2016 Goals: June Update

Progress Report

GOALS FOR 2016

  1. CMSRN credential
    1. Still nothing new here.  I’ve come to the realization that, in all honesty, if I don’t achieve this goal this year, I’m really okay with it.  It’s not going to make-or-break my nursing career in the slightest.  Without a doubt, I will obtain this certification…it’s just not looking favorable that it will be in 2016.
  2. Pay off at least $20,000 of debt.
    1. Paid off $708 this month!  Unfortunately, this is the worst month of debt repayment in 2016…oh well, shit happens  🙂  Year-to-date debt payments stand at $12,084, meaning we are at 60% of our $20k goal for 2016.  Also, despite market losses this month, our net worth saw another month of increase to $8,817, a 15% gain over last month.
  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. Current weight is in the 184-185 range with a 34.5 inch waist; no complaints here!
  4. Increased meal planning with eMeals
    1. While we continue to eat healthier, this is still lacking in a fundamentally horrific way.  What minimal free time we’ve had that we could accomplish this (which is after our son goes to bed,) the fact of the matter is that chilling out with some Orange is the New Black on Netflix is far more appealing than actually sitting down to do it.  🙂
  5. Month-to-month junk food buying ban
    1. The ban continues!
  6. Decreased soda :  $24 = 3 cases/month
    1. Not sure on the exact dollar amount spent but, overall, no reportable change.
  7. Using our treadmill for at least 20 minutes per day when off work (sold it last month)
  8. Improved planning and crop yield from the garden
    1. The birds picked our strawberries clean so we’re apparently going to have to buy some netting for next year.  Everything else is sprouting nicely; I’ve hilled the potatoes as high as gravity is allowing and I’m fairly confident that we should have some green beans to harvest in the next couple weeks.  Also this month, we bought a pressure canner and four boxes of canning jars to get us started; this entails some rather pricey startup costs but should definitely pay for itself as the equipment (other than buying new lids) will remain usable for years to come.
  9. Read a minimum of 5 books in 2016
    1. This month, I was reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl (book #4 for 2016) but was unable to finish it.  The book is divided into two parts.  Part one, which I finished, was a narrative of Frankl’s experience in the concentration camps with some psychological gleanings from his experience…a truly remarkable read.  Part two, which I have yet to start, delves into his psychological theory called logotherapy.  I know nothing further on the topic; I’ll attempt to comment further once I’ve finished the book.
  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. While we’ve only been married a little over two years now, June 28th marked mine and my wife’s 11 years anniversary!  As is usual, I made her a hilarious homemade card, which she loved and got a good laugh from  🙂
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      Hallmark ain’t got shit on me  🙂

      She is my greatest friend and the most spectacular mom to our son, Rowan.  I literally have no clue what I’d do without her; nor do I want to find out!  🙂


Thanks for reading!  I hope your goals are progressing well in 2016; please let me know how things are going in the comments below!  🙂

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

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Working in the field that I work in, the epic shit that we sometimes have to experience and be close to can be a bit overwhelming at times.  While I will refrain from going into any details of exactly what I’m referring to, you may glean my message from the remainder of this post.  I just want to tell you that when things like this happen, it has the power to provide an entirely new perspective on life, spotlighting that which is truly important.  Stop whatever you’re doing, right now…seriously, stop reading this.  Go hug your child, your children, your significant other, a family member, your friend, neighbor, coworker, or even a total stranger.  Stop, take a moment, and be truly thankful for the blessings in your life.  Then, and only then, come back to this.

Having a child has been, without a doubt, the most incredible experience of my life.  When I look at my son, the world, and all the ugliness that so often fills it, simply melts away.  In him, I see the good that is possible in mankind.  I see pure and utter joy, and the thought of losing him is so far beyond unfathomable that my heart truly aches for anyone who has experienced such a loss.


Therefore, in celebration of the wonderful blessings in my life, I would like to (sorta) introduce my family to you.  As you may already know, I’m Brandon.  My hilarious and wonderful son’s name is Rowan, and my best friend and loving wife’s name is Cheyenne.  These pictures are from our trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE last month.

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While they don’t show our faces, you can let you imagination run wild and think about how cute we are…trust me, we are.  😉


Cherish the rest of your day; have a wonderful Friday and a happy and safe weekend.  And the next time your child is nearby, even if they’re driving you crazy, squeeze them and remind them how incredibly precious they are and how much you love them.  We do these things with our son countless times each and every day.  I plan on getting a few extra ones in today…maybe with a few tears mixed in, as well.

Until next time my friends,

Brandon

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
———
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
———
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
———
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
———
 – Robert Frost (text borrowed from the Poetry Foundation)

I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but we’ve apparently all been reading Frost’s poem wrong.  See here and here, as well.  To sum up the opposing interpretation, Frost states that the two paths are worn essentially the same and that, when he one day looks back and reflects on his chosen path over the other, he will deceptively convince himself that the chosen path made all the difference in his life, while never truly knowing what the other path may have provided, having no way of going back and choosing differently.


When I stumbled into this world of personal finance, I was heading down the well-worn path of a “normal” working career, fresh out of undergrad and delving into my role as a registered nurse.  From the beginning, I had every intention of continuing on to grad school (which I still want to do…at some point) and climbing the proverbial ladder, making my way to the top of the food chain as CEO or Chief Nursing Officer of a major hospital somewhere in the country.  Honestly, I still love the idea of doing that and, who knows, maybe I will “(keep it) for another day.”  In my younger days, while I didn’t know the specifics would include being a registered nurse, this was the general path that I had been looking down my entire life, never knowing of the possibilities of early retirement or the concept of financial independence.  If I were to choose to follow this path and continue on as a federal employee, I would eventually (assuming nothing changes) qualify for a nice pension and continued health insurance benefits into retirement, both of which are, quite understandably, incredibly appealing.  Also, in the meantime, we could continue investing at the oft-touted 10-15%, make the minimum payments on our debt, continue financing new cars, settle down with a 30 year mortgage, take frequent vacations, and do all the other “normal” things that the majority of people do.

However, thanks to the birth of our son (our proverbial fork in the road,) many of you fine people, and the likes of Dave Ramsey and Mr. Money Mustache, I have been given the opportunity to stare down the other path, the one with “perhaps the better claim.”  Does it really have the “better claim” though?  Reading about the lives of those who have done it and about those of us who are fighting and ever-inching closer to that goal, certainly makes it seem that way; however, the true answer is…

I DON’T KNOW

“Somewhere ages and ages hence,” I shall find myself reflecting on the decisions I have made throughout my life (including with regards to reaching FIRE) and, regardless of the path I/we ultimately choose to follow, we’ll convince ourselves that it was the right decision, having no way of knowing whether or not it’s actually true.

In fact, we’ve already experienced this phenomenon just a couple short years ago, which I wrote about recently in my post titled Don’t Be Afraid to Run.  Reflecting on our decision to move to South Dakota, as opposed to Houston, TX, we’ve told ourselves many times how much better off we are.  On the surface, there is sound logic in our reasoning and I don’t second guess or regret our decision in the slightest; however, who truly knows what our lives would be like down there?  Maybe we would have crossed paths with some stranger, formed a great business idea, and be sitting pretty as multi-millionaires right now.  FYI…not likely…lol.  However, that would have certainly made us think back and say that choice had “made all the difference.”  When we changed course, we even told ourselves that we could always move to Houston later on down the road, i.e. “(keeping) the first for another day!”  Now though, as “way leads on to way,” we’ve grown to love our rural surroundings and actually hate the idea of fighting traffic to drudge back and forth between work and home.  It’s quite unlikely that we’ll ever revisit that fork in the road, as we now have our sights set on new and exciting adventures to come.


Our Next Life recently issued a challenge to discuss our own “road less traveled” and the unique steps we are taking to reach FIRE.  Honestly, I wouldn’t say that we are doing anything unique at this point in time.  We are throwing all the money we can at our debt and are currently on pace to be completely debt free in about two years.  Within the next two to three years, our current plan is to move into an RV full-time while traveling the country as I work as a travel nurse.  This should (at least, in theory) allow for our savings rate to continue increasing, while also allowing me to get paid as we travel this wonderful country and explore all it has to offer, all the while giving our son the greatest hands-on, in-the-dirt education that no school system could ever dream of.  *For more on that topic, check out this article from Steve over at Think $ave Retire*

The only “downside” to this plan is that it would involve us going back into debt with the financing of the RV, as there is no way we could have the cash to cover it in that time period.  However, the beauty is that the housing stipend I would get from whatever travel agency I work with would almost, if not completely, cover the monthly payment of the RV.  I actually called one agency a couple months ago and was informed that, depending on the cost of living in the area I work, the housing allowance is $300-$1000 per week 😐 plus up to $800 in mileage to drive to the destination, all of which is in addition to my hourly wage and any other stipends that may be included/available for the assignment.

Otherwise, if we choose to not go back into debt right away, maybe we’ll just stick around here.  I make damn good money, have incredible health insurance benefits, and we love our home and the beautiful area.  Total debt freedom right here will allow for our savings rate to skyrocket, as well as the ability and freedom to travel wherever we choose.


So…fast forward three years from now.  There we’ll stand, at yet another set of roads diverged in the proverbial yellow wood.  Two paths and choices will lie before us.  We’ll be sorry that we cannot travel both, hoping to choose the one with the better claim, all the while knowing that, one day, we will look back and tell ourselves that, whichever path we ultimately choose, it will have made all the difference.


So what path are you choosing?  Do you find yourself heading down the “normal” path or forging your way toward FIRE?  Presumably, if you’re reading this and other similar blogs, you’re heading toward FIRE.  Or, do you say fuck it, bust out an axe, and clear your own path?  What is your “road not taken” and, unique or not, what are you doing to get there?

– Nurse on Fire

Time to Lighten the F*** Up

A couple weeks ago, I got a call that my grandpa was, yet again, hospitalized this year.  He’ll be 80 later this year and has, surprisingly enough, had lung cancer for the past 16 years.  Sixteen years ago, he was given six months to live as he refused treatment and, instead, chose to go home and enjoy his easy chair, cigarettes, and coffee with grandma.  Now, all these years later, the cancer has grown (although, amazingly enough, not spread) and, along with other health problems he’s been facing, he’s spilling sodium for some unknown reason and, in all likelihood, it’s only a matter of time before things begin to further decline.  For now though, he’s back home, spunky as usual, where he wanted to be all along.  So, for now at least, it’s just a waiting game.  Obviously, he’s still choosing to not do anything about the cancer at this point in his life and who really knows how much time he’s got left?  Anyway, all is well for now but, when we got the news, we decided to make an unplanned trip back to Illinois to visit with him and the rest of the family that we haven’t seen in nearly a year.

During our two days on the road to Illinois, my wife and I had the opportunity to discuss my “worries” over our finances.  The fact of the matter is that we’re actually doing great and our progress for the year is, in my humble opinion, rather remarkable considering how we could be doing the “normal” thing and blowing through our money in comparison.  She, in her omnipotent wisdom ;), very rightfully pointed out to me that I am entirely too obsessed with the whole process and that I really need to work on refocusing my energy.  I haven’t made a post in nearly a month and haven’t even looked at my spreadsheets for the past week (other than to pay bills) and, you know what….she’s right!  It feels indescribably incredible to back off on the obsessive thoughts of making sure every little thing is going perfectly and, instead, sit back and realize that things are actually going awesome and that some things just take a little time.  Damn, she’s smart.


If by some chance you missed it, head over and see my buddy Ernie at Purple Sweatpants; he recently had a similar epiphany, writing a post titled Refocusing My Financial Goals.  I e-mailed him from one of our hotel rooms on the road home and told him that I was having the same types of feelings on our finances and that it’s really good to know I’m not alone in those types of thoughts.


Do you find yourself having similar obsessive issues that may be bordering on unhealthy?  I sure as shit was!  If this doesn’t resonate with you at all…awesome!  However, if it does, please know that it’s okay and that, if you can find the strength to do so, back off, take a breather, and re-prioritize.  I’d bet my debt that you’ll feel (at the very least) a little better and maybe even come out with a stronger resolve to tackle your goals head-on, while simultaneously improving your overall mental well-being.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and I’m not gonna FIRE tomorrow.  It’s time to lighten the f*** up.  🙂

– Nurse on Fire

P.S. – my next post, coming your way on Tuesday, is inspired by the oft-quoted Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken.  It’s been sitting in my draft box for a few weeks and got a new twist and some added inspiration thanks to Our Next Life’s latest challenge surrounding the poem.  Also, if you haven’t already subscribed to follow along with my family’s journey, I certainly hope you decide to do so.  Lastly, if this is your first (or second, third, or 80th :)) time checking out my blog, I definitely hope you decide to comment below or Say Hello!  Have an amazing weekend!

2016 Goals: May Update

Progress Report

GOALS FOR 2016

  1. CMSRN credential
    1. This goal remains on the backburner with no progress to report at this time.
  2. Pay off at least $20,000 of debt.
    1. Paid off $1,508 this month!  Year-to-date debt payments stand at $11,376, meaning we are at 57% of our $20k goal for 2016.  Things continue to go well in this category, as we remain on pace to surpass this goal.  Also, our net worth this month saw another increase to $7,641.  Damn…I ain’t retired yet…lol!
  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 accomplished last month and I’m holding steady at 185 pounds with a 35 inch waist.  I’m happy with these numbers but still have some abdominal fat tissue I would like to see melt away.  Without some cardio, though, I don’t foresee that happening anytime soon.  No biggie though.  🙂
  4. Increased meal planning with eMeals
    1. Terrible!  We continue to eat much healthier than in the past but have seriously gone astray when it comes to planning our meals beyond a day or two.
  5. Month-to-month junk food buying ban
    1. Zero change here; the ban continues!!!
  6. Decreased soda :  $24 = 3 cases/month
    1. I know soda is a waste of money when there is perfectly delicious, not to mention FREE, tap water available.  I do drink a lot of water, as well, but I really just enjoy my sodas.  I swear there’s something addictive in it…besides the caffeine…I get enough of that with my coffee.
  7. Using our treadmill for at least 20 minutes per day when I am off work
    1. We actually sold some pieces of furniture at the beginning of May and, when the guy showed up to pick up the stuff, we parted ways with the coat rack…uh, treadmill…as well.  🙂
  8. Improved planning and crop yield from the garden
    1. Our garden survived the blanket of snow we received and is going strong.  I hilled the potatoes for the first time this past week and am seriously looking forward to some yummy Yukon Golds coming our way.  We’ve eaten THREE delicious strawberries thus far and are working on keeping the friggin’ birds from eating the rest!  Otherwise, the beans and corn have sprouted, our lilies are budding like crazy, and we should have the first of thirteen currently budding roses opening in the next day or two.
  9. Read a minimum of 5 books in 2016
    1. This month, I finished book number 3 and am now reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist who wrote this book to not only chronicle his experiences in the concentration camps, but to discuss the mental stages that prisoners go through, adapting to the environment and experiences within the camps.  It’s a relatively short book of about 150 pages, of which I am about a third of the way through.  Quite a fascinating read thus far; you should definitely check it out.  Also, another incredible book in this same category, which I read several years ago, is Night by Elie Wiesel.
  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. As per the usual, things were rather hectic in May; however, this past week, Cheyenne and I were able to watch a couple movies once we got our kiddo to bed.  One was Deadpool and, while it is in no way family friendly, it is insanely hilarious.  The other was Grandma, starring Lily Tomlin; while it wasn’t as great as I hoped, it was nice enough and Tomlin was funny.  Also, if you haven’t already, you should check her out in Grace & Frankie on Netflix…she’s hilarious in that show.  One other show we are now working on is Sex, Drugs, & Rock n’ Roll on Hulu, created by and starring Denis Leary.  We’ve only watched a few episodes, but it has a really good story line thus far and the music is excellent.

Thank you for stopping by; I’ve been absent from the online PF community for the past few weeks due to an unexpected trip back home to Illinois.  More information on that in an upcoming post.

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