Mixing Maroons - Spend Less, Save More … Get Marooned!

Mr. Maroon

August 24, 2014

Everything Must Change

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Desperate Times…

Our quest for financial independence began out of desperation.

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Man – if I had only known how those six little words would change my life. As I hit “I’m Feeling Lucky”, I really wasn’t. I was lying. I was feeling desperate. I was feeling bored. I was feeling anything but lucky. My job was no longer interesting to me. But, it turns out luck would lead me that cold December day to a website called 1500 Days to Freedom. In an instant, I was hooked. Mr. 1500 divulged all these secret ways to escape from the bonds of employment and opened my eyes to the idea that I COULD live the life I want. That I didn’t have to spend the next thirty-plus years trading my freedom for consumer junk in an effort to find some acceptable level of happiness. Then, Mr. 1500 directed my attention to Mr. Money Mustache, who led me to admit and vow to abolish my consumerism, all in a little less than an hour.

We jumped right in feet first by paying off a $17,000 student loan debt, restructuring our budget, tracking our money using Mint, setting up a Betterment account, throwing money at “retirement savings” like mad, and blogging about it. And we did really well…for about month. And in mid-February 2013, because we enjoy a challenge, we threw our plans out the window and went on a little whirlwind adventure.

New jobs? √

New state? √

New house? √

New baby on the way? √

When the dust finally settled, we didn’t know if we were coming or going. We made strides to simplify and reduce costs where available – but there was one luxury that we weren’t willing to give up, even for the sake of financial freedom. We bought a modest house equal in size and mortgage to our former residence, but a whopping twenty three miles from my office. Why? One simple reason – land. We now live on 6/10 of an acre and have plenty of room to grow the garden we’ve always dreamed of – that is, one which provides for our family diet AND allows us to participate in the local farmer’s market as earners instead of spenders. The only downside to our new life was that timing the sale of our previous home with the purchase of our current home left us with all of our equity – some $38,000 – making its way into our bank account instead of instant equity in our new home. It was decision time.

We Bought Our Beach

Many times, psychologists post the question “As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?” as a way to help people discover the professional career they are best suited for. While being an agricultural engineer suits me to a “T”, the truth was it was always more about the “agriculture” than it was about the “engineer”. All I ever wanted to be was a farmer. And, while marooning ourselves on some tropical beach seems like a worthy retirement, my “beach” is that small parcel of land out in west Texas.

"Grant Wood - American Gothic”

“Grant Wood – American Gothic”

As I began to update our budget to reflect the changes in our life, I recalled our $17,000 leap of faith in December. So, there I was, just as before, excitedly trying to convince Mrs. Maroon, by text message this time since we were both enslaved at work, that the best use of our money was ridding ourselves of debt.

Mr. Maroon: Let’s do it again!

Mrs. Maroon: What?!

Mr. Maroon: Pay something off.

Mrs. Maroon: We don’t have anything left except BIG real estate mortgages…

Mr. Maroon: Exactly. Let’s pay off the farm note.

Mrs. Maroon: You’re crazy!

Mr. Maroon: Not crazy…addicted!

Paying off debt is incredibly addictive. And, while that $35,300 check stung a little (actually, A LOT), the satisfaction of realizing we now own our retirement property free and clear is empowering. That’s right! That beach we were looking to maroon ourselves on is bought and paid for. The only thing left is to earn our life there. And there’s that small matter of convincing Mrs. Maroon that a city girl can find enough excitement on a small farm in West Texas. Unfortunately, I’ve got a few years yet to get her on board.

Where To Go From Here?

I’ll admit, like an addict coming off of a high, I’m a little frustrated with the road ahead. I’m only nine months removed from my December desperation and, while the imminent future is bright and full of hope, I find myself struggling with the time it will take for us to achieve our employment independence. The structure is in place. All that seemingly remains is to bide our time, keeping with our plan, until the deed is done. But being the engineer that I am, I can’t just leave well enough alone. And Mrs. Maroon is constantly on edge when I’m offering to optimize our lifestyle to add a few more dollars here and there to our nest egg. The sooner we hit our “magic number”, the sooner I’m watching the sun set behind my barn. See, one thing I know about myself is that I’m a “want it now!” kind of guy. It used to be things, but now it’s freedom; so at least I’ve got that going for me.

~Mr. Maroon

FF #8 - Waiting for Mini Maroon 2
It's The Little Things
  1. Comment by Robin @ The Thrifty Peach — December 18, 2014 @ 12:53 PM

    I laughed when I read this: “…Mr. Money Mustache, who led me to admit and vow to abolish my consumerism, all in a little less than an hour.” That’s exactly how I felt when I first read his website, and yes it was only about an hour. It’s like a sense of instant panic and empowerment all at once! Hehe.
    Robin @ The Thrifty Peach recently posted…Get Rid of Your Clutter!My Profile

    Mr. Maroon Reply:

    Empowerment is exactly how I describe the feeling we now have in regards to our future – particularly our financial future. I remark to Mrs. Maroon all the time about how satisfying it is to be moving towards financial independence and educating ourselves along the way. We aren’t just waiting, wondering, and worrying for what the future holds anymore.

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