February Expense Report – The $40k Challenge

Take charge of your future with a FREE 5 day personal finance e-course

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!

Looking to build wealth in your twenties?
Get our top 4 tips in a FREE PDF!

Why We Quit Our $250k Per Year Jobs

Why We Quit our $250k per year Jobs

Why we quit our $250k per year jobs, an evaluation of risk. www.owenyourfuture.com

 

WE QUIT OUR JOBS!! - that was my Facebook status update just a few short weeks ago. All caps… multiple exclamation points… We were very excited to start the next chapter of our life. For those that don't know us,  Allison and I both work as engineers in the oil and gas industry in Bakersfield CA . We've been at it for about 5 years at this point. So we are beating the united states average for our age group (only 3.2 years for 25-34 year olds!)
So, someone quitting their job isn't all that abnormal when you look at it that way.  What makes us special? I would say nothing, as my life seems super normal to me, but I’m living inside the snow globe per say. To some outside observers apparently this choice was quite shocking. After all we have achieved so much “success” why would we leave it behind? We were called privileged, told we didn’t appreciate what we had, that others would give so much to have our position in life. I know I’m privileged, everyone in the US is privileged. Your view of your privilege all depends on your perspective, and I will try to give ours below!
Upon breaking the news to some of our friends and family we received a whole spectrum of responses ranging from confusion to jealousy. Many were concerned about our choice damaging our careers, our financial situation, or concerned that we would be victims of some horrible circumstance while traveling. Others were equally tired of corporate life, and felt as though they wished they could to the same (They could!). Many were congratulatory and supportive.
It was very interesting to see the differences in how the people around us responded to this big life change.  It teaches you a lot about your friends and family and about what they value. I think everyone who chimed in did so in an attempt to help us as much as possible. They really had pure intentions of making sure that we made the right choice, and did what they thought would be best for us. Some of them were aligned with our feelings of seeking freedom and making our own way while others felt we were jeopardizing our future and were trying to help us see the light. In the moment, those that stand against you can really rub you the wrong way, but we had to remind ourselves that they really did want the best for us. Just our vision of "best", and theirs were not quite aligned.

AND THAT IS OKAY!!

We need differing perspectives in our life, so I can really appreciate them for speaking their piece about our choice and helping us to make sure we considered every angle. Even if it is a little uncomfortable. It was an opportunity for us to grow and really seek the truth instead of just seeking those who would make us feel “right”!
So why did we do it?
We have determined that (once you reach a certain level of wealth, i.e. all your needs are taken care of) money is not the source of happiness. While we haven’t reached a stardom level of success we can agree with some of the sentiments of the ultrawealthy. We by all accounts, were very successful. We had great jobs, a great (new) marriage, a wonderful house, plenty of money… yet we really didn’t feel that happy. We felt something was missing. We went through a phase of filling our life with things and that didn’t really help. We then tried to fill our life with Experiences, that helped a lot more. But eventually we always came back to home plate, which was our 12hr work day, traveling on the weekends, and fitting in family where we could.
We wanted more time! We couldn’t live the lives we wanted to live around the confined schedule of our day to day work. I left the house at 5am and got back at 5pm. I cooked dinner and spent time with Allison and it was 7pm. I would work on our business or chat with the roomates for another hour and its time for bed, so that I can wake up at 4am to do it all over again. This life felt constrained. There was my 4 weeks of vacation (which is super generous in the US), but even that seemed to fly by. We found ourselves looking forward to the next vacation or the next weekend and this started to build an animosity between me and my work.
When I first started my job, I loved the excitement of learning something new. I loved the challenges that came with breaking into a brand-new field with so much to learn and figure out. I’m a problem solver by nature and my job gave me a ton of freedom to do the work that I found exciting and interesting. I still think my job is a great job, and I’ll try to even out some of the job bashing that could have been construed from the previous few paragraphs. I had an excellent job that was engaging and fulfilling. It paid me more than I ever could have imagined being paid leaving college and provided for me to be in the position to be able to make the choice to stay or not. I worked with great people on interesting problems. I felt I contributed to the success of the company and in many regards, I felt I held a position that I had significant and direct impact on the company’s performance and bottom line.
I started to envision and imagine what my life would look like 5 and 10 years down the road. I could see myself working at this job. Still doing the same work and saving as much money as I could to someday reach the magical 25x savings compared to my spending at which point I’d be free to leave and never work again if we so desired. We were scheduled to hit that goal in a short 5-7 years from this year, to which many would have advised sticking it out. Why quit when you are so close?
Because I was thinking Bigger! I started to envision what it would be like to live that life now. To explore and adventure before starting a family. To work on something that could build perennial value for us and for our family. We wanted to have something to call our own that we built ourselves. That we were truly passionate about and that lit us up inside. Why should we wait?
The pursuit of Financial independence and all the personal development and inner work we had undertaken had ruined the idea of working for someone else for the next 10 years. If we could provide $250,000 worth of value to a company from the inside. How much value could we provide to the world if we went direct to those that needed it? Click To Tweet Should we wait 10 years and then build the business and wait to be financially secure before taking the risk of leaving our jobs?

EVALUATING THE RISK

I took a business class with Billy Murphy who writes a blog at ForeverJobless.com and he taught me so much about how to honestly evaluate risk. As humans we are inherently bad at being objective when it comes to risk because our brains were evolved with a negativity bias to help us survive. So, lets dive into our decision to really evaluate how risky it is.
The biggest risk in life is doing something that is not going to achieve your desired goals. When we looked at our life and thought about what we truly wanted more than anything else, we arrived at time and location freedom. We wanted to be able to support our standard of living of around $30-40k per year. We wanted to feel alive and passionate about what we were doing each day and feel that we were directly helping those we interacted with. (what are your dreams and desires? Write them down or put them in the comments below)
Time/ Location freedom
  • Jobs: scored pretty low in this area. We had very little freedom and while we had a light at the end of the tunnel that was still 7 years away or longer.
  • Quitting: Scored super high in this area, We could have this now. Work when we want, travel when we want, be wherever we want.
Financial Support
  • Jobs: Scores excellent. It has a 7 year timeline to get us to our goal of having enough savings to support our spending indefinitely and obviously provided more than enough for us to live on in the near term.
  • Quitting:
    • We said there is a 20% possibility (hopefully overestimated!) that we make zero money. We use up some of our 3 year savings runway and end up going back to work (Bummer) We lost a little time and money and end up in a similar situation to where we are now but maybe 1 year back on the timeline to FI.
    • There is a 50% chance that we at least make enough income to cover our expenses within the next 3 years so our runway becomes Infinite! Goal achieved
    • The other 30% of the time, we have amazing success in our businesses and greatly surpass our income requirements and quite possibly our earnings at our jobs. (hopefully underestimated!)
Feeling alive and passionate about our work
  • Jobs: This scores a 4/10. I liked what I did, and when you compare one job to another job… I had a great job. But if you compare that job to running a company that directly touches peoples lives? It starts to look a little worse.
  • Quitting: We can work on whatever we want! So this by nature has to be a 10/10 as long as we are being honest with ourselves!
So looking at these aspects when laid out this way, by taking your goals, and using those as the rubric to measure your choices, you hopefully end up with the optimal decision.
Worst-Case Scenario: would be we quit, and we are unable to provide for ourselves financially and we deplete our savings runway. We end up going back to work (we will be 30 and 31) and we can choose a new location and new jobs. In the mean time we had an awesome 3 years of travel and growth as we learned new skills and stretched ourselves. We likely grew together as a couple having all of these experiences and we are ready to settle down, have some kiddos and we can likely be financially free by the time they are 10.
Probable Scenario: We travel and work for the next 3 years and can get the businesses producing at least $30-40k per year. We maintain most of our savings and we live off the business and continue to invest into them and grow them. At the end of our 3 years of travel (or longer since we have a now infinite runway!) we can choose anywhere in the world to settle down and have kids. We can work from home and spend time with them when they are young. We make all the school and sports events. We can take them on long summer travels or homeschool them and travel indefinitely until we want them to have a more stable group of friends.
Ideal Scenario: Basically looks the same as above except we make WAY more than 30-40k/yr and we gain even more freedom to do what we want. We also get to give a lot of that money away to help others. We spend our time with our family, building new exciting businesses, or working to help more people in the ones we’ve already built.
Hidden Scenario: It’s easy to skip over the “do nothing” scenario as the status quo is so familiar but that has to be evaluated also. If we stay in our jobs we spend the next 7 years in Bakersfield, in a melancholy state, working until we reach our goals of financial independence. We want to have a family before then, so we are working and having kids and now have a lot of inertia holding us in Bakersfield. I literally feel like I just graduated college, where did the last 5 years go… Where will the next 7 go if I stay? Will I get out and make the move later on? (I think so but I’m not willing to risk it!)
When we broke it down like this. Our fears of leaving this job behind seemed so small and in fact, the thought of doing nothing and sticking it out seemed a little scary. Many people give up on their dreams automatically by choosing a path that is guaranteed to never get them there. If you goal is to make $2,000,000/yr You shouldn’t take a job as a fry-cook. Drastic example but I think you get the point. Each opportunity and option needs to be evaluated against where you want your life to be and that is how you truly evaluate your risk and your expected value. While staying in a nice safe job can seem less risky, it’s really not if its likely hood of reaching your goals are close to zero.
So that is why we did it! Please leave us a comment below and let us know what you think about our choice, our logic, etc. We are open books!
What are we going to do?
We have orchestrated a plan to travel the US and the world by a mix of plane, RV, and sailboat. It’s a loose plan at this point, but we like that and intend to keep it that way for at least a little while. Our first 6 months will be spent traveling the US via RV and exploring our own home country. We've both done a ton of international travel and sadly I haven't even been to half the states. The ones I have been too, I've seen 1 or 2 towns and usually for only a few days. We felt it's time to get out there and take it all in. We want to try and find our "forever home" that we can go to when we want to have kids and give them a more stable place to grow up.

What are we going to work on? 

We have Primal Noms, a keto and paleo baked goods company, which will be launching a line of muffins and mug cake products in April 2018! (woot woot!)

Alli has her own life coaching practice, and we plan to open up a financial coaching school for couples using Matt's expertise in finances, investments, and Alli's coaching skills.

LET'S GO FOR IT!

Looking to build wealth in your twenties?
Get our top 4 tips in a FREE PDF!

January Expense Report and The $40k Challenge!

Take charge of your future with a FREE 5 day personal finance e-course

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!

Stay Connected With Us

Subscribe for Email Updates

Sign up for an update every time there's a new post. We promise to only send you things we know you will love.

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

How to Save Money During the Holidays

Take charge of your future with a FREE 5 day personal finance e-course

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

Looking to build wealth in your twenties?
Get our top 4 tips in a FREE PDF!

Download our free PDF for our top 4 strategies for growing wealth in your twenties!