Tim and I recently returned from a life-changing conference – FinCon: Where Money and Media Meet. Finding “our tribe” is important to us and FinCon is our Mecca. We didn’t have clear goals for the conference. I was hoping to refocus my energy into building a better blog but had no idea where to start. We participated in sessions about SEO (how people find us on search engines), affiliate marketing, social media platforms, creating better content and WordPress (website stuff). There were panels on topics very near and dear to our passions…financial independence/early retirement (aka FI/RE) and award travel from a blogger’s perspective. Tim and I could talk about these fascinating subjects ALL DAY LONG. (Try us!)

Some of our favorite bloggers and podcasters welcomed us with open arms even though we were newbies to the conference and to blogging. This community deeply believes in collaboration over competition. In addition to making lots of new friends and connections, we enjoyed time with those we already knew and began numerous partnerships we are excited to explore.

But, how did it change our lives?

Since launching our blog 7 months ago, we’ve treated it like a casual hobby. At the conference, we were thrilled to mingle with 1,700 people committed to helping others “do better” with money and we decided it was time to refocus our attention and get our own messaging out to a broader audience.

4 years ago, we were (relatively) big spenders. One year later, we left our careers having reached financial independence. In our former life, we spent roughly $115,000 a year. That number doesn’t include money we invested or taxes we paid. These days, we’re spending closer to $42,000 a year.

There’s still a lot of fat in our current budget. In 2017, we will take 10 vacations. Only one will be a road trip. Some of those trips were to pretty pricey places…New York City, Boston, Paris, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego and Orlando for Disney World and Epcot. This is not a life of suffering.

Some of our 2017 trips – no suffering here!

 

New York City frugal vacation
New York City
Total Cost $1,258.03 - 5 days

Paris France frugal vacation
Paris/South of France/Las Vegas
Total Cost $2,027.32 - 12 days

Orlando Disney Epcot frugal vacation
Orlando/Disney/Epcot w/Cate
Total Cost $1,352.12 - 4 days

Santa Barbara frugal vacation
Road trip to Santa Barbara housesit with Cate
Total Cost $1,021.02 - 14 days

Boston frugal vacation
Boston/Martha's Vineyard
Total Cost $1,031.26 - 11 days

Los Angeles frugal vacation
Los Angeles
Total Cost $852.37 - 5 days

What makes us different?

When we reduced our spending by 63%, we learned many lessons. How do we live a better life on $42K a year than we ever did on nearly three times as much? That’s what we hope to show you. We are evangelicals, born-again zealots who are enthusiastic about sharing how we do things a little differently. Too often, we meet people who say they don’t know where to cut money from their budget. We encounter just as many who say they’ll need to work until they die because they don’t know where to start planning for retirement.

There are several bloggers we admire who write about frugality. We enjoy reading early retirement posts and listening to podcasts on the subject. Sometimes, the situation doesn’t fit our story. Some in the financial independence world were born making good financial decisions. One of our idols recently wrote a post against entertainment. There must be others who are open to a little moderation in their lives vs. extreme frugality?

Our financial freedom is not about money or stuff, it’s about time. Our ongoing frugality allows us to devote time to the things we love. Cutting our expenses by over 60% does not leave us with any feelings of deprivation. Our lives are full of adventure, freedom and healthier choices. Volunteering with cultural organizations is one of many options we use to maintain our frugality while still experiencing entertainment that we love. All of our volunteer gigs allow us to work with others who are passionate about the work they’re doing. Whether it be film, theatre, travel or beer, we’ve found ways to include these in our frugal life while spending little (or zero) money.

A new format!

Unfortunately, neither of us is enthusiastic about writing and it takes us way too long to write and edit each post. That means we we don’t create much content which isn’t helpful if we’re trying to pass along ways we embrace a frugal life on a regular basis.

At the conference, a mentor suggested we embrace video to get our message across (thanks, Grant from Millennial Money!).

So, here’s my tiptoeing into video. I hope to be sharing our tips with you more often! Thanks for joining us and I hope you’ll stick with us.

Is it time for you to refocus? Are you spending your time and money in alignment with your goals?