At age 39 I made some radical life changes…. or so I thought! I was living in lovely home in a high-end neighborhood and was miserable! While some of the neighbors were friendly, most kept to themselves, pulled their luxury cars into their three car garages and directly shut the doors to avoid contact with others. They watched out the window in hopes that the new Lexus driving through the neighborhood was interested in buying the house down the block that was for sale, but already considering if they would then need to upgrade their own SUV to a newer model!
I put that house on the market, sold it taking a major loss, and downsized to a smaller home in a small town about an hour away. I am a single mom of, at the time, a boy getting ready to start 7th grade. Was this a move that would totally screw him up? Its that fear all us parents have when we make major life changes that impact our children!
Turns out, it was the best move we could have made! Not only did our mortgage and tax burden reduce by over HALF, we have found our small community to offer so much more to improve our quality of life!
First, the neighbors are great! Friendly and down to earth always helping one another out when needed. My son LOVES our new home (a 1945 bungalow) and his new friends and school. And we live two blocks from an amazing library and bike trail! My son is thriving in our new life! We are cooking at home WAY more, reserving eating out for special occasions (and throwing in a $6 Little Caesar’s pizza and Netflix movie night once a week for good measure!) This is SO much better for our budget, our waistlines and our relationship!
Back to this being “radical”…. well since I made the move, I have discovered many others who have driven their costs of living down and savings rate up and either have retired WAY younger than me or are on track to do so! So its not really THAT radical, depending on what circle you run in! What an exciting group to find! Mr. Money Mustache, The Frugalwoods, the Mad Fientist, etc.! I am SO behind the eight ball!
But honestly, 5 years ago I would have listened to these podcasts and read these blogs and thought they were crazy! It really did take a total mindset shift to be ready to truly absorb all the great information they share! I had to get past caring what people thought about me based on the house I live in or the car I drive (who wants to be friends with people like that anyway!) I never really felt like I was in a “competition” to have the biggest and best, I just kind of got swept up with the tide, and the tide kept rising!
I finally just realized that trying to keep my head above the water was not making me happy! I needed to get back to what was important in life, spending time with my son and our dog, enjoying the little things in life and getting out of current that was sweeping my happiness away! Fortunately, I had been maxing out my 401(k) and my company has a very generous match, so when I finally came to my senses and just swam to shore, I had a pretty good base to start from!
By downsizing and cutting other costs out (yes I cut the cord on cable!) and budgeting (shout out to Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar app for budgeting!), I have been able to increase my savings rate to over 60% and make double mortgage payments to have my house paid off in 10 years. In running the numbers, I learned that I will officially be financially independent by age 46, but my goal is to work until after my son graduates from college when I am 50. Now, I do love my company and my career, so I may not actually retire then, but it sure is nice to be in control of my own destiny!