scenery and it really let me flex my photography muscle with was pretty fun. Hopefully, you follow me on Instagram so you can see the glorious pixels.

 

The Fireworks in Reykjavik are unlike anything I've ever seen!!
The Fireworks in Reykjavik are unlike anything I've ever seen!!

After New Years we parted ways with my mom and sis. Allison and I took off on the second leg of our journey to Berlin and Prague. We spent another 9 days between the two and we’ll have a more detailed travel post to show you where we went and what we did.

The short and sweet of it is we checked out all of the World War II history and lots of relics and information about the Berlin Wall. It was fascinating to get a deeper look into what it was like to have lived in that area during that time. Hard to comprehend but good to remember and honor those who were involved in that struggle.

We hopped a train to Prague and truly adored this city. It has so much character and it's soooo Old. Everything is so beautiful and there is so much history about each and every building. We mainly took free walking tours around the city which were a great way to see everything and learn about the history at the same time. Everything in Prague was really cheap too so it was a great place to balance out Iceland (Expensive!!), Berlin (Average), and Prague (Cheap!!). Also, Czechs love their beer! I had one at every meal I think and they never cost more than ~$2!

We got back on the 10th so about half the month we had travel costs lumped into our budget which made it a little tougher to hit our target but we still ended up way under!

Those Flying Buttresses are Insane!!
Those Flying Buttresses are Insane!!

January Expenses!

Mortgage: $2,090.74 – This is up $190 from December! Our property re-assessment finally hit from when we bought the house (18 months later?) but our taxes jumped by over $2,000 per year. Insane right? Luckily, we house hack our current home so while this number Is big, we really offset the majority this with incoming rents most months. We also pay an extra $300 per month towards the principle so we could bring this down a little bit if we wanted too.

Roommate Income: $1,958 – We rent 3 of our rooms out in the house. We purposefully bought this house so that we could live almost or nearly for free. It was working a little better before the jump in taxes… Even so it definitely cuts down a big chunk of our housing expenses!

Housing Expense

Net housing cots: $429.09 (plus we built some equity in there!)

Travel: $1,156.13 in Jan, $1,479.22 in Dec. we got a check back from my mom and sister to settle up and that worked out to $1,377. Total spent on our trip was $1,258.35 over two months. (this doesn’t include flights or some hotels that we booked ahead of time!) $629.17 per month! Not bad since Iceland is crazy expensive. We will post a breakdown of all the costs of that trip in our travel post!

Groceries: $300 – This was literally one Costco Trip after we got back from vacation.

Gasoline: $115.41 – Very good month since we were out of the country for half of it.

Supplements: $69.95 – Our health is super important to us. We got this one supplement based on a recommendation on a podcast. Restore. It's supposed to help maintain your gut lining and be a defense against gluten and other irritants that can cause leaky gut. It helps you absorb nutrients more efficiently and overall assist your microbiome to thrive.

Auto Insurance: $60.33 - Just mine. I pay monthly, Alli pays every 6mo. I drive about 100miles a day right now so my insurance is crazy. I also have coverage up to 300k so our net worth is protected if someone sued us!

January Income!

Paychecks: $8,792 – This is pretty self-explanatory. We worked or used paid vacation for our travels in Dec/Jan so we still got paid! If you're new to the blog both me and Allison work for oil and gas companies in Bakersfield CA as engineers. I’m a mechanical engineer and I maintain and do project management for my companies treatment facilities and Alli is a petroleum engineer who manages subsurface equipment and production. The jobs pay great but it's not all sunshine and roses.

HSA Contribution: $2,376.92 - My work puts $2,000 into an HSA each year for me. It helps to cover our deductible since we carry a high deductible plan which saves the company money due to Obama Care. So it’s a way they incentivized us to move off of the “Cadillac” health plan we had previous to 2015. I also contribute the maximum I can so a total of $6,350 this year or $376 per month.

401k Contributions: $1,572.43 - I think this missed the second deposit because of the timing of my paychecks. So Feb. will likely be higher. Both Allison and I max our 401k contributions each year and then our employers have a 4% and 6% match which goes in on top of our $18,000.

Dividends: $206 - Most This may have bled over from December as that’s when the vast majority of our dividends are distributed. All of them are reinvested but it still helps to build the account!

Expense

Net Worth!

Starting net worth was $542,209 Ending net worth was $574,997 for a total increase of $32,788. Had some good investment performance and a gain of 4.2% for the month which has really been excellent!

Net Worth

Thanks for reading! This is the first post we've put up bearing all of our financials. I know I've always enjoyed reading about other peoples financial experiences so Leave us a comment and let's continue the conversation!

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How to Save Money During the Holidays

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How to Save Money this Holiday Season

Saving money during the holidays

Happy Holidays from Owen Your Future! With Thanksgiving past, and Christmas quickly approaching, Alli and I wanted to wish you all merry holidays! We couldn't consider ourselves much of financial bloggers if we didn't offer you some ways to help save some money this holiday season! We are going to talk about a few ideas, some on how to save some money on the gifts you might want or need to get. But also how to open the discussion with your loved ones on to moving away from gifts and products for Christmas!

Saving Money on your gifts! P.S. some of these links may be affiliates, this means we get a small commission if you choose to sign up. The price remains the same for you though!

Gift Cards - Everyone probably has someone on their Christmas list that they are planning to get a gift card this year. Maybe your entire Christmas list? Its no wonder, let the people get what they want! It’s the most foolproof strategy to ensure there are no unwanted gifts this season. If you want to get the people on your list gift cards you can use one of several discount sites that save you 10-15% off the regular price which is really a no-brainer vs buying them at the Walmart checkout line. These services have either negotiated a discount directly with the issuing merchant or they are a marketplace where people can sell their personal gift cards. (You might be buying someone else's Birthday gift card at a discount so maybe its not 100% foolproof as a gift but Its Still cheaper than Cash!)

Raise - LINK

CardPool - LINK

GiftCard Granny - LINK

Watch this video if you'd rather hear us talk than read 🙂

CashBack - Cash Back sites are all over the place but some that I use frequently to save some money are Checkout51, Ibotta, and Earny. Checkout51 and Ibotta are cash back apps that give you money back on your groceries. The reason I listed both of them is you can often get different rebates from each or occasionally they have the same cash back and you can double down on both of them! These are great if you are hosting this holiday season and need to take the edge off that extra supple grocery bill. Earny is an awesome site that we use year round. You link it to your amazon accounts and your credit cards and it will automatically apply for your credit cards "purchase protection" benefit. Basically it scours the internet for a cheaper price on any of your amazon purchases and if it finds it fills out the paperwork and asks your credit card company for the difference.

Ibotta - LINK

Checkout51 - LINK

Earny - LINK

Deals - Everyone wants to get the best deal when they buy something, regardless of if it's for a present or not. The beauty of these sites is that you'll use them for your own personal shopping too. I like to use Slickdeals and CamelCamelCamel. Slickdeals is great of all kinds of stuff but I particularly like it for electronics. It’s a forum based platform where people post whatever deals they find and the community upvotes the best deals. If you want something specific you can look in a category and set up alerts for when a new deal is added. It's good if you know you want a "laptop" not if you know you want a specific model with a specific specification. For that I like Camelcamelcamel. As we mentioned above we love Amazon. And it does frequently have some of the best deals. CCC will let you check the historical price of any item on Amazon so you know how low it's been in the past and if you don't need it right away you can decide to wait for it to drop to its lowest price again. You'd be surprised how often the Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals aren't even as low as it was in March of last year for whatever reason.

SlickDeals - LINK

CamelCamelCamel - LINK

How to talk with your family about skipping gifts

Some might recoil at the thought of brining this up to their family. I know… we all have crazy families. I'll tell you more about my experience with this but first let's think about the point of Christmas. It’s a time that frequently re-unites family after time apart. Where we get to spend time with loved ones. That’s what should take center stage in the holidays and not the materialistic side of us that just wants the newest iPhone. Society is good at convincing us that we need to show our love through buying stuff (after all advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry) Its really just a construct of our society and I can tell you that personally, my holidays have become richer and more fulfilling after skipping the gifts with my family.

My family recently decided to do this just a few years ago. All three members of my family were living all over the country and we were flying home to Colorado to have Christmas at my mom's house each year. After we did this once or twice we decided that it would be best to focus on what we wanted to do as a family together than just return home to participate in some commercialism. We really valued our time together. It was almost the only time that we were able to get together all year because of our different schedules. We opted to skip the gifts and allocate the money we would have spent there to taking a trip somewhere new together. We all are very adventurous and we found that spending time together in new places really brought us together.

Talk priorities - If you reading this blog and others in the Financial Independence space you know that we believe strongly in priorities. Financial independence is just a strategy to get us what we really want (time with family, friends, freedom from a job) and most families can get behind those things. They may not connect the dots initially on why you bought your flights with points or got in at 1am because that flight was half price. Most of society doesn't understand why we do what we do. Make it real to them by talking about what makes you happy and talk priorities like being there to raise your young children or being free to travel the world with your spouse while you are young. When you bring the conversation away from your actions (hard for them to understand) to what you want out of life (easy to understand) I see that people generally start to come around.

Serve - One of the biggest themes of the holidays is Gratitude! I'm a huge proponent of gratitude as there are studies that have shown being grateful literally re-wires our brain. We are happier, more creative, more productive, and more loving. All good things to have during the holiday season and nothing brings a family together like giving back to others. Obviously, you need to take time together but consider serving someone less fortunate on Christmas or the day before to really set the tone with your family and help everyone to appreciate the wonderful Christmas you have together.

We hope these suggestions have been helpful and can help save you some money this holiday season! Have other tools, tips, or tricks for your holiday? Comment below and let us know about them!

Matt & Alli

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