Good morning beautiful people! I have a few links I’ve found lately that I want to share with you. Today’s post has a bit of everything.
First, I’ve recently discovered Jim Collins’ blog, and it’s quite inspiring. He’s just retired at age 61, but he’s been financially independent since 1989. That is pretty awesome. He and his wife are currently putting their daughter through college, and he has plenty of wisdom to share with those of us who are still working towards financial independence. This post about the simple path to wealth is great. Simple isn’t the same thing as easy, but once you get into the habit of saving a good portion of whatever you earn, it does become easier. And if you make it automatic, with the savings taken out of your checking account as soon as you get paid, before you have a chance to spend it, you don’t miss it. You just get used to a lower standard of living while your savings continue to grow.
Anyway, check out Jim’s blog if you’re looking for some ideas or inspiration. His approach to investing is pretty much exactly the same as ours. We like index funds, we love Vanguard, and we like automatic contributions to our funds. We don’t have any desire to have actively managed investments like rental properties (that’s what REITs are for, with a whole lot less stress and risk) or even individual stocks. We’re in the “keep it simple” camp when it comes to money, and we like it that way. Other than the past year when we had a car payment, we’ve avoided all forms of debt other than our mortgage for the past five years. Prior to that, we had debt from starting our business that took us a few years to pay off, but we’ve never had consumer debt or any other type of loan. Nearly everything we own was purchased second hand, which helps tremendously with stretching our dollars.
Speaking of second hand, I stopped by Goodwill over the weekend and found a couple of great scores. I got a pair of brand new Privo shoes that fit me perfectly, for six dollars (retail price, $85). And I found a brand new Vera Bradley wallet with the tags still on it. The price on the tag was $25, and Goodwill was selling it for two dollars. My sister in law loves Vera Bradley stuff, so I got it for her. She was quite impressed with my thrift store score, and is excited about her new wallet. Not a bad haul for eight bucks.
As soon as I got home from Goodwill, I scoured the house for stuff to give away. Our son contributed a bunch of toys, and we managed to pretty much fill the back of our car with donations to take to Goodwill the next time we go to town. I’ve moved beyond the one-in-one-out rule when it comes to shopping. These days, if I bring anything new home, I make sure that a whole bag goes out in its place. I’ve been on a clutter-busting mission now for two years, and I can definitely tell a difference in the state of our closets, and storage areas. The playroom just has toys around the edges now, with lots of clear space on the floor for the boys to play.
On a different topic entirely, I found a great way to use almond pulp after I make almond milk. I’ve been making crackers, inspired by this recipe. I use the pulp left over after I soak two cups of almonds and turn them into almond milk. I add flax meal and skip the brazil nuts and red bell pepper (just because I haven’t had any on hand lately). I add in some sesame seeds after the mixture is all blended up. I’ve made two batches so far, and my guys have devoured them pretty fast. They take 16 – 20 hours in the dehydrator, but that’s no problem, since the dehydrator doesn’t require any babysitting. The site where I found the cracker recipe has all sorts of great ideas for using almond pulp. So if you make you own almond milk and are looking for ways to use the pulp, definitely check it out. I had tried a few dehydrator cookies prior to the crackers, but they weren’t as much of a hit as the crackers. Keep experimenting – you’ll find something you love!
Switching topics again… You know I’m a big fan of high intensity, short duration workouts that can be done at home. I use free weights, a walker, a pull up bar, a homemade sandbag, and a few other simple pieces of equipment, but I’m also a huge fan of bodyweight exercises. For the past 14 months, I’ve been watching Bodyrock videos and I’ve also been doing Zuzana’s weekly workouts for the past several months. But I recently decided to start going back and doing the old workouts that I already had written in my workout notebook. I have over a year’s worth, so I doubt I’ll get bored anytime soon. Plus, I have my scores and times from the first go-round written down, so I have something to compete with. The best part is that I don’t have to spend any time watching videos and writing down the exercises – I can just get straight to the workout. It’s probably saving me at least ten minutes a day, and I love that. But sometimes I still like to watch a new video and do a whole new routine. And I’ve found another workout site with free videos that go along with the high intensity, short duration philosophy, with lots of bodyweight exercises. If you haven’t checked out Amanda Russell’s site yet, you should give it a try. If you’re skeptical about the effectiveness of short workouts (I used to be too, and I was devoted to hour-long workout sessions), just try it for a few weeks. These days, I can do 100 pushups with a ten pound weight on my back in less than five minutes (100 push ups with no extra weight now takes me about three and a half minutes). I can also do real, overhand, wide grip pull ups. I couldn’t do any of that back when I was putting in much longer hours working out. I can’t say enough good things about the high intensity, short duration method of working out. If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a go. And when your workout is less than 20 minutes from start to finish, there are no excuses for not getting it done!
In addition to saving myself time by not watching new workout videos, I’ve also recently stopped checking Facebook. I’ve had a Facebook account since 2009, and I was in the habit of checking it several times a day. I don’t play any games or use any of the apps, and we don’t have a smart phone, so I wasn’t on Facebook unless I was at my computer. But it was still taking up too much of my time. I probably spent somewhere between two and five minutes each time I checked Facebook, but when you do that several times a day, it adds up. So ten days ago, I decided to start checking Facebook once a week. I thought it would be a lot harder than it was. The first day, I had to stop myself several times, but after that I sort of forgot about it. It was much easier than I thought it would be to break the habit. When I logged in for my weekly visit on Saturday, I realized that I hadn’t really missed anything. I also spent a few minutes unsubscribing from updates from a whole bunch of people. I have about 120 “friends” on Facebook, but the reality is that only about 20 of them are people I’m actually close to. Another 20 or so are people who were in the Peace Corps at the same time I was – we have very similar values and I enjoy a lot of the links they post, so I’m still subscribed to their updates. But all the people I went to high school with and haven’t seen since 1993? Not so much. Distant relatives with whom I have almost nothing in common? Do I really need to spend even five seconds reading about what they did today? I don’t think so. My feed now only has updates from close friends, close family members, and informational sites that I enjoy (like Amanda Russell, for example, and a local organic farm). That should make it easier and faster to skim through everything once a week. And I’ve “found” at least a half an hour per day that I can use to do other stuff. Yesterday I realized that I was finished with everything on my to-do list and still had an hour before I had to make dinner. So I sat on the floor and played with my boys, which was far more productive than Facebook could ever be. I’ve seen other bloggers write about deleting their Facebook accounts or weaning themselves off of it, and I always found it inspiring. So I’m sharing my story too. The biggest take-away for me was how it was so much easier than I thought it would be. After about two days, I honestly didn’t miss it at all.
With that, I’m off to the post office with my boys to mail a wallet to my sister in law. Have a wonderful day!