HOW WE SPENT $31,710 IN 2018

HOW WE SPENT $31,710 IN 2018

how we spent $31710 in 2018

Last year, we put ourselves on a challenge to spend less than $40,000 and we did it! So we want to show you where our money went in 2018.

The total for 2018 on our personal life is $31,710.

This doesn’t include business expenses- which we spent $9,000 on- but we’ll go line by line. I'm sure you're going have questions when you read the below breakdown...

2018 Expenses

So, why we don’t have a housing payment?

For the first four months in the year we were living in our house in Bakersfield. We were renting out all the other rooms in the house which effectively paid for our entire mortgage and almost all of our utilities.

How We Saved $20,000 from HouseHacking

After we moved out of the house and into Clifford we obviously didn’t have any housing payments because we were living in the van. If you look at our month by month charts you'll see a lot of expenses that include Clifford expenses, maintenance items, we had to replace the transmission, etc.  We didn't count any of those expenses nor the money that we put into build him. We excluded these because we recently sold him in November, so all of that money was recouped on the sale of the van.

Why was healthcare so expensive?

The big payment was health care which Alli had LASIK eye surgery which was around $4,000. That was our biggest expense for the year, but it was totally worth it, being able to see every day, highly recommend it.

Why do we have a loan payment?

We talk a lot about getting out of debt, but Matt actually still owes his mom for college. It’s from the bank of mom at 0% interest. When he graduated school they worked out a payment of $500 bucks a month. We're still paying that. Matt's mom likes income and Matt likes not paying interest, so $500 bucks a month works instead of paying it all off up front.

If you have a 0% interest loan we wouldn’t recommend you pay it off right away, either.

Basically any loan below 7% you have to wonder whether it’s worth your time investing that money or paying off your loan. It all depends on your own personal risk tolerance, some people just really like to be able to say they're debt-free and if that’s really important to you, go for it.

Our next line item is groceries, which was $4359 which is an average of a little less than $400 bucks a month, like $350-ish maybe.

Then gas for the car, utilities for the house, insurance.

What does insurance include?

Insurance does include health (we use Medi-Share), car, and umbrella insurance.

Next up is restaurants. I'm really proud of that one because it’s less than $200 a month. We would have months where it was really big. If you look back on July when we were visiting a lot of friends on the east coast, we spent like $400 that month. Then there were other months where we spent like $80 bucks or less. It fluctuates a lot, but overall for the year we ended up pretty well.

Travel, that was probably the majority of the beginning of the year when we were in Europe for a little bit. We were there the first couple weeks of January.

Other things that ended up in travel: Alli had a bachelorette party in Mexico that ended up in there, Matt had a bachelor party in Denver.

What Mobile Phone Plan We Use

We started off the year with our workplace plans (til April). When we got off our workplace plans, we went to Google FI. Unfortunately, we had a bad experience with Google FI when we got our computers hacked and they weren’t able to protect our phone numbers. Now we are with Verizon and we pay $60 a month for 3GB of data each and that works for us.

When we were full-time traveling in the van we’re using our phones for Internet, so we had Verizon unlimited plan and it was $170 bucks for both of us. That unlimited plan is where the bulk of that expense came from- 6 or 7 months of being on an unlimited plan.

Next up: electronics and software, we bought a drone for our YouTube channel!!

Matt also bought a computer right before we left work so he had a laptop for traveling.

Shopping. A lot of gifts that we bought for people’s weddings, things like that. Christmas gifts all ended up in there too. A few Walmart transactions for backpacking food ended up in there too.

The automotive category is mainly the last few months once we've settled down, we got a new (to us) car, we had to do some registration, stuff like that. Our car was given to us by a friend who owed us.

Most of the Clifford maintenance on the van all ended up under the Clifford category which ended up positive, so it's not included. Since we made $1400 off of the sale of Clifford, all of that got wiped out when you look at it on a 12-month basis.

I'm really proud of our alcohol and bars tab. Super low. When we started dating that was like, a $130 a week.

Entertainment, that’s just like movies or going places. Since we were traveling full-time we didn’t really pay for a lot of entertainment, we just went hiking when we wanted to or mountain biking. Almost all the stuff we did was free, so that was pretty sweet.

So total we spent $31,710 on us personally.

Business Expenses Explained

For the businesses we invested about $9,000 last year, and that’s for our business Primal Noms, we invested a lot of raw material. For this business Owen Your Future we’ve invested in software and some camera equipment.

Majority of the business investment was the last two months into Primal Noms to get raw materials to start manufacturing. Just getting set up with a commercial kitchen was $1000 worth of permitting to get our health license.

If you looked at any of the past expenses blog posts, we post all of the screenshots month by month so you can see how we do it.

For 2019 we’re hoping to keep the spending below $40,000 as we did last year.

Our housing situation might change a little bit, we’re not 100% sure what we’re going to be doing or where we’re gonna be living so we may have some more rents to pay, but no matter where we end up we’re going to try to do something similar to what we did in Bakersfield and house-hack our living situation so at least reduce those costs as much as possible.

We're pretty happy with how we did, we were definitely quite a bit under $40,000 which we expected it would be tough to actually hit.

We’d never spent under $40,000 ever before. The year before we spent around $60k.

Leave us a comment below if you have any spending goals for 2019, we'd love to hear them!

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payoff debt or save

So, is it better to pay off your debt or save money?

By the end of this post, you’ll know exactly whether or not you should pay off debt or save for retirement.

Having the right strategy of paying off debt vs saving will put you in the best financial situation in the long run.

Carla* (name changed for privacy) wrote into us asking if she should pay off her debt or save for retirement.

Carla’s financial situation:

  • $3,000 at 20%, $4,000 at 16% on credit cards
  • $12,000 car loan at 2%
  • $30,000 student loan balance at 9% interest
  • $120,000 balance on mortgage at 3%
  • Take home pay- $4,000 per month
  • Currently has no emergency fund saved
  • 401k company matches dollar for dollar on first 2%
  • So far she hasn’t been contributing to her 401k

The questions she has are:

Should she be investing in her 401k?

Which debt should she pay off first?

When to save up an emergency fund?

Should she pay her home off early?

Should she pay her car off early?

There’s a lot of differing advice out there.

People say you should save $1000 in an emergency fund even before you start tackling your debt.

Some say to pay off the highest balance of your debt first. Other people say she should pay off her highest interest rate debt first. Should she be saving in her 401k or not?

Here’s our answers to her burning questions:

Should she be investing in her 401k?

Yes, up to the match her company long as she can make her minimum monthly payments on her debt.

By investing up to the match, she essentially gets a 100% return on her money, which is unseen anywhere. But we wouldn't recommend she put any more other than the amount required to meet the match.

I wouldn't recommend Carla to put money into her 401k at all though if it was going to cause her to have late payments on her credit cards. 

Having missed payments on credit cards comes with late fees. It also hurts your credit, which could hurt refinancing her student loans down the road.

We are definitely going to encourage her to reduce her expenses as much as possible and try to increase her income in any way she can. Whether that’s picking up big economy work or something on the side.

Just something that’ll help widen that gap between her expenses and her income. Once that gap has been widened, she’ll be able to make her minimum payments and contribute to the 401K simultaneously.

Which debt should she pay off first?

Our method is not the Snowball method, it’s not the Tsunami method, it’s the Tornado method which is the fastest way to pay off debt.

In our Tornado method we recommend paying off the highest interest rate debt first. For Carla, that would be her credit card with 20%, then she would go for her second credit card at 16%, and then she would go for those student loans.

Methods like the Snowball method work because it’s a psychological trick you play on your mind.  We try to address the psychology behind money first and then go into the most mathematically optimal way.

This is the way we recommend doing it in our Own Your Debt course. In the course, we have an entire module on mindset because getting your money mindset and understanding your past habits and patterns around money will enable you to be successful at the most mathematically optimal method.

Should she save up an emergency fund?

No, not until her credit card debt is paid off. We know this advice is kind of counter to a lot of advice out there and we’ll explain why, but first, we need to talk a little bit about types of credit, revolving versus installment.

Revolving credit is credit cards, personal loans, things that you pay on every month but can also take money back out every month.

Installment credit is more like your amortization on your house or your student loans. You have a payment every month that will pay this debt down in 30 years and once you make that payment, you can’t just be like hey mortgage company, can I have that 500 bucks back this month I need to pay for something.

The reason we make that distinction between revolving and installment debt is that revolving credit typically has the highest interest rate because it’s usually not secured against anything like your home.

When you have high-interest rate debt and are trying to save money in an emergency fund you’re basically charging yourself interest on that balance that’s on the credit card.

We recommend paying more on your credit cards with this money you have in your emergency fund, so you could save yourself that interest. When you have it in a bank account it’s sitting there earning hardly anything, maybe 1-2%.

We recommend if you have revolving credit, you should NOT save an emergency fund and that you should put that money towards your credit card and save yourself the interest.

If you have an emergency come up, an unexpected expense, you can always get some of that money back out by using that credit card as that emergency fund while you still have credit card debt.

Now, we make a very clear cut there because you don’t want to be taking money off the credit card to pay for unexpected expenses when you’re done with credit card debt and your currently working towards paying off installment debt or a lower interest rate debt.

So in Carla’s specific situation, I would say pay your 20% credit card, pay your 16% credit card without having an emergency fund. After that point establish an emergency fund and then start paying on your student loans, because at that point you don’t want to go into credit card debt because you’re putting money on your 9% student loans.

The way to think about it is you never want to loan money at a higher interest rate to pay money at a lower interest rate,

which is basically what you’re doing if you’re holding an emergency fund while you’re paying 20% interest on a credit card.

On that emergency fund, you're earning 1%, maybe, but you’re paying 20% over on the credit card, so you might as well take the emergency fund and use it to pay the credit card off. Then if you have an emergency come up you can borrow money from the credit card.

That way, you’ve got yourself into this break-even interest rate situation instead of this big discrepancy between bank account and credit card.

But once you've paid off all your credit cards (revolving debt) and are working on your installment debt, it makes sense to build an emergency fund.

Why? Because you can’t take money back off installment debt, so once I put money into the student loan at 9 %, I can’t borrow it back at 9%. After that I'd have to go to the 16% credit card and borrow it, so now you’re in a better situation to have this discrepancy between 9% and 1% of your emergency fund.

Your emergency fund is the buffer keeping you out of 16% credit card debt, so that’s the way I like to think about this interest rate arbitrage which is the way to pay off your debt the fastest and also save yourself the most interest payments along the way.

Should she pay her home off early?

Depends on her risk tolerance. If she doesn’t tolerate risk well, then yes. If she would rather invest in the stock market, that money historically returns 7%, so she would be making more money by investing but it won’t be a straight line like paying off her mortgage would.

Her mortgage was 3-3.5%,  which is pretty low and at that point you start asking the question of whether you should be investing in the stock market or something else instead of paying off your house.

We have the personal opinion that you should invest it at that point instead of paying off your house early just because you have really low interest rate. But this is definitely going to depend on it each individual because it comes down to your risk tolerance.

The stock markets returns 7%-ish historically over the long run. When you look back though, that’s not a straight line, it’s very up, very down.

Over a 30 year period you might earn 7% while investing, but your house is a guaranteed 4% return. Some people are more comfortable with taking that guaranteed return on their money by paying off the mortgage early.

It’s all personal. If seeing the ups and downs of the stock markets really stress you out and you don’t like that, yeah, go for it, pay off your mortgage early.

It can be a really good feeling to be debt-free and if you paid off your house, you don’t have that obligation anymore, you don’t have a mortgage payment, expenses are more manageable so that can have a really freeing effect on your mentality and just kind of your financial security, so definitely some benefits are there to consider.

Should she pay her car off early?

Similar to paying off a home, 2% is a really low return on your money. We'd recommend consider selling the car and buying a cheaper one so you could get cheaper insurance and maintenance costs. You'd also not have a car payment, which would loosen up her expenses. If nothing else, definitely keep this car after its paid off for as long as you can.

Leave us a comment about any advice you have for Carla’s situation

If you have a situation you need advice on, leave em in the comments or send us an email hello @ 

©2020 Owen Family Enterprises LLC. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy



Househacking_ how to get a free house

Written by Alli, scroll to the bottom for video

So you want to save an extra $20,000 dollars a year?

We’re going to show you how to get a free house and how we specifically saved an extra $20,000 dollars a year.

This one saving hack is what put us in front of our peers and allowed us to quit our jobs and travel the world.

So, what is this savings hack that saved us an extra $20,000 a year?

We call it HOUSEHACKING. And if you’re like most people, your number one expense is your housing.

What is Househacking?

Househacking is a technique where you purchase a house, either a single-family house or multi-family with the intention of renting out either the other units or other rooms in order to cover your mortgage or reduce your housing expenses as much as possible. And in some cases, you can even get paid to live there.

We’re going to break this tactic down whether you’re single, you have a family or you’re not ready to buy yet and just want to rent.

1. Shared rented house

To start our househacking journey, we rented a large 4 bedroom house with 3 other people. This reduced our housing expense to $750/ month for the two of us. Before we moved in together, Matt was just renting a room out of the house and it was $425/ month. Alli was paying for a one bedroom apartment that was $990/ month, but Matt actually got more amenities, he got a garage and a backyard and a nice swimming pool. Renting a house is a great opportunity if you're not ready to buy and you still want to enjoy the benefits of a low cost of living. This is a great option if you’re single and not ready to buy yet.

2. Multi-family properties

If you're ready to purchase, buying a duplex, triplex or fourplex could be a great option for you. You could live in one unit so you got more privacy and rent out the other units. This is the technique I would go to for a family, which is the second scenario.

This way you don’t have to worry as much about who’s in the house, vetting your roommates as closely especially if you have children, things like that. You would have your own unit, your own space that you live in and then other tenants have their own private space also. One caveat to this that we found in our town, the multi-family properties were not in the area that we wanted to live, it wasn’t close to our work, so there were some other factors that you need to consider and think about. But every city is different so hopefully in your city, if that’s a tactic you want to use, you can find multi-family property that would be perfect for you and your family.

3. Shared purchased house

This is what we did that really created that optimal BUMP. We strategically purchased a home and rented all the other rooms out. We’ll go into numbers below, but this is the best strategy if you're single or newly married (no kids yet) and ready to buy a house.

So, how does all this add up to an extra $20,000 dollars a year?

We’re going to run you through what our housing looked like from the time we left school to the time we quit our jobs.

When we first moved out to Bakersfield, Matt was living in a shared house, paid $425 a month (plus around $100 utilities on top of that), so $525 total.

When Alli first moved to Bakersfield, she was living in a one bedroom apartment which was $990, plus some utilities on top of that, coming to about $1200 bucks a month.

So together, we were paying close to $1700 dollars a month, maybe $1800 dollars a month for both of us to live separately.

From there, we ended up moving into the master of the shared house. The master was $725 dollars a month, which we both split so we dropped our housing to say $850 or $900 dollars total, which is awesome. We cut our housing expense in half. But then we wanted to even get cheaper housing, so we started hunting for our own house.

When we bought our house we were able to rent out all three rooms and cover all our mortgage.

We went from about $1800 dollars a month, to just about $0 dollars a month in the course of 2 or 3 years.

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But as with anything in life, there are pros and cons. Here are the pros and cons of househacking:


1. Money

You are saving more money and that creates more opportunities for freedom.

2. Social

Just like being in college and being in dorms, being in shared house, you have a lot of people around, things to organize activities with, family dinners, etc.

3. Security

As a female, living in an apartment by myself was the first time I ever lived alone and it was little frightening for me just being a single woman alone in an apartment. Moving into a house I felt a lot more secure and safe, knowing that at least there were other people there that you could hear if something is happening or if I got sick and needed to go the emergency room. It was just a nice security blanket knowing there are other people there.


1. Lack of privacy

How we managed to be newlyweds in a house full of people was this: we strategically purchased a house that had a big master bedroom, it was like the size of a studio apartment, so we felt like we had a lot of space to ourselves. Considering what type of house you move in to or what type of situation you move in to, considering privacy is important to when you make your purchase or choose the place you're going to rent.

2. Bad roommates

Thankfully we haven’t had any bad roommates. Initially, we just screened roommates with our gut and by knowing friends of the people moving into our house. It was a pretty small community where we were living and it was easy to know friends of friends and people who needed a place to live, and so we went with our gut a lot of times. Now that we don’t live in the house and are still renting out all four of the bedrooms, we use a service called and basically you send the tenant a screening application and they fill it out, they pay $35 bucks and then we receive back their credit history and background check. That really gives a piece of mind and doesn’t come out of our pocket, the potential tenant pays that.

3. Messes

This kind of goes with bad roommates, but just sharing a space with people can get messy, particularly bathrooms and kitchen. So early on we hired a cleaning service and it was the best decision we ever made.  We had them come every two weeks, they cleaned all the common areas. They would also clean your room if you wanted or change your sheets. It was about a $100 dollars each time they came, so $200 bucks a month we just split between other roomies. Now that we rent with all utilities included we just have upped the price of rent and it includes the cleaning service. That keeps all the common areas clean, all the bathrooms clean, nobody has to worry about coming home from work and doing chores.


1. Pick the right house and the right type

We talked some about what we looked for in a house, but mostly it's was a big master, whether it’s close to work or in an area out of town you want to live in.

We spent about 6 months looking for our house and running a lot of numbers as far as how many rooms it had, how much we thought we could rent it for, what the mortgage would work out to be, to try to find the best deal for us to make sure that we would pay as little as possible or even make some money every month. So, spend a lot of time looking for the right property for you and don’t rush into one.

2. Good tenants

Use, we definitely recommend it, it’s super easy, it takes all the pressure off of you. A tenant pays for the application and you get to know if they ever had evictions, how their credit is, all those things.

If you have any questions specifically about where you live and your situation, leave them in the comments below, we would happily give you some advice and look into where you live and what your situation is to see what would work out best for you to decrease your housing expense.

©2020 Owen Family Enterprises LLC. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy

What is FIRE? Financial Independence, Retire Early


What is FIRE_ Financial independence, retire early

Written by Alli, scroll to bottom for video

If you've seen November's Kiplinger issue you may recognize Clifford in there! We wanted to talk a little bit about the article and what FIRE means to us.

FIRE is financial independence, retire early!  If you're curious as to what that means, how to go about achieving financial independence, and how we achieved financial freedom at age 28, keep reading!

So, what is FIRE?

FIRE stands for financially independence, retire early, obviously. But let’s split it into two and talk first about what financial independence is and what it means to us.

Financial Independence

Financial independence means to us that you have enough money that you could support yourself without ever working or generating any more money for the rest of your life

Retire Early

Retire early means basically what it says-- that you retired before the stereotypical sixty-five. In order to retire early you must either be financially independent or have a plan to bring in some income while you are retired.

Early retirement is really redefining how people look at retirement. A lot of people think of retirement as hanging out on the couch, watching TV, playing some golf, or traveling. But when you retire so early with 40-50 years left of your life, you can't spend that just playing golf and sitting on the couch.

So what does FIRE mean to us?

About four years ago we discovered this FIRE movement and started saving a huge percentage of our income. We started at about 40%, then ended up ramping up to about 70% toward right before we quit. Initially, we were planning on working for ten years at that savings rate but we ended up leaving early.  

We quit after four years of working and we did that because we had the confidence in ourselves to make money while we were in retirement. We knew that we didn’t want to quit working completely at 32, so we thought we could just start those businesses now, start that fulfilling life now that brings us joy. We knew we could make up the extra money in the interim.

In the article they discussed the four flavors of fire, which we break down below!


Lean FIRE: They defined it as living on less than $40,000 a year.
If you guys have been reading our blog you know that we are doing a $40,000 a year challenge. So we thought that it was really funny that we fall right into that category.

Barista FIRE: This is where people are close to being financially independent but still need some part-time work or something to provide for their living expenses. I also almost put us in that category too. We left our jobs before hitting our FI number but we've picked up other activities. For instance, trying to start Primal Noms, which is going to bring an income and should get us to that point well before 65. We're working on projects that we'd love to do and would be working on if we had fully retired.

Full FIRE:  This is where you've fully funded your early retirement. Within the FIRE community, there's a rule of thumb, called the 4% rule.  Basically, if your annual expenses are 4 percent of your total net worth that you have in investments, you should be able to spend that amount for the rest of your life without ever running out of money.

Fat FIRE: People who are pursuing FIRE but planning to live on $100K per year or more in retirement. We know of a couple people that are doing this and they're either doctors or in the financial industry. They had really high paying jobs and were able to accumulate several million dollars in their net worth. With that 4% rule, this gives them a pretty solid annual income
in retirement.

Tenants of FIRE:


One of the main tenants of FIRE is frugality. So being frugal with how much you spend, obviously. If you're only spending $40,000 a year then you're not excessively spending on things. This kind of comes with a wave of an anti-consumerism movement, so we kind of look down on people who buy new cars and people who are constantly buying new things. We do this because we realize that we have this earth that's beautiful, but we only have a certain amount of precious resources. We basically want to optimize and enjoy our life to the maximum amount here. We don't believe that buying more things contributes to the greater good of Earth or contributes to our happiness.

It basically boils down to you having a choice. The choice to buy your freedom so you can do whatever you want with your time or you can buy things. The things can be a ball and chain that keep you in the job you don't like or in a location you don't like. By giving up some of those things, you purchase your freedom to be able to live an unconventional life doing what you want.


Another tenant of FIRE is investing. In the FIRE community, it is generally advised to invest in a total stock market index fund. It is recommended to keep it super simple by investing in the whole market. Basically, leave it in there for the long haul and don't touch it. There are other segments of people who are more involved in investing like doing real estate investing or trading but for most people, the best bet is to put it into index funds and in 10-15 maybe 20 years you can retire.

FIRE on a low income?

I want to touch briefly on being on a low income and trying to achieve financial freedom. So when you are on a low income it is really impossible to ramp up your savings rate. You are just trying to make ends meet and we totally understand that. This movement is not for everyone BUT for those who are on a low income and who are interested in achieving financial independence and retire early, you have to increase your income somehow.

Thankfully we live in the age of the internet and the age of acquiring skills super easily and super cheaply. It is easy to be able to leverage those skills for money using the gig economy or entrepreneurship. It’s easy to pick up a part-time job.

Being on a low-income and pursuing FIRE is imperative to work hard and not make excuses. So that being said, I know some people are in really crappy situations financially and they just can't seem to get their head above the water and I get that, but I also you have options too!

So, take a breath, think of your options, and go after one of them to raise your income! Whether that means getting a better higher-paying job, taking a side gig to earn some extra money, or signing up on the gig economy choose one go for it! Even bringing in an extra one hundred or two hundred bucks a month makes a huge difference in the long run.  

If you need a resource to help manage your money check out our 10 minute checklist linked below. That free checklist will give you the same framework that we use to really get on top of our finances and get to that 70% savings rate.  In 10 minutes a week you'll be on your way to financial freedom!

Also, make sure to click here to check us out in this month's (November 2018) Kiplinger magazine!

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The ultimate Sweet

Life Starter Pack

Everything you need in one PDF. 14 pages of our biggest lessons, mistakes, and tips on helping you reach the sweet life sooner. It even includes action steps so when you're done with the document, you'll know exactly what you need to do next. Goodbye confusion, hello clarity.

©2020 Owen Family Enterprises LLC. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy

Retire in Your 20s? 7 Steps to a Mini Retirement



Written by Alli, scroll to bottom for video

A few weeks ago at Fincon 2018 in Orlando, Florida, we gave a breakout table session on how to financially prepare for a mini retirement. If you are interested in leaving your job and traveling for a set period of time and aren't sure how to financially prepare, this blog post will lay it all out for you.

There's a lot of reasons that you might want to leave a job but the most common is that you're not happy with your current job or you dislike your location. Maybe you want to spend more time with your family. The main thing that holds people back (maybe this is you) is that they lack confidence around money.  Do I have enough money to make it through? When I return back will I be able to find work easily? All your questions will be answered here.

We SO know the feeling of going to your 9:00 to 5:00 every day feeling dissatisfied, disillusioned, stuck. We were those people just six months ago before we left our jobs. Going through the steps that we are going to show you really prepared us and gave us the confidence to quit our jobs.  We educated ourselves and eventually ended up saving 70% of our incomes right up until the point we quit. We made a plan to travel the world and experience new things. We also created a framework with backup plans so that we knew we had the confidence that if something didn't work out the way we expected we'd still be secure in our future.

So, what is a mini retirement?

We defined a mini retirement as taking a specified period of time off from your current employer. You could be either looking for a new job, looking to find a new passion, building a business, travelling, or spending time with family.


1. Get really clear on why do you want to take a mini retirement.

Your WHY will lead you through the hard times and the sacrifices that you have to make to financially prepare for this. Maybe your why is that you dislike your job or maybe your why is that you want to travel before you settle down and have kids. Maybe your why is you want to start a business and venture out on your own in an entrepreneurial fashion.

What is your why? 

2.  Decide what you want to do during your mini retirement.

A lot of people want to take some time off of work, maybe they want to transition to a different job, take some time figure out what they would like to do when they come back to work. Some people want to spend time with their family, but to go back to the same work that they were doing. Some people plan to start a business and never return to 9-5 work like us. All of these things are important to figure out so you know what your activities are going to be like when you're on your mini retirement.

What is your what? 

3. Reverse engineer how much your expenses will be.

If you're planning to travel the world during a one year sabbatical your expenses might be kind of high. You will have to pay for a lot of airfare, a lot of travel and everything else while you're gallivanting around the world. If you're planning to stay right where you're are but really buckle down and work on some businesses you might be able to drive your expenses pretty low. It's important to have this number in your mind so when you reach mini-retirement, you’ll be confident and ready.

How much will your expenses be? 

4. Decide the duration of the travel or the mini retirement.

If you want to travel for a year then you can calculate how much you will need exactly for that year. For example, if you're looking at staying home and buckling down on your businesses, you know from the past few steps that you only need $24,000 to live where you are currently living. We recommend saving 10% more to give you some cushion so you feel SUPERCHARGED confident. Obviously just multiply the amount of your expenses by how many years or how many months you plan to be “retired."

How long will your mini retirement be? 

5. Execute your budget and savings plan to achieve your goals!

Once you have that really clear picture of what you need you just have to get to work!

Something to note: how much money you save in cash and investments. If you are saving for a mini retirement, you would want to keep more of that money liquid savings account and in a vehicle that's not potentially going to lose value right before you leave the job. Even though that money won’t make you money right now, we recommend keeping it in a safer investment whether that's bonds or just in cash.

Where will you save your money? 

6. Maximize your work benefits

If you have an annual bonus that gets paid out every year make sure that you qualify for that annual bonus and leave right after you get that. Also save up your vacation time so if you are planning on going to travel for a year maybe the year before that don't go on vacation then you'll get an extra paycheck or two when you quit.

Are you maximizing your work benefits? 

7. Plan for health insurance

Almost everyone's health insurance is provided by their employer. So if you have anything you need to get checked up on or any health conditions that are outstanding, we recommend trying to take full advantage of the medical care you have right now to get those taken care of. That way, when you leave your work health insurance and transition to a marketplace health plan or a health sharing ministry (like us) you won't need to eat up a bunch of your deductible taking care of things you could have done while you were previously on your employer's health care.

What will you do for health insurance? 

401K Considerations

What about your retirement accounts?In the US we have an eighteen thousand five hundred limit on our 401ks, so we made sure to max that out before we left our jobs in April of this year.

Backup Plans

In case the businesses don't take off, we have backup plans. One of those is that we can get lower paying jobs. We’ve already saved a significant amount in our 401ks. After running some numbers on that we found that by the time we're able to get access to those at sixty five, that money would be able to sustain us for the rest of our lives. So we've almost already assured our retirement just by heavily saving for last four to five years. The other plan is that we have a specific set of skills. We are both engineers so we have degrees that we can fall back on.

Employment Gaps

The biggest concern with employment gaps would be if you work in an industry where those skills atrophy or where things change super super quickly. In a position like IT, you need a lot of training on the job to stay on top of recent changes whether its regulatory or just technology. In that case, it might be a little bit more difficult to overcome this employment gap. But overwhelmingly, from the research I did, most employers are not too concerned about an employment gap as long as you have a good reason for taking it. So, they're definitely going to ask you if you have a gap of employment but if you're trying to start businesses or something like that, you can always put what you were up to and the activities and projects that you completed on your resume.

Remember that by keeping your expenses really low you can work whatever job you want!

You don't have to go back to that corporate career making six figures or whatever you were at prior. You can work a job that really satisfies your soul and makes you happy. Also remember that your backup plan is everyone else's regular life 😉

You will never have today again or tomorrow or your youth so if you have a desire to go out explore the world, build a business, take your mini-retirement! There's really no better time other than now. But you do need a plan to execute to make sure you're not sacrificing your future for the present. But as long as you do it smart, take some of the advice that we’ve given, we think you can absolutely afford a mini-retirement.

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The ultimate Sweet

Life Starter Pack

Everything you need in one PDF. 14 pages of our biggest lessons, mistakes, and tips on helping you reach the sweet life sooner. It even includes action steps so when you're done with the document, you'll know exactly what you need to do next. Goodbye confusion, hello clarity.

9 Things we Cut from our Budget (that we don’t miss!)


9 things we cut from our budget that we don't miss (1)

1. Housing

Housing is most people's biggest expense, and it's the one that made the biggest impact on our budget when we decreased it. Out of the 9 things we cut from our budget that we don't miss, this is the most impactful.

What We Did

We purchased a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house and rented out 3 of the rooms. We rented them out to coworkers, people we met on Craigslist, and friends. If we didn't know the person, we made sure to run a background and credit check through to ensure a good fit.

Using this strategy, we were essentially able to live in a huge house with awesome people for a couple hundred dollars a month. Now that we're full-time traveling, we rented out our master and make about $400/month (should there be no unexpected expenses). We aren't planning on living off this though, but just saving it for future repair bills on the house.

What You Can Do

We realize this strategy might not work for everyone. Maybe you have kids or you live in a city where buying a house is impossible. In that case, you always have options if you're willing to look for them. For instance, if you have kids, you could buy a duplex, rent out half of the house and live in the other half. If you're a single person living in San Francisco, you can rent a room instead of having a studio to yourself. Or you could even buy a van and live in that fulltime (what we're doing now)!

Our first house!
Our first house!

2. Cars

It's pretty much the norm for people these days to have a car payment. We make excuses that we need that SUV for "safety" or "must buy new cars" so they don't breakdown. Nowadays, cars are built really well. No longer do we need to buy new to ensure a cars reliability. Even buying a used car  from a dealership can be a ripoff.

What We Do

Given Matt is a mechanical engineer, he is pretty good with cars! So when we're looking for a new car, we scour ads on Craigslist. We are all about good gas mileage and reliability. The last car we purchased (before Clifford) was a 2005 Toyota Prius with 30,000 miles on it. We purchased it for about $8000. Matt was driving 100 miles a day to work (ugh), so the gas mileage also saved us hundreds of dollars a month. Most of Matt's coworkers (who had the same commute), drove trucks. Not only did they have a car payment, but they were paying hundreds of dollars more per month in gas! All for a hunk of metal! No thanks!

What You Can Do

Decide what type of car you'd like to buy given your commute, your lifestyle, your budget, and where you live. Scour Craigslist or Facebook marketplace for cars. Take them for a test drive! (Being a woman, I would never do this alone. Always bring someone with you!). Once you find a car you like, take it to your local mechanic for a lookover (it will cost about $80).  Pull the cash out of the bank, exchange title, and make your way over to the DMV to process the registration.

I added the "Cool Prius -no one" sticker.
I added the "Cool Prius -no one" sticker.

3. Restaurants

Our first meal in the van- eggs, kimchi, avocado!
Our first meal in the van- eggs, kimchi, avocado!

4. Alcohol

Having a delicious mojito at a friend's wedding!
Having a delicious mojito at a friend's wedding!

5. Social Events

We loooveee to be social! Most of our social activities revolved around eating out, drinking out, and playing out (hellooo, Coachella!). While all these activities were really fun (#noregrets), when we got serious about our goals, we had to get creative with ways to be social for less moneys.

What We Do

Invite people over (yes, even into our van!). Cook for friends, have game nights, go on hikes with friends, go to free concerts with friends...the opportunities are endless!

What You Can Do

Brainstorm a few things you LOVE doing with friends that are free (or cost just a lil bit). Realize that you might lose some friends by not going out all the time (that's ok and normal!). Join to find new friends that like doing similar (free) things!

Hiking with our friends from Wild Drive Life!
Hiking with our friends from Wild Drive Life!

6. Clothes (Shopping in General!)

When I was just #babymoneyAlli, I had a monthly subscription to StitchFix. Most of the time, I got a few clothes from there that I liked, but was too lazy to return the ones that were "meh." This resulted in me having a LOT of clothes in my closet that were just "meh."

What We Do

Now that we live in a van, clothes shopping isn't really an option (where am I going to put new sh*t?). Before #vanlife, I challenged myself to a clothes buying ban. Not only does this save money, but it helps you appreciate what you have in your closet. This translates to just a happier life (hellooo #gratitude).

What You Can Do

Go on a clothes buying ban! Go through your closet and sell all the clothes that are just "meh" or give away ones that you can't sell on apps like Poshmark or eBay.

If you follow us on Instagram, you've seen this jacket. I only have one...
If you follow us on Instagram, you've seen this jacket. I only have one...

7. Subscription Services

Subscription services may seem like a small amount. But $10/month over the course of a year is $120/ year! I get it, TV shows are important to many people, but for us, we realized TV didn't really improve our lives much.

What We Do

We canceled all subscription services and stay entertained through free books from the library and YouTube. Are you subscribed to our channel btw ?  Click here hehe (shameless plug)!

What You Can Do

Share an account with a friend! Rent a book from the library! Don't let your brain go to mush!

Pretending to read, but really just admiring Ember.
Pretending to read, but really just admiring Ember.

8. Buying Books

We're big self-development junkies, so books are our best friends!

What We Do

We got library cards to basically everywhere our hometown in Bakersfield, in my mom's county and in my mom's city! This gave us access to Hoopla and Overdrive, which are apps that allow you to rent e-books and stream audiobooks FO'FREE!

What You Can Do

Go to your local library (or your mom's), get a library card, ask them which app they are subscribed that app...get all the books! And get partying!

9. Insourcing

We try to do everything "in house"...that means, if either of us need a haircut, we're getting out the scissors and shavers and it's going down!

What We Do

Not only do we insource hair cutting, but we do all our own car maintenance. That means oil changes, brakes, etc. YouTube is our best friend here for sure.

What You Can Do

It's important to recognize your own skills in this department and what might be reasonable to insource, and start there! Never touched a car before? I wouldn't recommend doing your brakes yourself, then. But doing your own "at home pedicure" might be more realistic. Start small, then you'll gain the confidence to tackle the more technical skills (with YouTube at your back!)

We were pretty much your typical millennials when it came to eating out-- we used to eat out 3-4x per week! Our favorites were sushi, thai, and mexican OF COURSE!

What We Do

Now we only eat out 2-3x per month and because of that, eating out is a TREAT! We also have amped up our skills in the kitchen and really enjoy cooking a meal at home together. By cooking at home we also have the comfort of knowing exactly what ingredients are used and can make it as healthy as possible.

What You Can Do

Start making small changes. Don't try to go from eating out every day to never eating out. Allow yourself some treats but also be realistic about your goals.

We used to also DRINK out alot- I'm talking a $100 bar tab on the weekend was the norm. Ugh- not only is that horrible for our health, but it hurts our wallets.

What We Do

Bota Box boxed wine is our JAM! We also invite friends over for drinks. We find the conversations we can have in our home are much more interesting than the conversations we have at a loud bar.

What You Can Do

Order soda water with lime when you go out. That way, it looks like you're drinking a mixed drink, but it saves your health (and your wallet!)

Sweet life Starter pack image (3)

The ultimate Sweet

Life Starter Pack

Everything you need in one PDF. 14 pages of our biggest lessons, mistakes, and tips on helping you reach the sweet life sooner. It even includes action steps so when you're done with the document, you'll know exactly what you need to do next. Goodbye confusion, hello clarity.

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