Tag Archives: Travel

How to save money on vacation

Changing your mindset is the key to maximizing your vacation savings

how to save money on vacation

How to save money on vacation — change your mindset!

One of the hardest things about living in Seattle is that the winters can be long. The weeks between the day we win the Superbowl to when the tree pollen traps us indoors can be the longest, most depressing weeks of the year. Rainy season here (really more of a nonstop, grey drippiness than real rain) lasts from around late October until July 5 in a typical year.That’s why we usually plan a vacation to somewhere warm and sunny in late February or March. When we return, we’re usually safely into springtime and ready for a glorious Seattle summer.

We were particularly nervous this year because it was going to be our first trip traveling with a toddler. Would we be the embarrassed parents trying to quiet a screaming child? What if there was a major poop explosion? We packed SO many toys, loaded our iPads with movies and brought along enough food to keep the entire plane fed for a month. We were ready. We thought.

It started off well enough, Pretired Baby had a blast running around in the airport and was already looking tired by the time he got on the plane. He was fascinated by the magazines, the windows, the tray table and all the other people. About two hours in, though, he drank a bunch of milk and laid down on our laps and fell asleep. He slept for a blissful 40 minutes or so and we even took his picture because he was sleeping so sweetly. We couldn’t believe our luck.

Suddenly he awoke with a kind of coughing noise, tried to sit up and started puking ALL OVER Pretired Mama.

“Lean him forward!” I shouted and he puked some more. He’s only thrown up one other time in his whole life and that was such a small amount it barely counted. He was scared and obviously didn’t feel well. He began crying loudly. I called the flight attendant who brought bags and paper towels but there wasn’t much else we could do. We managed to clean him up and calm him as best we could. He was finally quiet and cuddly but still feeling sick. Time remaining: about three hours of hell. Uh oh.

Over the next three hours, he puked.

And puked.

And puked.

The faces of the most annoyed and angry people, frustrated at having a screaming baby on their flight, eventually softened to sympathy and finally open pity or even horror. It may have been the worst flight of their lives, but, hey, were THEY the ones covered in puke?

We let everyone else get off the plane and finally shuffled off the plane, carrying our luggage, a toddler and two large garbage bags full of puke-covered clothes and other items. Did I mention there was a lot of puke? OK, good.

We decided to stop by the urgent care on the way to our condo just in case and almost died on the way. Pretired Baby started puking while we were driving but since he was slightly leaned back in the car seat he was having trouble getting it out. I was sitting in the back seat with him and told my wife to quickly pull over so I could loosen his seat and lean him forward a little bit. She pulled over and I unbuckled the top clip and leaned him forward a little bit and caught the puke in my already covered shirt I’d removed at the airport — the last thing I had with me for collecting puke. My wife suddenly gasped and I turned my head to look out the back window. A car was coming toward us fast — in the shoulder and obviously not seeing us. It fortunately swerved back into the traffic lane at the last second. If it had hit us, at least two of us would have been killed and one of them would definitely have been Pretired Baby, in his car seat with the car seat clip unbuckled.

Anyway, crisis averted, we made it to the doctor (who had no idea what was wrong and just gave us advice for treating nausea and thought it might be altitude sickness) and finally to our condo. Pretired Baby had a rough evening, but he eventually fell asleep on me and slept all night. The next day took him awhile to bounce back, but the day after that he was fine — which is when I came down with the same bug. It took me down for a night and the better part of a day, after which vacation finally started. At least we knew it wasn’t altitude sickness then, which meant the flight home should be better.

Why it’s worth trying to save money on vacation

A plane trip like that is a good reminder that plane travel — even when everything goes great — is a horrible experience. Even the best trips are an endurance test while the worst trips leave you wondering why you spent good money on such misery.

Fortunately our trip was very inexpensive. We had plenty of miles for our plane tickets and Pretired Baby traveled free as a puking lap baby. The suckage that is airplane travel is actually lessened quite a bit by knowing it was free or close to it.

The other reason to try to save money on vacation is that it can be quite expensive. You already have lodging — although that can also be free or close to it as well — you have food costs, which can be quite a bit if you eat out throughout the trip, you might need a rental car and you’ll likely spend some money on some sort of activities once you get there as well. It all adds up. A small family taking just two trips a year could easily drop $10,000 or more just on travel — that’s almost half of our core operating costs for the year! If you want to keep that up while paying out of pocket for everything, you might need twice the pretirement fund you were aiming for.

How to save money on vacation: shift your mindset

Since I already mentioned that we traveled to Maui with miles, you’re probably assuming that I’m going to start talking about travel rewards cards, card churning and other strategies that others have written about much more eloquently than me.

And while I AM advocating using rewards credit cards, what I really want to explain is an important mindset shift that my family has recently undergone.

You see, we’ve traveled ALL OVER this lovely planet, generally paying very little for the tickets that got us there, thanks to having accumulated many airline points. But we could have spent even less.

Most people, I think, are like us. Yes, they have rewards cards and yes, they build up over time with normal usage. So when we think about taking a trip, we get most of the trip planned and then finally we’ll say “Hey, do we have enough miles to pay for that?” Sometimes the answer is no and we’ll pay out of pocket. More likely, though, we’ll be just a little short and we’ll buy a few miles to get us over the top.

So we’ve shifted our thinking completely. Instead of planning a trip and then seeing if we have any miles we can use, we are planning our trips first and STRATEGICALLY building up miles toward each trip. And the biggest key to that, beyond planning farther ahead than we normally would, is to focus on sign-up bonuses vs. earning points over time. The sign-up bonuses require a certain amount of spending in the first few months so it’s critical to pay attention to the details.

It’s worth getting help

Getting organized on strategic rewards credit card usage can help you save money on vacation, but it’s an overwhelming world of intentionally confusing marketing. That’s why I enlisted the help of my friend Brad from Richmond Savers to help me sort through this mess. Brad offers free travel rewards coaching. All he asks in return is you sign up through his affiliate links and he then gets a small commission from the credit card companies.

We started by doing some thinking about the trips we wanted to take over the next few years. Here’s what we’re thinking right now:

  • 2015: Hawaii again, but probably Kauai this time. I think we like it better. Its laid-back vibe fits our personalities better than Maui.
  • 2016: Disneyland. We’re planning a joint trip with my brother’s family. I guess it’s one of those trips that’s unavoidable when you have kids.
  • 2017: Scandinavia: I’ll be turning 50 (really?) so we want to go visit the motherland to celebrate.
  • 2018: Italy: My wife wants to go to Tuscany when she turns 40. If all goes well, we may also be celebrating her pretirement!

It is generally a good idea to start with the trip coming up the soonest so we’re focused on building up enough miles for next year’s trip to Kauai. The way we’re doing this is via the British Airways rewards card, which gives us 50,000 miles. My wife signed up first and I think we’ve already got enough spending on the card to receive our points. Next, I’ll be signing up for the same card and getting the same points.

Once we have those banked, we’ll move on to the next card in our plan and keep going until all our trips are covered. It actually looks like we can pretty much get ALL of our needed plane tickets for nearly free with just our normal spending. We also have some spending we need to do on the house this summer so we’re going to try to time that work with the new card signups to maximize our signup rewards.

On top of that, we should be able to leverage rewards to gain big discounts with Disneyland and we’re even looking at some strategies for getting free hotel stays in Europe when the time comes. While we would have probably gotten most of our plane travel free or greatly reduced with our other points programs, by planning ahead and targeting the card usage at specific trips is the key to maximizing our vacation savings.

Other ways to save money on vacation

So now that you’ve hopefully joined me on my mindset shift and are now targeting rewards credit card spending toward specific trips, I’ll also share some of my other favorite tips for saving money on vacation.

  • Consider VRBO rentals instead of traditional hotels. Obviously you can’t apply rewards points toward private vacation rentals, but if you’re not using points anyway, choose a vacation rental. We use VRBO for at least 80 percent of our trips these days. Mainly because these private homes are usually better set up for traveling with a child. There are usually separate rooms and full kitchens, etc. Even if you only eat in for breakfast and go out for all your other meals can add up to a lot of savings.
  • Book your hotel first. For some reason travelers OBSESS over airline costs. There must be some weird psychology going on where people just cannot handle paying $10 more than the person sitting next to them because people will go through all kinds of maneuvers to save a little bit on plane tickets. Meanwhile they’ll often overpay for hotels on the same trip and not give it a second thought. What you need to know is that there is NO cancellation fee for most hotel bookings but there almost always is for airline travel. You can reserve your hotel stay first and then start looking for airline deals. If you find you need to adjust your stay a little bit, go ahead and make the changes then call the hotel and change your reservation. Hotel prices also fluctuate quite a bit just like airline prices. But if you see a better deal on a hotel than the one you already have, you can simple call and get the same deal. (We have had to cancel and rebook before, but it’s never been a problem.)
  • And just for fun, one of the ways we saved a little bit on this trip was to utilize the local library. In Maui you can get a temporary library card for $10 so we were able to load up on books (they also rent DVDs) and keep Pretired Baby entertained without packing a bunch of heavy books or buying a bunch when we got there. They also had a free storytime for toddlers so he was able to go to that also for free. I do love libraries!

I’ll share some other tips for saving money on travel in the coming days, but in the meantime, what are some of your favorite tips for saving money on vacation? 

Pretirement story: Planning a move to Spain

Hey, everybody, today I’m sharing a guest post from Buck, the writer behind one of my favorite blogs, Bucking the Trend. One of my favorite things to do on Pretired.org is share interesting stories of pretirement, such as the recent story of my friend Rebecca who gave up her fancy corporate job to move to Mexico

Buck is planning to pack up his family and move to Spain and is well into the planning and preparation stage. Read on for his story and be sure to share your thoughts and advice for Buck in the comments! 

Introduction

buck-spain

Earlier this summer, Pretired Nick and I were comparing notes.  We share a goal of living abroad with our families and he asked if I’d do a guest post.  This is the latest on our story.

The tagline on my blog says “Save. Invest. Retire @ 42. Move family to Spain.”  If everything were to go exactly as planned, we would reach our goal in the year 2017 or thereabouts.  We all know things rarely go “as planned” but it’s good to set goals, right?

This was the plan up until about a month ago when my wife and I decided to turn everything on its ear.  The tagline should now read “Save. Invest. Pretire in 2014. Move family to Spain.”

The Goal

For as long as my wife and I have been married, we’ve had a goal of living abroad.  We tried to navigate our careers so that we could live and work in a place other than the U.S. but the stars just never aligned to allow us to do it.

Our plans were put on hold with the birth of our twin boys a little over 8 years ago. Now that they’ve grown and we have some money in the bank, we’ve been able to rekindle our dream to include the entire family.

Our goal is to move and immerse ourselves in a Spanish-speaking country for at least one year starting in June 2014. The following are some of the questions we’ve asked ourselves that have led us to this decision.

Why?

I went on my first trip abroad during my sophomore year in college. And while it was only a month-long whirlwind tour through some parts of Western Europe, I returned with a new appreciation of different cultures.  It also struck me how most everyone we met that was close to my age was able to speak English – at worst in a conversational way, at best with an authentic British accent.

I learned that many countries teach English at very young ages, most at the start of any sort of formal schooling around age 5. I thought this was wonderful and vowed to give my kids the gift of bilingualism and the time to take in a different culture and all the things that go with that (language, food, people, sites, etc.) I think this experience will go a long way into making our sons more well-rounded.

Why Now?

Like many big decisions in life, there is rarely the perfect time to do something like this.  The more relevant question when I first brought it up with the wife was why not now?

As we evaluated our original plan of waiting another 4 years to move, we started seeing bigger issues that would potentially be roadblocks. Two of the bigger considerations were:

  • Age of our boys. The twins just started 2nd grade and the thought of waiting until they were nearly teenagers seemed like it would be more impactful both from a schooling and social perspective.
  • Age of our boys’ grandparents. We are very fortunate to have both sets of grandparents with us. Everyone is in relatively good health but with ages already in their early-to-mid 70s, no one is getting any younger. To wait another 4 years to make this move would push the elder grandparents closer to their 80s. Besides, I think they are excited to have a new place to visit their kids and grandchildren as well.

Why Spain?

Because our twins are in their third year of a Spanish-English dual language immersion program at their school, it’s only logical that we seek out living in a Spanish-speaking country. This experience should cement their fluency in the language.

While we have several target countries in mind (most of which are in South America), Spain remains #1 on our list.  I spent some time studying and working in Madrid nearly two decades ago and my wife and I have been back a couple of times since. There is something about the Spanish lifestyle that appeals to us and I suspect it has something to do with siestas, jamón serrano, and the nearly 3,000 hours of sunshine that pours down on southern Spain every year.

How?

You know how most personal finance blogs at one point or another always mention the word ‘freedom’ that financial independence brings?

While we aren’t yet financially independent, we’re taking advantage of the freedom that our savings has enabled. We’ve fully funded our tax-advantaged retirement and are diligently saving almost everything going forward in cash to be able to qualify for the needed visa. More on this in the next section.

To get into some specifics, we have about $90K in taxable investments and another $50K in cash that is more than enough float us for a year or two while abroad.

As long as we don’t end up in one of Spain’s larger cities (Madrid or Barcelona), it appears that living in Spain may actually be cheaper than our current location in the U.S. Rents in Andalucía appear to be reasonable and my goal is to live in a town/city center where we can walk or bike as part of our daily routine without the need for a car.

Next Steps

At this point, we have a lot more questions than answers and are glad to have the better part of 9 months to put a plan in place and make it a reality. The following are the most immediate to-dos at the moment.

  • Visas – Figuring out the needed visas is the first priority. We’re leaning toward applying for a non-lucrative visa. This is a one-year visa typically granted to retirees who have ample savings (or passive income) to support themselves.  This visa does not allow you to work in Spain. We’ve done our best to save enough money to live on for a period of time that I’m hoping we can qualify.

While I haven’t found it spelled out in black and white, it seems the magic number is around $85K in savings plus an additional $15K needed for each dependent. If my math is correct, that means our family will need to prove a savings of around $130K to be able to qualify for this type of visa.

  • Schools – Apparently there are three main options when it comes to schooling in Spain:  public, semi-private, and private. We need to determine which option we can afford and which is going to be best for our boys given our goals (to learn the language and culture).
  • Immersion – Even though we have the luxury of not working, I still think it is important that my wife and I find ways to become part of the community. To this end, I’ve found several programs that hire native English speakers to be part-time language assistants in schools around the country. I’m thinking this may help us get some immediate contacts in the area that may be more difficult to obtain on our own.
  • Stuff – What are we going to do with our house and all the stuff it contains? Since we plan to return back to the U.S. at some point, the current thought is to rent out our house and put anything we want to keep in storage.

Fears

As with anything new, we have our list of fears and unknowns. Will we miss our friends? Will we hate it? Will we love it? Will we ever come back? (That last one is my mom’s fear and not necessarily mine).

Admittedly, this prospect “terrifies the bejeezus” out of my wife (her words). But at the same time she is up for the challenge and equates her fear to the nerves and anxiety that our children regularly have to face, but which we avoid as adults. It seems only fair that we should also be put in uncomfortable situations in the name of growth and new experiences.

Thanks for reading. If there is anyone out there who may have a bit of advice for us about Spain or any other Spanish-speaking country that you think should warrant our time in research, please comment or reach out to me directly via the Contact form on my blog. ¡Muchas gracias!

Pretired Nick here again. Well, what do you all think? Is Buck on the right track? Any advice for him as he plans this move? I was in Spain a couple years ago and also fell in love with the country. When I researched a move to Spain I found very challenging visa issues and a barely functioning bureaucracy to complicate matters even further. Buck has a lot of these issues figured out already and I know I can’t wait to read the posts when he packs up and makes his move to Spain!

Also, for anyone else considering a move to Spain, I do highly recommend the book Moon Living Abroad in Spain (affiliate link). I read it from cover-to-cover when I was seriously looking at making the same move. Although my plans to move to Spain are on hold, I still highly recommend this book.

Pretirement story: Making the move to Mexico

Today I am delighted to share the first guest post on Pretired.org. It’s a wonderful pretirement story from my good friend, Rebecca Smith Hurd. Rebecca and I are old college buddies who share a craving for exploration and adventure. While I left my fancy corporate job to take care of Pretired Baby, Rebecca decided to bail on her corporate job to move to Mexico. There she found a new life, language, culture, husband and founded All About Puebla, the leading English-language resource on Mexico’s fourth largest city. I hope you enjoy her story! 

Why I Outsourced Myself to Mexico

By Rebecca Smith Hurd

Rebecca and her husband, Pablo

Rebecca and her husband, Pablo

What happens when you realize that your dream job is no longer as dreamy as you’d like it to be? You quit. Or at least that’s what I did back in March 2006, when, after 20 years in journalism, I resigned my post (and gave up a six-figure salary) as an editor of an award-winning national magazine. My departure did not make headlines, but it altered the course of my career—and my life—for good.

At the time, I didn’t think of myself as pretired. After working for two decades in the U.S. media business, I was just plain tiredtired of stressing over deadlines, tired of lying awake at night fretting about possible errors, tired of saying “no” to friends and family because I had professional obligations, and tired of having to, er, strap on a pair to get taken seriously. I needed a break, stat!

So, I took one. I went skiing, ran a 10K, camped out at Coachella, and rafted the whitewaters at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I spent two months using my 37-year-old body instead of my brain, as one colleague observed, and it was fantastic. But it wasn’t enough.

Shortly thereafter, I started freelancing to pay the bills while I figured out what came next. To drum up clients, I printed business cards with the title “word nerd” (because it rhymes with “Hurd” and pretty much sums up my skill set), and I emailed former colleagues. Whenever I didn’t have to go to someone’s office, I worked at my coffee table in my pajamas. I took random afternoons off to run errands or hang out with friends. I drank wine on Tuesday nights. I was, as the saying goes, the boss of me.

But I was also still paying nearly $2,000 per month in San Francisco rent, plus other standard living expenses, which meant I was working as much as ever, occasionally on the weekends. Sigh. This wasn’t the break I needed. Could I afford to take a sabbatical? I couldn’t just do nothing for six months, could I?

Puebla's picturesque Cathedral, located on the city's the main square

Puebla’s picturesque Cathedral, located on the city’s the main square

As the year drew to a close, I flew to Spain to visit a friend—and found the answers. My aha moment came as I was sitting in a bar in Madrid, chatting with him and two other Europeans. Each of them spoke several languages and, as the conversation flowed, it dawned on me that they were using English exclusively for my benefit. You know, me, the stereotypical American who, despite calling herself a “word nerd,” had mastered only one language. So humbling.

I returned to the States in mid-January, determined to become bilingual. I would take that sabbatical and study Spanish! I researched language programs in various countries—and ultimately came up with a plan to spend the last six months of the year in Mexico. I enrolled in the intensive summer program at the Monterey Institute for International Study in California, followed by 16 weeks of immersive study at the Spanish Institute of Puebla. Why these schools? Because they were serious, affordable*, and highly recommended by former students. Beyond that, friends of the family kindly agreed to put me up for free near Monterey, which sealed the deal. That June, I gave up my apartment, put my belongings in storage, and hit the road.

Many of my friends and relatives thought I was taking a huge risk. But they were nonetheless supportive; a few even commended me for being “brave.” Personally, I thought the move made perfect sense: I’d not only get the break from routine that I sorely needed, but also learn a new skill that would make me more marketable as a word nerd. I’d return to San Francisco with a second language on my resume, ready to land my next full-time job. ¡Andale! Sounds entirely practical, right?

A plateful of mole poblano, perhaps Mexico's most iconic dish, which was invented by nuns in Puebla

A plateful of mole poblano, perhaps Mexico’s most iconic dish, which was invented by nuns in Puebla

Except that things didn’t turn out as I’d planned. While spending four months in Mexico’s fourth-largest city, I fell in love with the place and a Poblano. I reached out to a few colleagues in the U.S. to see whether they had any freelance jobs I could do 100% remotely. They did! And so began my pretirement.

Six years later, I’m still in Puebla. I’ve effectively outsourced myself. My husband and I could relocate to the States, but financially we’re better off here. My freelance clients—all of whom are in the U.S.—don’t care where I am, as long as I meet their expectations. I’ve also been able to take on new projects, including minor translations, because I speak English and Spanish. My language investment is paying off.

Lucy the cat asleep on my desk in Rebecca's home office, a near daily occurrence

Lucy the cat asleep on my desk in Rebecca’s home office, a near daily occurrence

What’s more, because my overhead is 30 percent of what it was in San Francisco, I can charge competitive rates (in dollars) and work fewer hours (about 35 per week) than I could otherwise. Of course, I could do more, and I’ve had a few lean months along the way. But the work-life balance is worth it. I now have enough time, flexibility, and mental space to focus on personal projects, such as running a local travel website, putting out a monthly expat newsletter, and writing posts like this one, for my college buddy Pretired Nick.

Best of all, my job is dreamy again, and I’m rarely tired anymore.

*The cost of the 2007 program in Puebla, which included all instruction plus room and board was $100 per month less than my rent in San Francisco.

 

Thanks for sharing, Rebecca! It’s so inspiring to hear about someone deciding to give up the big salary for a better life! Anyone else considered moving overseas to bring their pretirement dreams closer? Or considering a move to Mexico? Tell us about it in the comments! And be sure to visit All About Puebla to learn about Rebecca’s fascinating city. 

Wow, TWO Liebster award nominations?

Great early-stage accolades for Pretired.org

liebster-awardWhen I started this here little blog, it was a personal endeavor.

Sure, I felt the urge to share my triumphs and mistakes as I learned how to escape the death trap of mindless spending and emotionally draining corporate work.

But mostly I wanted to keep my mind sharp as I moved into stay-at-home dad mode with my now 11-month-old son and I imagined guiding my teenage nephews toward a wise path on their own financial journeys (even though they’ll likely never read this site).

Now barely five months into this project I have to acknowledge it’s not as personal an endeavor as I had imagined. I’m sharing this journey with now thousands of people each month, thoughtful comments keep pouring in and I can no longer pretend to be an anonymous diarist hiding in a dark corner of the internet.

This became dramatically apparent when I received not one, but TWO Liebster Blog Awards. This award is somewhat modeled on the old chain letter concept (you older folks will know what I’m talking about). The main differences being that it’s not annoying and is actually quite an honor to be noticed by your peers.

The first nomination came from Andrew at Living Rich Cheaply, who nominated me back on June 11. The second came just a short time later on June 20 when I was nominated by E.M. at Journey to Saving.

Now the great part about this award is once one has been nominated you are then supposed to nominate five others to receive this award (like a chain letter, see?). Be sure to read to the very end to see my nominations.

The other fun thing about this award is that I get to ask my nominees 11 questions about themselves. And, of course that means I have to answer the questions from those that nominated me. Since there are two nominations, I have to answer 22 questions! Hope you like reading about Pretired Nick!

As a final fun part of the award, I also get to list 11 random facts about myself. Let’s get that out of the way first:

11 Random Facts about Pretired Nick

  1. I actually go by “Nicholas” in the real world most of the time.
  2. I love to garden, but I’m not very good at it.
  3. I have almost no fear of death, but I’m deathly afraid of becoming old and frail.nick_paper_small
  4. I hate, hate, hate having a messy desk. The perfect desk to me has a keyboard, a monitor, speakers and a mouse. That’s it.
  5. My desk looks like a hoarder lives here right now.
  6. I have visited almost every state in the U.S.
  7. When I was two years old I was photographed at a dog show by a young newswire photographer. That picture ran on the front page of newspapers nationwide. People from all over the country sent my mom cut-outs in the mail.
  8. Years later in a weird coincidence I would end up working with that same photographer at a newspaper, although I didn’t know it at the time. (Found out it was the same guy years later after he had passed away.)
  9. I have a weird genetic disorder that prevents me from burping properly.
  10. I went skydiving for my 30th birthday. Loved it.
  11. My favorite book is 1984. My second favorite is Guns, Germs and Steel.

11 Questions from Living Rich Cheaply

  1. What would you do if you won a million dollars?
    This is a hard question and perhaps deserving of its own post one of these days. For sure I’d solidify my financial position so I could make my freedom even more secure. Then I’d probably ensure all my family was out of debt as well. If there was anything left after that, I’d probably start buying condos in exotic locations to rent out as vacation properties. 
  2. What is must see TV for you?
    These days it’s been Mad Men. It’s such a soap opera, but I love it. 
  3. If you could live in another country for a year, where would it be?
    Well, if it’s for just a year, it’d be somewhere in Europe. In many ways I feel like a European who was born on the wrong continent. Right now if I had to narrow it down, it’d probably be Spain, mainly because of weather.
  4. If you could time travel, where…I mean when would you go?
    I’m a big history buff so it’d be tough to choose just one time to visit in the past. However, if I was allowed to go forward as well, naturally I’d skip to the future so I can see what happens. Skipping 500 years or so forward would be pretty amazing. Just gotta watch out for Morlocks. 
  5. Why did you start blogging?
    I guess I more or less covered that above. 
  6. What would you love to learn to do?
    Create music. I’m obsessed with great music and I feel like I have music inside me that wants to come out. Fortunately technology is making it easier to create music without having actual musical training. Check out Audacity and Soundation for example. I used to love the music tools from Aviary before they killed them off. There’s a real opening for a cool offering that democratizes music creation. (“Real” musicians hate this kind of thing, of course.) 
  7. What is the best advice someone has given you?
    To never carry a credit card balance. I think the first time I was given that advice was when I was in high school and it’s never failed me. I’ve learned to just wait (most of the time anyway) for what I want instead of becoming overburdened with debt. That alone has saved me from a life of misery. 
  8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
    As an introvert, I’m completely jealous of people who can just talk to anyone about anything. Like most introverts, I’d love to switch teams.
  9. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
    I always wanted to be a writer. I used to write little stories and dreamed of being a novelist. Later I became a journalist and got pretty sick of writing. It’s only now just becoming enjoyable again.
  10. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
    I have no idea. My problem, though, isn’t an inability to come up with a dream, it’s difficulty narrowing it down. I’m fortunate to be in a place where nearly anything is possible. But it’d almost be easier if my options were narrowed! 
  11. What is your favorite movie?
    V for Vendetta.

11 Questions from Journey to Saving

  1. Why did you start blogging, what topic do you blog about, and why do you blog about it?
    See above for the “why”. I write about freedom — from brain-deadening corporate work and from the trap of debt. I believe that if people can get off the treadmill it brings the whole society to a better place. Less environmental waste, less stress on people and families, less drug use and crime. That said, I do love capitalism, but I believe it makes a better servant than a master. 
  2. What is your favorite place to vacation in?
    That’s a tough one. I have seen a fair amount of the world, but there’s so much more I want to see. I always feel at home whenever I travel to Europe, but the place I’ve been to the most is Mexico. Our strategy for vacations has been to alternate a restful, beach-style vacation with an exhausting (expensive) cultural vacation. Now that I’m semi-pretired and we have a baby, we may need to change our vacation approach. 
  3. Do you have any pets?
    We just have one cat right now. 
  4. What is your favorite meal to eat? Care to share a recipe?
    My favorite meal is anything I can eat on the beach. I once had the most amazing fresh seafood cooked simply in foil on the beach near Manzanita, Mexico. Wish I had the recipe for that! But anything tastes better when your toes are in sand.   
  5. Do you enjoy doing household tasks like laundry, cleaning the dishes, and vacuuming?
    I actually do enjoy cleaning for the most part, but apparently not that much because it’s often easy to find other things to do. 
  6. What is your favorite scent? (Can be perfume, flowers, food, etc.)
    My favorite scent is the smell of burning driftwood. Wood that has been saturated with seawater gives off the most wonderful aroma when it’s burned. 
  7. What do you hope to have accomplished in ten years?
    As long as my son is happy, curious and creative, I’ll feel like a winner. 
  8. Are you happy with your job right now? Why or why not?
    I just do a little bit of consulting right now along with my Daddy duties. I’m definitely happy with my situation, although I’m very, very busy. But my last job (hopefully ever!) was so horrible that it makes anything else seem great in comparison. 
  9. If you could be in one profession/industry, what would it be?
    I think I was really born to be a musician, but I grew up without learning music. It’s one of those things that is hard to become great at once you’re an adult so it’s fairly tragic that my parents didn’t prioritize that for me. 
  10. How likely would you be to return a wallet with a load of cash in it if you found it randomly on the street with contact info contained inside?
    Of course. I’d feel way too guilty to keep it.
  11. What are your plans to market your blog and get more readers?
    Can’t really say I have plans right now. I wasn’t really planning on trying to build a proper web site when I started out. But, now, since I’ve been lucky enough to gather a decent following, I may have to start thinking about it. 

Now, without further ado, here are my nominations for the Liebster Award!

  1. Your Daily Finance
  2. The Financial Economist
  3. Hello Suckers…
  4. My Financial Independence Journey
  5. Cash Rebel (OK, technically, Cash Rebel has more than 200 Twitter followers, but it’s barely over, so I’m letting it slide.)

11 Questions for my nominees:

  1. There must have been that moment that made you decide to write a blog. What was that turning point that made you decide to buy a domain and start blogging?
  2. If you could give advice to a teenager right now, what would it be?
  3. When you look back on your life, what was the most frightening moment?
  4. Did you ever get in trouble in school? What for?
  5. Beach or mountains?
  6. Authority figures: Follow or fight?
  7. What is the secret to inner peace?
  8. What music makes you feel invincible?
  9. If you could have dinner with three people who are now dead, who would you choose?
  10. If money was no object, what would you do?
  11. If I say the word “freedom”, what comes to mind?

Rules for the Liebster Award:

  • Only up-and-coming Blogs with less than 200 Twitter followers can be nominated for the Liebster Award.
  • The award must be passed down to other blogs in the same category as your blog.
  • When nominated, you must post 11 random facts about yourself
  • After writing 11 random facts, answer the 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  • Come up with 11 questions of your own for your nominees.
  • Nominate 5 other bloggers for the award, link to them, and let them know you nominated them by commenting on one of their posts.
  • Do not nominate the person who nominated you.

I think that’s it! Thanks again to the sites that nominated me! And congratulations to my five picks. You’re doing great work!

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