It was a sweltering summer day and my husband was working for an oil delivery company that installed AC units in the months their delivery work was slow. As sweat poured down his face in a blistering hot attic, he snapped. This was not the life he wanted to be living. He came home that day and announced with firm resolution that he was going to school to become a nurse. This was 2007, two years after we had been married and one year after our first daughter had been born. I had quit my job as a catastrophe management analyst for a specialty insurance company to stay home with our daughter and I wasn’t overwhelmed with excitement at the idea of going to back to work, but I also didn’t want my husband to spend his whole life working a job he hated.
He enrolled in school and I began cubicle life round two, this time as a contract analyst for a hospital. Oh, I also found out I was pregnant with our second daughter right around the same time, I love when things stay the same and are predictable, don’t you? So less than a year after starting that job, a darling baby girl joined our family. I was working while my husband tried to care for a two year old and an infant and stay on top of nursing school. We both understood finishing nursing school was essential to the long-term success of our family, but my husband was drowning without my help at home. So I quit my job in October of 2008 , we sold our house, and we moved in with my in-laws. It happened that my mother was trying to care for my grandmother but my mom also had a full time job and really needed help. She knew we had zero income and offered to pay me 800$ a month to be a part-time caretaker for my grandmother. We weren’t completely off the hook with the in-law situation, we paid them 500$ for rent, utilities, and food – which was incredibly generous of them but still only left us with a total of 300$ a month for all other expenses. Somehow, we never went into debt during those years, a fact that I marvel at now.
This set-up continued and my husband was nearing the end of nursing school in the fall of 2010 (he did graduate and I could write pages about all the wonderful things he has done in his career and how it has helped our family but I think this post is supposed to be mostly about me, sorry dear:).
During the years I had been working full time, I discovered and loved the children’s brand Gymboree (now bankrupt and no longer in existence). I became a devoted collector of Gymboree and spent hours scouring the sites that curated lists of all the new lines that came out. I was determined to own every favorite piece new or used, anywhere I could find it, including the retail store, second-hand stores, and Ebay. In November of 2010, I was in a second-hand store and found a pair of new with tag boys Gymboree khaki pants. I new immediately that they were worth more than the 1.99$ price but we had two girls, what did I need boys khaki pants for? I had become an avid Ebay shopper in sourcing Gymboree, so it occurred to me that maybe I could try selling these pants, it wasn’t much of a risk. I remember being so nervous when I clicked the “list” button, people were actually going to see this live and I was fully responsible for it. I had those pants going as an auction, I can’t recall what start price I chose, but I do recall they sold for 9.17$ and I was really excited – and also terrified about figuring out how to ship them because I didn’t think about that part ahead of time. But that was my first ever Ebay sale, I was thrilled and hooked! Next I went through my closet full of work clothes that I didn’t need because I wasn’t working outside the home any more. I had a Vera Bradley purse in my attic that was passed down and it was one of those things that I knew I didn’t like or want but it had too much value to just give away, so I put that up for sale.
Eventually I exhausted everything on hand that was sellable and started looking at the second-hand stores again. There will be more posts to come on how those selling years took shape and all that I learned along the way – which I hope will help you if you are new to the idea of resale. A third daughter came along in 2012 and a fourth (yes, daughter, why mess with a good thing?) in 2016. So there are four “merchant maidens” as I like to call them. While it had been relatively smooth sailing to this point, a shift in the winds of our sails was just around the corner.
In October of 2016, my husband took a new position in a different department at the hospital, one that paid more, quite a bit more actually. And we saw it in the paychecks and it was great. But after a few months, around the beginning of 2017, we lamented together that it didn’t seem to be having the effect we expected. Somehow, we were spending it all. We always paid all the bills, including the chubby credit card bills, but with nothing ever leftover. However, I always felt so good when I paid off that insidious credit card bill that I felt justified to go out and charge it up again. It would have gone on like that indefinitely unless a successful intervention could be staged, and thankfully, it was.
In February of 2017, my mother-in-law had a Dave Ramsey book among a stack of 10 or 15 finance books she had borrowed from the library. My brother-in-law and his then girlfriend (now wife) were annoyingly strong proponents of Dave Ramsey and my husband and I reciprocated by making fun of them whenever possible. I didn’t really know much of what Ramsey taught so I picked up Financial Peace and started skimming. I was immediately challenged on something I had just recently decided was a fact of life. This is my exact comment to my husband, “No one can ever have a paid off car, as soon as you pay it off, it breaks and you have to start making car payments all over again. It’s always going to be that way and you might as well accept you will have a car payment until the day you die or are too old to drive.” Well that was really warm, fuzzy thinking, wasn’t it? I also had this thought, “Hardly anyone can ever retire, it’s just a myth to keep people spinning their wheels worrying about it. In reality, most everyone is going to work until they die, get over it.” Again, really pleasant and hopeful outlook on life. As I mentioned, these kinds of thoughts were really challenged within just a few minutes of looking through Financial Peace. I left my in-laws that day (couldn’t take the book with me as it was borrowed from the library) but I was determined to borrow my own copy that week, which I did, and read the whole thing in one or two days.
With my new-found knowledge, I crafted my first-ever budget and sat my unwitting husband down to change our entire financial plan and outlook. He was quite agreeable, followed by a list of 20 different yard projects that he wanted to either work into this budget or spend thousands of dollars on before we started a budget, not really sure where he was going with that but I could tell we were in two very different places. I asked him to please read Financial Peace and then we could have follow up conversations. He did and it quickly brought him into lock-step thinking with me. In fact, he then went and borrowed Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and had us read it together every evening. There are a lot of interesting details to fill in but for now, I’ll summarize in saying we changed everything about our finances that year, 2017.
I probably would have been content to precisely and obediently follow the Ramsey steps and never go any further, but my husband wasn’t satisfied. He kept digging on the internet until he found the ChooseFI radio podcast and then he came to me with a new vision, financial independence. Let me take a moment to share with you what my master retirement plan was, because it’s just so fascinating and full of wisdom.
Step 1: Take about 10 years to pay off the mortgage (it was 200K and I planned to pay off 20K per year, and I was actually on track, I paid off 60K from 2014-2016).
Step 2: Spend the rest of our working careers trying, if at all possible, to save the money we used to spend on the mortgage payment and not fritter it away.
Step 3: Try to use as little of that money in retirement as possible and hope it lasts until we die.
End of plan. Phew. So understand when my husband came to me with this new financial independence idea, I thought it was a wacky pipe dream. I also had the thought I would have to trade in my “master retirement plan”, which while admittedly super weak and lousy, at least felt possible. The new plan was something enormously bigger and seemingly impossible. But IF it was attainable, it would be of infinitely great worth…and so, I agreed to trade in IF for FI (financial independence) and almost three years later I’m confident it’s not IF anymore, but WHEN!
A final note: If you are unfamiliar with the concept of financial independence, there will be many more posts on the subject to open it up in great detail, and if you’re unfamiliar with how to resell, there will be plenty of how-to posts for you. Perhaps most importantly, I intend to show you how resale and financial independence interact and strengthen each other, creating exceptional results.
Walking FI-ward is great, but doesn’t it feel good to run? Learn how to do that here by selling from a position of strength.