we've learned

Sunshine Blogger Award

happy friday, friends. this weekend is our anniversary, so we have some frugal fun planned that we’ll report back on next week. today we’re thinking about sunny skies, thanks to the sunshine blogger award we’ve been tagged with by fellow early retirement bloggers steve at think save retire and ditching the daily grind. thanks, pals!

y’all know how this goes, right? it’s like the best kind of chain letter. we answer some questions posed by those who tapped us, to share more personal info on ourselves, and then we pass it on and pose some new questions. fun! (if you want to see our answers from the last one of these we did, check out our liebster post.)

we’re passing it along to some blog friends, and to some newer bloggers on the scene:

simple is the new green

freedom 35 (who still owe a response to our liebster questions — haha! no pressure.) ;-)

goodnight debt

kelly (almost) green

generation y retirement account

the barefoot budget

retire before dad

and our questions for you:

  1. in what ways are you most like and most unlike your childhood self?
  2. what’s your all-time favorite book, and your favorite you’ve read in the last year or so? (bonus points if you do fiction and non-fiction. this is a shameless attempt by us to get more recommendations!)
  3. what has life taught you about finances, and what have your finances taught you about life?
  4. what is something you’ve always wanted to do, but have never done for no good reason? (bonus points if you care to share what action you’ll take to do that thing!)
  5. what scares you most about early retirement / financial independence / minimalism / self-sufficiency or whatever you’re striving for?
  6. what tv show is atop your must-see list right now? (or if you’re not into tv, what’s some under-the-radar thing that we should all be paying attention to?)

now to our answers…

first up, steve’s questions:

1. do you consider yourself “free”? if not, what would make you free? shall we refer to our college marx and nietzsche and question whether we have free will at all? haha. we don’t currently think of ourselves as free, but we feel like we’re close. on the other hand, we’ve saved up enough of a cushion at this point that we could in fact quit our jobs and live just fine for quite a few years. or take jobs that pay a lot less than we currently earn. but we’re so attached to the idea of early retirement in a few years that we feel a bit stuck, because we know our jobs are our only way to reach fi on our timeline. we work remotely from a small mountain town, so there aren’t any other jobs around here that could replace our income!

2. when was the last time you took a day off just for yourself (no family vacations, soccer games, etc)? it’s been a while. we both get major work guilt, and have trouble taking time off, something we’ll be glad to leave behind when we retire! our best bet for taking random days off is powder days, and we didn’t get a whole lot of those this past ski season. boo!

3. if you had to, could you retire today? if not, what is standing in your way? we sure could, though it would require some serious adjustments. for one, we’d have to sell our house, and either move somewhere where we could get a home for under $150,000, or we’d go full-time rv. we’re not quite there on being able to retire in our current home, or even in any home in our area. we’re pretty attached to this place, and hope to stick around!

4. do you plan on working after retirement? if so, what would you like to do? our vision is this: we never want to have to work again, but we’re definitely willing to work, if it’s work we enjoy, and it doesn’t cramp our style too much. the mr. would really like to be a ski patroller at some point, and the ms. will probably provide some consulting support to local nonprofits. we also have some art hobbies we enjoy, and it would be super awesome if that could provide some income at some point! but we’re open to possibilities on the work front. we have every intention of keeping our minds active!

5. do you consider yourself to be successful? how do you personally define success? we define success a lot of different ways, and are doing better on some measures than others. we feel successful on the financial front, which we define as having paid off our consumer and student debt a while back, maintaining a high savings rate for several years, having a clear and achievable early retirement plan, and meeting savings targets that we’ve set for ourselves every year. on the work front, we both feel successful, but we don’t care too much about that, except to the degree that it supports our fire plan. where we’re doing less well is stress and exercise. to us, success is feeling grounded and not too stressed out, and our current work situation makes those much harder to achieve than we’d like! and, man, that big couch just has a stronger pull some day than our bikes do! can’t wait til early retirement when we can treat exercise as the thing we do during “work” hours, and still have lots of time leftover to hang out.

and dtdg’s questions:

1. when you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? he wanted to be a doctor, and she wanted to be an astronaut, at least until the challenger explosion. after that, it was nuclear physicist. our actual careers ended up coming nowhere close to our childhood aspirations! by the time we got to college, we were burnt out on math, so science fields were off the table.

2. what is the coolest/most memorable place you’ve visited? he: the tetons for nature’s majesty, or italy for culture. or the swiss alps (especially lauterbrunnen) for both. she: probably the redwoods in far northern california. those unfathomably large, ancient trees are just magical. it’s like little elves might pop out at any time. or the big island of hawaii, where pele is making new land every day.

3. if money was not an issue and you could indulge in one thing, what would it be? travel! we’d go everywhere, do everything, and fly first class while we’re at it. :-)

4. what is the best compliment you’ve ever gotten? hard question! probably that we’re both good at staying calm when things get chaotic.

5. what legacy would you like to leave? legacy is touchy for people who don’t plan to have kids and who plan to leave our careers before we reach the pinnacle! we’ve always said we hope to leave the planet in better shape than we found it, but we also just believe in spreading kindness. smiling at strangers and saying hello, striking up conversations, being nice to those whose job is to serve. there’s so much self-absorption in the world, and we try hard not to feed that, and to be responsible stewards of the planet’s dwindling resources.

6. what do you prefer: beach or mountains (this should an easy one)? for people who moved to the mountains, this should be an easy question! obviously we love the mountains, since we chose to make our home here. but we love us some beach, too! warm or cold, sunny or cloudy, rocky or sandy — we love any beach, any day. mountains probably win the tie-breaker, though, just based on the view out the window. ;-)

passing one question out to all of you! what’s the coolest place you’ve ever been? we want to add it to our list of places to visit once we pull the ripcord! have a fab weekend!

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39 replies »

  1. Congrats on the award! The coolest place I’ve ever been is probably the Galapagos. I wouldn’t consider myself generally to be an animal lover, but being able to get so close to so many amazing animals without scaring them off was insanely cool!

  2. Nice answers! We’re very similar on the successful front, though like you, I don’t care all that much about the whole job success thing other than what brings home the bacon to support our goals of early retirement. I like your idea about consulting work – honestly, I’ve had similar thoughts myself, being that I worked for a not-for-profit in the past and have a generally good idea of what places like that are struggling with in my field.

    As for the coolest place, I’d definitely say Sedona. We’ve been to Hawaii, and while Hawaii is definitely nice, there are wonderful beaches everywhere – even beaches with clear blue water. But Sedona is something, at least to us, truly unique.

    Now, it’s time to go off and check out those new blogs that you referenced. :)

    • We just found it amazing at the southern end of the big island of Hawaii, how the erupting volcano is literally creating new Earth every day. So incredible. And Sedona is definitely on our list! We were in Southern Utah earlier this summer, and were completely enchanted by the water-carved desert rock. Definitely look forward to exploring more of the southwest!

      • I have also been to Hawaii. If you are looking for another good read, James Michener’s “Hawaii” is a great read about the volcano science and the culture. It is fiction, but very factually based.

    • I just posted answers to your questions and just now getting back to reading your answers… so funny! Astronaut and test pilot was always my childhood aspiration. Now, as an adult, if I could do school over again, I would do astrophysics, rather than engineering. Too funny on the similarity to the Mrs!

      • As far as cool places to visit, Australia was the best for me because I love wildlife. My favorite overnight stay was on a Koala reserve and campground on Magnetic Island. The accommodations are sparse, just A-frames with a mattress, small fridge and light. You use a public restroom, but it was a magical experience. Off the beaten path and a lot of ‘wanderer’ types at the campground and outdoor bar area.

      • That sounds INCREDIBLE. We are totally game for roughing it, so what you describe sounds completely worth it. Heck, we’d even go without a proper bathroom for an experience like that! ;-)

  3. Love your answers! I think the coolest place I’ve been is northern Chile (my mother is Chilean) and paragliding off the mountains down to the beach. Mountains AND beach 😉 but too deserty for me lol

      • It’s not terrifying at all, it’s a lot of fun once you get passed the whole running off a cliff thing, haha. I was a teenager, so I went with an instructor, but even an adult should go with one so you know you’re in good hands. You’d definitely love it!

  4. Thanks so much for the nomination! I’ll be traveling this weekend but hope to have answers ready to go by Monday :-)

    It’s hard to choose just one cool place. Kilauea is definitely in the top 5 for me. I’d also include ruins we recently saw in Thailand (Sukhothai and Ayutthaya) on the list.

  5. THANK YOU for being straight-up honest about whether you feel free. I feel the way you do a lot, and lately have been struggling with why I can’t seem to shake the feeling off and decide that freedom is just a mindset (I do believe that to a point, but it’s also unrealistic to think you can just “decide” on an emotion). In the blog world, for as many wonderful inspirations it brings, sometimes one can feel insufficient because we all like to present the best of our lives in this digital realm, then comparison comes along and can whittle your confidence down to the size of a grasshopper. So, again, thanks for your honesty there… it makes me feel like my own perceptions on freedom are less of a shortcoming. :)

    • We try hard never to sugarcoat anything we’re feeling, and we completely understand what you’re saying about blogland. A lot of bloggers paint this very rosy picture (or, who knows, just aren’t the types of people to doubt themselves?) and it can definitely make us question things. But we are questioners by nature, which has sometimes led to some bummer posts here. :-) But we want to chronicle our process truthfully, so that when we’re finally free, we can look back and remember what it was really like, and not just remember the high points.

  6. Fantastic answers, and thanks so much for the nomination!! Things have been chaotic (fiancé & I just moved to our new apartment yesterday!) but I will have my answers on Thursday posted. :) One of the greatest places I’ve been to is Jamaica! I was actually only 6, but the memories are so vivid it’s incredible. While there, my family and I built our own fishing poles from scratch with a group, and I caught my very first fish! There’s a picture of me holding it up with the hugest grin.

    • Look forward to reading your answers! :-) Your early Jamaica trip sounds wonderful — how great that those happy memories have stayed so vivid for you!

  7. Thanks for the tag! No thanks to the tough questions :-P

    Coolest place I’ve ever been… hmm. I don’t have an answer but I do have a feeling. That “Gosh. I can’t believe I’m really here” feeling. The most intense time I’ve had it was on a commuter ferry from Sydney Harbour to Darling Harbour. We were just under the bridge almost to Luna Park, looking back on the Opera House lit up at night. Up until that point, the whole trip felt like a dream. That moment took my breath away and it all sunk in.

  8. Congratulations on the award and happy anniversary! Having people tell you that you stay calm during tough situations is a real compliment. Not everyone can do that. I’d like to be around you during scary times! And yes to kindness…we often underestimate the power of ‘hi’ or ‘how are you’. I used to work in retail and I can’t count the number of times customers thanked me for saying those words because they really needed to hear them.

    Cambodia is probably the best place I’ve been to. Bayon temple was surreal and I always tell myself I’ll go back one day. Mt. Oberon here in Australia is wonderful as well…Bon Iver’s Holocene played in my head when I reached the top. :)

  9. This summer we made it to Skellig Michael in Ireland and it was breathtaking (even if you don’t care about Star Wars). Takes a bit of luck on weather but the history and views were surreal. I would second the vote for Cliffs of Moher but that was our worst day of weather and still had massive crowds.
    And for runner up, when we paddled our kayaks along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s UP. To be that close to them was astounding and I enjoyed the element of danger while kayaking Lake Superior.

    • Is that where it was filmed?!?!?! Oh we have to go there! Thank you for sharing your experience! And how cool that you got out there in kayaks along pictured rocks — it’s so beautiful there, and I bet it’s even more so up close.

      • Yep, they still do quite a bit of CGI and set dressing in the movies but the landscape is 100% authentic and when you’re surrounded by the puffins you’ll see where they got the idea for the Porgs. The tour description is brutally honest warning you that it will be about 5 hours without a bathroom and it’s a ‘dangerous’ climb up slippery steps. We were lucky with pretty calm seas and a heavy fog that lifted as we climbed the hundreds of stairs. And if you’re unlucky they can cancel it with limited warning and no rebooking that day, just your money back but SOL on the tour. It of course books up weeks in advance. Totally worth the hassle, I swear those pictures will be some of your favorites.

  10. I don’t really rank travel destinations as “favorites,” because each place has something different to experience. But I *would* recommend Queenstown, NZ to you. https://www.queenstownnz.co.nz We rode jet boats, bungee jumped, and paraglided there, among other things. Skiing in their winter, mountain biking and/or luge in the summer. Wineries nearby. Scotch tasting in town.

    In fact, we had a fabulous, non-frugal trip to both the North and South islands of NZ when Spousal Unit early retired. We have *many* recommendations if/when you go to NZ – white water rafting, black water rafting, heli-hiking… We even stopped over in the Cook Islands for a little scuba diving on the way back. Definitely recommend – so much to see and do! (Hobbiton, anyone?)