The Clarity That Comes With Delayed Gratification

In case you’re not already familiar with our 5-Year Plan (which, by the way, isn’t 100% accurate anymore…amazing how plans change :-)), it entails the purchase of a truck and an Airstream, after which we plan to hit the road full-time as I begin working as a travel nurse.  That being said…the other day, my wife and I nearly brought a brand-new (the horror!!!  lol!) Chevy Silverado 2500HD pickup truck.

Having spent the past couple months discussing it, along with my researching of various trucks, including used ones, we had test driven and settled on what we wanted.  Our initial plan was to get our Jeep paid off and then purchase the truck closer to our yet-to-be-determined departure, keeping the Jeep in storage during our travels.  We “love” our Jeep and have often said that we are planning to keep it forever, even making it our son’s first car one of these days.  However, we have come to realize that, while the Jeep is awesome, it’s not really the Jeep that we love.  I had wanted this Jeep for two years while we were in college and was super happy when we made the purchase after graduation but what we love are the memories that we’ve experienced with it:  for instance, my wife drove it out here to South Dakota when we altered our course from Texas; we brought our son home from the hospital and I strapped his legs in wrong as I hurried to get him in because it was so cold and snowing out; and we took him to his first St. Louis Cardinals game during our first ever visit to Denver.  You get the idea…it’s those memories that we now and will forever cherish.  Realizing this allows for the understanding that we will continue to make new and amazing memories; it’s just going to eventually be in a different vehicle.

Knowing what sort of things we were looking for in a truck, I did what any decent PF-blogger would do and I began looking for a used one.  I was looking for one that was in the 2-4 year old range and sadly, my research resulted in trucks that fit into either one of two categories.  One group had an average of 40,000+ miles/year driven on them; the second consisted of trucks that hadn’t necessarily had the crap driven out of them but were damn-near just as expensive as a brand-new one.  Neither scenario suited my wife and I so we then turned to looking at new.  We stopped by a dealer last week, test drove one, and then went home to sleep on it while I, of course :-), ran the numbers.

Over the next couple days, I figured the trade-in value of the Jeep versus our pay-off, the increased monthly payment, insurance, and fuel costs, and then detailed out the increased costs and broke it down to how much extra the truck would cost us out of each paycheck.  We knew the math, were comfortable with it, got pre-qualified with our bank, and decided to head back to the dealership the following day.

We drove the truck again, along with a couple others for comparison, determined for certain that it was what we wanted, and had the salesman (who was truly not your typical salesman and a genuinely awesome guy) run the numbers.  We sat down, he slid the paper over to us with the numbers (that I already knew and expected!) and I froze.  After coming to my senses and realizing that we had already prepped for this, I called my bank.  The loan officer, who happened to be the only one that could help me, just so happened to be out on a late lunch.  We decided to head out and get some food, as well, and told our salesman we’d be back.  Unfortunately for him, lunch was just the opportunity we needed to talk more and realize that there is no rush to buy this particular truck and that waiting another 12-18 months will allow for us to be in an even better position financially.

Since we had kept him busy through lunch, we actually took our salesman a Subway sandwich and explained that, having thought more about it, we were going to hold off that day.  However, I explained to him our reasoning and thanked him for his time, as this opportunity allowed us to fully realize that the particular truck we had driven was exactly what we wanted and that we will be back to buy from him as soon as the time is right.  Maybe this wasn’t the best thing to say from a negotiating position but, honestly, I don’t really care.  We walked away from their offering of a very respectable deal, without any negotiating on our part, so I anticipate similar treatment the next time we go back.

The fact of the matter is, when our time comes to live on the road full-time, our Jeep will be all but useless to us.  Even if it had the available towing package on it, the thing could barely pull a wheelbarrow, let alone an Airstream.  All-in-all, choosing to practice delayed gratification with this truck purchase will allow us to continue improving our financial situation and decrease the cognitive dissonance that often accompanies large purchases.  We will also have the opportunity to ease our way into the increased costs associated with the truck over our Jeep.  For instance, now knowing the increased insurance costs, I went ahead and increased the automatic paycheck allotment to our Ally bank account set up for our auto/life insurance premiums.  By the time we buy the truck, we will have long forgotten this increased cost and its effect on my paychecks.

The next delayed purchase will be the Airstream, which we are planning to check out next week on our trip to Denver.  I’m extremely excited and hope it’s as awesome as I’ve been building it up in my head for the past several months.  I’ll let you know!

What are some major (or minor) purchases you’ve made, having practiced the art of delayed gratification?  Are you delaying something right now?  If so, are you doing so with the hope that your desire for the purchase will fade?  Or are you simply waiting for the “right” time?

– RN on Fire

P.S. – I’ll continue searching for the “right” used truck in order to save us some dough, as well.  If you have any suggestions on any sites to check out, please let me know!  🙂

 

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Don’t Be Afraid to Run!

Welcome to our experience with The All Powerful Motivator….FEAR!

My wife and I lived in Illinois our entire lives…until February of 2014.  We grew up in the same small town of 5,000 people, on the same street even, less than six blocks away from each other.  A town where everybody knows everybody.  Three stoplights.  After being together for a few years, we then moved two hours from home during the summer of 2010, remaining in Illinois, in order to attend college.  We had this idea that small town living wasn’t for us anymore and, while in college (in a town of about 90,000 people), decided that once we graduated, we were heading for the city…Houston, TX to be exact.

You see, my wife knew early in her teen years that she wanted to live in a city.  I, on the other hand, always felt like a more rural area suited me better.  My grandparents live near the Garden of the Gods in Illinois and, spending a lot of time with them as I was growing up, that type of area is what I always thought I wanted.

The Garden of the Gods – Illinois

My wife and I love concerts, live theater, and other amenities that are most often attributed to the urban scene and, due to our many adventures during the early years of being together, my desires for rural living began to wane.  So, as we approached graduation, we began developing our plans to move to Houston.  I couldn’t immediately apply for nursing positions there because I had to take boards first and then, to be quite honest, getting a Texas license is a little bit of a P.I.T.A. and the process took some time to complete.  Because of this, we temporarily moved back home and I took my first job in Indiana, to which I commuted most days (nearly two hours each way :-|…otherwise, I stayed in an extremely cheap/sketchy motel, somehow managing to avoid getting loaded with bed bugs :-S) while working to secure a job in Houston.

During that time, I had also applied for every Indian Health Service (IHS) position I was qualified for, primarily due to the Loan Repayment Program, but never heard anything for months.  Finally, two hospitals in Houston wanted to interview me so we drove down in January of 2014; I was offered a position and moving plans kicked into overdrive.

Within a couple weeks, we were all set to move and then, late one evening, my phone rang…literally six days before packing the U-Haul and heading to Houston (thank God we hadn’t signed a lease yet!)  It was an IHS facility in South Dakota.  Fear of changing our plans paralyzed me, kicking my “fight-or-flight” response into overdrive.  I stammered through the initial call, nearly turning down the chance for an interview in lieu of holding true to my prior acceptance of a job in Houston.  Thankfully, my wife was sitting there with me and told me to take the interview.  Within a 36-hour window of time, our plans went from moving to Houston to my participating in a phone interview, receiving a job offer, accepting it, and adjusting our compass to the middle-of-nowhere South Dakota…exactly the type of rural area I had always envisioned.

The moral of my story:  if the opportunity is right, take a step (or a leap) outside your comfort zone and be prepared to run the hell away from what you think is your dream.

Image result for we buy shit we don't need fight club

Don’t be so dead-set in your ways and risk-averse that you lose sight of the opportunities staring you directly in the face.  It would have been far easier and less horrifying to stick with our original plan, play it safe, and move to Houston.  But honestly, we’d be friggin’ miserable if we were living in Houston right now.  We’d be near our best friends, which would be incredible, but between “normal” bills, higher rent, student loans, and the like, we’d barely be treading water.  Worse yet, I’d probably be working two jobs or my wife would HAVE to work just so we could make ends-meat.  F.I.R.E. wouldn’t be anywhere on our radar and, without a doubt, I sure as hell wouldn’t be writing this blog.

Instead, we took a chance and ran away from what we thought was our dream.  We have been immensely fortunate that  our roll-of-the-dice has paid off tremendously well and we couldn’t be in a stronger position because of it.  Because of our willingness to adapt our plans and take calculated risks, we are able to position ourselves in such a way that we will one day have the freedom to go anywhere and do anything we want, whether that may ultimately be living in Houston or, quite literally, any other spot on the map…or globe, for that matter!  Having that freedom is both motivating and incredibly empowering.  It has taught us a lot about ourselves, our willingness to do whatever is best for our family, and has brought us incredibly closer and stronger in our relationship.  My wife and I are an incredible team and I know, without a doubt, that we can achieve anything we set our minds to…even if it’s out of shear stubbornness!  😀


If you’re part of the personal finance or FIRE community, new to the game or a long-time veteran, I’m sure you can relate to our situation.  You are choosing to live outside of what has become the societal norm.  No more do we accept the notion that we must work until 65 and beyond, saving a mere average of 5% of our income, succumbing to the whims of marketing and spending the remainder on frivolous crap that continues to rob our future selves of freedom, with ever-increasing lifestyle inflation, and thereby keeping us on the never-ending hamster wheel of chasing the elusive and almighty dollar.


Tell me about a gamble you took that paid off.  On the flip-side of that coin, what have you done that didn’t quite go as planned?  If you’re facing a big decision in your life right now, I’d love to hear about it.  What’s holding you back from making a big move in your life?  If you’re not up for sharing publicly in the comments below, please feel free to e-mail me at nurseonfire@outlook.com.  While I may be out of fairy dust and magical wisdom to truly solve your concerns (nor am I really an expert at much of anything,) or necessarily ease your fears about whatever decision you may be struggling with, I’d be happy and honored to be your sounding board and give you my honest, impartial view of whatever situation you may be facing.  I look forward to speaking with you soon; have an awesome weekend!

– Brandon

The All Powerful Motivator

Think back…what’s the most intense memory you have?  Oftentimes, the events of our lives that we tend to remember the most involve intense emotional responses (good or bad) to the events themselves.  We owe this to an area of the brain known as the limbic system; it consists of several structures that are heavily involved in the formation of our memories.  The amygdala, a piece of flesh the mere size of an almond, is responsible for what is known as fear conditioning and the cognitive processes that our bodies experience when we develop a fear of something.

Additionally, the limbic system consists of several other structures such as the hippocampus, responsible for long-term memory storage, the olfactory complex (which is why it is often said that smell is the sense with the strongest tie to memory) and the hypothalamus, whose job entails maintaining a state of homeostasis throughout the body by producing hormones that regulate the production and inhibition of other hormones from our other organ systems.

For the purpose of this article, I’m going to focus on the endocrine system.

Within the endocrine system itself, to narrow things down even further, we find, among other organs, the adrenal glands.  You have two of these glands, one sitting on top of each of your kidneys.  One of the hormones that each of these glands produces, you are undoubtedly familiar with:  epinephrine, or more commonly known as…ADRENALINE!

Adrenaline is the hormone that results in what is known as the “fight-or-flight” response that we experience during a stressful or fearful situation.  Stimulating the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, adrenaline results in our heart beating faster, our airways opening to allow more vital oxygen into our cells, our pupils dilating, the release of additional glucose (ENERGY!) from the liver, and the diversion of blood flow from non-essential organs, such as our bowels, to our brains and muscles…prepping us to scissor-kick some shit if necessary!

You see, the human body is amazing.  Bones, muscle, nerves, skin…individually useless.  But, stitched together into a interconnected web, they have the capacity to make one hell of an incredibly well-oiled machine, powered by the greatest super-computer the world will ever know…the brain.


Writing this, I can’t help but be reminded of my experience with these very processes last July.  I had backed our Jeep out of the garage early in the day to allow our housing/hospital maintenance guys to get to our basement to check out the AC that was on the fritz.  That afternoon, before moving it back into the garage, I busted out the BBQ and, deciding to take the grates out and give them a good cleaning before firing it up, I rounded the front of the car and, coiled up under the front passenger tire, was a rattlesnake…hands down, my greatest physical fear.  I immediately stopped dead in my tracks and could literally feel the physiological changes happening within my body.  I experienced tunnel vision as my eyes became hyper-focused on the snake and its location.  My heart began racing, I could feel my hands become moist with perspiration.  Blood flow was shunted away from my skin, causing me to experience a wave of cool over my body, my breaths deepened, and I could feel a rush of blood to my brain, resulting in a lightheaded feeling.

There was no conscious thought that had to occur.  The fact of the matter was, plain and simple, one of us was about to fucking die.  I certainly had no intention of experiencing the bite of a snake or the subsequent trip to the Emergency Room in my own backyard, followed by an air flight to a larger hospital with an Intensive Care Unit.  Therefore, never breaking eye contact, I sat the grill grate down, grabbed my shovel that, thankfully, happened to be right next to me in the corner of the garage, and got down to business.  After it was over, I went over to the door and yelled for my wife…who, of course, thought I was full of shit.  I could then begin to feel the effects of the parasympathetic system kicking in, prompted by the hypothalamus working to bring me back to that state of homeostasis.  My heart rate began slowing down, my respiratory rate began to relax, my hands began tremling, and I suddenly felt the urge to pee…thankfully, my body prevented me from pissing my pants at the sight of the snake!  🙂


This anatomy lesson was all a preface to my next post, in which I will discuss my encounter with fear from more of a personal finance standpoint, entitled Don’t Be Afraid to Run!  I really hope you’ll decide, if you haven’t already, to follow along with my family’s journey to financial independence.  And definitely come back for my next post, which will be coming on Friday!

Please comment below and share your own adrenaline-induced memory.

– Nurse on Fire

2016 Goals: April Update

Progress Report

GOALS FOR 2016

  1. CMSRN credential
    1. Blah!  Nothing new here…to be continued…
  2. Pay off at least $20,000 of debt.
    1. Correction noted 5/15:  Paid off $1,672 this month!  This puts our year-to-date debt payments at $9,868, meaning we are at 49% of our $20k goal for 2016.  This progress is going awesome, as we are only 33% of the way into the year.  As mentioned last month, we’ve got some upcoming trips in the works (Denver in May and Illinois sometime maybe June-ish,) so the next couple months of debt payments will likely take a dip.  We’ve been using our credit card for everything in order to utilize the cash-back rewards so the way the bill revolves in relation to my paychecks results in monthly expenses rolling into the following month.  While my method of tracking things is a bit goofy, it’s all working out just fine and makes sense to me.  🙂
      1. Last week, we bought a new dining table and chairs, as our previous one was a bar height table that my wife and I bought about six years ago.  The table is still functional but, due to the extra-tall chairs, we find it to be extremely unsafe for our ever-growing and now-climbing toddler.  Therefore, it’s gotta go because, let’s face it, a new table and chairs is cheaper than a head injury and worth the peace of mind knowing that our kiddo is safe.  Rather than dipping into our cash reserve to pay for the table, it went on the card, will get us a little cash-back bonus, and will be paid off with my next paycheck to avoid any interest charges.  Since this doesn’t qualify as our predetermined “debt,” it will have a negative effect on May’s debt payments.  Certainly not a crisis, but a worthy mention.
  3. Weight loss:  weigh 200 pounds by the end of February (complete) and 185 pounds by the end of April – monitoring with weekly weigh-ins
    1. MISSION A-FRIGGIN’-COMPLISHED!!!  😀  As of my last weigh-in for the month, Tuesday the 26th, I weigh 185.6 pounds with a 35.5 inch stomach.  Total weight-loss year-to-date = 28.8 pounds and 6.5 inches off my gut.
      1. On January 1st, I weighed in at 214.4 pounds, with a gut measuring 42 inches and my BMI was 28.3 (overweight and climbing towards obese.)  Now, however, my BMI is in the “healthy” range at 24.5 and my stomach measurement is now at a circumference that no longer puts me in the high-risk category for chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  I’ve truly never felt better, couldn’t be happier with my progress, and intend to continue monitoring my weight on a weekly basis and cut down a little more weight to the 175-180 range.
  4. Increased meal planning with eMeals
    1. Meals around our house remain relatively healthy but we’ve gotten away from meal planning.  We’ve said to each other multiple times that we need to sit down and do it but finding the time has been hard.  I need to stop making excuses like that last sentence and just do it already.  It’ll save us time, money, and legitimate boredome with our meals, as we’ve been stuck in repeat mode with a lot of our meals lately.
  5. Month-to-month junk food buying ban
    1. The ban continues!!!
  6. Decreased soda :  $24 = 3 cases/month
    1. Still averaging about 3 sodas/day but some days, that ticks up to 4.  I acknowledge that I need to cut back (to zero!) but that hasn’t happened yet.  #Balance
  7. Using our treadmill for at least 20 minutes per day when I am off work
    1. The treadmill was becoming a jungle gym for our son, so it made its way to the garage a couple weeks ago.  I’ve had literally zero time to get on the thing and it was just taking up room.  My wife and I hate the feeling of being cluttered and, honestly, moving it was actually a relief.  I’m not sure what the future has in store for it, but I’m wondering if its days in the NoF household are numbered…lol
  8. Improved planning and crop yield from the garden
    1. Seed potatoes were planted this month and the strawberries planted last year continue to grow.  My wife even noticed one strawberry plant starting to bud a little white flower this past week.  All of our lily bulbs have sprouted, some of which are several inches high already.  The rose and lilac bushes, as well as the apple trees I planted last year, have greened out.  We put in an order for some tulip bulbs from Colorblends to ship to us this fall, as we are planning to start a couple beds of them along our front sidewalk.  We’re also adding some evergreen, shade-tolerant shrubs with a peony plant to the east-facing side of a house, as the plants we put there last year are complete garbage and refuse to do anything but grow to about 5 inches tall and then immediately shrivel up and DIE!  lol
    2. Oh yeah!  Remember that impending snow I mentioned in last month’s update?  Well…it came on the 27th, dumping about four or five inches of a snowy/slushy mess all over our nice green and growing flowers.  Hopefully this won’t prove to be detrimental and they continue thriving.
    3. May will see the remainder of our crops being planted, along with some additional landscaping projects we’ve got planned.  Maybe some photo updates will be in order.  🙂
  9. Read a minimum of 5 books in 2016
    1. Haven’t pick it up in a couple weeks, so I’m still working on book number 3 for the year…Glenn Beck’s Agenda 21:  Into the Shadows, the sequel to the book I read in January.  Not 100% certain what will come next, but I’m leaning towards some non-fiction this time with Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.  I’d like to get my hands on John Bogle’s The Little Book of Common Sense Investing and Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor, but haven’t managed to do so yet.
  10. Increased personal time and appreciation for my wonderful and loving wife, who is the greatest momma I could ever hope to have for our amazing son.
    1. My wife and I have been enjoying lots of outside playtime with our kiddo this month, as we have had some exceptionally nice weather until getting hit with the snow on the 27th.  We’ve planned out some more landscaping projects and enjoyed seeing our previous years’ gardening endeavors pay off.  She managed to get her Mother’s Day present out of me early this year (as she does with all presents!) and loves the personalized canvas tote bag that I had made for her.  To be fair, she specifically told me what she wanted…lol…but the designing was of my own doing so, at the very least, I’m taking credit for that!  🙂

We were fortunate enough to have yet another successful month in the NoF household.  Thank you very much for your time and, if you’ve been following along with our family, I remain truly honored.  If you’re not yet following along, we would love for you to join us on our journey to financial independence, with all the craziness that is our life in the meantime.  Please follow along through WordPress or sign up to receive updates via e-mail.  Thank you, again, and have an amazing day!

– Nurse on Fire